We’re a few days away from the end of month one, and I’m feeling so ready to do this for another eleven months! Especially as things are just now beginning to warm up, and start to look like the cold and dark isn’t going to last forever. I have a greenhouse full of tiny translucent sprouts, a warm fluffy hen house, and a pregnant goat who is deeply resenting being moved to her new (far better, larger, and with electricity and automatic water, the ingrate) barn.
Life is demanding, as it always is, full of little absurdities. I have four chickens, Anconas, who came as part of an assortment of rare breeds, and who can fly, and are possessed of the most cranky tempers I have ever seen in a chicken. Even with their flight feathers clipped they go right over our six foot fence and into my garden. So every morning I have to catch them, two at a time, by the feet and deposit them in a covered tractor for the day, and every night open it at twilight and watch as they single file streak to the hen house. They’ll either get too heavy to do this soon, or they’ll be delicious with my new carrots.
I have a gaggle of Community Service kids who push my heart and my coping skills to new heights on a daily basis, trees to prune, borders to reclaim, bulbs to divide, endless seeds to plant.
My job description is “Farm Manager” but really, this farm manages me.
Which is exactly how I feel about this project; its less something I do and more something that has created a shape for my life to be. I spend about an hour every morning cooking for the day, I get up at 5, go to the gym, come home and be showered by 7, catch up on emails between straining cheese and making breakfast and lunch and sometimes starting dinner, get The Kid out the door, then head to work. I love the quiet time in the morning. I love having time in the morning at all- I used to stay up way too late, then get up at the last minute to run to work, leaving me unprepared, usually without breakfast, and groggy. Now I can’t, so I don’t.
This all takes a lot of planning, and sometimes juggling, but our cup runneth over, seriously.
Dealing with the logistics of making this work has been a serious learning curve. We’re not working in automated systems here, but with people, with their lives and feelings and relationships. Which takes time, and thought, but is overall a better way to live.
One of the mundane, non-sexy things that happened in this month was my bank account got hacked into and wiped out. I got a suspicious activity alert, but when asked to confirm transactions, they were all me, so I figured it was a glitch. Until a few days later when I deposited my paycheck. I walked out of the bank and immediately got an alert on my phone saying my account was overdrawn. Confused, I just went back in, and they pulled it up to show that a transaction in LA had wiped out everything I had in my account, and then some. I had to file a claim, have my card deactivated, and as of this writing I’m still cardless. Ultimately I’m gonna get my money back, but I’ve been living without digital access to money for a while. Before, this would have impacted my life hugely, but now it honestly hasn’t at all. I grow my food, forage it, or get it from the people that grow it, either for cash or trade. I pay my rent with a check so honestly, I could probably live without a debit card indefinitely. That feels so freeing, and so secure. If the financial system in our country crashed today, me and mine would eat just as well as we have been.
We have a quick and dirty, highly social approach to sustenance. On Sunday, I started the morning at my house by putting cheese in to culture, then fed animals and harvested some produce, then went to my friend John’s farm and picked up potatoes, daikon and cabbage, packed up yesterday’s cheese, some soup, produce from my place and John’s and drove to Sarah’s, exchanged what I had for her yogurt, butter, and produce from the Ukiah farmer’s market, then worked for a bit, then picked up my friend Jake and went mushroom picking. On our way back we stopped and picked up keifer grains from a friend, then swung back by the house, picked up boxes, and went out and picked kiwis at another friend and teacher’s house.
Its a pretty full, beautiful life.
Like in all Permaculture systems, we have to stack functions a lot. Cooking and cleaning time is also social time and work time. With local wine around, I can go out for a drink, but dating has to happen Grandma style and involve cooking and farm chores. It gets even more complex with all the people and animals at work. For instance, we want to go to the seed and scion exchange in Boonville next weekend, but have a work day that day with an Americorp team, plus a team of girl scouts that need to do a unit on trees, so I suggested we all go together, and stop at the market on the way for cabbage.
We can do a lot of things if we let them all find their niche, stay sharp, and keep balance.
…We flail around a lot, though. We’re learning all these skills, some of them for the first time, and within a context where we can’t just run out for pectin or baking soda. We’re just figuring this all out, and we need all the help we can get.