Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year!!

Remembering Y2K

First of all I want to say Happy New Year to you. My how time flies. It doesn’t seem that long ago how we were all holding our breath at the turn of the millennium to see if the computers went haywire or if the electricity would go off. It was a non-event. You could almost hear a collective sigh of relief sweep across the nation. Almost immediately all the nay sayers stood up and said ‘see, I told you so’.

For a non-event there sure was a lot of money spent on updating and upgrading computers and networks. A family member who happens to know quite a bit about computers told me once that if all that work wasn’t put into the upgrades then there would have been problems. The question still remains as to how much of a problem it would have posed.

Before we moved to the farm I might have heard little tidbits about Y2K but, it made little impact on me. It didn’t factor in, in the least bit on our decision to move up in 98. It was after we were already here that we started hearing in more detail and more frequency the Y2K debate. It seemed the experts were split. A lot of intelligent folks were on both sides of the fence and even more were perched on top of it unsure of which side to be on. We heard all kinds of opinions ranging from it’s the end of the world as we know it to, absolutely nothing is going to happen. Who was one to believe?

About the middle of 1999 us and my parents thought it prudent that if the there was a chance of disruptions we had better do some stocking up. And that’s what we did. We weighed the chances based on the vast amounts of information out there and decided to prepare at a level somewhere in the middle. We figured there was a possibility that there might be disruptions but we thought it probably wouldn’t be the “end of the world as we knew it”. So we planned accordingly.

We estimated that our stock up would carry us about 3 months give or take the level of usage of certain items. Plus we were already set up with lots of poultry, rabbits, a milk goat, sheep and even a team of Belgian Draft horses. The horses would come in handy if there would have been long term problems, but that’s not why we got the horses. I liked them and it seemed to be an excellent deal that we stumbled upon. Two horses and a sleigh all for just $2000. I figured that the sleigh it’s self was worth that much alone. I would later come to realize that the horses being so old weren’t worth much anyway. The idea was that our preparations would carry us long enough and give us enough cushion as to enable us to adapt to whatever would come our way. If we had to rely solely on our homestead for a protracted amount of time then we would have had some time to tie up the loose ends and put a whole hearted effort into making it work.

It was a good drill to make us think through some tough questions.

The Simple Life?
It didn’t take long before the realization dawned on us that the romantic notion of the “simple life” was in fact just that. A romantic notion. A myth. Once we jumped in with both feet we found out how incredibly complex life on a homestead actually was. Everything from growing a garden to successfully raising animals was anything but simple or basic. On any given day you have to wear all kinds of hats. One moment your a botanist another your a veterinarian. One day your a carpenter, another your a mechanic. In order to take care of it all and make it work, you really have to use your head and develope all kinds of skills and learn to plan ahead. Also, there is plenty of physical labor to go around for everyone.

Life on a homestead or farm is one that is full of hard work and is very complex. But, it is a full life. It is full-filling and satisfying. There is never enough time to get bored and it is seldom dull. It is full of surprises and keeps your mind working trying to figure out the never ending challenges that crop up on a regular basis. Even though some things can be routine like daily chores it is never void of some new development that arises. The horse’s are getting out. Why isn’t the electric fence working? The chickens are loosing their feathers, what do I do? Why are their egg shells getting soft? What are those bugs crawling all over and devouring our potato plants? How much do I feed the new goats and sheep. The sheep keep baaing, does that mean they’re hungry or just glad to see us? How do I keep that goat house from blowing over in the wind? Just trying to get it all balanced teaches you all kinds of disciplines and problem solving skills.

I came to the conclusion that we actually had it backwards. The simple life, is punching in at the office or factory every morning and then clocking out at the end of the day and going home. You become very proficient at just a few things and you just do those same things over and over and over, day in and day out, five or six days a week, 50 or so weeks a year. The hamster on the proverbial wheel. Your eyes glaze over, your mind grows dull and you wonder what in the world ever happened to your life. You wonder, how did I wind up here, what am I doing here anyway? You live for the weekends and you live for that two week vacation every year. Soon you learn to spend money just to comfort your self after such an unfulfilling week of routine and boredom. Your debt grows larger you feel more stress, a vicious cycle takes hold of your life. The more unfulfilled and bored you become with your life the more you spend and therefore the more enslaved you become to that never ending rat race. The hamster on the wheel.

The modern life has become so regimented and predictable, so artificial, so full of conveniences, that you have to invent ways to keep your mind occupied and keep your body fit. So we develop hobbies and games and entertainment to keep our selves preoccupied from our misery.

Last year we joined the new YMCA. As I was jogging along on a treadmill I thought of how ironic it was that with all the conveniences of the modern world people have to artificially create work for themselves just to provide their bodies with some means for fitness.

Just consider how artificial modern life has become. We live in a plastic, paved over, perfectly manicured world. We have become far removed from how God has designed us. God has placed at the core of our being a love and need for natural things. He has given us the earth itself to provide us everything for our physical needs. But, when we deviate from that built in God ordained system and try to build our own artificial kingdoms void of the Creators touch we make everything out of balance.

Look at the pet industry. There is actually an industry devoted to pets. People living in artificial environments still have this desire to be around living creatures. Look at the garden centers that pop up every Spring. It is as big or bigger than the pet industry, I would guess. I don’t see a lot of farmers at the garden centers but, I see a lot of city folks. Mostly I see the hobbyists adding yet another flower, shrub or tree to their little plot of ground behind the house. People love to be surrounded by natural things even when they live in an unnatural environment. They have to create an artificially natural life. But there it is, it’s genetic. People have this ingrained desire to grow gardens and tend animals. When you think about it, it’s almost laughable. We have to go to so much effort and expense to bring the natural world to us when all we have to do is go back to the natural world.

There is a wisdom that comes from being close to the earth that can never be gained while living in a city or sitting in a class room. Being closer to creation automatically brings one closer to the Creator. You see the evidence of His handiwork in every created thing. Consider the complexity of a single leaf. Or consider the vast array of stars.

In the country you can actually see the stars and there are more out there than any city dweller can imagine. Consider the miracle of the birth of a baby animal. We stand in awe over that, no matter what kind of creature we see being born, be it a simple chicken or an innocent lamb. No matter how many times we’ve seen it, new borns always brings a smile to our faced and capture our complete attention and adoration. We stand in awe over the things God has created. That’s how it was meant to be.


Blogger Northern Farmer said...

Very good post!

Although I'm starting to forget what the stars look like with this soup we've had here the last ten days.


8:06 PM  
Blogger RL said...


It's been pretty cloudy in Wisconsin as well.

I've heard a lot of talk about S.A.D. lately. Can't remember what it stands for exactly but ,it's what people get in the winter and when it's been cloudy for a long time.

Hope you had a good New Year.


5:34 PM  

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