I’ve been writing all my posts on my phone lately, and since it doesn’t always list all my most recent posts. I have no idea how long it’s been. I can only guess it’s been a while.
In the time we’ve been away, we inhereted two chickens only to find out we can’t keep them. My garden has gone from looking pretty pathetic to looking like it’s pretty healthy. The basil and morning glories are looking especially good. The only ones of Beekee’s plants that survived were a few carrots, one bean plant that’s barely holding on, and a very happy cucumber plant. The bugs killed the rest when we brought them inside in a hail storm. I can’t wait until we have victory over these bugs. We’ve also been very tight on money, so it’s made us consider a lot in our lives. Oz has taken a second job at Taco Bell to help balance out the finances. He’s getting run down, but he feels it’s worth it in the end.
So where does the crazy come in? I’m thinking about starting a small farm. I’ve been thinking about having a farm and an intentional community for years. I’d had the idea to do everything from a CSA to something historic and done the old fashioned way.
Of course, I’m not crazy enough to start out with a full scale farm business. I have no idea what that entails. However we do want to buy enough land that we can raise a few chickens for eggs and have our own home grown fruits, veggies, berries, and nuts. We’ll see if I like it enough to turn it into a full scale operation and not just a personal hobby and way to be sustainable.
What does this have to do with unschooling? It sounds like it’s more about me than the kids, right? The truth is it’s just as much for them as it is for me. Just in the short time my garden has existed we’ve seen pill bugs, caterpillars, fire ants, grasshoppers, butterflies, and spiders crawling around in there. We even woke up this morning to see a garden spider had made her home on the porch and stairs over the morning glories. There was an egg sac on the basil too, which has been relocated to a safer spot. When we used to have a garden in Troy we would attract sparrows, doves, humming birds, and rabbits. As a kid we had a garden and always saw squirrels investigating it as well as all kinds of birds. We even had some foxes get curious, which was rather unexpected in suburbia. Having a large garden will not only teach the kids how their food gets on the table, but gives Beekee the chance to pick his own foods for his budding interest in cooking. It teaches the kids to be a little more self-sustaining. It could drastically cut back or almost eliminate our grocery bill. If I had the guts to butcher our own animals we could possibly live without a grocery bill at all, but I think that’s a bit extreme for.out family. At most I could see us bartering for meat.
All of that can be seen as logical and practical. Growing a sustainable garden is practical. Raising chickens provides fresh eggs and they’re much more practical for kids than cats, dogs, and rodents. Sander wants to have “chicken friends” as pets. These are all life skills, maybe not for someone with no interest in gardening or farming, but it never hurts to know.
However, I’m thinking of going a little extreme with being prepared, at least as far as your average family goes. No, I won’t be featured on an upcoming episode of Doomsday Preppers or anything, but we want to be ready for emergency situations. I mean, sure, I would love to be prepared for the colapse of the US economy or war on our home soil. It could happen, and by taking the time to set up contingencies now, the plans and stores just have to be updated. However, that’s not what I’m worried about. I’m more concerned with things that are a little more proven. If they happen now or have happened before in our lives, they could easily happen again. For example, we live in territory that gets hit by tornadoes. We also face our own personal financial problems. If Oz keeps up at this pace we won’t qualify for food stamps anymore, so money troubles not only mean juggling bills, but could mean having no money for food. It never hurts to be prepared.
Realistically, there are two ways we can handle this problem. Either we can plan financially, or we can load up with supplies and alternatives. We’re chosing to do a bit of both. If we end up riding out another Great Depression, trusting the banks to be reliable seems a bit iffy. All the bank bailouts that helped spawn the Occupy Together campaigns on Wall Street and everywhere else make me a bit leery. At the same time, storing my money in my matress or in some secret cashe seems equally as risky. A break in or someone finding my cashe would just as easily make me broke as a “too big to fail” banking institution. We can only pay our rent and bills with money. They don’t accept barter at this point. I know Oz isn’t the best with money. If he has access to it, he’ll spend it, so it might be wise to accept that strictly financially preparing ourselves is going to be challenging at best. We need to be prepared for the things we can handle without money too.
So, this is where food storage comes into play. If we had a bit of a reserve we wouldn’t have to worry about whether we pay for rent or get groceries. Better yet, if we plan well we should never have to rely on junk food like Ramen or plain pasta and sauce again. Planning well should mean we can have real meals where all the necessary food groups are adequately represented. It would help my kids be ready for their own financially hard times too. Even the best financially off people could lose everything. It happened to my grandfather. It never hurts to know food won’t be on that list of worries, at least for a while.
Now, this could be as simple as stocking up on non-perishable items. Canned veggies and soup are cheap. Pasta and dried beans can be gotten for just as little. However it would be far more satisfying to can our own stuff, especially if it was stuff we grew ourselves. Canning could be a fun life skill or even hobby too if they enjoyed it.
So that’s where we’re thinking if heading these days.