I’m starting this blog for two reasons. First, and bear with me, it will replace my journal of years ago, which I used to reflect on the events of the day. These journals were especially important to me in later years, when I re-read an old entry that allowed me to reconstruct a day that would have otherwise been lost to me, thanks to an increasingly fallible memory. But please wait. Before such a self-indulgent introduction causes you to exit this site, I realize that such crap is of very little use to you, unless you happen to want to read about someone else’s chickens, weather, etc.
However, it’s remotely possible that the second reason is what steered you to this blog. Maybe you stumbled across this while searching for something on rainwater collection, or garden crop rotation, chicken tractors, etc. Because I’ll eventually also write posts in which I’ll try to document the steps I’ve taken, and continue to take, in an attempt to become a more self-sufficient steward of about twenty acres in central North Carolina. As indicated, these will cover things like safely collecting rainwater as drinking water, heating with wood safely and pretty effortlessly, year-round gardening, etc. We’re experts in none of this, but have learned a few things in twenty plus years of trying. So, I plan to use this blog to promote the values of stewardship and self-sufficiency, and more importantly, to encourage others to tackle projects that they might otherwise steer clear of.
Webster’s defines ‘self-sufficient’ as: ‘able to maintain oneself without outside aid; capable of providing for one’s own needs.’ (It also defines ‘self-sufficient’ as having having extreme confidence; haughty or overbearing….but I didn’t know that when I named the blog. And please note the: “Just trying to be….” preface.)
It also defines ‘stewardship’ as: ‘the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care’, for example, our natural resources. I consider that some things are directly in my ‘care’ such as the land I tend and the pets who share our home. Other things are more indirectly under my ‘care’ such as this country I love, even when its leaders abuse our trust. It is also part of my duties as a ‘steward’ to fight that abuse rather than just accept it, and to participate in making my community a better place – a goal I often fall short of.
So, this blog will be my attempt to share my successes and failures in managing our piece of rural North Carolina in a responsible fashion. Please understand, this is not another homesteader’s how-to guide, though I have a lot of admiration for folks who can live completely off the grid, churn their own butter and dine on grizzly they killed themselves. But hey, I’ve got a day job. So does my wife. And they sometimes kick our butts. And yes, we do watch television and occasionally even eat in nice restaurants. We all make choices. Not all of mine are at the far end of the tree-hugger scale, and my efforts at being a ‘self-sufficient steward’ certainly pale when compared to many, many others.
That being said, we do live in a home we built ourselves, we grow a lot of our own food, and are attempting to leave the place better off than we found it. We have learned to do a lot of things that most of our peers would delegate to others, and are richer in many ways because of it. Another part of our approach involves supporting local farms and businesses, and working to improve local, state and national governance. My point is that you don’t have to exist in one world or the other; one where you are ‘off the grid’ and completely removed from the real world, the other where you are completely dependent on the sweat and skill of others, basically paying for all the goods and services you use. In my experience, there is a middle road, using your sweat and time instead of your wallet and developing skills as needed. You can move toward self-sufficiency a step at a time, or at least take the steps of your choosing. Perhaps this blog can serve as a source of information or at least encouragement. If this sounds like I claim to have more skills than most; hardly. See, ‘The Jack of All Thumbs Part‘.
The driving force behind doing this blog now, after years of projects big and small, was the encouragement of my friend Steve, when I described my next big project – the construction of a 5000 gallon rainwater collection system for all our water needs, including drinking water. He volunteered his IT skills (www.fisherstudios.vox.com) and thus yet another blog was born. My focus in the coming weeks will be to outline this project, hopefully providing helpful information to someone else who has reached the same conclusion that I have – water, particularly in the southeastern U.S., will become an increasingly scarce commodity and moving toward self-sufficiency is just common sense.
Follow along and please weigh in.