Sunday, January 31, 2010

The brain is a funny thing

I had a dream last night that I was sitting on a roller coaster, all buckled in and locked down. But there was some kind of problem, so the ride couldn't start. We just had to sit there and wait.

And that was the whole dream. Lots of waiting.

It seemed like we were sitting there for hours. We were unable to really move around much or get comfortable, but we still weren't going anywhere. So we just sat there, wishing we could get on with the good parts, or if that wasn't going to happen, at least get off the ride and get back to other things.

Yeah, sounds about right.



Wednesday, January 27, 2010

They're taunting me

The cruelest one arrived in the mail today: The Raintree Nursery catalog. The seed catalogs aren't so bad for me right now. I have so many seeds that I'm not even on the lookout for anything new in the garden. I've got more than I can handle already, and quite a few I haven't even tried yet.

But Raintree, ohhh.... Fruits, nuts, berries, and their woody, perennial brethren are like kryptonite to me. I would give up the veggie garden entirely if I could have all the trees, shrubs, vines, and brambles my heart desires. Apples, peaches, cherries, plums, pears, grapes, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, elderberries, serviceberries, paw paws, quinces, persimmons, kiwifruit, gooseberries, currants, lingonberries, sea buckthorn, aronia, goumi... ahhh... and then there's hazelnuts, chestnuts, butternuts, pecans, almonds, walnuts, and beechnuts. Throw in some clumping bamboo, and I'm done for.

The problem of course, is the thought of leaving them behind. I'm already trying to figure out what I might be able to cart out of here to some temporary home before a seller comes along.

I haven't decided if I'll order anything or not. Probably not. But it's going to be hard... harder than I realized...



Saturday, January 16, 2010

One lesson learned

One of the things I've learned since we departed Suburbia back in Aught-5 is that for us, anything approaching self-sufficiency is a bit unrealistic. Maybe if our home and land were paid for and I didn't have to work full time, we might be able to get a fair bit closer than we are now.

Then again, I think true, independent self-sufficiency is pretty unrealistic for anybody. It's very hard to go it alone, in the cut-hay, chop-wood, haul-water, Pa Ingalls sort of way. Especially absent both skills and community support.

I'm confident that we could learn to do any given aspect of this. But not everything. Not filling all of our needs all the time. I've come to accept "no man is an island" in a different and more complete way than before. I mean, how better to establish ties within a community than by buying and trading for some of these things?

What's important about this lesson for us, is that it changes what we're looking for in a home and a property. By accepting that we don't need enough space to do it all, we can reduce the amount of land we need to acquire, pay for, and maintain. We can focus on those things that a) we're good at, b) we feel strongly about, and c) will mesh with our circumstances.

Plus, downsizing would free up both time and money, allowing me to focus more on all my goofy permaculture-infused dreams and flights of fancy.

I've got a basic wish list of things I want out of a homestead. They don't all have to be present initially, but they have to at least be feasible:

A large vegetable garden
A moderate herb garden
Some room to experiment with calorie & feed crops, like grains, roots, & tubers
Fruit trees (apple, peach, & cherry at least)
Nut trees (Hazel & chestnut at least)
Fruiting shrubs (various)
A few goats (probably Nigerian Dwarf, as indicated by the previous post)

Shelter for goats & chooks (and their feed)
Extra insulation in the home
Energy efficient windows
Rainwater collection

Metal roof
Wood burning heat stove
A partially cleared, partially wooded property
Solar hot water
Solar PV
A small greenhouse
A small but self-sustaining pond

...and of course, a community that has the ability or potential to supply us with other essentials - locally grown food, perhaps wood, perhaps hay, not to mention friendship and support.

(I'm always open for suggestions, additions, critiques, commentary.)

It's probably a pretty typical list for homesteader-types and wanna-bes. We have many of these things already, so it may seem strange that we're moving. It's pretty hard to let this place go in a lot of ways. It really has a lot going for it. But it comes at a price that's higher than we'd like right now. And our immediate area is critically short on some key things.

I'm being slightly vague here lately. Given the State of Things, there are no guarantees that we're going anywhere. But here's hoping the powers that be can keep this whole thing propped up just a tiny bit longer.


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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Who out there has Nigerian Dwarf goats?

How many do you have?
How much land do they graze on?
How much hay do you use per year?
How much grain?
How much milk do you get?

So many questions.

We want a smaller property. Or at least a smaller amount of pasture. But how small can we go?

We've raised Nubian & Boer goats, so I have a feel for goats in general. I'd love to keep maybe 3-4 Nigerian dwarf goats, but I haven't gotten a good sense of how much room to set aside for them. I'd love to hear some real world examples.

We don't want them sitting in a muddy paddock eating hay year round. We want to have reasonable forage during the growing season and only feed hay in winter.

Of course by only posting once a month I've lost most of my visitors, but hopefully somebody out there will have a little to share.