Friday, October 2, 2009

Sustainable, Self Sufficiency - The Third Phase of the Revolution, Part 5

I have an idea.  Let's wrap this up. Even Doctor Zhivago eventually ended.  Not happily.  Nothing in Russia ever does, for some reason.  I have higher hopes.

After realizing how much we were saving by growing our own fruits and vegetables, how much better they tasted and how great it felt not to be at the mercy of big agriculture and big government (even in this one small area), my mind turned to other ways to increase my sense of independence and to tell the world.

In researching ways to provide our own source of meat, I concluded that the best options for suburbanites are chickens (dual providers of meat and eggs) and rabbits (quiet, prolific, tasty and nutritious.  With the downside being that so many people think they're cute).  Goats made honorable mention (small, easy to maintain and dual providers of meat and milk).

Unfortunately, our HOA (big government, neighborhood style) does not allow chickens.  Bummer.  They were out.  Goats were banned as well.  I would have to settle for meat rabbits, only.  Not so fast.  Brittan discovered a paragraph in the HOA covenants that outlaws rabbit HOUSING.  And bee boxes, too.  Well, crap! 

While I understand a subdivision not wanting the neighborhood turned into 'The Beverly Hillbillies', I was disappointed in the narrow mindset that can't grasp the concept of a well designed, well maintained, backyard operation.  Properly designed, housing for 2 to three chickens and a buck and two doe (with offspring) would be neither an eyesore nor a source of foul odor.  The noise would be less than comes from many suburban dogs and most children, the droppings would go straight to the compost bin and the housing could be quite appealing.  But in a neighborhood that doesn't even allow garden sheds, I was just plain out of luck.

For now, we just stick to our veggies.  And I intend to increase my hunting trips this fall.  Hunting is a good alternative meat source.  Especially in places over run with deer and hogs, like Georgia, or teeming with wild turkey, like many places in the midwest.  Hunting also helps keep wildlife populations in balance. 

In the long run, though, our change in priorities (at least my change, you'll have to ask B about hers) means we will plan to move in the near future.  I can't take the HOA restrictions and I want to become truly self sufficient.  My independent streak is too strong.  Besides, we would like to 'downsize' our mortgage a bit.  We're not stretched, but we can't save like we want, our used to, there are too many places available that are nice, cost less and have fewer restrictions. 

As we got deeper into the concept of self sufficiency, the subject of sustainability kept appearing.  Sustainability refers to growing methods and animal husbandry that do not strip the land.  Much global agriculture is destroying the soil by the thousands of acres.  In order to continue to use it, gallons of chemical, fossil fueled spiked fertilizers are doused on the land.  These concoctions find their way via seepage and runoff into the waterways and are slowly poisoning them.  I'm not kidding.  I'm not being alarmist.  I'm just sayin'. 

It doesn't have to be that way.  I am, unlike some people I admire very much, not opposed to all use of fossil fuel or fossil soil (think, peat).  But I am all for moderation and renewable methods.  In our own case, our raised beds and containers, use a soil that is a mixture of compost, peat moss and things like perlite or vermiculite.  It is applied once and maintained annually, with added compost (which we are beginning to produce ourselves).  We believe this is a fine solution for the average backyard gardener and small, hobby farmer.  It saves space, and the environment. 

Similarly, I have become a proponent of 'pasture based' animal husbandry.  Raising animals that are close to the local ecosystem and using natural grasses and fodder rather than Big Ag produced grains.  I full support those who use these methods and intend to do so, myself.

The final step in the 'evolution of Farmer Sam' is a desire to move to the country and put my hypotheses into practice.  Green Acres really is the place to be.  It's not practical for everyone, but it is for me.

Sustainable, self sufficiency, however, is practical, to varying degrees, for anyone and everyone.  I encourage you to think on these things, implement what you can, and change the world.  Or at least, change yourself.