Being a modern city girl, my big concern was that self-sufficiency --farming meant going back to a lower standard of life. The idea and my ex's expectation, however, was to enhance life by growing and consuming our own produce, by harvesting the fruit of our land and hands. We didn't know that it would also take up most of our waking hours and continuously occupy our thoughts caring and worry about animals that depended on us; that even the weather would become a major concern to everyday life.
In Ireland, they called us organics, alternative life-stylers 'the Birkenstock wearing, muesli munching crowd.' Wellies or Wellington boots were more practical though, given the climate conditions.
Before you make the big move and opt out of the rat race and become a back --to- the-lander, you may want to experiment and practice a little on a smaller scale. Convert a big ornamental planter into your first herb garden, dig up a patch of lawn at the end of your back yard (the front stretch might offend your neighbors), convert a flowerbed into a vegetable patch, or turn a piece of ugly waste land near the garden shed into something productive. Allotments used to be popular in the olden days, often in times of economic hardship and as a getaway for city dwellers.
If you live in suburbia, as I do now, you should check with your CDD or HOA. I've seen rooftops verdant with beanstalks, zucchinis, and tomatoes. You want to check the weight capacity of your roof though. If you really want to grow your own, you'll find a way. When we bought our farm in the West of Ireland in the 80s, our cattle raising and dairy producing neighbor proudly announced, "We don't have to go to all that trouble anymore. We used to do that when we were poor. Now we can buy fruit and vegetables in the shop." I'm happy to say, within 2 years of watching us, she had parsley and strawberries going successfully.
A sneak peek of this column:
-Location: how to choose your land wisely; husband the land; water supply; fencing
-grow veggies in crop rotation: cauliflower, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, carrots, eggplants, cucumbers
-raising and plucking chickens and geese; organic feeds
-dealing with weeds and pests
-composting; kindling and firewood; making hay
-calves, calving, lambing
-AI (Artficial insemination); children and the facts of life
-making preserves, jams and tomato ketchup; freezing
-dealing with abundance
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