Friday, October 11, 2013

One Long Crazy Summer

Whew! Here it is almost Halloween and the blogs are scarce. It's been one long crazy summer.

May found us getting the garden up and going until the last week when we moved grown kids and the grand baby back home at short notice. For all those folks who have said "There are only three of you, why buy such a big house?" This is why! We bought this house as a part of our long term "life preps". Life preps are those preps that you would generally find yourself planning for anyway. Buying a house is a big one in and of itself but have you made plans for aging parents, grown children struggling in a bad economy, grandkids, extended stay visitors, etc...? I am not certain our house would bear the load of both aged parents and grown kids with kids but it will adequately handle each on their own for a while.

June was also occupied with the garden and moving children. Sadly the garden went in really late and only part way. It was really, really hot in June and everything in it got cooked so I don't feel quite so bad. Our grown kiddos moved back out mid-June. Are you counting? That's two full moves in 3 weeks. We also worked on the house a bit. We removed the linoleum circa 1933 and 1968 from the 16'x8' laundry room. Underneath we found a beautiful never walked on 1933 wood floor. Our youngest child started horseback riding lessons in June in trade for our mucking stalls, yard work, and whatever other tasks we can do in trade. This was also the month The Mr. was gone for a week on a fencing job and the month of the scouting trip. Oh and Father's day, a Birthday and our ‘Town Festival’ was at the end of the month too! We won an awesome art print in the raffle. It was a very busy but very good month!

July ~ saw yet another full move on the fourth, but glad to help out a friend. That is 3 moves in five weeks! It must have been the summer of moving as this friend moved again in August. We were bummed that there were no fireworks due to the fire danger but there was the town festival the last week of June so it wasn't too bad. We spent most of July trying to get caught up from June. I'm afraid we never really did. We got a small pool, put up our tent and had a vacation in the yard. The gardening finally continued after numerous issues with feral cats and moving dirt and replanting. The horseback riding continued and we struggled with getting the house put back together from all the moving. The shed got a makeover and is now part bunny part seeding/potting area. The Mr. fixed our AC/HEAT PUMP and a week later we had an energy audit done. The house, being a 1918 fixer, failed miserably! Oh and I fell on the basement stairs, twisted my ankle, thought hey, no big deal, I'll just ice it. Umm...well, no, that was an emergency room trip the next morning.

August ~ah, the month the rains came, the basement flooded and as such got a good rearranging. A BIG thank you to the MR. for that! I spent the month with my foot in a walking BOOT because while it was not broken I was told "It’s bad enough to treat it like it’s broken". Did you know that nerves only grow back at the rate of one millimeter a month? It's really hard to garden like that! Ssshhhh, don’t tell the DR. I was walking! Well sort of. Actually I was a good girl and spent most of the month on the sofa with my foot elevated and iced while I crocheted. Sleeping unfortunately was not so easy and my poor MR. was suddenly overwhelmed with the amount of stuff needing done.  The m'inion was also less than happy because my unusable foot equaled no horseback riding lessons. To our enormous surprise though the month flew by and it was time to do the back to school shopping before we knew it. Other happenings in August included picnics with friends and having our fridge replaced. There was a huge delivery window on the new one, four plus hours, and it had to be empty on delivery in order for them to remove it. Getting rid of the old one was part of the deal with getting the new one so no recycling or repurposing could be done either. Anyway this started us on a hunt for enough ice chests to hold everything in our fridge for untold hours. Did I already say "It's good to have friends!"? This is yet another time I was happy to be with/near people instead of out in the country on a lonely dirt road. I'm not knocking self sufficiency or the country life. It’s a fact that I wish we had a bit more land and were on the out skirts of town just so we could have hoofed animals, which we confirmed we cannot have this summer but it's good to have a group of people around just in case. The MR. was gifted with a chicken coop that was a trailer in a former life and will be a gypsy wagon in its next life if all goes well. August started us on the process of weatherizing our house as well. The first step was cutting access holes and replacing the wiring in the attic.

