This is crunch time for us. It is a busy time of year. Mark is finishing up his school year; this means that he is home late from work because of school concerts. It is also shearing season . He spends good portions of weekends on farms getting to know many different breeds of sheep. (If you ever find my husband on your stead, please don't let your sheep lie in hay. Veggie matter really gums up the works.)
It is also planting season. There is so much seed in the ground and so much bare soil yet to plant. I have one more sheep pen to muck. This will be used on the corn patch, dry bean patch.. Tomatoes, peppers, cukes, zukes and other wonderful winter squash seed still need to find the soil. I am trying to mulch with leaves this year. So there are many days in the woods and along our road raking up leaves. I am trying to make the work of the garden easier by not needing to weed so much. These are beneficial to the soil. Those tree roots dig deep in the soil and bring lots of great nutrients up to their leaves that now can feed my sandy soil. Which will be important to our seasonal bottom line because I think that Mark will be making the leap to becoming a full time, independent musician.
There is so much economic bad news out there. But at some point you just can't let that hold you back. Playing safe does not always assure security. How many school years have we faced the spring budget season and worried whether he will have a job the following fall? Too many. At some point you have to take your life into your own hands and see how it turns out. Fall on your face or lift yourself up; only you can find that out by trying. So we shall see. He is trying to see how all the pieces will fit together. I will try to find a job,something part time; preferably, at a book store.
A few months ago I made a list of all the things I do around the house that save us money. I was thinking about what my work at home was worth. What economic value did it have? Quite a bit, actually. I grow the garden and preserve quite a bit of food. I collect wild ( FREE) foods. I cook many foods from scratch that we used to buy in a package. We cut our wood. I conserve cooking fuel (propane gas) when I can by using my fire-less cooker, cooking outdoors, and using the oven with many things cooking at the same time. I make our laundry soap. I hang our laundry. We do not use paper towels or paper napkins. We feed our soil with what we can glean from our land. I save some seed. We collect rain water to water our sheep and garden. Mark repairs our cars whenever possible. We have a tiny fridge and use our cold room a lot. We drive a biodiesel car. I knit much of our winter wear and wool socks.I darn socks and mend clothing. We make many of our holiday and birthday gifts. I use my rudimentary sewing skills to make pj's and insulated curtains for our home. We grow meat birds. We make most of our own sweetener in the form of maple syrup. We have all those apple trees. I make simple herbal remedies: elderberry cough syrup, jewel weed salve for itchy rashes, healing salve for wounds. I make herbal tea blends that help with sleep, colds and my wacky change-o-life hormones. We make our own beer and wine. We use the library and buy fewer books. We buy many tools, clothes and household items second hand ,but made with quality. We have found a community of friends who gather together frequently for work parties and music making. I volunteer for a community garden that donates food to low income residents of my town. We are allowed to take some produce home which supplements any crop failures I might have at home. We have perfected bartering so that we can provide our own hay and add to our flock with barter. Mostly, we have learned to make-do.
There are still many things I would love to do. We need to get laying hens again. I would love to learn to make soap. There is still a wealth of herbal knowledge to learn. I would love to challenge my sewing skills so that I can update my wardrobe. I would like to build a solar food dehydrator and a green house. I would love to find a way to only need one really good, fuel efficient, reliable car.
This life assures that we will find a way to make most of these things happen because we can see the economic value in them. Nearly all these things mean that we eat a healthier diet, rely on our own ingenuity and need less money. When I come indoors at the end of a long day working out doors, I can see the results of my labor. I don't leave a cubicle with a pile of paper waiting for me the next morning. Nice work if you can get it.....