Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Distinction Between Homesteading and Survivalism

  This morning was the big clean-out day in my pantry and larder. Through the years, one tends to amass items that, for a short time, seem important but upon further reflection bear no real significance to one’s current daily activities or lifestyle. Today I came face to face with the small nooks of my own hording and asked myself, truly, if these items were really necessary for me to continue to hold on to into the future. Some of the treasures I uncovered included various shapes and sizes of vessels for holding any number of products; gallon jugs, half gallon jugs, salad dressing-sized jars, glass cylinders for ferments, etc. etc. etc…. Every item I touched was covered in a thick layer of dust indicating their obsolescence to my current life stage. So I sucked it up, grabbed a cardboard box and one by one placed these items into the give-away pile. Some I pondered longer than others before placing them into the box….my inner preparedness expert screaming out that ‘someday-I might need this or that’ and when that time comes I will be overcome with regret for placing said item willingly into the hands of someone else. And then a part of me opened up and was overjoyed with the prospect of the future life that existed for everything contained within that box.  To someone else, my ‘yesterday’ would be their ‘today’. And with a great sense of relief I placed the box in my car, forever sealing its fate.

  Next on my list was my stockpile of canned and dried food. Each jar I touched contained hours of love and labor. Each had been prepared under the best of intentions; the long-term security of my family’s needs. I ruminated over the small mountain of clearly past-prime goods that started to build on my pantry floor. Then, one by one, I opened the lids and dumped the contents into the compost.  And inside, part of me rejoiced and part of me cried.

  The reality of the matter is that it is impossible, even when you try your hardest, to hold on to everything. All these jars were my attempt to hold on to the sunshine that I felt years ago, to hold on to the colors and flavors that I no longer feel a desire for.  These jars were meant to hold onto a feeling of safety and of ‘enough-ness’ in a time when I felt so much vulnerability and desperation (and despair).  Today, I came face to face with my past and chose, for the most part, to move into the future.  I realized that there is a distinct difference between survivalism and homesteading and often that line is a blurry, hazy mess of emotions based off of past life experiences and future hopes and dreams.  A survivialist goes it alone; a homesteader believes in the power of community.  I mean really, how na├»ve we humans are to believe that we have the ability to make do in this world without reliance on the talent of others. Truly, my pantry is not large enough to ‘survive’ any major catastrophe longer than a few weeks, maybe months. How large of a horde would one need to really survive or more importantly, to continue to thrive? Frankly, thriving is not something I would choose to do alone and instead feel it is much more rewarding to continue into the future believing that given the opportunity to test ones abilities, we would all be better off working together.

  So today, I transitioned back to being a homesteader and made one more move away from the depressing world of survivalism.  I will continue to set aside the provisions I need to keep my family well-fed and comfortable and I will hold on to the tools I still feel are relevant given my own personal talents. But I will no longer hold on to the quiet expectation that has lingered on and off in the back of my mind that, if the moment arrived, somehow my family’s future would be fulfilling without the assistance of others.  This little lie is the distinction between optimism and fear. I am letting go of my fear and am trusting in my friends.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Wenatchee Mom Blog Post #4 The Busy Parent's Guide to Canning Tomato Sauce

Here's a link to blog post I wrote: The Busy Parent's Guide to Canning Tomato Sauce. Fall is just a crazy time of year to try and get anything done other than the basics. Hopefully this will inspire a few of my parent-friends to do a little canning, even though it seems impossible.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Wenatchee Mom Blog Post #3 Kids Makers Markets at the LCFM

Here's the link to the actual post....
For most people, it won't apply but I am trying to archive my published writing in one place so I decided to include it on the blog regardless.

2016 August Edition of the Good Life Magazine

Here's a link to an article I wrote about local farmers for the August edition of the Good Life Magazine: Farmers Market vendors bring something fresh to local tables
There are even some nice photos.
Eventually, I will get caught back up on updating the blog with all the stuff I wrote over the summer....this is at least a start.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Flower Garden

I find myself in the midst of another farming and wedding season. There is a fatigue that begins to settle in during this point of the summer; it sits behind my eyes and spreads itself slowly across both temples, down the bridge of my nose and continues through my neck and into my spine. It is a dull, tired ache that becomes a permanent part of my every moment. Days off are now rare and hard fought jewels of time. The great irony is that when on the rare occasion  I have a moment to myself, other than sleeping the only activity I find myself longing for is gardening (and  maybe a little writing...). Essentially,  I need time away from gardening to garden more.  However, during the hours that I scrape together for myself, the gardening that happens is a free-form version of love and creativity. It is less about rows and more about art. It moves in waves and rounds corners. It manifests in bursts of flowers and the sway of fruit-filled trees and bushes. It's hauling rocks and stones, mining the creek for sand and muck, removing mats of grass and dead-heading spent blossoms. It's whacking back brush, building trails and cutting out beds from hard-packed hillsides. And, for some crazy reason, it is more than just relaxing but is a respite, a calm in the eye of the storm, a world away tucked within my everyday life.
My flower garden is where I can wander barefoot, where the wind can whip my hair into a knotted frenzy, and where I can speak to no-one but my soul can open to everything. It's a curiosity even to me.  I carve out places of sanctuary and rest yet hardly stop moving myself.  And although at the end of the day I am tired and disheveled, there is less room in my mind for the dull throb of farming and wedding season and more room in my heart for patience and love.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A Scathing Letter to the Editor of Vegetable Growers News

