Posted by: LittleDragonFarm | January 31, 2012

The path has to lead somewhere….

Tomorrow, February 1st is my birthday and typically its a quiet no fuss day.  I tend to like it that way- it is also this year it happens to fall on game night at our house, no TV, no individual activities and lots of friends coming over to play games- cards, monopoly, clue, uno, risk all sorts of board games that force folks to interact with one another.  So there will be cake and fun and I’m looking forward to it.

I realize this is the long way around to my musings today but it fits.  One of the reasons we initiated game night was because we are looking at limited electricity and the need for things to occupy my 8 year old’s mind that doesn’t look like a television show made for an alien race of children and teens.  I don’t “get” most of children’s television right now neither do most of the parents I know so we have turned towards games and crafts that we can all do together.  This, as I mentioned before, has a purpose and in addition to the occupying of minds and time it is to educate our daughter on how important friends and family are to the enjoyment of life and to accomplishing the things we would like to accomplish.  Almost all of our friends are in someway involved with us moving to the farm and setting it up.  One family loves goat meat and goat milk so they are asking us to raise the goats in trade for them buying the goats and us for housing them and daily care for them in return for the pleasure of the animals presence, rights to milk and some of the meat.  It is the same way with the chickens and alpacas (although this is for the fiber from the alpacas).  We have a extended “family” a ready-made CSA where our friends have offered physical labor and some financial help in the form of tools or animals for part of the produce or product.  We really do a lot of bartering in our group because none of  us have the extra money to make life very comfortable but with us all helping each other out we do pretty darn good.  We have folks that sew, make soap, make cheese, weave, are herbalists, cook, can foods, are blacksmiths or can fix just about anything including computers. We have found if we bring this together we can all do well and the kids all really benefit from the lessons involved with making and sharing all of  this.  This is where the crafts come in and we teach the kids the skills that will be needed on the farm or if the concept of energy decent happens in our or their lifetime- which we are sure it will.  When we move which is now looking to be very soon rather than later in the spring or summer we plan on utilizing all the skills we have practiced over the last few years or decades in creating our new life.  So the path is leading to allowing our family, both blood related and intentional, to become more self-sufficient and in many ways stronger.  Both mentally and physically, we know we can rely on our skills to develop or create a lot of what we need to survive and live quite comfortably even though it won’t be in a grand manner.  The fact that we will be raising a huge part of our food is another way- both because of the way of raising it- organically in the true sense and not following the new more relaxed guidelines that are now the practice for the large commercial organic farms and because of the amount of physical labor it will take to be successful at it.

I t seems such a huge goal: to move to this farm in the middle of nowhere, raise our own meat, veggies and fruit and to practice skills that many folks consider obsolete or belonging to the “Little House on the Prairie” days.  And when you look at it I guess in many ways we are resurrecting that era but with the modern knowledge of health and agriculture.  I will admit that I loved the “little House” books as a kid and always wanted to try the things they had done that I read about; as an adult I found myself drawn to historical re-enactment groups that emphasized learning the skills the were in those books- so I did. I can spin fiber on a wheel or drop spindle, I can weave, cook over an open fire or in a wood cookstove, I am an herbalist- I only do the very basics but its enough to have an effect on anything from fevers to upset tummys or cramps.  I make cheese, smoke and preserve my own meats, raise most of our veggies and eggs (I like my chickens too much to eat them) and my husband is a blacksmith, hunter, can fix anything and is a mead maker- although that doesn’t enter into the picture all that much  We have been teaching our child to make cheese, use herbs(mostly chamomile, ginger and mint to start), she is also learning how to cook over a fire (she has been doing this since she was 3 and able to hold a stick for sausage or marshmallows).  She has learned from others in our group how to make cording (kumihimo), she is learning slowly how to spin and weave.  She is 8 and her teachers love it. She has become more open to learning in many areas and not just in the “homecraft” arena and it is just lots of fun to experience.  However the serious side of this is that she will be able to create her own space or to continue what we have created for our family. She will know how to truly take care of herself and if she decided to go to college she will be ready to learn and apply what she learns.  I think that is what schools are missing these days, teaching practical application.  The families that are involved with us- with the exception of 2- are also teaching their children these skills or if  none of us have the necessary skills we have found folks that can teach all of us.

In addition to the skills we have learned over the years we are also learning new skills and lots of new information.  In the past year I have been researching cobb housing, underground housing, sod housing, standard building construction; all sorts of things I normally don’t pay attention to or knew very little about until now.  We have also looked into expanding our rainwater catch system into an irrigation system and how we would be able to develop that to bring the animals water as well as how would we use it in the event of a fire.  Unfortunately the area we are moving to does not have fire service so we are on our own.  We are however very lucky that one of our folks is a fireman and he came up with several ways of dealing with the problem although most of it is in fire containment as that will be the best we can do without the training and equipment of a firefighter. Untrained it would be way too dangerous for us to do.

I believe we are all up to the challenge of living in a responsible and sustainable manner and to help others do the same. I would say that is where my path is leading…

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