Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Trade and the Myth of Self-Sufficiency

I remember dreaming, three years ago, how cool it would be to be self-sufficient - to close our little 5.4 acres off from the would and live in a complete cycle according to nature, giving back to the land and being given everything from it in turn. To draw my water, my power, my food, my herbal remedies, my fibers, and my joys from the earth.

In other words, I dreamt of being completely self-sufficient.

I'm glad I woke up.

Yeah, I don't ever want to feel like this guy.
In reality, self-sufficiency is a myth. We humans are simply too needy.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Catching Up: Gardens

Oh, the gardens. My Achilles Heel this year.

Watermelons, cantaloupes, green beans, tomatoes, okra, and cucumbers.
The pigs and chickens have done a great job tilling and rotating through. We've had lots of sunflowers and melons grow, and our tomato plants have done fairly well.

But, there's a long way to go yet.

Friday, September 5, 2014

How to Start Homesteading When You Don't Have a Clue

Three and a half years ago, a 20-something father of two, with an expectant wife, answered a phone call. It was HR, following up: he was offered a job out of state.

He was raised in a fast-paced metropolitan suburb, and went to a blue collar college town where he experienced dorm and apartment living, even after having graduated. Having bounced around from house to house for years, and even back to his home state for a time, he never set down roots, never planted a garden, never owned a dog. Heck, he only had a lawnmower for about 8 months before moving back into a apartment.

But that phone call changed everything.

I received a job offer by phone on my birthday in 2011.
I started a new job, moved 10 hours away, bought our homestead,
and we had Thing #3 that year.

This was the time. This was the chance to start over. This was the chance for he and his wife to realize their longtime, yet seemingly crazy, dream: to live in the country.

With no experience. No family nearby for support. No knowledge. No tools. All he had was a new job and a dream.

Fast forward three and half years, and he's built an orchard and a half-acre garden zone, rescued and re-homed a donkey, learned to mow hay by hand, tended sheep, butchered chickens, designed and built a movable chicken coop, milked a cow in a homemade stanchion (and learned what the diddly a stanchion was in the first place), befriended some pigs, and become a beekeeper.

With no experience, yet a dream to produce all of my family's food on our land, I have come very far in three and a half short years. The majority of this has happened in the last two years.

How did I get this far? Simple: plan and research.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Bliss Through Farming?

On LinkedIn this week, I saw this little graphic:

The happy intersection of passion, mission, vocation, and profession?
It's a nice cross-section and compartmentalization of different types of work. The point, of course, was to encourage people to find a career that satisfies the little blue star in the middle. Then, we would all achieve supreme happiness, live debt-free, rescue puppies, and live happily ever after.

Except, that just isn't reality.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Catching Up: Rabbits

The rabbits have been beyond disappointing thus far. Since acquiring the original buck and two does five months ago, we have yet to produce a single litter.

I've tried every trick in the book. I tried breeding at different times of day. I swapped the buck and doe cages so them could smell each other first (in fact, I did this every day for a week with no success). I took her to his cage, and him to her cage. I took them to a neutral, unused cage. I changed their feed. I restrained the does. I did everything but crack a bottle of wine and turn on some Barry White by the fireplace.

No kits. Zero. Nada. Niet.

I really wanted to be enjoying some rabbit dinners by now. So, yesterday, I bought a new buck. Meet Cap'n Jack Sparrow:

Cap'n Jack Sparrow is our new New Zealand white buck.
He's 2 years old, proven, and has only one eye.
I also bought two extra does in an apparent rabbit close-out special.