There is a term I’ve been hearing since I first moved to Oklahoma where folks would refer to something being “Okie rigged”. To me it sounded like a belittlement, a derogatory term meaning doing something halved assed or backwards. But after doing quite a bit of “Okie rigging” myself the last several years, I’ve I learned this term has a much wider and deeper meaning. It means making something out of nothing. It means in spite of not having the money to buy the new item that is required for a job, let say plumbing, or barn building or what have you, folks will complete the job anyway using the resources on hand, whatever they might be to best complete the job.
Now I’ve also come to realize there are different levels of “Okie rigging”. I’ve seen some jobs that blew my mind in a MacGyver kind of way and I’ve seen some poor jobs that might as well have just stayed broke . So there is an art and a craft to “Okie rigging”. What I like about it and what appeals to me is the ingenuity. Then there is the recycling, then there is the independence and freedom that comes with not only doing it yourself but not being held captive by the lumber yard or the hardware store, when that money could go to something more important like animal feed and /or gasoline the things we haven’t been able to rig exactly yet.
Last week the heater stopped working, we had run out of propane. We thought we had plenty but with the cold weather I guess we had just depleted it and had not thought to keep an eye on the gage. None of us have ever had a propane heater before and really weren’t in the mind set of what it would mean if we ran out. But we did. When I called on Wednesday morning to get a propane truck out I was told it would cost $400. $75 for the gas check to make sure there are no leaks, and $100 for a fee to get the driver off his rout. So, almost half of that did not buy us propane. We’ll we didn’t have $400 dollars and so we would have to wait until Monday when the driver was on our route.
Living without heat for these very cold five days (propane comes today) was a challenge. We had a few space heaters and had to open the oven to heat the kitchen. Not very cost effective either but it left me feeling , not free. It made me feel at the mercy of something I couldn’t feel see or touch and I felt dependent on a system I didn’t agree with and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it period. I missed the independence I had at the old place with my wood burning stove. I could heat, I could cook on it and it gave me a sense of security that I don’t have right now.
If we lost our power right now it would be a disaster. We would have to leave, no heat, no water (elec pump) no way to cook. And that to me is no way to live. But most of us do live that way, completely dependent. One who is a craftsman at Okie rigging has a certain freedom in spite of the bonds of poverty which in some cases is a state of mind. I’ve come to realize that we can create our own wealth through learning to live without. There are certain things we can do to live well without living large, like a garden for food, canning and preserving, harvesting dead trees for heat, raising a few hens. This you can do in the middle of the city. My mind right now is set on getting us to a more sustainable place on this new farm. So starts the journey. By the end I hope to be a journeywoman Okie rigger!