It seems this blog often reverts to its original intent...of documenting not just the exciting moments but also the mundane ones in the process of homesteading...even the attempts to establish such a thing.
I believe documenting the less stellar moments is a task as essential as will be the later and much-anticipated highlights...someday. Maybe this is akin to all the years of prep our ancestors, depending upon what corner of earth from which they hailed, had to handle prior to relocation voyages, pilgrimages, or wagon trains.
I can nearly taste and touch the nearness of what we're working toward. I can scarcely see a pasture without having to push down an involuntary lump of desire back to its waiting place, that's how close it feels. I write here to detail how "those folks" who "just went for their dreams" did it in the real.
We're not starting with a nest egg, liquid assets, cut apron strings, or unlimited decades on our side. That's not a glass-half-empty realization, though. It is a set of factors. I probably think about this more than I should, and overthink it.
We're in a place where we are gathering our resources and positioning ourselves to move. We don't know a timeframe for this, but the more we work at it, the sooner we expect to realize some of the benefits.
In the meantime, I experiment. Some of those experiments have gone by the wayside, for differing reasons, the primary of which is that all the other efforts are crowding out our time. I have wonderful packets of seeds, most of which have not gotten planted. I have so many ideas, but most of them are still on the shelf. It's exciting to try things even on a small scale, and our small scale is reflectingn lessons I hope to learn from before expanding them in years to come. My garden, which in my mind's eye was to be quite robust in size and output is, in reality, a relatively small number of various sized pots. We have no animals as yet because of my husband's assertion that getting the right place for them is the fastest way to be able to keep them in the best way possible over the long term...his shorthand for "we're working to get there and can't devote enough time and money to them AND work elsewhere full time." I feel he's sensible and likely right, and yet I feel these LONGINGS to fill my world with chickens, sheep, a cow, and countless beds of growing things.
:) For me, perhaps that's a HEALTHY thing!
In the meantime, my daughter thrives, having now graduated high school and heading into her medical program for which we ALL have worked and cheered. I'm so proud of her, and thankful for her opportunities! She is currently on a dream trip with her father (my ex), a short cruise for about a week. We are thrilled she is able to have that experience!
The house has been corralled into a better semblance of order since we had company this past weekend.
I did make a discovery...and pleasant one. I can sit and count my tomato plants and see which ones are struggling and which are thriving and cheer if we have so much as enough for a single salad. And I think "in the whole scheme of things, was all this worth it for ONE SALAD'S WORTH of organic tomatoes?" I got a bigger perspective on what's been changing INSIDE me, however, this weekend. I discovered I have begun a path of FREEDOM.
I don't want this to sound too overblown. I still have much to do...much more to learn that anything I've already grasped, even if I learn something new every day for the rest of my life there'll still be more. But, though we YEARN TOWARDS the goal of reaching a property where we can better live out these things, I AM CONTENT with our path.
The discovery was a bit unexpected. It was a reminder of my younger days with less direction. My sister and I both love beautiful things, and we both have a knack, in differing styles, for decorating and creating a warm and welcoming environment. To see us, you'd think we were opposites. But we have a lot of tastes that are so similar.
I have an iron inner conscience that is applied rigorously to myself, yet reserves judgement towards others. My sister and I are wired differently. I went through a phase in younger years where I made a lot of mistakes with my purchases because I wanted to have everything "ideal" right THEN cosmetically rather than being willing to save, have patience, and live within my means. I had the knack to live "beautifully" and wanted to express that! Doing so put a burden on our budget, though I worked to contribute monetarily, too. Looking back on what I did right and wrong, I am glad I stayed at home with my daughter in her younger years, but I regret some of my financial impulsiveness and allowing myself to get too caught up in having things "now."
If there's one thing that'll cure that, it's having to frequently relocate. Those "things" that were so "essential" ALL had to be packed, unpacked, repacked, and repeat. They went out of style. Or got broken. Or had to be maintained, stored, or repaired. Or were forgotten when stored in a box for several months. It cost money to store those things. It required larger moving vans, more men to load the trucks, and a bigger house to keep them all in.
