Monday, March 24, 2014

Bring on the Challenge

I’m all home, resettled, and refocused. As part of refocusing, we are looking deeper at self sufficiency, right where we are. Which, in the suburbs, means… what? We kinda drew a blank on what further efforts we could pursue that don’t require massive dumps of cash. So, we looked at what we are currently doing for inspiration to dig deeper.

Dig. Deeper. Eureka, that’s it! We were getting ready to plant our vegetable seeds for the year. What to plant, how much to plant, where to plant. Oh yeah baby, here we go. We decided to jump right off the deep end – into some large amounts of healthy dirt. Let’s go bonkers & plant enough vegetables to last the summer… and maybe into the winter? Ambitious? Yes. Doable? Absolutely.

We wondered how far we could take it. Could we really manage all summer? No problem. We planted seeds for 21 tomato plants, 24 pepper plants, squash galore, radishes, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, corn… Yep, summer is covered. But what about winter? Can we make it last? Can we preserve it in methods that remain delicious all year long? I say Yes! I hope. Oh what the hell, let’s see what happens. So here we go.

Seeds – check. Shelving – check. Lights – check. Great, seeds are planted and ready to go. Now, where will they go? Our yard is a fantastic size. And currently full of shade or flowers. Ok flowers, tough love. Some of you will have to share space, others will have to go. So now we have a location. Part of which gets a bit soggy. *sigh* The challenges never end. Solution… Raised beds! Yep. We have designed a plan to allow for 250ish sq ft of raised garden beds. We decided on mixed materials – the center bed is going to be a horse tank (dear horse tank, I love you) and the surrounding beds will have corrugated steel roofing framed (like a picture) for the sides. Woo hoo! I canNOT wait!

That’s enough right? Super ambitious project that is more than enough for 1 year. But I wouldn’t be me if I stopped there. We are going to try and grow as much of our food as possible, but where would the rest come from? Enter part 2 of the great 2014 experiment. Thank you Barbara Kingsolver for help with the inspiration. (If you haven’t read ‘Animal, Vegetable, Miracle’ I highly recommend it.)

Drum roll please… What we can’t grow, we are going to make every effort to purchase locally or do without. Local being within 100 miles. Everything – meat, eggs, milk, fruit, veggies, grain (including the liquid kind… mmm beer). It will all be sourced local or we will go without as best we can.

We don’t really have a hard start date & we are still hammering out the details. What items are excused from the requirements? Why? Can we make other ethical choices for the excused items (like fair trade coffee)? How many excused items do we allow ourselves?

I will admit I was overwhelmed at the idea initially. But then we found a beef farmer 50 miles from here with 1 side of beef not reserved for the March slaughter. Yes please. We just got it delivered over the weekend. I am giddy with excitement that if we found 1 meat supplier close, there has to be others. Milk will be a challenge but the farmers markets are starting soon, maybe we will meet someone there that supplies milk. I'm working on eggs & I think I found a pig farmer nearby.

So here we go. Stay tuned for updates.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Well. That didn’t work.

So, as my last post indicated, at the end of January I found a new job, moved to our new home in MO, and wrapped up multiple loose ends in NE.

I was there a week and realized: This is NOT going to work. Within 1 week at my new employer I determined that I was not going to be a good fit within their corporate culture. I actually went backward in some respects. And when I say 1 week, really it was 3 days. I believe we all have an inner voice – a gut feeling. Whether we listen or not is the question. Mine was hollering so loudly, there was no ignoring it.
This isn’t an attack on the company, it is an acknowledgement of different priorities. And with that, I leave discussion of my employer behind.

What to do? As I mentioned previously, I (we) are very fortunate. I actually have the luxury to not stay in a job I don’t like. So I didn’t. I contacted my previous employer, was accepted back, and came home.

I could be really embarrassed, I could be terribly depressed that it didn’t work out, I could be angry at the circumstances. I will admit to fleeting moments of all 3. But none of those serve any purpose. Those reactions completely ignore that I tried. I took the leap to quit my job & move away. And that I when I got there, I was self aware enough to recognize a poor fit.

I am not totally blas̩ faire about this. James & I discussed our options long and hard before I quit & after I got home. And I have had immense moments of doubt Рdid we rush it? Did I take the job, ignoring signs, just so I could say we went? Can we even do this? These doubts helped me reaffirm our goals to 1) become (more) self sufficient and 2) exit the workforce sooner than later. I do think I may have lost sight of these very important goals as I rushed to Make Change! But, I learned lessons. And I am recommitted to living in a sustainable manner.

We decided that we will rent out the MO house & stay put for approx. the next 5 years. Then, when we are ready, we can move and (remembering our goals) not need jobs that require at least 40 hrs. a week.. or even 20.

There is nothing like a crisis to refocus your attention. So how about some raised beds & an attempt to only eat vegetables that we grow ourselves for the next year? Yep, sounds like we have refocused!