Sustainable for a Future
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Distraction–Deformation–Decisions

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Living off of the land is one of those high-minded fantasies that yuppies and health nuts idealize with their ‘arm-chair’ philosophy. ‘Going back to nature’ or whatever you want to call it, there are a lot of people nowadays that are interested in reverting back to a simpler way of existence. I applaud people for toying with such notions and I revere those who actually put these ideals into practice.

As for my own endeavors, as you may or may not know, I (“jamie” ji) set out to “live off the land” three years ago. The land was nothing more than an eroded hillside overgrown with weeds and swimming in the previous owners trash. With zero financial assistance and zero skills I went out to “the middle of nowhere” to make my way.

The story is probably long and boring so I will skip to spring/summer 2015 where I now find myself in a 9×9 cob house that I built (with of course the help of amazing volunteers), cooking in the outdoor kitchen which still floods every time it rains and becomes overrun with chickens during mealtimes, working the gardens that are probably “sub par” to garden enthusiasts because I “let the weeds grow” and pooping in the outhouse that was the only functional relic left by the previous owners of the land. I feel like I have everything I need, though there is always room for improvement. Since our finances are unsustainable part of the year is spent as a wage slave in the city rendering things like a root cellar, green house and hot shower momentarily irrelevant.

Desperate to make the place more “people friendly” in an attempt to share the dream with others who might not be able to simply go out and purchase a piece of property, I decided to add a hot shower into the greenhouse project.

This project was supposed to be a humble cob structure (something my unskilled hands can handle). Somehow I allowed myself to be swept up in the fancies of another individual who was living out with us and who was a skilled carpenter. I agreed to do a conventional wood-frame building and after doing the preliminary work with the help our our skilled friend, we found that he was no longer able to help us with the project.

I’ve got a laundry list of goals for the season and to my chagrin the biggest project on it is put on permanent hold because neither I nor does my partner have the skills to actually finish it. This event mingled with some strange personal psychological phenomena that was simultaneously occurring set me on a downward spiral in which thoughts about abandoning the entire endeavor surfaced every couple of days.

I started to seriously question whether I was doing the right thing and whether I should give up altogether and just do things the easy way.

A lot of people get on me for the choice of not having electricity and not using power tools and not having hot water and the list goes on…They think it’s me deliberately trying to make my life difficult. But it’s not.

I chose this way because I feel as though I should be as responsible for the things in my immediate habitat as I can be (within the realm modern limitations). Realistically, there are people in this world that do not have the convenience of such a choice and not only are they better for it, they are also happier and healthier than most people who seem to be living in the laps of luxury (even the ones who have dirty dreadlocks and greasy clothing).

People think that being “comfortable” is the highest priority in life and I’ve been ridiculed endlessly for thinking otherwise. Every now and again I start to question myself. Interestingly, every time I start to doubt I find a little glimmer of hope in a random discovery.

A recent example is stumbling upon a podcast by Daniel Vitalis where he and his guest explore the importance of DEALING WITH CLIMATE. Something that I’ve been doing since i’m 13.  I have had people literally get angry with me for not wanting to heat my house “properly” when my answer is “just deal with it.” Turns out I’m not crazy, I’m just “wild”…or as wild as one can be in the modern world.

The point of this article was actually to point out how too many options stray you off your original course…I guess in someway I have illustrated that with my veering off topic because I have SO much to talk about. What I ended up discussing here is natural proclivity.

It is not easy living the way humans used to live not so much because of the intrinsic difficulty of certain tasks, it is more-so because of the thinking of the status quo.

I think it would be interesting if people could realize how a lot of their “preferences” were set by PEOPLE TRYING TO SELL YOU SOMETHING. Yes, of course it’s nice to be warm when it’s freezing and able to refrigerate the deer you just killed but there are so many things that people prefer that are clearly just brainwashing from this or that company.

I suppose this is the beginning of a long conversation (between me and myself).

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  1. Modern Living “expectations” continue to devastate the environment remove humans from natural living and create so many psychological problems can only manifest demise and so many problems. Living as close to nature as possible or desired IS Natural. Some of my fondest childhood memories were created on my Grandparent’s Farm; carrying firewood to the house when I was three, riding Sonny and Powder, the Mammoth Mule and many other horses to do lots of things, feeding the cows and chickens, helping in the garden, fishing and swimming, helping make Lye soap in a kettle outside, watching all sorts of butterflies on my Granma’s plentiful flowers.. Playing and being wild and free all over the farm. Using the outhouse was NOT my favorite thing.. we didn’t have AC but didn’t know what it was to have it…and wrote on the frost inside the bedroom windows… only got three channels on tv..tv was pretty boring anyway..but had blackberry cobbler, steak, mashed potatoes and the best rolls in the world with homemade butter.. Life was good and we were happy.
    Although we are not totally off-the-grid, we are somewhat sustainable, using low-tech high tech, convection air flow, minimal fossil fuels and electric, growing livestock feed, gardening gathering rooftop water for several uses.. a fat cat for lap warmer.. dogs take care of left-overs. I plant trees and they in turn give us firewood, fruit, windbreaks and shade. Our Alfalfa patch provides cattle hay and
    food for many bees and butterflies. Mulberries, blackberries, pecan and walnut trees grow wild and there are pheasant and quail..not many deer anymore saw the last twins from the old doe about 4 years ago..and we have the most beautiful sunsets!

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