August 24, 2011

How to Survive without a Job

My job in our financial world is to save money.  As such I am also the cook, gardener and farmer.  This is my choice of career.  

As a hobby I  made jewelery in the winter.  To broaden our horizons we decided to sell my wares at the local  Music Festival.  We were told to expect 10,000 people and to have enough inventory for 3 days.  Every day for months I made at least 10 items.  I did not garden and I did not farm (other than the daily chores of chickens).  

We went as a family, my husband, son and son's sweetheart.  My husband made excellent displays and fixed up an old school bus so we could all travel with ease.  The kids where awesome, 15 hours together under a tent for 3 days and never an unpleasant moment.  The sweetheart happily helped set up hundreds of earrings and detangle chains.  My son who had never sold before, or even seen me sell before, took the bulls by the horns, was an extremely effective and honorable salesman.  I was so proud.

Chasing money always reminds me of why saving money is an most effective way to survive.  Now I know money makes the world go 'round, I am too old to be that deluded.  The pursuit of money is so fleeting and fickle.  While this could be said about cooking, gardening and farming, one loss is only replaced by a gain somewhere else.  

I hope I am not retelling an old tale here but one year I went out to pick my beloved red plums to find the tree overtaken by a grape vine and without fruit.  In my anger I started pulling on the vine, and thus causing an unexpected grape shower.  Looking up I saw and later picked enough grapes for 36 litres of wine.

We anticipated enough profit from the festival to pay for our beef for the winter.  We earned enough to cover our costs and the social interaction for us all was priceless.

At home the weeds have overtaken most of my beds.  This was to be expected.  What was not was the wacky weather we have been enjoying this year would have made my diligent efforts to grow food frustrating and for not.  Without my help there was crop failure for most of the berries and cherries.  It was just to wet.  My cucumbers have only grown ten percent in the past 3 months and of 75 tomato plants only one has fruit on it (Mortgage lifter).  I am lucky as I still have most plants, broccoli, cauliflower, chard, tomato and cucumbers.  If it is a long fall these could produce in full.   

When chasing money we anticipated spending money.  Cooking, gardening and farming one anticipates eating.  I see now that one must strike a balance to meet the needs of life.  If not for the absence from the garden this lesson would not have come to light.  I will not be the slave to eating or money but cultivate them both.

More to follow.


August 16, 2011

Why do we feel we have to be productive all the time? How to Survive - How to be Free - Saving Money - Being Happy

 (can you see the 6 point buck in my meadow, he doesn't seem to worried about being free)

Why do we feel we have to be productive all the time?
It is very hard to give up the treadmill. We have been chasing the carrot for so long we refuse to believe we could survive living another way. Even when we are not productive we do things to help with our productivity. It is easy to be obsessed with doing the right thing all the time and constantly pressure ourselves to produce, devoted to securing the future for my family.
I love to create with words, food, gardens, colors - doesn't everyone. They don't pay off. What you love, your inner joy, is not important. The only thing important is production, captivity, my slavery. It is hard to turn from slavery where pleasure is not allowed.
Looking at our lives like a business we cut the overhead of living at every turn. We are not frugal, we are practical.
My responsibility to my family is to save money, my husband's is to make money, and together we work to reducing the need for money at all. We live on a little farm. We both work from home. You make money and save money at the save time. I started making jewelery in my spare time, making my pleasure productive allows me to enjoy my life more.
It is hard to break free, and it is always done in steps. Just acknowledging there is more to life than consumerism is difficult for most.

August 02, 2011


Today I cut down the burdock and thistle in my meadow. The burdock was over 7' tall! Although there were only about 40 plants their stocks were 3 - 5" around. By the moon, this is the best week, until August 1, is the best time to cut down plants your don't want. For one thing if cut now their seeds will be too immature to grow new plants and secondly since the plant is putting so much into the flower (thus finally seed) its defenses are down and will not easily be able to recover.

After 10 hours of cutting the burdock down I realized it would take twice as long to haul out all the pieces.  I also noticed they were covered in bees and other insects that would not easily find flowers now. Tired, sore and sweaty I give in, the burdock wins this round - Caution:  Lessons to Learn Ahead - and the world just keeps on spinning, and I am just along for the ride!

Brothers and Sisters in Sustainability and Self-Sufficient Living Please Share Words of Wisdom on Modern Farming

The post of a blog friend has been on my mind since I read it.  Because  of careful planning and major life changes she was fortunate to set up a farm and throw herself 100% into farming, gardening and homemaking.  Unfortunately she now sees what we, her brothers and sisters in sustainability and self-sufficiency also have learned from years of experience, these are not viable ways to procure cash.  Nature will always fill your belly but you can never count on her to fill your purse.  One will only burn out trying to prove otherwise.

I feel partially responsible for not exposing the cold hard truths of living like this, off  grid so to speak,  that newbies and daydreamers can't know.  The truth is cooking, gardening and farming are excellent ways to save money and feed your family.  The truth is to maintain and secure the necessary infrastructure for these activities  requires the labour of at least one more person and other resources including a cash flow.

I blog about my successes and each picture carefully taken to show a  sense of perfection.   Are there any dishes, can you hear me panting, do you see my dirty nails or the weeds, or the unswept floor?  The truth is I never have time to make my house or my yard look pretty.  I am too tired from keeping enough food growing to fill my freezer for the winter and the wolf from the door.

Anyone who is serious about sustainable living encounters feelings of inadequacy and overwhelming everyday.  We just live with it and keep trudging down the path.  Each day too we take our eyes from our obsession and to see how beautiful the journey really is.  The rewards far outshine the losses,  never posh and frilly but always an exciting adventure.

(Can you see my husband in the picture?  This is a picture of our meadow when it was a dying rotting forest.)