Possible conversation between neighbor couple next door, upon looking from their backyard down the swale and seeing this new development on our lot:
Him: Aw, Sheez, Lurlene, now what did they put back there?
Her: Oh, no…surely not more plastic buckets?
Him: No, it’s something big, like a pile of something. A REALLY BIG pile. Maybe fill dirt…?
Her: Oh, dear…I have a bad feeling about this…
Him: That isn’t a pile, it’s its own landform! It’s so big I can’t see over the top of it. Am I going to have to look at that every day? Well, look at the bright side…at least now we can’t see the buckets
Her: I wonder what they’re up to this time?
Him: Dunno, maybe they’re excavating to put in a pool. Y’know, retaining wall, natural stone…
Her: Um, Earl…I don’t think those are rocks in that pile
Him: (realization dawning…) GREAT SCOTT! IT’S A GI-NORMOUS MOUNTAIN OF POO !!!
Her: (after a long pause and a longer pull at her beer) Hunh. (scratching head) Ok, well let’s look at the bright side. Whatever it’s for, that’s enough to last a long time. They won’t need any more…EVER.
Him: (under his breath) Record cold year predicted or not, Michigan’s looking better and better. Maybe we shouldn’t have come down for the Florida season this early…
Her: You can’t seriously mean that, Earl! We just got here, and I’m NOT packing up those boxes again after I just got them UN-packed. (Lurlene now stares fixedly at her CD collection with annoyance, and her foot begins tap-tap-tapping)
Meanwhile, back at the Back Forty…Robbyn and Jack staring at the same big pile…
Robbyn: Did he have any problems getting that huge trailer back onto the road??
Jack: No, apparently not…he just headed back home.
Robbyn: (squealing uncontrollably, and pointing to The Big Pile of Poo) It’s OURS, ALL OURRSSS!!
(both start dancing an unwieldy jig )
Robbyn: Oh, my gosh, I’m so happy. This isn’t just a big huge pile o’ poo, it’s the future of our garden!! I’m feeling lightheaded…I’m actually seeing all pink and fuzzy right now. This is one gorgeous bunch of horse hockey! It’s a classic, a Degas, a Renoir, a Cezanne…we’ve hit the jackpot, Jack!
Jack: It’s a Matterhorn of Scat…a Scatterhorn! If I weren’t a manly man, I’d weep openly…
Robbyn: I had no idea your friend would bring so much of this stuff…WOW!
Jack: Did you actually kiss the man?
Robbyn: I can’t remember…I lost all vision for a second and heard angelic music…but I sure could kiss his horses!
Jack: I’m envisioning so many things right now…NOW we can HAVE A GARDEN…well, one not completely in buckets, at least. I see…(pause) I see… (pause) I see…
Robbyn: …please don’t say “dead people”
Jack: No, no…I see hundreds, no, thousands of square foot gardens! It will start here, and then continue on down the road…they’ll fill the neighborhood, maybe the entire city limits…it’ll be revolutionary simplicity and bountiful and no one will go hungry. I’ll be a regular Masanobu Fukuoka!
Robbyn: …well, there’s no reason to use that kind of language…
Jack: No…don’t you SEE?? We can HAVE A BIG GARDEN NOW!! And guess what? He’s going to bring MORE!!
Robbyn: (feeling faint) NO – wuh. WAYY.
Jack: YES WAY! He even said we can come over and see his horses, like right now this afternoon! I showed him a lot of the things we have growing in buckets, and he now refers to us as The People Who Grow the Weird Stuff
Robbyn: Heh heh. Oh wow, what’re we waiting for! Let’s GO! Oh, wait, I need to take them something to thank them. Hmmm, ah well, I’ll go pick them some fresh Weird Stuff. Hey, did you see that? Earl and Lurlene just drove by pulling a U-Haul…they didn’t even wave. Wonder what’s up?
Jack: Dunno, but I hope Lurlene’s not playing the Dixie Chicks again, in one of her moods…always makes Earl a little nervous on a road trip.
And now back to our regularly scheduled blog
Obviously we were given some great horse manure today! We got it because we asked. We’re shy, but starting with Jack, who’s less shy than I, we introduced ourselves. It started with buckets of poo…they had too much, needed to give it to someone. They filled and we’d pick up, and then Neighbor Friend said he could bring a trailer load over. A BIG trailer! After today’s load, he’s willing to bring them regularly. I seriously could kiss all his horses.
We went over there today (you know I DID kiss the horses, yeah)…and I was in horse heaven. There was a rescue horse there who sent out his horsey, brown-eyed Please Scratch Me Again Lady vibes to me, and I was a girl in love.
What’s this all about, posting about this?
I had started writing earlier today about limitations, my own, but also all of ours in general…limitations that keep us from believing that we can have something uniquely ours as far as homesteader mindset, lifestyle, skills…our Best Life…a return to things in our hearts but not in our mainstream culture, and that steep steep learning curve.
I was going to compare it to the situation today, about our economy, and about a population arriving at a precipice of realization, yet “stuck”…partially prepared at best, and with much unlearned. Another steep learning curve of returning to a more practical way of life, of necessity, because of alarming crisis.
If necessity is the mother of invention, perhaps in our time we’re having to invent a way back…finding a way despite our limitations. We’re not just “stuck” right now…we’ve been “stuck” for a good while now…yet making progress at the same time.
The ol’ “homesteading mentality/lifestyle” and its many diverse expressions finds itself in closer proximity to today’s confused and struggling mainstream that’s quickly shifting to adapt…backwards…in the truest sense of the word “revolution” whose root word is “revolve” –to circle back around to.
