Ahhh...It is a gorgeous day heralding spring in all its wonder. The birds are singing, the snow is melting, and the weather is partly cloudy but warm. Makes me want to rush right out and plant the garden. I know in my heart it would be to no avail though. The still frozen ground and chances for more snow fully highlight that fact. Surprisingly it is in spring I am reminded most that patience is simply a part of life for homesteaders and those who choose a self sufficient life.
Over the last few years we have watched as people have come to our area seeking self sufficiency only to move back to the city a year later. At first I wondered why? Then spring came around and it occurred to me that almost nothing happens in a self sufficient life instantly. While the decision to live a self sufficient life style can happen instantly it seems to me the folks who stay and eek it out are the folks who gave it years of contemplation before acting. Why? Patience, plain and simple patience.
Patience to adjust to the changes in surroundings and life style. Patience enough to allow one’s self a broad learning curve. The patience to move at the pace of nature. Most important of all I think is the patience to allow ones dreams and expectations to mature, bear fruit and ripen. In a world no longer dependent on manual labor and processes requiring long periods of time to complete we have forgotten how to be patient. It seems that with electronics we want more, we want it faster, and we expect constant access and instant replies. I do not know about anyone else's situation but we don't have that here. A lot of cell phones are touch and go on whether or not you will have a signal. We have landline phones and DSL Internet. According to the folks in town the phones were still on a party line not that long ago so it is an improvement. Our Internet service is affected by storms and the speeds are slower than what is available in the city. TV access requires either an outdoor antenna, a satellite service, or Netflix type Internet service. Radio signal varies by the day, weather, etc...I think people come here thinking the services will not be that much different from the city and really they aren't. They are slower, less consistent and more expensive though. You just need patience to deal with it. Unfortunately they are not the only services suffering these issues. Electric, propane, and water are also less consistent and more expensive.
It took us more than two years and a couple of failed attempts to find our place. However I can say with certainty that it is only because we tried it before we bought it that we found the right place. Renting in the area we purchased our home in helped us to get a better feel for the local environment before deciding to stay. That goes for everything from the people, the commerce and the services available to the local weather. As the new comer you can feel very isolated and out of your element. Having a child this isolation was an issue and If we had bought with our original goals and intentions we would not have realized this problem until it was too late! There are no big shopping centers and the only large gatherings of folks that we've found tend to be at church on Sunday. Television and Internet often only come via satellite and at a substantial cost. If you are not used to creating your own 'entertainment' you will indeed have a substantial adjustment at first. After three years we are finally making some friends--for us that wait time was expected! Many don't realize that in small towns you are the outsider for a long time and a lot of times people will hesitate to welcome you until they are fairly sure you are staying. Many times people come here all fired up thinking they are going to have these great gardens, home can all their own food, raise chickens and rabbits, spin their own yarn and so on but when you ask if they have ever done any of that the answer is no. In fact most of them have never cooked a meal from scratch or grown a house plant. It never occurs to them that these are acquired skills. Yet so many folks have looked at their first time attempts and simply given up not realizing that the learning curve is enormous. They take hard work and continued practice.
Our first year we helped with our landlords sweet potatoes for a part of the crop. The second year we had various veggies in a good sized garden...plowed by the landlord...half to two thirds of it failed. The third year we did so-so but moved before the harvest. Finally Last year...the fourth year..we produced enough for ourselves and others. No instant success in it. A lot of hard work and trial and error. That will continue. We added a rabbit last year, Mr. Buns. He is a pet since he was a pet to the folks we got him from but he contributes compost. Having started making jellies and sauces last year we are just starting down the road of home canning. We are looking forward to adding more of it to our skill set. These things take time.
Time to learn, time to do and even more time to get good at. I think a lot them fail to realize that we must move with the flow of nature. Nature does things in its own time, not in ours. Seeds sprout and grow, each flowering and producing fruit at it own rate. Some you can harvest quickly and some require the whole growing season to mature. Chickens lay according to nature. This can be simulated as I understand it by producing the correct light cycles in the coop but unless you know this you may find your hens not laying as you expected. Animals used in fibre production have different times and methods for collecting all those hairs. I can actually remember standing in our tiny post office when we were renting and over hearing a conversation from some of our neighbors complaining that they weren't getting any eggs from their chickens. The post master asked a few questions and it turned out they had purchased 6 roosters because and I quote "They were prettier". Mind you I cannot say I'd know the difference depending on breed but I'd certainly have at least asked if they would lay eggs and how many I could expect each day. The Post master said they moved a few months later because there was "not enough to do".
There is often a lack of choice. Lack of choice in service providers, in shopping, in churches, in dining, and basic entertainment. This lack leaves many traveling into the city for goods and services. So after a year of living here, not getting the results expected and driving back into the city many decide to throw in the towel. It takes a special person to stay. A patient person.
It’s a good thing I spent time doing things manually before we decided to move. Washing dishes by hand. Cooking from scratch. Growing plants from seed. Not going to movies, eating out, or shopping for entertainment. Down grading our Internet service and canceling our cable. Learning to crochet. Learning to have the patience my mother insists I was born lacking. Otherwise I might not have managed so far. 8-}
As always you can join the Facebook group, like the Facebook community page, and visit the website. All of these are conveniently called “Kaya Self Sufficiency”. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I hope you are getting better at providing as much as you can for yourself and for your family, group, or community.