Last year, from mid-March 2010 to the mid-March 2011, I kept track of my steps toward Food and Energy Independence. When I look at where I am now, it doesn’t feel like I got very far– others made it much farther. (Look at Schell Urban Homestead or SouleMama if you want to be inspired!) But then I remember that THIS is MY life, not theirs. And if I break it down, I made steady steps– one by one by one– in multiple areas.
The “Independence Days” idea came from Sharon Astyk. She breaks down our steps in 7 categories of intentional steps toward using less from outside, doing more for ourselves. It was a very useful exercise, because thinking of my consumerism in these terms made me think about it in a way I hadn’t before. And I got credit for really small things. I gave myself credit for taking small steps.
So in conclusion, during the second week of March:
Plant Something: I put the last of November’s 50 lbs of potatoes (about 10 of them that had sprouted legs and were trying to walk away) into the garden. Many of them actually are now sprouting leaves.
Harvest Something: nothing
Preserve Something: nothing
Waste Not: We consolidated our two sandboxes into one, and I used the box on the garden side to make a strawberry bed. (The strawberries came later and were planted.) I also have started hanging the laundry out again– it works as long as I get it outside (very) early in the day. My Lenten discipline did free up many little bits of time which served to get all sorts of things mended so they can be used: curtain rods, pants, shirts, pants, stuffed animals, pants…
Want Not: Just in the nick of time, our beef grower called to see if we wanted another 1/4 cow. We did! So the freezer is full again. My friend Renee stocked us up on Costco butter and croutons and sugar and yeast.
Build Community Food Systems: One of our homeschooling acquaintances (she’s in our once a week “school”) raises chickens, so I have a new source for eggs from pastured chickens. Yum!
Eat the Food: Looking at my pantry now, as we have several months before much produce comes out of the garden, always informs my next year’s planning. We are still stocked with peaches. We’re completely out of tomatoes, though we have some roast tomato soup still. Our berries are gone. A quarter-cow held us close to a year, so that’s a good fit for us for now (I see times a-comin’ soon when we’re going to be a double-recipe family, rather than eat-exactly-all-of-the-recipe family. And just a year or two ago, we were a family who could eat dinner and have several days of leftovers from a recipe.)
What I learned: I’m so glad I kept track of this. Perhaps the blog wasn’t the ideal way to do it– a paper journal might have been enough– but it kept me accountable. Had I not been sharing it with you, I might have given up halfway. I noticed a lot of patterns in my thinking (and therefore, my doing), and this discipline helped me over the hump in a few– like planting a little bit frequently, instead of thinking I have to plant a farm one weekend. I think I have a ways to go in spreading the joy of living locally, and I’m still tongue-tied when I try to explain to folks who don’t know my why we do the things we do, but this Independence Days challenge gave me some good ways to think about it. Thanks, Sharon Astyk.