September ~ Yay! School started. In the brand new super secure school they built on the hill. So secure my in fact our kiddo got locked out retrieving something from the playground. Cannot say we're thrilled with the higher taxes, the schools design or its prominent placement on the hill. We get tornados but that seems to have escaped the designers notice. On the other hand the heating and cooling systems are geothermal and we can definitely support that. Labor Day came and we got not one but two years of Fourth of July fireworks because hooray the fire bans were finally lifted. We also had to undo all that arranging we struggled to get done in July. Everything in the house that was on an exterior wall had to be moved a minimum of three feet from the walls and not block access pathways so they could blow in insulation. It wasn't until we did this that I realized every single room has an exterior wall. Our dryer also went out...thank goodness for the clothesline! So, not so much sitting with my boot in September. Thankfully I was switched from the walking boot to a brace about half way through the month. By the third week of September we had had several crews and large trucks in and out of our place doing the insulating as indicated by the energy audit. We were certainly ready for the follow up audit. Hmm. Still not as good as they wanted. Sigh. We moved yet more stuff and insulated some more. Finally they were satisfied with the results and finally I was released to be back on my foot with normal but limited activity...A.K.A. don’t overdo it! Ack! 8 weeks out of the garden plus a bunch of rain and I could barely find it. Half our stuff had already gone to seed. And last but not least, we have been asked to write a short monthly article for a homesteading newsletter and we’re going to give it a try. Sometimes scheduling is easier when you have a ‘boss’, LOL!

Enter October ~ the weather has turned colder. We had to pull the remainder of the garden due to freezing. Thankfully it really wasn't that much. The circuit breaker for the clothes dryer has been replaced and we have a working dryer just in time for snow. The m'inion has finally resumed riding lessons. Scouts are back in session. I have a bunch of Christmas projects in the works. My ankle still hurts but is getting better. The Mr. is losing weight, volunteering at the church and happy. Our friendships are a bit stronger than they were and by the end of the year we will have another grand baby plus two more new little ones to cuddle up when we see them. Of course our house is still in a shambles from the weatherization and painting has now been heaped on top of the to-do list as there are now drywall patches in every room of the house. It will be nice not to have to ask someone else for permission or approval of the colors. I am sure I have left some things out but I am grateful to have had such a busy and productive summer.

I do realize that I probably could have blogged while sitting on the couch with my foot up but the pain medication didn't really make for a fully functional brain. I can promise you a full blog on the weatherization experience soon though so be sure to look for it.


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.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The New Renaissance

Have I mentioned how much I hate the terms used to describe my interests? The terms used to pigeon hole and classify us, separating us into different groups instead of uniting us. Words like Prepper, survivalist, homesteader, and even self sufficiency. You know I like here we go...

The Merriam Webster definition of homestead is
1a :  the home and adjoining land occupied by a family
b :  an ancestral home
c :  house
2:  a tract of land acquired from United States public lands by filing a record and living on and cultivating the tract

A homesteader is the person or persons doing this and homesteading is the act of doing it.
The only definitions I could find for and Survivalist come from Wikipedia and Google but I feel like they are accurate.

A prepper is an individual or group that prepares or makes preparations in advance of or prior to any change in normal circumstances or lifestyle without significant reliance on other persons (i.e., being self-reliant), or without substantial assistance from outside resources (govt., etc. ...)

The definition of survivalist comes in assorted flavors and types.
Survivalism is a movement of individuals or groups (called survivalists or preppers) who are actively preparing for emergencies, including possible disruptions in social or political order, on scales from local to international. Survivalists often acquire emergency medical and self-defense training, stockpile food and water, prepare to become self-sufficient, and build structures (e.g., a survival retreat or an underground shelter) that may help them survive a catastrophe.

The many types include safety preparedness, wilderness survival, and self-defense. As well as those focused on readiness for disasters such as military attacks, bio-chemical warfare, collapse of the economy or natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards. There is even a group called Rawlesions who allegedly follow the teachings of James Wesley Rawles.