Recently I read the Editor’s Letter in Vegetable Grower’s News entitled ‘The unintended effects of activism’.  Any of us who are in the organic farming world know that this publication is provided free of charge to growers because it is subsidized by advertising and ‘informational’ pieces provided by large ag companies ranging from seed providers to herbicides. There is often very little ‘news’ that applies to the organic industry but I still choose to skim through it from time to time to keep on issues that are affecting larger, industrial crop producers. This op-ed piece in particular I found completely troubling from a human rights perspective to the point that I felt driven to write this counter-piece.
The whole editorial revolves around the ‘battleground for a living wage’ and the rate that producers will now have to pay to their employees if legislation does in fact take place to raise the minimum wage from the measly $7.25/hr to $15/hr; a move that is poised to take place in increments over the next 6 years. Frankly, I am personally appalled that the minimum wage nationally can still exist under $10/hr. On a recent trip to the grocery store, I purchased cereal, cream and milk, bottled water, two frozen pizzas and a watermelon for my children. The total at the check-out counter came to over $60 to cover the expenses of one shitty ‘take-out’ style dinner and maybe enough breakfasts to feed my kids for a little under a week. At the federal minimum wage level I would have had to work nearly 10 hours (over a full 8 hour workday) to make enough to pay for this very basic grocery trip. There would be nothing left over to pay for our mortgage, my car, the gas to put in my car, health insurance, and the clothes to keep my family from walking the streets naked much less any type  of free-time activities (like taking my kids to the city pool).  Fuck that.
So it angers me to see this balding, aging middle-class white dude telling me what an atrocity it is that the ag industry will actually have to give their farm hands a raise. Sir, have you ever worked in ag or have you only written about it? If you have spent any time laboring on your hands and knees in the blazing hot sun or a freezing cold November rain, you know that your time spent working a full 8 hour day better be damn well worth more than a couple of frozen pizzas. Which, frankly, is why you sir did not choose farm labor as your career but instead chose the very cushy job of journalism (As I sit here at my comfortable desk drinking my fair trade coffee w/ organic cream…I know how hard of a struggle it can be to write some words on a piece of paper in my pajamas).
Your letter states that the reason to avoid raising the minimum wage is a loss of jobs, an increase in mechanization and moving production out of the US. Sir, this has already happened. All large farms have been working tirelessly to rid themselves of the headache of actually having employees. Who wants to pay L&I and Federal Employment Security Taxes anyway? And if you think that it is so overly simple to move production out of the country, please remember that moving production actually means having some good arable land with water and fertility resources to actually move to. These aren’t shoe factories, they are farms!
And your argument that farmers cannot recoup costs because they cannot set the price on goods is weak. You big farmers set the system up this way for yourselves during the last century, now deal with the consequences. You yourselves are no more than slaves to the industrial food complex. Stop whining about your lot in life and organize a revolt. Start asking to be compensated for your commodities at a fair exchange rate. Work with each other as growers rather than against each other. Form a fucking farm union. Remember what unions used to be good for…they used to keep ordinary people from getting screwed by big business! Take a stand rather than continuing to play the victim. This spineless mentality is getting so old.

And, rather than continuing to spew the dogma of the antiquated machine known as modern agriculture, why not encourage farmers to step up and do the right thing. Raise the minimum wage and encourage your workers to make a living rather than remain enslaved in poverty. Farming is a highly skilled, physically intensive job. Stop whitewashing the facts. Stop perpetuating the myth that farm work is unskilled labor unworthy of a reasonable rate of pay. This is a fallacy and it is offensive to those of us who have spent our lives with our hands (our white hands) in the dirt. I am fucking sick of migrant labor (the majority of the workforce in large ag) being treated like less than human. When will this end? Never, without a change in attitude toward one’s employees. Shame on you, Mr. Lee Dean for continuing to perpetuate this system of capitalism at its worst. I hope when you are sent to hell, you will be bent over for 8 hours, picking strawberries by hand on a 90 degree day for $58 before taxes.