Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Moon Maddness

Yesterday there must have been something in the air, or maybe it was residual craziness left from the recently full moon, or perhaps the weather, but what ever the cause, everything got a bit crazy last night.

There was the usual wailing and gnashing of teeth associated with children getting home after a long, stressful day at school (I’m not sure what caused the stress this time, but the results were very apparent.) After working through all that, (I’m sure it didn’t help that mom was away at a conference, so they were totally stuck with dad. That could have been the source of some of the stress…) it was time to do the chores. The children went out to get the baby goats from the pasture and I mixed the bottles. By the time I got to the barn out cow, May, had gone crazy, jumped the fence, and was running and bucking around the yard. We don’t have any perimeter fence, so this isn’t a good thing. If she decided to make a run for it she could go all the way to West Virginia without having to stop. I grabbed the grain bucket, spilling the extra kid milk in the process and tried to calmly catch the cow. Twenty frustrating minutes later she was in the barn and things were returning to normal.

After a dinner of salmon fillet on a bed of brazed kale with garlic and balsamic vinegar, and showers and story time, the children went off to bed and I sat down to catch up on blogging. Apparently there was still a touch of moon madness in the air, because as soon as I logged on I immediately jumped up on my soapbox, stumbled around a bit, and posted. I didn’t make my point very well, so I’ll try again. (The trouble with this kind of thing is the posts get a bit long, and no one will read them. But since I write mostly for myself, I guess I’ll continue.)

As an eco-farmer I spend my day trying to understand the natural systems around me so that I can adjust my farming techniques to allow the systems to work at their best and still produce the desired product. When I here people pontificating about saving the world, or the environment, or the whales, or… I get pretty frustrated. The world doesn’t need saving. The world will survive; life will go on, regardless of what we do. WE MIGHT NOT, but life will continue. I also get put off by all the “green” programs and products that are flooding the market. Hybrids for example, everyone loves them. They are going to save the transportation system and eliminate global warming. Except that a few years ago we owned a Volkswagen Jetta TDI (turbo injected diesel) that wouldn’t qualify for any of the “green” incentive programs being offered by companies or governments, but which got better than 53 miles to the gallon on the highway and in the mid 40s around town. It also fit five adults comfortably, with room in the trunk for four sets of golf clubs, our all the baby stuff one ‘needs’ when taking the baby out. It beat the advertised efficiency of the current hybrids hands down. If carbon emissions are the measure of ‘greenness’ then we haven’t made much progress. Anyway, back to my point. We can’t “save the world”. We can’t legislate or incentivize our way into a better tomorrow. All we can do is decide how we are going to live our lives right now.

After working with and studying natural systems for some time, I have come to realize that the problems we are struggling with come from our system of building our society, growing our business, etc by using resources from elsewhere. This allows us to produce excess, to grow in and uncontrolled way. No other living thing on the planet lives like this. Maybe that is because it doesn’t work in the long run.

My proposal, for myself and my family (and anyone else who wants to give it a whirl) is to try to live in accordance with the rules that govern the rest of life. That means meeting all my basic needs (energy, food, water) from local resources and returning 100% of the “waste” back to the local resource pool to be used by other members of the community of life. For me, a human scale range is 20 miles. I can walk it in a day. I can know the people, plants, animals, systems intimately. I will feel immediately any mistake made in our community. If we allow waste to pile up and become toxic, I will see it and feel it immediately. If we use up all the nutrients in the soil in one area, I’ll see it immediately too. That is what I mean by living locally. That’s what I’m trying to do.

Haven’t succeeded yet, but it is a radical change of direction, and it is not dependent on any program from the government, or any product from business. It is all up to me and the other members of my community.

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