Sunday, January 22, 2006

Back On Track

This morning I was thinking about what to post next on this blog. I could keep going on about the NAIS and make this blog into a political soap box but, I think most of us just want to keep on pursuing the sharing of our lives of faith and the agrarian way. Not that I’m setting aside my convictions that this totalitarian NAIS system isn’t something that needs to be fought against, by any means. In fact I just put together a packet of information to send to my relatives in Tennessee with the hope that they will get fired up enough to form their own networks of resistance.

Between our family and friends this has all been a topic of hot discussion. There has been talk of civil disobedience and forming under ground communities in order to get around the system if we can’t get it stopped or changed. We have friends of like mind around here and the topic of community has often come up in the past anyway. Usually though, we light heartedly entertain the notion that we could all start our own intentional type community. It would be a place on some large parcel of land, say a thousand acres, that we would all go in on together. We would share responsibilities, talents and so forth. But, it is all been just light hearted talk, with no serious commitment on anyone's part I don’t think.

Lately I have been putting a lot of thought into how to get around this NAIS problem and it would seem to me that tight knit communities are going to be the only way to minimize the effects of this terrible system. Then I read a comment regarding one of my more recent posts submitted by Balestacker where he gives a suggestion of how to live a sustainable agrarian life. He said,
I really don't see any way around the money dilemma as long as Christian agrarians insist on going it alone. This is not a criticism, just an observation. There's just no way that one family can produce everything they need AND want from one piece of ground, not even a large family.”

“We would have a better chance at sustainability and more freedom from the money culture if we would establish neighborhoods, villages or whatever you want to call them, and divide up the labor. Isolated farm families just can't do everything. There's not enough hours in the day; not to mention the necessary tools, skills and knowledge.”
Thank you Balestacker for leaving that comment.


Community

I would call it community. Not to be confused with that dreadful system of communism. Community is something that we have lost in the modern way of life. Where I grew up, there were people you lived next to your whole life and if you saw them in a store you wouldn’t even say hello. When you look at the first century church in the book of Acts and compare it to modern American Christianity you see that our version of the Way is found terribly lacking. Those Christians by means of necessity, love and commitment formed interdependent close knit communities that we would find very foreign in this day and age. But, we look at them back then and long for something like that. To belong to a community where you feel like you actually belong. A place of miracles and faith, where every member is truly like family.

One thing I liked about moving to this area was that it was a rather small community, where many of it’s residence are on a first name basis. Especially the ones who’s families have been here for generations. This was all new to us and to some folks I suppose it is something they dislike. I have heard people complain that everyone knows everyone's business. Granted gossip can be a problem, but I’d rather live like this than to live less than 50 feet from someone for years and barely know them at all.

I think Balestacker is right. Joining together and not isolating yourself, is a key to making a truly agrarian life work. Especially now with all this government intrusion that is gathering like storm clouds on the horizon. Actually for us here the storm clouds are over head. When times are tough decent people come together to help each other out. What we need to do is get in the mindset of joining together before a crisis erupts. And not just with a crisis in mind but, just in general, as practical advice about how to start living life more in tune with the way God meant it to be in the first place.

One thing I do want to add, is that we can’t over look the necessity of personal responsibility. It starts with us as individuals, then as families, then as communities. Then ultimately a nation is the sum total of those things. Personal responsibility is disappearing in this country. Everyone thinks they are entitled to a free ride. So the moral fabric of our nation is crumbling down around us. They say that America is the greatest nation on earth. At this point I would beg to differ. We are on a downward slide because the most fundamental elements of strength are being forsaken. Agrarian living is actually a stepping out of that downward spiral. It’s like we are seeing the direction that the modern world is heading and we are stepping off before the big crash.

Our Personal Vision

The Lord has blessed our family with a perfect homesteading location. We have a good mix of open land and woods. Roughly 40 acres is open with 80 acres of woods. Much of the middle and back 40’s are swamp with lots of cedar and tamarack. Good tree’s for making fence posts. Unfortunately we let a logger come in about ten years ago who took all the mature aspen and birch. If I had it to do over again I would not have sold it all off. For what we got out of it, the tree’s would have been far more valuable left for our own use, for fire wood and building projects. Plus the loggers made a mess rutting up the terrain and leaving the place like a tornado ripped through. The Aspen are growing back but they are still way too young to be of any use. Our children will appreciate them someday.

