Monday, July 14, 2008


I get asked rather frequently why I do what I do. Sometimes it's a philosophical question, someone wanting to hear how I am going to single handedly save the world. Others just can't fathom why someone with a modicum of intelligence, a decent education, and all my faculties in reasonably good working order, would opt for a life of obvious hard work, low pay, and minimal social recognition. The answer changes depending on my mood. Sometimes, I am a revolutionary, trying to overthrow the current system. Sometimes, I am a social dropout following my BLISS. Sometimes, I'm just a Dad trying to build a good life for my kids and their kids and their kid's kids, ... I guess at heart I am all of those things. They don't seem to be mutually exclusive to me. I hope there is a revolution. I know the current system will eventually collapse, and I hope that the efforts of myself and others like me will provide a net and a way forward that will guide the future societies to a better way of living. I don't see my self as a revolutionary leader. (My Dad quizzed me on that once.) My way of working doesn't reach enough people to change the world as a power broker. I recently finished the book The Starfish and The Spider. (if you are interested in revolution you should read it!) I see what I am doing as part of a new starfish movement that will quietly change the world as we know it. The last time that happened was the Industrial Revolution. There where no leaders of that revolution. No missionaries. No Government Programs. The ideas spread quickly across the face of the globe because they worked, and because anyone could make them work. The benefits were there for anyone who wanted to use the new ideas. What I am doing is the same thing. I'm only a small part of it, but it is already growing in my community and in other places around the world. Live locally. Be part of the local community of life. Use a different measure of success. That's a hard one for those of us who have to interact with the world as it is. My mother-in-law thinks everything we produce should be going to market. Make money! Of course she loves all the fresh eggs and produce we bring her, and she saves all her kitchen scraps for weeks (in the freezer) for us to bring back to the chickens. She wouldn't call it closing the resource loop, she would just tell you she hates to waste things, but she is actively working to close the resource loop in at least a part of the food she eats. She is a closet revolutionary! Even though she knows the value of the food we bring her, she would never compute the economic benefit for her self or for us (we don't often buy fresh produce, eggs, milk, cheese, or meat from conventional stores), if we didn't get cash for it, it doesn't count as income.

Yesterday, a local Doctor asked me if I can really make a living doing what I do. We talked about how things are working for us right now. Yes, C works full time so we can afford to build a farm back up from scratch. Without that, none of this would be possible. But, our farm provides most of our fresh produce, all our eggs, milk, cheese, and most of the meat. The Doc, figured that was worth about 5oo or 600 dollars a month. We also get some income from the farmers market and from on farm sales. Not enough to pay for everything, but a good step in that direction. We are only on year 3 here. Give us a few more years and the outside income will be the extra part.

One last thing. My mother-in-law found me a book at a yard sale the other day. Any urban/suburban or even rural folks interested in becoming more self sufficient should take a look at it. It's called The Self-Sufficient Suburban Garden, by Jeff Ball. Very well written step by step plan for moving from zero to self-sufficient in a few years time.
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