Back to freedom.
It's a mentality. I'm as at home in a large house filled with antiques as I am an efficiency with a bed and table. I'll always want to paint the walls a great color, have an "old friend" book handy, have my address book with dear friends' numbers close by. And have my family revolving through :) We'll sell our house here someday. But I AM CONTENT ON THIS PATH.
I was with intensely competetive, flamboyant, and discontented people this weekend, and all I wanted to do was get home to my comfort zone, curl up with hot tea (or cold) and family and a close friend or two, far far from the madding crowd. Where you can sit and watch the birds, ponder the tomatoes and seedlings, pray for relief from Junebugs and grass fires, talk, and laugh. Or simply be quiet. And orbit in my world of teenagers buzzing through, clothes cycling from room to room to laundry and back, food getting eaten and need to be cooked again, daily tasks I used to think were so mundane. And propping myself up at the end of the day on a warm, comfortable husband. :)
I AM HAPPY with our mismatched furniture. Will I feel guilty someday if we buy beautiful ones? Nope. But it's not at the top of the list yet, and if it never gets there, so be it.
I AM HAPPY with my family. We're definately the Scratch and Dent variety, with plenty of room for improvement. But I'm really happy with how we are, overall.
I DO WANT TO GET THERE...to our land, wherever it is.
But there HAS been progress! Small...don't laugh! But progress nonetheless!
1. No microwave. Haven't used one in years, and don't miss it.
2. Few kitchen gadgets. Just do it by hand.
3. No dishwasher. Not by choice...it never was hooked up. They wash up by hand just as fast or faster.
4. Possessions trimmed down drastically to the things that mean the most and are the most useful.
5. No regular TV service. No cable. We use the monitor for watching DVDs and VCRs we own. We do like watching a good movie :)
6. All lights are energy-saving, and we turn lights off when not in use. Sounds small, but it was a habit we needed to get into. We had been pretty lazy about that.
7. Our clothing is simple. We keep it in good repair and replace it only as needed with things that are good quality but don't care about the labels. We seldom if ever dress up. We just don't shop much for clothes.
8. We shop with a purpose. I had to wean myself away from decorating magazines and such till I could resist the urge to have things I didnt really need.
9. We don't go into further debt. Having every family member on the same page with this REALLY is crucial.
10. We go on dates. We may not go on vacations, cruises, etc, but we go on a weekly date, my husband and I. And often, my daughter and I. Fun IS had by all!
11. We buy more knowledgeably. We're not buying everything locally yet, but we're becoming more aware and heading that way. We're still trying to get out of the processed food dependence. We read labels. We incorporate organic. We fix more of our own scratch meals. We've changed WHAT we eat, and discovered more tastes in the process. We eat more simply.
12. We reserve judgement. I know this is strange to put on the list, but there are far too many people out there selling things that are "indispensable," far too many folks convinced their way is THE way, and far too many folks moralizing outside of their own personal sphere for my comfort. We reserve the right to practice our convictions, be it our faith, our lifestyle, our methods and discoveries, our philosophies and things we're learning...IN PRIVATE. Sharing is one thing. It's a joy to share...on respectful terms and in the right context or situation. But we've moved far far away from any religious, political, environmental or other Evangelism, right down to Tupperware and Amway. We have nothing to sell, and if we want to buy something, we'll seek it out rather than join up and risk drinking the Koolaid :)
As rigorous as this weekend was, I was surprised to discover the confidence, freedom, and contentment that has come from just some simple changes. I can't imagine how our life will feel when we've gotten a bit farther into this lifestyle, but it's refreshing to know that it's REAL...and not just rhetoric.