Our efforts to reduce, get out of debt, do the many things that fit into our idea of the life we want (grouped loosely under the term Homesteading) began before this economic downturn. We’d had setbacks that convinced us of how fragile our own world could be, even while it was going well with most other folks. Our own circumstances precipitated our changes, and the implementing of the processes that would serve these mutual goals and dreams. We’re in the beginning stages yet, in most areas.
And I am intimidated by all the many women and men out here who have many of these things mastered, who do them on a continual basis as part of their everyday life, though it’s not glamorous and is often an endurance course. I want to be them, I want to be all of you. I struggle with feeling inadequacy as I attempt a single, tiny, skill, while others are crossing off entire reams of lists of their awesome and foundational accomplishments. I’m amazed at the endurance and the know-how, and the wisdom. I think there are other greenhorns in the same boat with me, wondering if they have what it takes to put those toes in the water for the very first time, while everyone else is diving.
Well, we gotta go in!
As we enjoyed reading up on the many skills we wished to have, we ran across a sentiment prevalent with some that promoted the idea that you must be strong, healthy, young, and fancy-free in order to be a “true homesteader.” I’m not sure that’s the case, but it was discouraging for me to read those, as I am none of those things. I hate the idea that I’m past a perceived “prime” and have missed my window of opportunity by twenty-three years. My limitations are real, and we’re not getting any younger.
I find more hope in doing what is at hand, and embracing the blunders. We don’t go blindly into this…we spend a great deal of time planning what we hope is the wisest course based on priorities, trying to preserve security in different areas, and trying to shift our current dependency on a vascillating and unpredictable Other and instead implement a simplicity basic enough to be supplied by Self. We’re people of a certain faith, and we believe God helps us with these endeavors…so I’m not saying we’re “self-made”…but we shift the responsibility more squarely onto our own shoulders by realizing we are not easy victims (of economic downturns, job stresses, inflation, bad/good housing market, etc etc) if we exercise the choices we DO have despite our limitations.
This is not a pie in the sky Pollyanna idealism, if it’s deliberate, well thought out, and tackled with a plan that can be adapted to further changes. And it’s not to say WE do it well, yet. But I’m so so tired of the weariness and confusion and panic I hear on the news and other places.
I’d like to encourage myself and others that we can do with what we have, and that includes our limitations. Were the world dependent on only the young to go around, we’d lose the valuable resource of elders, the wisdom of those who have a lot of experience. Theirs is the other half of the communal voice, and oftentimes is the missing half. No matter what age, there are limitations.
Chronic illness, disabilities, debt or insolvency, family responsibilities (children, spouse, aging parents), educational issues, situational or mobility issues, age, social standing (and so many other things) …at some point one or more of these will be a factor in our lives. I don’t think any of them have to bench us.
As life hits and hits hard, and that/those big limitation(s) manifest and just not go away, how do we respond? We may even be a victim, for a time, but to not remain one, we exercise a powerful thing…Choice. Unless we’ve lost all our mental faculties, we always have a choice…somehow. It might not be the set of choices we want, but we’re not “stuck”…not permanently. Is that a huge pile of stinking horse manure, or is it the ticket to a garden of possibilities?
Let’s not lose hope, and let’s acknowledge that limitations are a reality. That makes me much more comfortable within this like-minded group of kindred spirits from every corner of the world who desire so many of the same things and share so many similarities. I don’t have to know how to do ANY of it, to begin. I don’t have to have special equipment to try at least a modified version of many necessary skills. I can knead bread dough by hand if I don’t have a mixer and dough hook. If I can’t physically knead, there are no-knead recipes. And so on, and so on…
I’m not even saying let’s infuse some pumped-up optimism into a dismal situation. Our situation might BE a big pile of dung, but we CAN DO SOMETHING…and in that, there is hope.
A very good proverb states that in the abundance of counsel, there is victory. I realize more and more every day how human connections are a tangible strength, if it’s with people headed on the same path. Were it not for this neighbor who is generous enough to share something he doesn’t want…the horse manure…we’d be having to go another route with our planting this spring. We’d do with less, and produce less. Because of some (on our part shy!) over-the-fence conversations with a neighbor, possibilities present themselves. And if our garden enjoys any success, that produce will be shared with him.
We had another family tragedy happen this weekend. And we had this wonderful experience with our neighbor. We are working with personal and circumstantial limitations, and don’t have the fancy tools, the physically-fit bodies (yet…just sore ones now!), and many of the other things we’d call “ideal” for what we want to do. We’ll plan on the further limitations ahead, as we want to continue doing for ourselves as long as possible…yes, we’ll figure into anything else we build whatever we can think of that will make our later years a bit less of a chore (doorways, stairs, showers, finances, gardening, etc)…all these things will be adapted as much as possible NOW for later limitations to be as low-impact as possible.
In both these darker economic times, as well as in better days ahead, there are ways to retain choices and a steady implementation of our Best Life within our limitations. We look for opportunity, and those shy ones of us can at least walk up to the fence and venture a friendly Hello.
You never know what can happen then! Gifts sometimes come our way, depending on our persective. We need each other, and to appreciate each other “as is,” even if just for the chat, the laugh, the shared confidences.
Sometimes, even in the midst of a lack of one thing, we’ll be given an abundance of another… it’s all in what we make of opportunities, or how we choose to view a situation.
One horse’s poo IS another man’s treasure :)
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