Thursday, May 27, 2010

Finally! Progress!

So, after a couple of not very productive trips to our property and fighting off ticks the last few days, we finally have something accomplished! The 12x30' storage building that we bought was delivered and is now waiting for us to make it livable. Even though it is a large shed, it's not very big when you consider we will be living in this while we build a house. It still has to be wired, have plumbing run to it, and insulated but at least I know we'll have a roof over our heads! I jokingly tell everyone that it will be like living in a camper minus the wheels. I am becoming more stressed however over pulling all of this together. There is still so much to be done and finding the time to complete it all is a challenge.

Since the tick population is getting worse we will likely get a few guineas and hopefully some chickens. This will allow us to naturally control the pest population and hopefully get some eggs as well! Hopefully this will only be home for a few months but I'm not going to expect things to go any more smoothly after we move than it has already.

As always, we enjoyed our time while we were there. The wind wasn't nearly as strong as it has been and we are becoming more familiar with the character of the land. As we look at how the water flows across the property we have begun to discuss where we may need to place swales and how we want to channel the water. Hopefully I will be able to begin creating our Permaculture design soon so that we have a road map to what we want to do.

Our target date to move is the last week of June so stay tuned and we'll see what we get accomplished between now and then!

Looking across our future home site to enjoy a sunset.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


I want to discuss an idea that some of you may not have heard of before. Creating a lifeboat. Now we all know what a lifeboat's that little boat that we run for when the big boat that we are on is in danger of sinking or some other disaster. The lifeboat is designed to keep you alive through the immediate emergency until you can be rescued or reach safety. So why, you may ask, do we need to create a lifeboat? Well, let's think about that one for a minute.

In the last couple of years we have seen a lot of economic turmoil here in the U.S. and in other countries as well. Greece is on the brink of financial collapse and Spain, France, Italy, the UK and others are not far behind. Despite what all of these well paid economists on CNN may be saying, we are on pretty shaky ground as well. Things are not as stable as they would like for us to believe. Our economy is based on a model of perpetual energy growth. We depend on increased amounts of available energy to support and increase our growth. Most of that energy comes from oil and as I hope you are aware, oil is on the decline. We have reached the peak and are now on the downhill slide. This is not good news for the economy.

Now I am not an economist nor do I work in the oil industry. I am just an ordinary person trying to piece together the information that is out there. I had hoped that we had at least another 5-10 years before we began to feel significant effects of Peak Oil but I am now beginning to think that we have much less time than that. So the need to create a lifeboat is becoming imperative.There are a lot of resources out there that can go into much more detail than I about what is happening and what we will probably be facing so I will leave that to those who are more qualified.

Everyone's lifeboat will look different based on where you live. There are basic needs that we all must meet which include water, food, and shelter. I would suggest starting there. Look around where you live and begin to think of what you would need to get you through an emergency that lasted a few days, weeks, or months. What plans do you need to put in place that will benefit you in the long term? What networks and community bonds can you strengthen or build so that you're not alone in your lifeboat? How will you and your family function if the things that we have become used to are not available or are only available in limited quantities?

I watched a film the other day of Michael Ruppert talking about Peak Oil and the coming collapse. One thing he said was to make your lifeboat where you feel most comfortable. Where you know the streets, the people, the customs, etc. You don't have to be out in the country surrounded by acres of farm land, but you do have to know your area and where your resources are. This makes a lot of sense to me and is why we are going back to Oklahoma.  It's where we are comfortable and where we are choosing to make our stand.

The ship is sinking and unfortunately many people don't see it. An analogy that I like to use is that of a coming storm. If you know a storm is coming are you going to wait until it hits to make sure you have everything you need? The smart person is going to make sure there is adequate food, batteries, flashlights, blankets, etc. If you are not prepared when you have been warned, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to find a way to embed Michael Ruppert's video in this text but I have included the link so you can visit the website and watch it for yourself. He doesn't sugar coat anything, which I personally like, but his message is a little scary. So watch the video, look at your own situation, and decide how best you can prepare your own lifeboat.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Permaculture Ethics Lesson #3

When we were children one of the first things we were taught was to share what we have with our friends. As we got older we learned how to share many things with our friends. Good times, bad times, clothes, and food. As we became adults we noticed that we may not share as often as we used to. We get caught up in providing for ourselves and our families. Often, we may not have enough to share with others because it takes everything we have just to meet our own needs. This is where the concept of Fair Share, which is the third ethic of Permaculture, comes in.