Those few pots of tomatoes have had their own dramas. I learned that I should have immediately taken the advice of so many here and repotted them into larger containers and fertilized the dickens out of them...BEFORE the leaves turned yellow and began spotting and curling...and dying. I didnt have the resources THEN and so paid the price later. But those little guys are resilient, and I've watched them resurrect after a draconian pruning, fertilizer CPR tactics, and a lot of TLC. Some of the tomatoes were delicious, some were undersized, some were deformed or spotty, and some were somewhere in between. I've had enough for one salad at a time. The Romas bit the dust, but did their best in spite of my neglect before succumbing. They were simply delicious. The Mr. Stripeys are bearing now, and still making more little tomatoes. They have a sweeter flavor, are not as firm, but are so superior even so to storebought that I havent scratched them off the list for further seasons. The Beefsteaks are beefing up and havent begun ripening yet. With our odd weather, I dont know if I'm over or underwatering, so I try to let the leaves be my guide. The weather is surprisingly mild for this time of year, though in comparison to otehr parts of the country, we're warmer. There's been a LOT of smoke from the brush fires, which chokes about everything around here. Your eyes water when you go outside. The June bugs also are a nuisance. They find their way into the smallest crevices, and somehow no weather stripping or windowframe is quite enough to keep them from crowding into the house and then dying in heaps in front of entry points. Each day I sweep them up. You just dont want to yawn or open your mouth too much when outside...there are so many of them, they'd be making like a snack...ick! :)
OK, enough ramble!
Oh yes, saw a snake the other day. Or I guess I should say I saw THE snake. He raised his head up about 6 inches and took off like the fastest letter S in the west. Very black, slim head, and I figure he's about 4 feet long. Beautifully shiny. I'm not a big fan of snakes, but since he's likely the sort of snake that doesnt coil and strike and that DOES eat poisionous snakes as well as an assortment of rodents, he's welcome to sun amongst my pots.
The wee eggplant seedlings still soldier on. They are happily in bigger pots and ARE fertilized regularly. The basil seedlings are hardy little guys. The carrots, which I never thinned, have beautiful foliage and dont seem phased by any changes in weather or amateur gardening attentions. The peppers I bought (2) are producing, and I'm not sure when to harvest them...either they're stunted peppers or need some more size on them...so I wait for now. They were supposed to be chocolate colored sweet peppers, but they're still green. The peppers I started from seed are repotted and are still making it, too. Except for the ones the raccoons used as a sandbox last night "just for fun."
The birds are now very reliant on our feeders, whether out of laziness or the increased demands due to the semi-drought. We have the most beautiful red-headed woodpecker, some red-bellied woodpeckers, blue jays, cardinals, and mourning doves. Mom and Pop hawk make their appearances from time to time, and of course the mockingbirds are regular tree visitors. There is some sort of native bird,smaller than a cardinal but shaped like one, and grayish in color...very very quick birds. They nest in the willows and brazilian pepper bushes on the other side of the canal/ditch and sometimes venture to eat the black oil sunflower seeds. I'll look them up soon to see what they are. They seldom come close, but I sat very still one day and one came within a few feet of me, not realizing I was there. Beautiful little fellow.
I long for the sheep and chickens, and wonder whether the chickens would like all these June bugs. I see the simplicity in the animal-to-garden-to-table-and-back cycle, since we have to BUY compost and fertilizer due to having no animals yet. Therefore, we keep it on a tiny tiny scale. I have so many seeds calling my name, and I have not yet answered.
Final news on one topic: I'll hear about The Job I Want...next week. Aside from other good points, it would help us to rocket, rather than creep, to realizing our goal to Getting There Sooner.
For now, I'll enjoy the sound of the whipporwill, and finish up the chores I put off while typing all this.
So nice catching up with all the favorite people I know from here, and reading your blogs of waht you've been up to. It's not so bad being unplugged for a while from the computer. But it's very nice being back among friends who are likeminded and so very diverse and inspiring :)
I really appreciate all of you I've come to know through blogging here and reading your daily happenings....I learn so much. Better yet, I feel the comraderie.
I thank you.