Friday, February 18, 2011

Dipping My Toes Into Self-Sufficiency!

We've been hanging out at Barnes and Noble Library, er, Barnes and Noble Bookstore,  lately.

Mark and I have been pondering the hows of building a greenhouse out of salvaged windows -- something I've wanted to do for a long time.  So I went looking for books.  The greenhouse idea somehow hatched chicken coop ideas.  Which also led to books.

 I've had chickens in the past.  I love them for all their plucky stupidity and I just adore fulfilling my Little House On the Prairie fantasies by sending the girls out to get an egg when I need one! 

However, there were two problems with keeping chickens: 

1) The coop was near the neighbor's yard.  When the neighbors' sprinkler overshot their yard, the chicken coop got very wet and, subsequently, very smelly!  Then the neighbors complained about the smell (like it wasn't THEIR fault!).

2) ROOSTERS!  The main problem with chickens is roosters!  About half of those sweet little yellow chicks grow up to be horrid, evil roosters!  Roosters are bullies.  Roosters are LOUD.  Roosters know when 4 a.m. is and believe it is very important to announce this fact to the world -- LOUDLY! 

My solution was to catch the rooster and put him in a dog crate in the garage every night.  This worked pretty well except that most nights I forgot until AFTER I was in bed.  Ugh!  So most nights I was out in the chicken coop in my nightgown and barefoot chasing that stupid rooster!  It's hilarious now but I failed to see the humor at the time!   

We eventually found a new home for Rooster -- my dear friend Sarah (by the way, have a SPECTACULAR birthday tomorrow, Sarah!).  The first conversation I ever had with Sarah (on the phone, as we were planning a play date for our kindergarteners) was about how much we both love chickens.  Our kindergarteners are now almost 14!  They are still best friends.  And Sarah and I still get to play together too -- though not with chickens, at least not recently!

Sarah took Rooster (who was immediately renamed "Pooster") on a glorious weekend at their farm where he ran free and was in wonderful rooster heaven.  Two nights later a raccoon managed to pull his head out of the dog crate he slept in and his new owners awoke to the quiet of a headless rooster.  Poor Rooster!  But also a bit hilarious in the end!  Perhaps the raccoon didn't want to know when it was 4 a.m. either!

At Barnes and Noble the hunt for books on greenhouses and chicken coops led me to a new concept.  I ended up pouring over a fascinating book called The New Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency: The Classic Guide for Realists and Dreamers by John Seymour.  I'm not sure if I classify as a realist or a dreamer.  Probably both!  This encyclopedia of everything our forefathers knew about living off the land in a state of simple wholesomeness covers topics like gardening, animal husbandry, food storage, handcrafts, recycing, and harnessing renewable energy.  If all modern conveniences came to a screeching halt and there was no internet and no YouTube how-to videos to help us along, this book could insure our survival!

I think I'm in serious trouble!  Something in my soul, some past life trace from somewhere in the eons or some romaticized idea of the satisfactions of traditional farm life or something stirred and I'm having trouble wrestling it back into submission in the root cellar! 

Perhaps it's that part of me that thinks that if I planted a garden and had solar panels and wind tubines and chickens and a cow I wouldn't have to buy groceries or pay utility bills and, in turn, I wouldn't need money, that thing that I'm so very bad at earning and am always trying to get around having to spend!  Please remind me frequently that it would be labor-intensive to churn my own butter and weave my own cloth!

But I probably will try to build a greenhouse and plant some tomatoes and maybe get a couple of chickens -- and try to stay away from that book!  It even has instructions on how to kill chickens and rabbits and goats and cows!  Maybe if I focus on the slaughtering sections I can give myself an aversion to the rest of it too?  I will try.  And if I fail, you'll hear all about it when I get myself into projects!

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