Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Homesteading: Not Just a Way of Living, But an Act of Resistance

Time passes, things change and shit happens, so now what?  We come to terms with what we know, what we “can” do and how to take action, at least that is what we do.

Guy McPherson say's, "birth is lethal"; so every moment we live.  Moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day, some better than others.

Homesteading can be hard work but the energy invested is usually well worth the effort.  As a pacifist resists war, you might say a homesteader lives to resist giving up.  The more we learn about societies collapsing through economic fraud, resource depletion, population overshoot and climate change, the more we realize that NTE (Near Term Extinction) is not a disease but an ultimate death that we have allowed to kill us.  The choices we make today will not save us but will perhaps make the time left more bearable.

We don’t believe in hunkering down or living in fear of what inevitably will happen as death to us will come soon enough.  Instead we awaken to each day with chores in hand and a mindset of making the best of living.  This is not done without the help of nature to grow our food and/or the support of others who compliment our way of life.

We’ve found differences amongst us in our crowd of doomers that have prevented us from sharing, caring and helping one another and we have found commonalities with those who believe Revelations is all about collapse.  We laugh at our ability to get along with others and we rejoice in the overlap of the circles.  We're thankful to have some we can talk to, that will at least acknowledge how we’ve messed up our living arrangement with the earth.  We won’t ever see all things in the same light but we can agree on what is wrong even though we may not agree on what is right.

Knowing what is wrong can become so overwhelming that it prevents us from moving forward or should I say living.  Our lives are controlled by institutions such as our food system, banking businesses, military industrial complex, sickcare, education, info-entertainment (including the sports industrial complex) and the so called technology that will save the day.

Recently we read a report that stated on average people watch 34 hours of television a week.  We wonder, what if those people spent half the time securing their food source cutting down on costs and helping/supporting their small local farms?  So lets discuss food since it's something we need and it directly affects the health of us as well as the living planet. 

We've never been completely self sufficient as far as food goes and have learned to focus more on how close to home we can obtain it, either by purchasing outright or bartering.

We grow a variety of vegetables and fruit which we process and store.  What we don't grow ourselves, we purchase from small local farms or barter with honest, hard working folks.  This supports our local community, cuts down on packaging such as styrofoam, plastics and aluminum tin cans that are harmful to our health.  It also eliminates the middle person who mostly shuffles paperwork and makes money doing so.

Last year we had a surplus of 40#’s of garlic which we sold at $3 a pound to a goat farmer who wanted it not only for himself but as a booster medicine for his goasts.  The $120 paid for 300#’s of hard red wheat that we purchased from an northeastern Oregon organic wheat farm.  We grind our own wheat to make bread.
Home made whole wheat bread (I now use the whey from the ricotta cheese, which gives it a springy texture)
Home made whole wheat bagels, not very pretty but they tasted good!

We have also purchased beef from the same person for the last four years, he lives within 25 miles of us and raises two cows a year that are grass fed. We pay $2 a pound hanging weight plus .50 cents a pound cut and wrap.  Experimenting with the different cuts of meats have made for some interesting meals, we hardly ever go out to eat, why would we when we can eat better at home?
T-bone steak and turnips, served with salad of lettuce, spinach, radishes, cauliflour (all veggies fresh from the garden)

Our milk comes from owners of six goats which we make our own cheese with. These connections have built relationships where I have taught spinning in exchange for sewing lessons.  Since our walnut trees are still young and not producing yet, our yearly supply of 100#’s (yield after cracking and shelling is about 48-50#’s) has been purchased from the same farm for the past four years less than 15 miles away from us on our way to town.

We purchase in bulk when possible.  I remember years ago buying granola, now we make our own.  Oats we purchase in 50# bags and cinnamon, pumpkin seeds and flax in large quantities.  Our dried strawberries are a nice addition or frozen berries left to melt in the bowl with the milk also tastes good. 

Here are a couple of examples of local meals we've had using our dried veggies as well as fresh when we have them.
Breakfast omelet made with re-hydrated tomatoes, peppers and dried zucchini, topped with canned tomatillo sauce


Our frozen spaghetti squash mixed with canned sauerkraut
, dried tomatoes, garlic, green onions
 and local chicken sausage
.  Served with a fresh salad made of lettuce, spinach, radishes, green onions and Amish peas (all fresh from the garden), tossed with our own herb vinegar and olive oil.
Local sausage fried with garlic and green onions, turnips, broccoli and cauliflour from the garden

Raw Pepper stuffed with scrambled eggs made with garlic and onions, ricotta cheese and cherry tomatoes, served with homemade bread
In keeping local we choose who we purchase from usually after chatting on the phone with them or visiting their farm/homestead.  Like Barbara Kingsolver said in her book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle there isn’t anything better than a farm visit as even labels that say “organic” can be grown not far from GMO crops and we live to see words backed up by actions.  We’re kind of funny in that way.

Many things can be done on the homestead to keep costs down.  We incorporate new things all the time and recently have found time to make our own toothpaste.   I’ve enjoyed learning how to infuse oils with my rose scented geraniums, calendula and lavender which I make lotion and healing salves from.  We had hoped to have our own beeswax to use in our salves but have found many local beekeepers have lost their hives recently.
Calendula from the garden

Herb vinegar, and infused oils
Chickens seem to earn their keep on the property and we love their eggs and so does our dog!  
We make his food also.
Buckeye Chickens
Our Ancona ducks mostly forage though they gotten quite spoiled with leftovers from the garden, the main reason we have them is to clean up the snails and slugs in the winter months.  Our hen don’t lay much but we sold four ducklings that paid for the pair.
Leigh-Leigh, Dolly and her four hens
As most homesteaders, we are very frugal and waste very little.  Our egg shells go back into the organic chicken feed as well as the worm bin and our compost is heaping this time of the year.  Sometimes it gives back in more than one way and we’re honored with squash, zucchini or pumpkin growing in it.
Black Beauty zucchini flourishing in the compost
                                                                                                                                                              Our hops look promising and we may get a chance to brew on own beer,
Waiting for a good brew!

and this year’s elderberries may give us a fine wine to drink on the solstice when we can celebrate once again the gift of our garden.
Elderberries wanting to become wine
I can’t imagine had our plan for a micro community worked out.  Homesteading is not for those who are lazy, but for those who don't mind a little hard work, the rewards are gratifying.  Contrary to belief, we still have fun while working.  We save money and get to see where we do spend it, and the challenge of living differently keeps us motivated.  There is no better way to live for our body, mind and soul...not for us anyways.
Moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day