The good life on Cape Cod

Another post from Betsy Krogh, my spouse and fellow urban homesteader:

IMG_20140521_102652716Earlier this week we visited Nick’s sister Sandy and her husband on Cape Cod.

Sandy and her husband Sven “Boe” Rudstrom moved from France to the Wellfleet house in the mid 1990s to care for Nick and Sandy’s aging parents who had retired there in 1970. They renovated the buildings and Boe added many touches reminiscent of his native Sweden (and artist Carl Larsson’s paintings), including the bright blue-painted doors and ornamented cedar shingle siding.

Later they turned the house and adjoining cottage into a Green Bed and Breakfast called Chez Sven, now in its 10th year. The buildings, furnishings, and bedding are low-toxicity and Sandy uses organic food for the breakfasts they serve – often eggs and berries from the local farmers’ market.

IMG_20140521_085345329The house is surrounded by trees and flower gardens, beautiful in every season. Sandy also grows vegetables and composts kitchen and garden wastes. While we were there, Nick prepared the soil for planting the cherry tomato and leek seedlings we brought from Amherst and divided up our packet of Fedco butternut squash seeds.

IMG_20140519_172313287Sandy and Boe partially heat the house with a Jotul woodstove and supplement purchased firewood with fallen or pruned branches from the trees on the property. They have an efficient front loading washer and dryer for laundering all those B& B sheets and towels, but use a clothes line to dry in the fresh air and sun when possible. During our visit, Boe was raking a new layer of crushed clam shells – a locally plentiful material – onto their driveway and parking area. He also laid salvaged red bricks in a diagonal pattern to edge a flower bed.

Wednesday morning, Sandy took us to the Wellfleet Farmer’s Market, where Nick enjoyed a conversation about growing tomatoes with a farmer who had huge tomato plants for sale. I bought a jar of Wellfleet Sea Salt and learned that Hope Schwartz-Leeper makes her salt by solar powered evaporation using plastic hoop houses. Wesley D. Price of efungi and Nantucket Mushrooms told me how to cook with dried mushrooms. A UMass alumnus, he will return to Amherst later this summer to give a presentation at the NOFA conference.IMG_20140521_085400104

As we drove back to Amherst (getting over 50 mph in the Prius!) we reflected on all the ways that Sandy and Boe are involved in the creativity and adventures of striving to lower their impact on the planet while enjoying the pleasures of a good life.

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