The soil is a rich sandy loam. There is a spring for watering livestock.
I really don’t know what kind of grasses and weeds are growing in the pasture but, whatever it is it has kept horses and livestock we’ve had well fed in the summer months. It is all growing wild and we have not done anything to it, but the animals actually grow fat on it.

I believe, this place, if managed properly could feed not only us but the majority of our small community. The space we use for our own personal needs is only about the size of a city lot. Last season we finally did some intensive gardening. Before last year we gardened the traditional way tilling and planting in rows. It takes more space and labor to garden that way. Last spring I finally built 4 raised beds. Three of which are 6’ wide by 24’ long. We installed hoops about every 4 feet so that we can cover each bed when frost is a threat. In this area frost can happen even in summer. The fourth bed is a 7’ by 3,1/2’ cold frame that I made from a discarded sliding glass door.

I have read much of Eliot Coleman's writings and really like his book called 4 Season Harvest. His is the gardening model I hope to achieve one day. Coleman’s website link is located at the right hand side bar on this blog. Last year was the first time we have actually put into practice some of his methods. My cousins in Tennessee have been using intensive organic gardening methods for years and it has worked very well for them.

One of our dreams is to eventually start a C.S.A. type community farm. C.S.A.’s ( Stands for Community Supported Agriculture ) encourage community participation. It wouldn’t have to be a C.S.A. specifically but, it could operate like one. For us the main objective would be to put together a team of like minded folks who would come together with contributing knowledge, skill and resources to make it all happen. The thought of farming on that scale, on our own, would be too daunting of a task for us. It’s one thing to provide for your own family but, providing for the entire community is quite another matter indeed. We really would be in over our heads in regards to skills and the physical ability to carry it out. But, I get excited about the idea of working with people of like minds for a common purpose. I really don’t know why that is. I guess it’s just how I’m wired. Perhaps it goes deeper than that and there is some destiny that God is leading us towards.

I don’t believe that God wants us to keep all our blessings to ourselves. We have a responsibility to share what we have for the edifying and building up of others. One way I look at what we see happening here is that if something ever happens to this country in way of Gods judgments, then a Christian community farm would become a bastion of hope and beacon of truth in troubling and uncertain times.

Until Next Time

7 Comments:

Blogger mountainfirekeeper said...

Hi Russ!

Thanks for you kind words at my blog. I'm making copies of our first workshop series that we just held in January. If you want a copy, write me at: mountainfirekeeper@yahoo.com and send me your snail mail address.

I absolutely agree with you about the need and the necessity to come together as a Christian community for us to be able to live our daily lives according to the teachings of the Bible.

We are too independent as Americans to give up our freedom of personal decisions on a daily basis and far too many people have lousy work ethics to get along sharing a central living and work arrangement. Therefore, it is essential for families to maintain their own private homes and personal responsibilities within a community framework.

I was born into an old German Christian Agrarian community. Each family had their own home and farm but many of the more expensive pieces of farming equipment were bought in partnership and passed from farm to farm. We got together with different relatives and neighbors to help each other with planting, putting up hay, many construction projects, harvest, silaging, butchering, working cattle and on and on. Community members with specialized skills were always trading their services for assistance with their own projects.

Back in the old country, people lived in small villages of family homes, yards and gardens. Then outside the village, each family had their own land to farm and raise animals. They chose to live in small villages for mutual assistance and protection.

We are attempting to develop a small Christian Agrarian community here in the Turtle Mts. Each family has their own homes but we are helping each other develop our own homesteads and share our specialized skills and equipment.

The 'Country Living Skills' workshops are being held primarily to build our own community network but you and others could certainly hold your own 'Country Living' workshops to build and strengthen your own Christian Agrarian community. You could show parts of our video to anyone interested if you wanted to and/or offer persentations and workshops based on the skills each of you have developed. That concept could possibly be the spark to bring people together with similar views and a way of meeting new people.

