One of the things I like about my life is that I get curious about things and have to learn about them. I've learned a lot this way. I continue to learn about horticulture; the season gives natural pauses to read and activity periods to do. Permaculture is something I've been interested in for a while and the more I read about it, the more I think I'm ready for that lifestyle (and maybe have been for longer than I've realized). One of the principles of permaculture is: every function should be supported by many elements. To quote Graham Burnett author of Permaculture: A Beginners Guide:
"Nothing should be indispensable as it’s loss or failure can then be disastrous. If, on the other hand, every system has a back up, it can continue to function. Similarly in our day to day lives it makes sense to learn as wide a range of skills as possible- a person who has had only one well paid but specialised job throughout their working life would be far less able to cope with being made redundant than somebody who has several smaller incomes earned from a variety of sources."
This is what I've been wanting to do for a while now! It was a revelation that having many interests and skills is beneficial to myself, my family, and my community. One of the things I found out about myself, after teaching children for 22 years (and directing a child care program for 16 of those same years) is that I don't want to do any one thing all the time. While I feel strongly about it as a personal choice, it's hard for me to verbalize it to others with confidence. After all, the way I've spent the previous 22 years doesn't impress society much. Yes, it's wonderful you teach young children, but what else can you do? The fact that I've been working and learning other skills at the same time doesn't count for much because I didn't make my living at it and I haven't a degree/certificate/award for any of it.
Still, I can make my own bread, cheese, mustard, kombucha, yogurt, gather my own eggs (soon), honey (the bees are making new comb - more on that later), weave baskets, make jewelry, process wool, knit sweaters, weave fabric, pick flowers from the garden, cook some home grown veg, and buy things I don't produce from local farmers instead of at stores. It doesn't mean much to the consumerism culture at large, but helps me feel less dependent on The Man. (Beer is next on my list of things to make, in case you were wondering.)
In my perfect world, the kids and I are working together in The Collins Crew, I'm doing landscaping with a friend, there are a couple photography gigs a month, and The Fresh Tart is revived and taking orders and selling at a farmers market. My yard will be set up in zones and the plants will be co-mingling in very groovy, bountiful ways. There will be moments of space in life to appreciate and contemplate, not rush from one job or activity to the next in order to survive (financially). It will be bigger and more meaningful than that. We might just be on to something big...
Somewhere down that long and winding road I'd like a goat or two for milk and weed control, perhaps a couple ducks for the gardens, and maybe a turkey for Thanksgiving.