Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dreaming Big but Living in the Middle

My dreams are bigger than the time I have to put into them - and bigger than my financial capability (although that just means more time, doesn't it?)    I once told my father-in-law that I wanted to produce 60% of our food. He grew up on a sugar plantation on this island, and he just looked at me with a little bit of pity and said, "Good luck." 

I do think my goal is doable to produce that 60% or even more - if I change some of the eating habits of my family, learn some new skills, build the structures, and put the time into it.  However, I do admit that it is fairly overwhelming to think about with work and keeping the house and managing the bills and activities.  Sometimes I feel like I am trying to balance suburban expectations (kids' sports, work outside the home, etc) with farm expectations and it gets tough.  Teaching is also a very intensive proposition when it is ongoing - you never leave it in the classroom and, at least, I never stop thinking about the kids and where they are and where I want them to be, and how I can tweak it. That's not an excuse, just points out that I need to find my own balance.  

My husband works on big projects around the house and barn and that has been frustrating me - how is dry-walling and painting the garage helping us produce food?! - until he explained that he can't finish his work room in the barn which would allow him to make things we need on the farm until the garage is painted and organized.  I have this urgent feeling of plant now, organize our grazing now, get a few dairy goats now, and he has a feeling of get everything in order, one step, next step, following in order.  I am sure my impatience is frustrating to him - we've OFTEN gotten animals we weren't ready for because of my enthusiasm - and I know the fact that we're barely one step closer to the big garden I planned a YEAR ago (we put quite a lot of aged manure in the area and covered it with plastic AGES ago) drives me wild.  We do have half of a lovely garage and my tack room is amazing - but no garden is going in, yet.  Half of my free labor force has moved out (one kid the day after he turned 18 - didn't let the barn door hit him on the hind end he was out of there so fast) and the other half is so busy with those suburban expectations - homework, sports, "regular chores, like our friends".  

I imagine that we'll need to meet in the middle.  Right now, meeting in the middle means him doing his thing and me attempting to keep up with what's already there - the kalo, the sweet potato, a few citrus, guava, and bananas.  I don't think that's middle enough, but it's a start.  I think our first middle will be a larger venture in chickens.  Although my middle-aged hens are picking up in laying, I want to buy a number of chicks and retire the ladies to the freezer when the putative new chicks start laying - so looking at about 5-6 months down the line.  That means, having a place to put feathered out and ready to go out chicks in about 3 months.  With the glacial pace of new farm ventures around the Hapless Stead - that's a blazing fast, indeed.  


Ruth Dixon said...

Oh, do I hear you, and can sympathize. My hubby keeps saying we need to find a way to buy fencing for the whole hillside. I say "we have enough used fencing for at least 1/3 (which is a good acre and a half), so let's start there. Nope, he won't. Or, he says "I need to do this or this in the garage", but then he won't do it in the evenings after work, and gets busy doing other stuff on the weekend. Grrrrr... Men! I know I could grow a lot more of our stuff to live on in he'd just agree to eating more simply. We have plenty of home grown meat, but he wants potatoes or rice or pasta with it, and I can't grow those. How about a simple salad with the meat, or a couple vegies. Or a dinner of a vegetarian soup? Nope... Grrrr. Hang in there and keep sharing, it make me feel better.

NancyDe said...

I know how you feel, Ruth - but it's my kids who are picky. My husband actually works VERY hard, he basically built our house over a span of years working after a full time job. Now he is self-employed and he is balancing all those projects at home with doing his self-employment. What I want is for us to do a little bit of both - the long term big projects he's so good at (and I am not) and the immediate gardening and subsistance stuff. We just need to get on the same page!

Best of luck to you, Ruth.