Translate this blog.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Further Along: Summer's Last Days

Labor Day has passed for 2015. In about two weeks the Autumnal Equinox, that day when darkness and light are perfectly balanced before the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer until we reach the soul’s longest night, the Winter Solstice. Then the cycle renews itself and the days grow longer again with the promise of Spring and the rebirth of life, come March.

With my gender transition, I find myself more in harmony with the cycle of the seasons, of the earth and of life. This summer I have rekindled a dream from long ago to live off my land to as great a degree as I am able. A dream left behind in my twenties. One that was left behind when I left this place I love so much when I was 18 and went off to college. Though I returned to live here in my mid 30’s and made a few stabs at successful gardening, I had lost the vision of wanting to homestead on my own land and of what was possible.

Perhaps it was being inspired again by watching several of the television shows about life in Alaska, particularly the ones where we see people wholly living and subsisting off the land. Perhaps it was the realization that in only six years Patty and I will lose between 20 to 25% of our take home income.

Perhaps it is watching the breakdown of our social order and recognizing that our government over the past 30 years has squandered our prosperity and national security. Both of our political parties have had a hand in that. We have led a life of illusion thinking our government will keep us safe and secure and because of that we shall not know want. But now our own natural born citizens are increasingly finding themselves without jobs and going hungry. Some find it more profitable to be on public welfare rather than work because they almost make as much living on the dole than they would make taking a job at entry level pay and don't have to work as hard, because those jobs are hard jobs for the most part. The influx of illegal aliens who will work for less than many Americans will work for only exacerbates the problem.

We can't take care of our own anymore because of the flood of illegal aliens from Mexico, Central America and South America. Additionally, we are increasingly pressured to take in Muslim refugees who are flooding Europe. Apparently they don't defend their own borders anymore either. Our government will not and cannot keep us safe anymore. By promising to be all things to all people, it has greatly reduced the opportunity to become prosperous.  It had driven us to accept mediocrity as the highest aspiration and punishes excellence. Our enemies are coming for us and we are told not to worry. We are told that we should just appease them and the threat will go away. We just aren't tolerant enough.

 We have become so dependent on technology and computers that our children don’t even know how to write because writing is not taught. We rely on computers to run everything. Most people don’t know how to do anything without them, including how to relate to each other on a face to face basis. Too many people interact or socialize only over social media. We are just one electromagnetic pulse away from collapse.

How short our institutional memory is as a result of living in a life of instant gratification and a throw away culture that does not produce things we that last and does not value self- reliance or individualism. In fact we produce very little ourselves. We have shipped our manufacturing capabilities overseas. My parents were children during the Great Depression and World War II. Few are left to teach us the lessons of endurance and survival, the willingness to fight for our way of life, and that the price of Freedom was paid through personal sacrifice.

As a result, my dream of homesteading has been reborn. Nothing too grandiose to begin with, mind you. We grew some vegetables on the patio this summer. Nothing more than something to enjoy here and there as something bore a few vegetables. Some fresh spices to use in cooking too! Something to rekindle the imagination to create the desire to explore and see what possible goals could be realized with our beautiful country home.

This summer we have learned to can vegetables. That’s nothing spectacular; people have been doing it forever it seems. We have been buying from the local farmer’s market and a local produce farm to can enough food to last us into the next growing season when our own garden begins to produce vegetables that we have grown through our own efforts. This will save us money from not having to buy at the grocery store. Even with buying from our local farmers directly, we will save hundreds of dollars over the coming year. Canning is so easy that it was not hard to learn to do at all!

Nothing succeeds like success, as the old saying goes. We have a six year plan. We don’t have to do it all in a year. Next year we are planning to grow a garden for two people’s needs for a year. We will again supplement what we still need for the coming fall, winter and spring with produce bought at the farmer’s market and a local farm. Then we will expand it by growing for two more people each year until we have enough for ourselves and have our own produce to sell to others to supplement our income.

This coming year we will try several different ways to garden. I have had very good results with raised bed gardens in past years. Additionally, we plan to try straw bale gardening and using grow bags to determine which methods are easiest, and most cost effective in producing a bountiful harvest.  We plan to grow potatoes and corn in the traditional tilled earth manner. We also plan on trying winter gardening beginning next fall, something I have never done before. I have started composting on a moderate scale as well. Why put things in the landfill that will become fertilizer for  next year's garden?

We plan to have our own chickens for producing eggs beginning in the spring. This winter I will build a chicken coop and we will start with a rooster and three hens. We plan on expanding this part of the operation until we have enough eggs for ourselves each week and be able to sell the eggs. Fresh eggs from free range chickens are wonderful; another savings from not having to buy eggs at the grocery store and a source of income from selling what we can produce ourselves.

There’s plenty of help and advice available to take advantage of for free from the Virginia Tech agriculture extension agent. I've also found the local farmers to be willing to offer their advice based on their experiences and a willingness to help with things like plowing and tilling for a very reasonable price.

Other projects include harvesting blackberries in the early summer, which are abundant on our property as well as gathering walnuts, hickory nuts and chestnuts in the fall to sell. All of these are good moneymakers with economy of effort as well.

Our lake is large enough for us to pump water for the garden in dry conditions and also big enough to sustain feeding us a meal of fish once a week when the weather is warm enough to want to fish without having to worry about restocking the lake every year.

Though I have no desire to hunt or kill animals, I do enjoy venison. Our land is large enough and the deer are plentiful. I could easily harvest a deer or two in extremely difficult times if I were in need of meat, and squirrels, rabbits and wild geese are plentiful as well. I hope that I will not have to do that, though.

It seems we are only limited here by our imagination and physical ability to do the work. I look forward to the challenge, the adventure and the realization of a long time held dream.

1 comment:

  1. Good luck but you may find that you need to do something about the deer before they eat the crops that you plant and work for yourselves.