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…

IMG_0229

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…..

IMG_0230

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!

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16 responses

5 02 2014
Shirley Goodbar

I know!!! We tried self-sufficiency here in NSW. I’d say we were perhaps 60% “self-sufficient”—the highest we could go, still needing fuel and power and things like clothing. But now older and alone, and stuck in a retirement village, I can grow nothing at all. Self-sufficiency requires the extended family life style. Nuclear families do not have the work and muscle-energy required. Cities and towns are not communities. They are congeries of fiercely “independent”, isolated units of one or two adults with appendages of helpless minors. Until we return to the life-style of community, God help us all!

5 02 2014
Geoff Capper

There are other ways to live, but they aren’t going to be sustainable over the long term as we know! I agree with Shirley, extended family is the way to go, but overcoming the obstacles there can be harder than doing without sometimes lol!

Surprised you made it back with blueberries, our kids polished off a half kilo of them in an afternoon, I think I got 4 berries!!

5 02 2014
Eclipse Now

“what will happen to them when the propane stops?”
The nuclear charged boron or hydrogen will have already started due to the cost increases of propane?

5 02 2014
lemmiwinks

LOL!!

5 02 2014
mikestasse

Yeah……. I burst out laughing too!!

5 02 2014
Eclipse Now

A solution James Hansen promotes is funny?

5 02 2014
5 02 2014
Eclipse Now

James Hansen is part of the SCGI group (including your best mate Barry Brook) and they all promote Tom Blee’s book, Prescription for the Planet. Download it free here.
http://www.thesciencecouncil.com/prescription-for-the-planet.html

5 02 2014
Eclipse Now

Here is Hansen’s own summary of the boron argument. Download the PDF and go to bottom page 8
http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/20080804_TripReport.pdf

5 02 2014
Eclipse Now

“Bottom line: Blees has stimulating, revolutionary vision. The jury is still out on hydrogen vs boron vs something else. But I am confident that there are better alternatives than fossil fuels. It is time to start working much harder on such alternatives.”
http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/20080804_TripReport.pdf
(Page 10: It shows Jim honestly thinks boron is a contender, but is humble enough to know that other industries are scaling straight EV’s and hydrogen in new and interesting ways and something else might prove *cheaper* than boron!)

5 02 2014
kika

i wonder if celi and her family have tried making sauerkraut in the summer, and using that for vitamin C throughout the winter – as was common throughout europe before supermarkets were around. also, sprouting seeds during winter for vit C especially.

i also agree, you need people, like-minded, cooperative and willing to do physical work to even think of approaching self-sufficiency (as well as good soil, climate, etc.).

5 02 2014
cecilia

Thrilled to have been described as cutsie pie! Especially after a day shovelling shit due to the warmer 22 degree day. Thank you so much for the mention. After going through my own ‘discussion’ with a floridian vegan who described me as an animal killer. Um.. yes. Had to tell her, yes, I breed them then I eat them. Hopefully they are dead by then. But I do make sure that they are killed kindly and swifty this is important. And they are raised well. These animals work hard to feed me. I do respect that. And kika thank you, yes we do make sauerkraut, using the whey from my cheese making and it is very sour and wonderful.. have a gorgeous day out there in your garden.. c

5 02 2014
mikestasse

Well Celia…… you are definitely more cutsi pie than ME! I expect you mean 22 degrees F..? Isn’t shit frozen at such temperatures??

We animal killer have to stick together… when I kill a chook, it has a far better death than when a fox does the job.

Keep up the good work…

5 02 2014
cecilia

Oh yup! frozen solid like tossing frisbees. I can take out a dog at fifty paces with one of those! . though i was clearing around the gates in the sheep pen, so i could open it. . more like tossing marbles in frozen straw.. hard to describe.. not pretty.. smell free though.. have fun.. c

31 07 2014
Angela

It is perfectly possible to be a healthy vegan growing and eating your own produce. There isn’t even any need to use animal poo or bonemeal, blood etc. as you can grow veganically or ‘stock free’, it’s a growing trend: http://veganorganic.net/. Protein can be found in beans/pulses instead.

Live and let live!

31 07 2014
mikestasse

Nature doesn’t agree with you…….

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