Today is the first day of my holidays and I decided that I would have a ‘home’ day, a day to purposefully stay at home and do things around the house. There is no shortage of opportunities to get things done and while it would be easy just to go out, spend money at the shops, visit people, run around doing jobs, I set out to start the wind-down by staying at home. There were a couple of things I wanted to do outside of the house in the local area, so I decided to challenge myself to have a car-free day. This would ensure I slowed down. One of the twelve permaculture principles is Use Small and Slow Solutions – today was my day for this. I either had to stay home all day from the time I got out of bed to the time I go to sleep again at night, or I had to find another way – walk, bike, bus. For some people this wouldn’t be much of a challenge, but for me life has been so hectic lately, that when I need something I just jump in the car and go – I haven’t had much time to do anything else. Today I had a slow day.
The day started with a small bit of gardening then I spent some time outside watching the veggies grow, discovered that our tomatoes have small green fruit just starting to come. I spent time sitting in the garden with the Gorgeous One, breathing in the cool fresh morning air and observing nature – this was a great way to start the day.
I did leave the house. I walked past a friend’s house to drop off some excess lemons that we had, to the laundromat to wash the cats’ bedding. What amazed me was that there was a big bank of washing machines just sitting there doing nothing which seemed wasteful but then I considered that for every person who uses the laundromat, it was probably a lot less than 1 machine per family which is what most western families enjoy. The local laundromat is a great way to meet locals, some who I probably wouldn’t ordinarly meet, catch up on an old newspaper or puzzle and take timeout.
While the washing was on, we walked to the local supermarket for a couple of essentials that we had run out of, on to the local butcher and post office as well, then we called into the local wellness place and booked a remedial massage. Once that was done we returned to the laundromat, collected the wet washing and took it home to dry.
This whole activity took us around 45 minutes, which isn’t long and we managed to achieve at least 9 things: we shared excess produce, we washed the bedding, we shopped, we collected the mail, we made appointments, we exercised, we spent time with each other, we soaked up some Vitamin D and we enjoyed looking at our neighbours’ gardens flowering in late spring. I could have run around in the car, missed half of these things and it would have taken me just as long.
The most interesting thing about the walk was we had to plan our route and think about all the things we wanted to do before we left, so that we would not double back or have to retrace our steps. It was an interesting challenge to try and do the day car free and I think I will try to have a car free day regularly – just to challenge myself, remind myself that our resources are precious and we can do a lot more under our own steam without the aid of carbon based tools or vehicles.
Part of our reason for buying 40 acres is so that we can work towards a higher level of self-sufficiency. While I recognise that we will never be fully self-sufficient – and I don’t believe we should be as we are naturally gregarious creatures – we are keen to control what goes into our food and eat healthy, organic food wherever possible as well as to generate a small income from our efforts. While we grow our own veggies at home, we have now taken our first few steps towards self-sufficiency at the farm. In recent weeks we have had the good fortune to find someone who had too many Dexter cattle, so we purchased 5. 3 heifers, 1 cow and a steer. The 4 girls will be used to breed more cattle and the steer will be fattened up for the freezer. Dexters have a reputation for being quite docile and easy to handle, which is good for a city girl turned farm girl like myself. Additionally Dexters can be grown for beef and milk. While we won’t milk them yet, one day we may choose to, so we will have that option available to us should we need or choose it.
The Gorgeous One and I have debated for a long time whether we would grow our own meat and we both concluded that we like eating meat, we are conscious that we could probably do with eating a little less meat, but meat is a part of our diet that we both enjoy. By growing our own, we are boycotting the huge feedlots that grow grain fed beef en-mass in confined spaces. Our meat will be grass fed, organic and have plenty of room to free range. We aim to provide a stress free life for them so that they have as good a life as possible for an ultimate food source. The carbon footprint of our meat will be minimal and we have already started our tree planting plans to offset some of the greenhouse gases produced by the cattle.
Our second investment in the last month has been some Suffolk ewes. Again, a step towards self-sufficient, organic, low carbon footprint meat. But these girls will be kept for breeding and hopefully along the way they will produce some boys who can be Sunday roast or BBQ chops or Shanks … Suffolk lambs have a reputation for having lovely meat and while their wool is not long like merinos, it can be spun and is quite soft with good loft (great for making quilts we are told).
So we have begun our adventure … and now I have the challenge of finding suitable boys for our girls … in fact I don’t even need to rent a bull or a ram – it’s amazing what you can find on the internet! Recently I found some Dexter semen for sale in NZ – only problem was that Australian quarantine laws and bio-security measures won’t allow it into Australia, so back to drawing board for me … It sure beats shopping for shoes or handbags on line!