Our plan is to hold 'Country Living' workshops once a month with several of them based on an entire weekend get-together. You and your family are invited to our 'Primitive Living and Survival Skills' weekend to be held July 7th, 8th and 9th here at the health center.

I hope to have a a primitive village of 4 tipis and a cooktent set up in the woods away from modern civilization. Everyone is welcome to camp out with us in a village setting. "Community building" will be a central theme along with woodscraft and survival skills.

The health center will be within walking or canoeing distance for showers and other modern comforts. For those going for the entire primitive weekend experience, we hope to have a homemade sauna built on a raft anchored out on Bergen Lake for people to use.

May the Lord of LOVE, LIGHT and LAUGHTER bless you and your famiy during these troubled times!

Steven

1:21 AM  
Blogger HomesteadHerbs said...

Great post!

A side note: when I lived in Decatur, Indiana I moved into a small subdivision. I introduced myself to my neighbor, and would stop and chat with her over the fence when I'd see her outside. Two years later, when I was getting ready to move away, I told her I was leaving and her comment to me was, "Oh! That's such a shame! I've lived in this subdivision for close to 20 years, and you're the only one who has ever stopped and talked to me!" How sad it that!

12:02 PM  
Blogger RL said...

Mountain Fire Keeper,
Thanks for the excellent comment. Very informative. I am very intrigued by the “German Christian agrarian community” that you were born into. You have first hand insights into community then. As you know full well they aren’t without their challenges and often times difficulties. I grew up in a unique environment as well.
The things you are working towards up in North Dakota sound exciting. We hope to establish an educational type facility here as well. It’s part of our overall vision.
My family and I sure would like to take you up on your invitation, but I’m not sure yet, if we will be able to get away, what with the business and all. Will try to work something out.

Homestead Herbs,
Thanks!
Yes that is sad. It is symptomatic of our entire culture. Like a red light on the dashboard telling us we have problems under the hood.

11:02 PM  
Blogger mountainfirekeeper said...

Hi Russ,

You can read more about my German's from Russia heritage in my very first post (about 8 posts ago). I'm still very new to this world of blogging.

Homestead Herbs wrote in interesting post about her community after reading your's and mine.

Best wishes in Christ,
Steven

10:59 PM  
Blogger R.G. said...

Russ,

I appreciate the kind words. I started blogging again here: http://www.randallgerard.blogspot.com/ I'm no longer 'balestacker'.

R.G.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Walter Jeffries said...

No rest for the weary. Tune into this radio show on NAIS or download the streaming audio and listen on your computer. Even if you miss the broadcast you can catch it later via MP3. Spread the word and tell your friends, blog about it, tell people on other lists.

Cheers,

-Walter

A FOOD CHAIN RELEASE FROM METROFARM.COM

To protect against disease and terrorism, USDA will register and track domesticated animals, and the properties in which they reside, throughout the United States. This leads us to ask, “What impact will these good intentions have on small farmers, ranchers and hobbyists?”

This Saturday at 9AM Pacific (10am CT, 11am ET) the Food Chain with Michael Olson hosts Dr. Mary Zanoni, Founder of Farm For Life, and small farmers from around the United States for Part II of a conversation about the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).

Listen anywhere, live or delayed, on your radio, computer or iPOD at MetroFarm.com. (This web link has a list of stations as well as the link for the MP3 file to listen on your computer.)

Topics include why animals and properties must be registered and tracked; how the tracking system has been designed to facilitate industrial-scaled production systems; and what impact this program may have on small-scale producers.

Listeners are invited to call the program at 1-800-624-2665 or on their local station or log on to the Forum page at www.metrofarm.com.

12:39 AM  
Blogger RL said...

Walter,
Thanks for the tip. Just listened to the program. It took a while to down load through our slow speed dial up, but heard it in full nonetheless. Interesting how Dr. "John" evaded the term "mandatory", instead preferring the term "full participation". And how he minimized the penalty for noncompliance, which they said in Texas, could be up to $1000 per day.

Russ

7:20 PM  

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