Thursday 12 January 2012

Going to Town

One of the primary goals of our homestead is to become self-sufficient.
Self-sufficiency can be interpreted in many ways. There are extremes and practical models. So far, we don't really know how truly self-sufficient we will become.  For now, we do what we can to provide for ourselves with the available skills and materials.

Self-sufficiency, however, is not simply a matter of systematically removing external needs.  
So many facets of the farm rely on each other.  Eliminating one problem may directly result in another.  Conversely, removing a root problem may give an exponential effect.
Rooting out unwanted sufficiencies is a constant challenge that I will address as we progress. 
The sufficiency that I find most distressful and challenging is the need to spend fuel to travel and move goods.  I will clarify my opinion of fuel consumption in another post, but for now, we consume fuel and much more than we should.  The paradox of moving to the country to reduce global impact is the withdrawal from closely situated communities.  I know that many people have the opportunity to move into a thriving rural community, yet there are just as many who do not.  We live in the middle of nowhere.  Not really far north, not really far away, just in a bit of a civilization gap.  That means, that for every item, material, service, and administrative obligation that we cannot provide for ourselves, we must drive.
The Driver in the Family
There are two places that we go.  The closer is Haliburton which is a half hour drive.  The further is Peterborough which works out to be an hour.  Haliburton provides us with most everything we need, but not all.  I should mention that we are ten minutes away from Gooderham where we access the post office, a small grocer, and the Liquor Store.
Over the years, in order to conserve fuel, we have learned to buy in bulk, plan ahead for needs, and try to get as many things done in one trip as is possible.  I must admit that we are pretty good at it.  But our dependency remains.

We went to Peterborough today.
The trip was planned a week in advance.  
Hopefully, we won't need to go back for at least another month.

The problem is the livestock feed.  Until we are able to produce our own, we must buy from a distributor.  To buy organic feed, we must order in advance, and travel an hour one way.  There is a minimum order of 500 kg for organic hog grower.  
22 bags / 1200 lbs of Feed
To mitigate the cost of the trip, we double-duty the excursion and make additional stops.
Nonetheless, it is a major reliance that I am determined to dissolve.
Not Much Room Left
The solution is simple.  The details are are not so simple.
Ideally, the homesteader would cultivate land in order to feed the animals, before actually bringing the livestock onto the land.  In our case, we are relying on pigs to prepare the land and therefore we must feed them from an outside source.  They can be pastured on wildland but the carrying capacity is fragile.  I don't know how much of the native flora and fauna would be displaced to supply the pigs with enough food.  Six of them decimated the better part of an acre this year and no natural forage was left by the time fall arrived.
My intention is to prepare specific parcels of land and bring them into food production.  Livestock will be contained in smaller areas and fed from those plantings.  The goal is to have enough parcels to rotate all livestock and crops, without clearing an excessive amount of indigenous ecosystem.
For the time being, the pigs replace fossil fuel consuming machines.  I would have to do some math to be sure that the equal amount of fuel is not being spent to provide the pigs with feed.  Then of course, you can't eat heavy equipment when the job is done.

Finally Home


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