Monday, June 9, 2014

Mother Nature Always Wins!

For the past several years, barn swallows have nested on the ceiling fan motor on our back porch.  We, of course, thought this was quaint and cute until we came home to a 4-foot long garden snake extended from the top of one of the Adirondack chairs in an effort to get to the nest.  We removed the snake, and let the little fledglings leave of their own accord.  Over the winter, we removed the nest.

This spring, at the first sight of the swooping barn swallows, I turned on the ceiling fan in a effort to dissuade nesting (barn swallows do reuse nests).  I was congratulating myself on my cleverness until I followed one particular swallow as it swooped into the porch.

Yes, they nested on the porch again--by building a nest in the corner instead of on the ceiling fan motor.

It's an important lesson for me since I think I can control anything.  But the chirping immediately outside the window reminds me:  despite all my efforts, in the end, Mother Nature always wins.

So, it's up to me to play by her rules.  I may not win, but I'll stay in the game longer.

What about you?  How are you living your Savory life?


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Lifehacks: No More "Untils"

Roadside Roses
You do what you can; you start where you are.
                                                                      ~character Althea Tibbs, In the Heat of the Night

I feel like I've just emerged from a dense fog.  Most know I've been taking the Permaculture Design Certificate course from Oregon State.  It's been an intense, yet enjoyable time under the tutelage of Andrew Millison, Marisha Auerbach, and my reader Tao Orion.  I've just completed the first draft of my final design project (for my farm) and I thought I'd take a minute to share a few thoughts.

My "greenhouse"
 Prior to taking the PDC course, I completed the Getting Started in Farming course from the National Center for Appropriate Technology.  When I needed a break from the PDC's 10-15 hours of study and homework per week, I read Joel Salatin's You Can Farm.  One theme has emerged from all three:

Discard the excuse of "until."  
We'll all used it.  

"I can't start farming until I have some land."

"I can't start plants from seed until I have a greenhouse."

Looking forward to her return!
"I can't start growing XXXX until I have a tractor."

You get the idea.  So, let's look through the until to the reality.

What can you do now?

If you have no land, rent (or, even better, borrow) some.  If you can't rent or borrow, grow in containers on your patio or porch.  If you cannot grow it in a container under controlled conditions, you surely can't grow it in a field where conditions are far from controlled.

If you don't have a greenhouse, build one with shelves, fluorescent lights, a timer, and shower curtains for inside use.  Shop garage sales, discount stores, your junk drawer, thrift shops.  It can be done inside far more inexpensively than you think.  My little greenhouse--shelves inside my garage--will have to last several more seasons before I can afford anything bigger.

If you don't have a tractor for XXXX crop, grow something else you do have the equipment for.  Don't forget to do your market research, however.  There's nothing more frustrating than growing something nobody wants to buy.

This oregano survived the harsh winter in an overgrown bed.
I wish I were as determined!
I'm having to push through the untils myself.  My beloved tractor is ill, and finding parts for a 40-year-old Japanese tractor is somewhat like an archaeological expedition.  But parts have been located and are wending their way to us.  Until they arrive, my primary summer project is on hold, but there are plenty of others, just as valuable, that deserve my attention.  I'm doing what I can until I can do what I want.

So, Althea's rule (which sounds a lot like an Arthur Ashe quote) is guiding me forward.

What about you?  Which untils keep you from living your Savory life?