Do you really want to live sustainably – self sufficiently?

5 02 2014

A couple of years ago, I somehow found this interesting blog called thekitchensgarden written by “A girl from New Zealand married to an American fella and living on the prairies. Growing, cooking and eating using sustainable and organic methods. Welcome! I am here most every day”  Her name is Celi…….  I don’t read everything Celi writes, it’s a bit like a diary – which is fine – but it’s a bit cutesypie for me who prefers reading meatier stuff….  I’m sure you all know what I mean!  But Celi is a good writer and photographer, and every now and again she posts something that really catches my attention, and today she has a doozy…  Do you really want to live sustainably – self sufficiently?

I think about little else these days, as our water supply dwindles (still haven’t bought any…), the garden shrinks, and the cloudy skies bring no rain worth mentioning.  And every day, and I mean EVERY day, the temperature reaches 30+ (~90ºF) drying everything out…..  I saw the other day a well respected NZ long range forecaster predicting we may not get any decent rain in Queensland before May.  My friend Serge who has 20 acres near Gympie was talking about selling his cows the other day, because he’s run out of feed….. and he has a spring!

But back to Celi………  “Sustainable is not only about food. It is also about lifestyle”, she writes, adding

Our house is heated by a wood stove. (We only use trees that have fallen in storms or been culled by farmers.)  This means that only one area of the house is heated, the rest is just .. well .. cold.

I lay in the bath every night and you would not know there was a pale tired little body in there,  the room is ALL steam.  Our bed is a mound of blankets. Cats  tucked into the corners.  Dogs waiting for our feet.

We eat pretty much the same thing with small variations each night. The proteins are free range chicken or their eggs, lean grass fed beef, lavender lamb, or  pasture raised pork.  The frozen vegetables are almost all gone.  The tomatoes and fruit in jars are still holding out. I also eat nuts and seeds, rice and cereals that I cannot grow out here.  (Bought at the supermarket once a month – not at all sustainable.)   Flour for bread, pizza bases and pasta is bought. I have used all the home grown potatoes, onions,  and beans and pumpkins long ago so if it were not for frozen peas (bought from the supermarket) and my enormous stash of tomatoes in jars and my wine (there are vitamins in wine?) we would have scurvy.

The fact is that if I were a sustainably managed vegan or vegetarian (as in growing all my own food)  and living out here on the prairie I would be dead. Or at the very least unwell and very thin. We eat plenty of vegetable and egg based meals. But we need to buy most of the vegetable ingredients now. Not sustainable or self sufficient at all.  We have a 6 month period when the ground will grow nothing at all. A cold frame will extend the lettuce for a while. But there is very little nutrition in a lettuce. All the greens must be grown in the summer and stored.  And a cabbage only lasts so long, same for the onions and the potatoes and pumpkins. So by now I am looking to the supermarket to buy my vitamins, absolutely none of which are grown within hundreds and hundreds of miles of here. Certainly not without the help of a lot of artificial heating. So thank goodness I have a freezer full of protein. Even the milk is bought from another farm until I start milking again. Not self sufficient.  Flour, chick peas, legumes, split peas, kidney beans, etc, all bought from the supermarket. Not self sufficient.  Flax seeds, buckwheat, rye.. all bought.

Celi’s blog‘s worth a visit, just for the photos…….

I recently had a lengthy online argument with a vegetarian (or was she vegan – don’t know) who was going on and on about cows’ greenhouse emissions.  And the ethics of killing animals for food too of course….  I told her about how her organics needed animal manures to grow instead of the normal chemical fertilisers.  To cut to the chase, the argument ended when I asked her had she ever tried growing her own food.  City people have no idea……  they somehow believe we will just transition to a Carbon free and sustainable future, and everything will be honky dory…

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Wwoofers fixing swales

I hate to think what will happen to Celi and her husband and animals WTSHTF….  at least she’s way in front of the propane consuming farmers; what will happen to them when the propane stops?  What will happen to the city folks expecting those farmers’ produce to hit the shelves when they fail to arrive?  Denial is rife…..

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where’s the water…..??

I just sent off three young American Wwoofers from Seattle to their next destination, Singapore.  They were only here for five days, but they worked like slaves (no, way better actually) and did tons of stuff I don’t have the energy to do (ah to be 18 again….  and know what I know now!).  They reinstated our swales, which over time after being walked on were more like bumps on the landscape, cleared that invasive grass that used to come from next door on the wind, spread mulch everywhere, and generally set the scene in expectation of that last remaining ingredient, RAIN…  Feeding them was an eye opener……  all that work had to be energised with loads of protein, which I mostly bought, because while unlike Celi we are not snow bound, the garden looks like it’s been nuked, so dry it has become.  Is there anywhere on Earth that is suitable for sustainability and self sufficiency…?  I wonder every day…

Right now, having breakfast of left over Huon Valley blueberries we brought back from Tassie (boy am I going to grow heaps of those in Geevo…!) with Goat Milk Yogurt……  Yum!