Friday, October 22, 2010

I got your back Jack

This post is inspired by a blog I read regularly called Jenna is a young writer and a kick ass blogger and you can read about her homesteading and farming experiences. I love her blog because so many of her experiences I have experienced myself while learning how to transform myself from professional chef to humble farmer. But anyway…. Her post a couple of days ago talked of being the jack of all trades and master of none. It wasn’t 24 hours ago Linda and I were talking about the same thing.

There are so many facets to Living Kitchen, there are the goats and the milk and cheese, there are the chickens and the absolutely wonderful eggs and there are the sheep and the delicious lamb and then there is the garden currently popping with greens. Then of course there are the farm table dinners this is where all of the previous things mentioned come into play and dance around celebrating farm life. That might sound very cheesy but there is no greater joy for me. Now these are the items that generate income. But to keep these things going also takes cats to get the mice, llamas to guard against coyotes and guard dogs again to detour coyotes. Then there is fencing, and feeding and stocking up on hay for the winter. And vet care, and dishes ….Yada yada yada….

When I think about it I am amazed at the amount of things I know how to do. And all of these things I love. But concentration on one of these skills doesn’t run a farm, at least this farm. Maybe if I just made cheese I could be the best cheese maker, or if I just raised lamb I could be the best Sheppard. But I think I’ve concluded real homesteading is a balance or juggling act of many well rounded skills. You might be an expert at least one of them (me cooking) but it takes not being overly invested in one thing because you just won’t make it through a winter. It takes knowing a little about a lot of things, Betting on your strengths to pay the bills, and having the confidence to do things you’ve never attempted. Sometimes you fail but you learn in the process.
I think about what my life would feel like if I just did one thing, like raising goats and making cheese. It seems like a nice dream but an impossible one right now. Although, it’s what I hope for, but I just can’t imagine it, at least right now. But living Kitchen is not about just one thing, it never has been. It is a whole-istic farm. It’s about food folks! It’s this chefs dream to be able to create a menu off of what I’ve raised, grown foraged and crafted. Yes possibly narcissistic, absolutely. But I’m driven to do this.

I do realize farming and homesteading are two different things but often they work in combination. It’s profound self sufficiency and interdependency on others but utmost vulnerability. It’s the opportunity to survive by your own hand by the most basic and primitive means. Hunt and gather so to speak. Gather fuel for the fire. Survive against all odds and help your neighbor out. The benefits can be great but sometimes material things and vacations we go without, by choice but also necessity. I’m over dramatizing here but it feels big time. What I mean is my whole body feels it, head, toe, brain, arms and back and spirit and most of the time it feels amazing and other times I’m beat down to powder. There is nothing I want to give up. I just have to face it. It all makes sense to me, and someday I know it will pay off, in the form of what? I don’t quite know yet. But for now, I’m with Jenna and you can call me Jack.

1 comment:

brneyedgal967 said...

I've commented before what an inspiration you are to me. I truly admire your fortitude and perseverance - also, your wisdom. I've often thought WHAT IF... our nation runs out of energy, or there's an attack or some kind of breakdown on our entire power infrastructure. 90% of Americans would be up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

Our "modern skills" of knowing how to program the DVR, take video on our iPhone and post it to YouTube, using a GPS to figure out where in the hell we're going - would be the nail in our coffin if we don't also the possess the basic skills you have mentioned. Skills that would sustain our lives in the most basic sense. You are a frontier woman - sure, using modern conveniences here and there, but you choose them wisely.

Where most of us suck up energy without a moment's hesitation and without any thought to the lamp that's left on all night, or the air conditioner that is running even when the weather is mild outside, or letting our car engines idle for 20 minutes in the morning so its' cozy warm when we're ready to drive... to throwing away an ungodly amount of refuse, discarding clothing that could be mended, discarding items that could be refurbished, etc. There's been the industrial age, the space age... I do believe we are living in the "disposable age".

More and more people, myself included, are opening their eyes to the very things that motivated you to begin homesteading. Besides things I've already named - chemicals in our food, processed this and processed that. Food, water & shelter are our most basic necessities - Food being the most important and modern food has been grossly perverted by greedy corporate fat cats and corrupt politics.

I have 5 acres in beautiful Oklahoma with fresh water and fertile soil - and not a lick of farming or animal/livestock experience. I do, however, have an awareness that times may change during our lifetime that warrants being able to sustain yourself, independently. Also in my early 40's like you, and only one child left at home - I'm re-examining my purpose and what's really important to me. Because I know "stuff" hasn't brought me any true happiness (with the exception of Wusthof knives, in the event of a fire, I would grab those on the way out.)

I think you are on the right track. I know this is a very wordy comment. I have read your entire blog and you have helped me focus on what is important and begin planning what steps I need to take to make changes in my life. It didn't seem fair that you give so much to me as an anonymous reader and I give nothing back. Keep blogging and keep doing what you're doing. You teach by example and you are doing a wonderful job.