When we produce abundance we are able to share the surplus with those who are not as able. When we share with others then everyone's needs can be met. Of course we usually think of the physical things that can be shared such as food and water. But we can also share things such as time and knowledge.

This is how communities used to f unction. We respected our elders and they continued to contribute to the community by sharing their knowledge and helping to take care of the children. Everyone else provided the tasks that were needed for the community to survive. In this way everyone was doing their part. Permaculture seeks to rebuild community on those same principles. If we begin to incorporate Permaculture into how we live it will not only help the environment but our communities as well.

The ethics of Permaculture are simple but they are practices that we have largely gotten away from. These three things are at the core of Permaculture and everything we do will revolve around them. In the future I will discuss some of the principles of Permaculture and how they may be incorporated into your own living space. In the meantime I have put some links below to books that you may find useful as an introduction to Permaculture.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Permaculture Ethics Less #2

The second ethic at the center of Permaculture is Care of People. Ok, so this may seem like another no brainer but let's look at this concept a little closer.

When we talk about caring for people what images does that bring to mind? For most of us the first thing we may think about is helping our neighbors, looking after the elderly, and helping those in need. All of these things are correct, but let's see what else this can mean. When we are helping those around us, it can be more than just helping to put up a fence or making sure someone has a meal. How about teaching others how to grow some of their own food? How to install a rain barrel so the water can be reused on their landscaping? And how to utilize native plants and food bearing plants within the landscape so it not only looks nice but serves a purpose?

When we talk about caring for people we need to think about how to help people meet their needs beyond a handout. By establishing community gardens, educating others about the problems we will soon be facing, and how to live sustainably to deal with those problems we are going beyond short term needs and giving them long term solutions. This also helps to build community and create an environment of support.

In my next post I'll discuss the third and final permaculture ethic. In the meantime, look around your own communities to see what may be happening that falls under the ethic of Care for People. Maybe you will be inspired to start something that will follow this ethic.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Permaculture Ethics Lesson #1

If you have been anywhere near a radio or TV in the last few days I am sure you have heard about the oil spill that is happening in the Gulf. I say "is happening" because it is an on going event. To date, they still have not been able to cap this thing and stop the thousands of gallons of oil that is pouring into the ocean every day. To say the least, I am more than a little annoyed at this situation. I am annoyed for more than one reason. Not only is this an environmental disaster but it stands to affect my home state for which I am not very happy.

As irritating as all of this is, it is not the core of what I wanted to talk about today. As we make our preparations for creating a simpler life and I focus on using Permaculture to create a harmonious living environment, recent events have made me think about the ethics behind Permaculture. For those who are not familiar with Permaculture I thought I would discuss the three ethics that lie at the heart of Permaculture and how these ethics translate into our everyday lives.

Care of the Earth

This is the first ethic in Permaculture. It is a fairly obvious statement, but it means our first priority is to take care of the planet and not damage the systems that we depend on. So what does this mean? Does it mean we should recycle, compost, and conserve water? Of course, but we have to go a little deeper to find the true value of this ethic.  

For a person to have a deep concern for the Earth, we must have a relationship with it. This relationship must be developed over time and it also needs to have a healthy dose of respect thrown in. We develop this relationship by spending time in nature. Listening to its rhythms and watching the changing of the seasons. Unfortunately, the majority of people in our society have become disconnected from the world around us. I am no exception but I am slowly correcting this problem and working on my own relationship with nature.

Because of this disconnect, many people do not respect the world around them and have trouble fully comprehending the damage we do to our environment and what this means for us. As we gain an understanding of how the world around us functions, then we can understand how we fit within the grand scheme of things. We cannot count on some government agency or our children's schools to take us by the hand and show us how to have this relationship with nature either. This is something personal that we all must take the time to explore and discover. Then, we can teach our children so that this pattern of consumerism and abuse is broken. 

So the next time you spend some time outside, think about our connection to the earth and the ethic of Care for the Earth. What does it mean to you and how you interact with the world around you?