None of these terms really apply to me. I think I prefer the term renaissance. Merriam Webster defines it thusly.
a :  the transitional movement in Europe between medieval and modern times beginning in the 14th century in Italy, lasting into the 17th century, and marked by a humanistic revival of classical influence expressed in a flowering of the arts and literature and by the beginnings of modern science
b :  the period of the Renaissance
c :  the neoclassic style of architecture prevailing during the Renaissance
often capitalized :  a movement or period of vigorous artistic and intellectual activity
:  rebirth, revival

In addition the Oxford Dictionary says-(as noun a renaissance) a revival of or renewed interest in something: example...rail travel is enjoying a renaissance.

In particular I interpret it as "A rebirth of humanism and cultural achievements for their own sake through a period of vigorous artistic and intellectual activity expressed in the arts, literature, modern science, and technology through renewed interests in things and cultures of the past."  I've really been thinking about it a lot and what we need is an integration of the old ways with modern technology. A merging of past and present that creates an appreciation for life in its simplest form and strives to create and sustain a way of living that honors all life in the circle not just us. Imagine what DaVinci would think of our world; Miraculous inventions but no beauty in our hearts. That is not who we are and it's not the future we want either.

We are a new breed. We are going back to the homestead and nature based lives. Lives that are slower and more deliberate. Relearning skills our grandparents and sometimes great, great, great grandparents knew. However we are integrating them with modern life. Using food processors, dishwashers, pressure canners, sewing machines, GPS, and even the world wide web regularly in our homesteading. I call it a renaissance because more and more it seems our desires are just so out of place with the more, more, me, me, lifestyle of endless greed and acquisition. We have had too much and too much of it is in the end irrelevant! We just don't fit any longer. We find ourselves questioning everything. Everything from why to where and when has been and is once again being debated. In the end the world we are used to has squeezed us out. Forcing us into a brand new world. A world we could never imagine. We are in a world being reborn. Like all births there is tension and pain during the transition. Ask any mother; you’ll generally find that afterwards birth pains are sort of hazy in their memory while the joy of holding that new born for the first time is crystal clear. We are like that. The birthing pains have and still are resulting in a great many disagreements.  The most noted drawback is the same one we had in the city, money. We live in what most refer to as abject poverty, seeing only the dollars involved, they see it all as a negative thing. I admit it sometimes feels that way but to us it’s become simply a part of that hazy memory of lattes, bad news and endless consumerism. What is crystal clear to us is that we're in a much more stable position than before.

Our rural area is so rich in community and has given us much. We have so many good memories to replace the old ones.  Looking at our current life is indeed like holding that new born and seeing all the possibilities it hasn't yet dreamed of in its eyes. The differences are dramatic. In the city we suddenly found we could not afford even the basics of food, housing and electricity. It took a while to take an honest look at things because we are so programmed to believe that where we are and what we are doing is the way it should be that even though we saw the change coming we didn't think it could really be any different. The demands, stress and pressures of that lifestyle were not good for us. Here we are content. Here we are buying a home not renting. Here we are able to live within our means. Here we have the pleasure, release, and resetting of the ancient cycles that exist in all peoples that the garden and contact with nature in all its various moods and elements provides. Here we are aware of our connection to the earth, the food chain, and all that has been and is eternal. Here we are finding not just a lifestyle but a life in harmony with other life. We know we'll do everything we can to nurture, strengthen and protect it.

Therein lies the biggest difference my friends. Crops. Cycles. Success. Failure. Hope. They are all in tune with the planet and the universe. We as a species were meant to be in tune with the earth just as every other living thing on the planet is in tune with it. When we return to the earth we return to ourselves.

We don't have to choose technology over earth or vice versa. We can live lives that honor the earth yet integrate technology. We can create without destroying. We simply need to dream up and work out better ways of doing things. That requires knowledge. The people who know technology, machinery, energy, etc. do not know the earth and they must if they are going to find innovative solutions to the problems we face as a species. Likewise we cannot just shut ourselves off from those technologies that help us expand and grow. We are all going to need to learn. The beginning of change has to be a return of the people to the earth and we are without a doubt the first of those people. Relearning what our grandparents knew and using modern equipment to accomplish it.  Here is where a new way starts. Here is where our true potentials to create miracles for ourselves, the planet, and generations yet to be dreamed of starts. We are on the very cusp, the beginning of the beginning, so here’s to a new renaissance!


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.