With summertime buzzing by quick as ever, and new projects creeping into the forefront to take center stage in my obsessive mind, the blogging as a means to keep in touch with those who seek news from the Stix has slipped between the cracks... Apologies, my friends. Rest assured, you have not been forgotten and I so appreciate the messages you send and the direct communications do carry more meaning than simply scrolling by snapshots of our daily travails and triumphs.
This Blog is in response to Naomi who asked how I ended up choosing this lifestyle (#lifeinthestix as I have tagged it in the spirit of staying hip to the jargon of our bizarre cyber-nauseating times). For those who don't know, 8 or so years ago I bought a chunk of land on a hillside in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, and for 6 years or so, my boys and I have lived here. Off the grid. Off the land. As self-sufficiently as we can manage, and thank goodness for kind hearted neighbors and locals with know-how and good old fashioned Vermont ingenuity who have helped us get by on numerous tenuous occasions. The first summer I lived up here, alone for a few months with the boys away for the summer, I did start to journal the experience (my only prior attempt to "blog"); but, as the life became overwhelmingly full I didn't get much past the first two or three entries. If you are really intrigued by my story though, you can still find those early day entries here: https://azevon.wordpress.com/
The short answer to "why" I choose this lifestyle is another question "how could I not?" However, I am aware that for many that would seem a confusing retort. It is not for everyone. In fact, it is not the life most people seek out for themselves, though there is a breed of people who yearn for it. We folks who pine for a deep-seeded rapport with the soil we tend and that gives us nourishment. We people who cannot stand the feeling of dependency on a system that seems out to trick us, poison us and betray us out of the simplest of universal needs. But, perhaps I am getting ahead of myself...
It is hard to explain, and becomes harder with each day that passes as I become more accustomed to living this way and take the riches of living on a sustainable homestead for granted. Life before the Stix, back in the urban days (and I did grow up in cities, BIG ones), I took for granted that apartments and houses would come fully equipped with running water and electricity. I never had to figure out how to fix the sources for these, just had to pay a bill. I took for granted that the shops would be stocked with foods and all I had to do was buy them, ready to fill my fridge. But, I also had to earn dollars to keep those amenities within reach, had to balance on that tight rope to pay the rent, pay the bills, buy the goods...and underneath the facade of "normal", of living a "civilized" life, I was skeptical. Skeptical that the stress of having to always make ends meet was a worthy trade for resources I knew I couldn't trust. Who was selling the electricity and at what detrimental cost to the environment? How was the water being treated before it was being pumped through miles of pipelines to come out of my faucet? What conditions did the farmhands who harvested those picture perfect veggies have to endure? These kind of questions plagued my consciousness. I had a hunch that I wouldn't care for the answers to these questions and that there was a way I could relieve my guilty conscience by opting to quit participating in the system of the grid, as it were...
For me, it did not take long to adapt to the switch and rejoice at the incredible riches I have come to know from digging up my own fresh spring water, planting my own crops, harvesting my own power from the sun. Yes, this life is incredibly hard too. It is rugged and brutal. Death and life come and go swiftly. Nature is a cruel mistress. But the more I can learn to bend my needs to fit Nature's perfectly symbiotic ways, the less I will have to struggle, the healthier I will become, the more balance I recognize. I am not nearly there yet. There are many days spent screaming, crying, throwing tantrums, cursing at the wind... but, my determination to see the problems through because the rewards are well worth it have so far kept me from giving up. Well, ok. Maybe I am just that stubborn, yes. In any case, it has kept me on this hillside now for nearly 6 years so far. And, truly, the rewards are many...
Fresh spring water from the tap: REVITALIZING
Home grown meats, dairy, eggs, vegetables and fruits: NOTHING COMES CLOSE TO COMPARISON in flavor or quality
Endless entertainment of nature, animals wild and domestic, dramatic skies day or night: DRAMA & BEAUTY & ART
Self reliance = Empowerment
Increase in skill sets, like: plowing, tractoring, wood splitting, running a chainsaw, fence building, butchering, processing whole foods, foraging wild foods and medicines, and on and on and on and on.... There's just no trading the knowledge that I can find the source of my waterline, control the feed that my animals consume, save the seeds of my favorite heirloom vegetables. There's nothing more rewarding than keeping warm by a stove stoked with wood we blocked, split and stacked ourselves.
Knowing the land you live and rely on is an intimate relationship. You will fight sometimes. Celebrate sometimes. And it requires commitment and respect. I have yet to secure that kind of relationship in a human partner, but this 40.5 acre plot of land has been good to me. I aim to be good to it in return.