Thursday, February 24, 2011

A simpler life

Anyone that follows the stock market, commodity prices, the dollar and news events is probably getting somewhat uneasy.  Commodity prices have been steadily rising for months and have really shot up recently.  This is for multiple reasons - manmade and natural disasters, unrest in the world, too many people living off of the "system" and not putting into it, too much borrowing and not enough saving, terrible political decisions in multiple countries... the list goes on and on.

It is not helpful to live in the spirit of fear that is permeating our world.  One of my favorite scriptures is in 2Timothy 1:7......   For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.   BE ADVISED  it is the better part of wisdom to look ahead and make wise decisions for your family..... not in a spirit of fear, but in a useful, responsible way.

No matter where you live or what you do, you can make your situation more stable.  Proverbs has a lot of wisdom concerning living in wisdom or in folly.  If you have not read through Proverbs lately, you should.  Just look at today's date and read that Proverb.  Here are a few samples.

A wise man fears and departs from evil,
      But a fool rages and is self-confident. 
Proverbs 14:16
Every prudent man acts with knowledge,
      But a fool lays open
his folly. 
Proverbs 13:16

No matter where you live, you should look around and see what local resources are at hand..... then learn to use them.  This is wisdom, not fear.  When you learn in a non-emergency situation it is a lot easier.  Add knowledge and skill one layer at a time so no one is overwhelmed.  If I had tried to feed my family sourdough bread baked on the wood stove 3-4 years ago no one would have eaten it..... including me.  I probably would never have attempted a full on farmer's breakfast on the stove, but now it is very possible.  We have changed over time.

I have already posted this video, but am posting it again with a caveat from my sister.  She said the pictures make everything look easier, cleaner and faster than it really happened.  We have just made one step after the other after the other.  Each person works within their strengths..... or develops new strengths.  For example, my hubby had a milk cow when he was younger.  Bonnie would much prefer him to milk her and gives the most milk to him.  This is not practical for us.  I have had to learn to milk, and my sister is next.  It doesn't matter what is the easiest, this is a new skill we must develop.

Ask yourself these questions....
  • Does my family produce more than they consume?
  • Is the bulk of my food local and sustainable?
  • If it is not, do I have an ample supply on hand for an emergency situation?
  • Can I slowly change the way my family eats, lives, cooks and plays to be more sustainable?
  • Do I know how to produce food and energy for my family?
  • Do I have a skill, knowledge or resource that I can barter with?
  • Can I convert grass into protein? 
  • Do you know how to garden?
  • If you have a garden.... do you use heirloom seeds?
  • Do you know how to properly save and reuse your seeds?
A side note.... Baker Creek Seeds is my favorite non GMO, heirloom seed company.  We plan to add a section of garden for the animals this year. 

Questions like these help you think ahead in a non-emergency situation.  When a power outage or other disruption occurs, use the opportunity to practice some of your skills.  Do you have to run to the store regularly?  Rethink that.  Then when the next disruption occurs, try again.  Instead of complaining, figure it out.  Do laws need to be changed so you can have a wood stove in an area RICH with firewood?  How about backyard chickens?  Do zoning laws need to change?  What has to happen so you can live more sustainably?

Living a simple life brings a peace that is beyond wonderful.  We are not quite there yet, but we persevere.  Stay close to God, eat local and fresh, be prepared, be a good neighbor, learn to function closer to where you live.  Be content.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Life on the farm

Slideshow of recent changes around here.

We have had a lot of changes around here since I last posted.  Our daughter and son in law moved back to the Bay Area.  It is bittersweet.  The sweet - he got a wonderful job.  The bitter, they moved away.  It involved a lot of change for all of us since our daughter had become the teacher for our youngest and they both helped so much around here.  Also, they had the nerve to take one of my grandbabies out of the county.  I thought there was a rule against that! 

The next big change came when our raw milk source dried up...... well, they sold out and we no longer had access.  This was so, so sad.  However, as a small community, we decided it was time to bite the bullet and purchase our own milk cow.  We would turn our own grass and clover into milk!  We purchased Bonnie the cow and Bessie her calf.  We got a good deal because she was difficult to milk and the calf was still on her at three months.  She is a beautiful 3/4 mini jersey and 1/4 dexter and they were not kidding about being difficult to milk :)

We pressed on.  At the beginning it took three adults, a kick bar and a lot of patience to get her milked.  Then down to two adults and someone on poop patrol (we have someone catch her poop in a snow shovel if she lifts her tail).  Now one person can milk her.  We still have the poop patrol, but she often does not poop while being milked.  We started out using Bag Balm on her teats, then read the label.  Petroleum based.  Bad bad bad bad.   We are trying out the Burt's Bees Farmer's Friend Hand Salve.  It appears to be working really well.  We are happy and blessed.

My sweet hubby and brother in law converted the Taj Mahal chicken coop into a milking barn.  It has a concrete floor, a washout, lights..... then my sister spotted an old sink at my aunt's house and talked her out of it.   Her hubby went and fetched it and installed it.  Then we traded a neighbor for some of their excess hay.  The three younger kids (from both families) picked up some extra daily chores.  Our oldest son came and cut down some unproductive fruit trees to begin the process of making a better pasture and we are good to go!   Everyone has worked together in their own strengths.  We are now being rewarded by about 3 quarts of milk at each milking.  It is only a little disheartening that the milking barn is cleaner than my kitchen.  This is thanks to Farmer Joe who sweeps, washes out with vinegar water and squeegees after each milking.

We have been hit by another brutal snowstorm and are out of power again.  We are wondering if we will break our previous record of 10 days.  I worked hard on baking sourdough bread on the stovetop.  It turned out great!  Also during that time we lost our water and the boys had to snowshoe up to fix it.  All in all, a very grand adventure.  (Note, the power is back on - we were only out 7 days - we're getting ready to be hit by another storm later this week).  I have to say the Ipad, Iphone, Itouch and Laptop were helpful.  The Kindle program loaded up with books was awesome.  You can sit in the dark and read for several hours.  When we turn the generator on, we recharge everything.  It worked really well.

Shortly after they got our water fixed a ditch that runs above a part of our road got pulled out by a big cedar tree.  A massive amount of water came down and wiped out a part of our road.  The guys  drove the backhoe out and helped the local water company do some repairs. Being a part of a community is good.

I have to say, I love simple farm life.  There have been big adjustments, but they are good.  While we were out of power it was even better.  It is wonderful to always have fresh milk. A simpler way of life makes power outages a little easier to handle.

I have a bunch of pictures from the past few weeks in this slideshow.  I hope you enjoy it.