Saturday, October 31, 2015

relaxed, forward, balanced, connected: living differently

We are not the perfect homesteaders.  I would kinda think that would be obvious, but maybe not.  It is probably true that I try to frame our failures in lessons learned, other possibilities, or as the husband says, make every disadvantage an advantage.  Which also means I don't tend to wallow in failure, or to do the same thing twice and expect different results.  I may mourn but I walk. Forward is the key.

We are not the perfect homesteaders.  We do not live off the grid, and in fact have no desire to do so.  Rather we prefer to reduce our consumption on every level that doesn't have big returns.  We happen to think refrigeration, for example, has huge returns.  But we don't even own a dryer because I consider it to be the most wasteful appliance possible.  But it also means that I take our down coats to somewhere where there IS a dryer, and I USE it, to wash and fluffy dry them.  See?  No perfection.  I'll tend to use solar for the electric fence -- that is, I would if I had a solar charger, which I don't.  I've considered the possibility of solar to power, say, a computer, if I ever have my little hermit's cottage thing -- where there would theoretically be a hand pump for water, a bucket toilet, and an inside and an outside wood cook stove.  And maybe even a heated masonry sleeping bench.

But I ain't having babies and diapers and feeding a whole passel of people like that -- if I don't have to anyway.

We are not the perfect homesteaders.  We do not raise all our own food, much less provide every other material need off of our 20 acres by ourselves with zero inputs.  Now, there are times we've done experiments on things we could grow more of in order to subsist, like wheat.  And there are things we absolutely DO attempt to provide entirely for ourselves every year (hard corn, the bulk of potatoes).  There have been times we provided more, most of which involved me staying at home and doing it.  If you want to put by 100 pints of jam for the year, which is about what it takes for us, and which we have done, somebody has to BE doing it.  If someone is making all the bread a family of six eats, which I have done, somebody pretty much has to BE doing it.  What we are doing right now is that we raise a lot of stuff, we scavenge a lot of stuff, we concentrate on eating fresh, we try to put some by as we can so long as doing it doesn't drive us crazy.

(not being crazy is an important boundary, one that is far too often overlooked methinks) 

We'll also sometimes plan exceedingly long term.  There is fresh pork (and salt pork, and *middlins*) in the plan about three years from now:  one year for the bull to grow up, one year for gestation, one year for milk and the pigs to grow up.  You never know what will happen in the meantime, but hopeful.  That doesn't mean I'll not be eating any pork roast in the meantime.

We are not the perfect homesteaders.  Someone has much more often than not worked off the farm.  For years, the years that the kids were small, that was husband.  Besides, he earned more.  And I have the boobs.  Boobs are exceedingly important to children.  It doesn't take much cash but it does take some.  And we could get by with less but that would basically mean world economic collapse.  I work off the farm now at least as much for love as for money, although I couldn't do it if it didn't produce some money.  And you know things are always developing, growing, possibility-ing.

We are not the perfect homesteaders.  We just put up some barbwire.  I really wouldn't have thought I'd do that.  But it is a perimeter, and it is a discouragement to large livestock roaming.  We have neighbors who had to have spent at least $60K on a fence that encloses, I don't know, not too much acreage.  I bet his pasture enclosed in that fencing doesn't amount to 20 acres.  And that doesn't count the barn and sheds, the chicken coop and FLAGPOLE.  To each his own.  Seriously.  But I always get the feeling that to "do it right", that's what that means -- throw money at it until it is DONE.  Which most often leads to the next thing to throw money at, with no improvement in skills and ingenuity at all.  If we did our road "right", we would buy a LOT of rocks and gravel to go on it.  But we won't let tucks that heavy pass the bridge so even if we could afford it, we'd have to do some alternative.  And there are a few alternatives I'm working on but right now it means taking the family and hauling some rocks (that we've stockpiled at other times) in buckets to the worst parts and fixing those up.  It takes a LOT less rock to do it that way.  We have some trouble keeping up with it, but then again, it's been worse so we must be doing ok.  Knock wood.  And haul some more rock.

And as with every single one of these things, there are dividends.  We get physically stronger.  We get to work together.  We get time and space to talk.  We get to explore whatever catches our fancy that day, be it what we've been reading or bear marks going up a tree, and do it together, which really there is no substitute for and which contrived "together" time is never as good as.

We are not the perfect homesteaders.  There are always "failures".  I don't think we've ever survived an apple tree but that doesn't stop me from thinking of putting an orchard in on some ancestral property.  Because I think I know what happens and I think it might not happen there.  We've had several starts of bees but that's not unusual in these bee times.  Last year we had no hard corn for the first time EVER.  There is always an ebb and flow in the years.  So you really have to have years.  It's a little like horse riding -- if you've never fallen off, you haven't ridden much, but if you fall off all the time, you just suck.

We are not the perfect homesteaders.  Sometimes I worry too much.  Security is a seducer, if a lie.  Sometimes I pay a bill late, and we pretty much don't go to the doctor.  Sometimes I have trouble letting go.  Sometimes we are lazy.

We are not the perfect homesteaders BUT I do love what I'm doing, and who I get to do it with and for, and I love this farm and this house even when it is dirty and even though it may never actually be "finished", and I love the try, the effort, and so in all that it IS so perfect!

As to people, there is this:  even when I don't like them, I love people and that is why I have such a hard time when they insist on hitting their own toes with their own hammers.  Repeatedly.  And then especially when they are shocked and surprised and oppressed when their toe hurts and swells because they are hammering on it.  Repeatedly.

Live differently.  Even if you aren't perfect at it.

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