Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Some of the hardest things

Please see Womennotdabbling for more continuous homesteading information. I write on Mondays but each day is filled with useful information from a variety of writers.

As I have mentioned previously changes are occurring here in our family and though I can't yet say if more is to come, I can say with certainty that we will be selling our home to move. That is partly why I have not been posting very much---we still have a bit of work on the house that needed finishing.
No, don't worry about us -- it's not the economy. We have however come to the realization that as our children have become older (and less often here) that this home is too big for us. It is a home that would be better suited to someone with a family still young enough to be home to fill it regularly.

We have worked hard on our home and will regret selling it for that reason but the chance to downsize (ie smaller square footage) and start with a clean slate (ie new garden) is not unappealing either. Yes, we will yet again have much work to improve our soil to make it grow and produce well for us but one thing I have gleaned more of than anything else from this property is: Experience

And because this property was large enough to own more than just a few of anyone animal and to raise livestock on a larger scale than ever before, we learned much. We learned volumes about nutrition, minerals, health of livestock as it relates to the quality of the soil, butchering, "the circle of life", and diversity in both plants and livestock for optimum use of resources. expand on my new found experience here are some of the hardest things I learned:

1) Digging fresh new ground for the first time ---1000's more square feet more than ever before. Whether by hand or tiller it's hard hard work. Especially when the smallest section is still 4 times larger than my previous largest section.
2) How to effectively (the key word here) use cover crops. I am still working on that one.
3) growing year round---that one doesn't take as long to figure out and my climate also helps a lot.
4)How to build a fence that is livestock proof from everything from a cow to a dog to a sheep and on down to a chicken. By this I mean how to build it once---not 4 times coming back to the same fence. Been there done that.
5) How to pack a fence post so it lasts and how to repair a fence and move livestock in the driving rain of a bad thunder and lightening storm.
6) How not to cry each time we kill, skin and butcher an animal.
7) How to eat the sheep we butchered the next day instead of weeks or months afterward. That was a really hard one.
8)To not be so squeamish that I can't finish the "circle of life" by allowing the other animals to eat the leftovers of the carcass. (Most specifically the head---that's just still kind of icky to watch the other animals chew and gnaw on)
9)To have more respect and appreciation for what it takes to make your entire living off of farming. It's not easy---ever.

Homesteading is in my soul. I can't imagine not, in some form or fashion, being somewhat self sufficient-- so my next home will include plans for feeding my family just with a smaller house. It is however full of hard physical and mental work and I realize now that we should never take for granted what it takes out of a farmer and his family. I do also realize though that to get the best food value for our money and not just the cheapest, that paying farmers living wages is something we need to address in this country. We need food that nourishes us---made on a farm where a farmer has pride in what he does. We don't need cheap food that comes from countries or places in the U.S where the only pride is in making a larger profit range.
Just my thoughts. Good week everyone.

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