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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Playing Catch-up

I really don't have the amount of time on my hands that I used to. Writing on the blog is harder now than ever with so many obligations. I think it is funny how striving for a simpler life can get so complicated. Progress on the new house is a bit slow, but we did get the concrete poured in the garage over the weekend. Our plans to rent backhoe and dig in the geothermal and septic will be held off because of permitting. My husband has to take a class on septic systems in order to be allowed to install it himself.  the class is not offered until late October, which really sets our schedule back. So in order to not lose too much time, we will have to concentrate on other projects that also need addressing before the weather breaks, and turns bitter cold. I have been praying for fall to set in, the weather is so lovely to work in, but now I feel like maybe it will come too soon. It is not that we have to have any of it done by a certain date, but we are all in a hurry to get it done, for the sake of sanity and simplicity. we all just want to move to the country!
Yesterday, as I sat on the back porch I saw two pairs of mating hawks, circling and diving with each other and calling out...it was really nice to watch them. I then decided that perhaps I could get a better view of the back field from my upstairs bedroom window, and instead I saw a flock of 10 turkeys, walking around, heads down.  searching for food. There are a lot of Oak trees in the small area and they were munching acorns and grains and oblivious that I was following them....well, until I had to make a scene swatting mosquitoes! They were so viscous!
I really enjoyed the experience, and the quiet...but it made me feel discontent with our situation. The helpless feeling of being on a schedule that is not your own. I am willing to set to any task, if it leads to my goals, and at present, I don't feel like I have a task!
In town, there is much to do. Much that I should be doing right now, too. There are dishes, and laundry, as usual...there is bread to toast into crumbs, dinner to plan for tonight, and the budget to go over and over, how to save a dime here, pinch a penny there, to make it all work. there is that lingering guilt that I should have a job, even though I don't have the time, and would likely not have the energy. But I will be working soon! Not only have I recently become manager to our new property and a landlord, but I also have some budding business schemes to help us to pay the rent. We are rolling over the ideas in our heads and trying to decide the best ways to make a profit that will sustain us. We can't make back enough on renting out our house to pay all the bills. And Mick can work in town for now, but eventually we will need to make a decision on what is going to be the end product, what is the end result, what is the clear career choice for us both?
Farming is obviously still my goal. Sustainability is a HUGE word and a goal that is hard to attain in modern times. Is it really possible to grow and gather all that a family needs to survive? I feel like that could become stressful, very quickly. But what are the best ways of slowly implementing this into our daily lives? How can we slowly creep towards self sufficient life??? It takes more than reading a few books on the topic, and planning spring, summer, and fall gardens. It takes more than buying canning supplies and a dehydrator to save food for an entire winter. And can it be done in today's modern age? Can I do it, with my limited time? And resources? What are the best first crops to try, that will work well on the land I already have?  Will my failures on the small scale equate to lessons that will hold valuable in the long run? Will it help me become a real farmer???

I know I have outlined and re-outlined, in daydream fashion the steps I would take if I acquired a farm. And now I have. So what is next?
This is what I hope for:

  1. Build a coop and raise some chickens for egg laying. Learn as much as possible about raising poultry and taking care of them well, organically
  2. build or buy a beehive (skip). Learn as much as possible about raising bees, and harvesting honey. Learn how best to store the honey and beeswax.
  3. Plant crops that are good forage for both bees and chickens. Plan rotational grazing for the chickens, and develop a plan to encourage nectar in all cropping plans. Plan for weather considerations for both.
  4. Begin cover cropping new ground. Plant green manures or compost on fresh sites, and begin first, a vegetable garden for us, and also some field crops for sale, or storage on a larger scale than in our personal plot. Hops, Strawberries and Asparagus I think are obvious first choices, as well as brambles like black berries, raspberries, loganberries, dew berries, and some natives like gooseberries and elderberries. Begin laying out a vineyard. Learn as much as possible about harvest and storage of small fruits. Learn to make wine (for personal consumption), juice, jam and jelly (for storage).
  5. Learn more about field grains. Incorporate their growth into crop rotation, green manuring practice but also, try harvesting the grain, if even just by hand with a scythe. Our property is not so large that we can't do it manually, if divided well.
  6. Begin to coppice existing trees, and begin to plant more. Hardwoods, nuts and fruit trees. Plan to involve natural conditions for later spawning mushrooms in the shade of the "woods". Harvest, cut and stack fallen tree limbs for fire wood. Use a woodburning stove, and keep harvests small and sustainable.
  7. continue to plan for more planting each year until we are able to grow more than enough food for seasonal eating and storage. ( I feel this one will take some time to master)
The best I can figure, I can start on a few tiny projects at the new place, but in all honesty, I feel it is better to continue to grow as much here in town as possible. I would rather not have to transport my harvests, or to further complicate outdoor activity at the new place, for now.....but there are a few things I could get a head start on, for now...

more soon, I hope! :)

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