Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Weekend Homesteader Ideas, April-June

This is a continuation of my review of my weekend homesteading ideas and goals inspired by The Weekend Homesteader by Anna Hess, as well as her and her husband's blog, "The Walden Effect."  I haven't looked at this list in five years. Let's see if I've accidentally achieved any of these goals. My original notes are in italics.
Our back patio, planting day.
From "Containing the Garden," June 2016.

Find room to homestead - check. We had the community garden for a few years but eventually conceded to nature in the Battle Against Weeds. For the past few years, we have been working toward maximizing our front and back porch gardens.
The sweet corn in strawberry pots worked!
But the ears only grew to six inches or shorter.

Survey your site - um, check? Front porch, back porch. There it is.

Plan your summer garden - improve. Still a problem for me: reconciling the ambition of what I want to plant versus the reality of what I will be able to grow and grow well.

Kill mulch - huh? Look into this. Having not ever looked into this, I did just now. Oh! It's not a command to kill the mulch, it's a kind of mulch that kills. A component of no-till "lasagna" gardening in which you add a layer to help prevent baby weeds from popping up. We have not done this. But, I learned about some no-till gardening on a recent visit to Heritage Prairie Farm, and I'm interested.

Plant your summer garden - check. We always do.

Watermelons and winter squash in hanging containers grew
vines and baby fruit, but ultimately nothing harvestable.
Nutrition - hm. "Discover what types of food make your body happy and healthy," the book says. Um, all foods.

Mulch - hm. We add compost to our garden (oops, I see that's under June), but that's not what this is. It's hay or other mulching materials to help keep weeds at bay and protect the moisture of the soil around the garden plants. I have thus far been too lazy to bother. But I think it would help the garden.

Teamwork - check. Yep.

Compost - check. Last summer, Len completely emptied our compost bin and filled five five-gallon buckets plus a wheelbarrow-full with "finished," soil-like, ready-to-use compost. It was awesome, and we smothered (not literally) our vegetable garden with it. I think it may have been two full years since we'd used any compost, so that could explain the abundance. But, we do compost more than the average two people—there's our huge load of apples each summer, with plenty of peels and cores going into the compost, and we find extra veg scraps where we can. Like, when we see jack-o'-lanterns wilting on our neighbor's porch, we (Len) will ask the neighbor if we can have them for our compost bin.

Worm bin - well... We have the outdoor compost, and worms thrive in it. Why do I need a worm bin indoors?

Seasonings - herbs? Improve. I would like a more comprehensive herb garden. It's slowly growing (not at this very moment; it's January) as I experiment and try not to be lazy about nurturing the plants.

Your real hourly wage - hm. This is about the true value of your time. Is your job is really worth the time you put into it? How much are you actually being paid per hour? I understand the concept and think it's worthwhile to a degree, especially if your job makes you unhappy and the take-home pay barely covers the expenses that are caused directly by having the job. A good example is the parent whose entire salary is eaten up by childcare expenses—worth it if the parent loves the job and/or the job furthers the development of a desired career (or if the job is the only viable source of health insurance), but not worth it for a dead-end job that provides no security, joy or sense of purpose.

On the other hand, I think you shouldn't necessarily look at it that way, because you can run the numbers in a variety of ways, and when you have bills to pay, even modest ones, it's difficult to put a fair monetary value on your time and happiness. It reminds me of how my mom often responded to my creative hobbies, "You should start your own business!" But I would have to sell whatever craft I made for way too much in order to net more than $2 an hour. And, I'd have to spend way more than 40 hours a week crafting, which would destroy the joy in it and still not cover the mortgage.

I have to quote from the book here, because it gets a little extreme—at least, for me.
Start with those 40 hours in your cubicle, of course, but then add in the hour you spend grooming, your daily commute, the mandatory downtime you use vegetating in front of the tube to wind down after work. Do you have to study or take classes to stay up-to-date in your field? Do you end up spending a week in bed because you're so run-down...? ...
Next, sum up your work-related expenses. These include the gas and upkeep on your car, those fancy duds you wear to the office, every meal or $5 cup of coffee you consume away from home because you're too busy to pack a lunch, the six-pack of beer your drink while winding down after work, the massages you pay for to wipe out the work stress, and the money you give other people to do your household chores (day-care, house cleaning, lawn upkeep, etc.), since you don't have time to do it yourself. Don't forget to include your taxes. (The Weekend Homesteader by Anna Hess)

While those time and money expenditures may describe some people and their jobs perfectly, there are several things that I cannot in good conscience include in my tally.

The "hour" I spend grooming is not even close to an hour, and even if I wasn't going to work, I would still practice daily hygiene. Most of the time.

My fancy duds often come from Goodwill.

I make the time to pack a lunch (usually leftovers from dinner the night before), and we do all our household chores ourselves, which means they just don't get done if we don't have (i.e. make) time.

I unwind not with a six-pack but by flopping on the couch in front of the TV, which "costs" time, yes, but not money. Unless you start counting electricity usage, and if you do that, we have to go back to the time spent getting ready in the morning and factor in electricity for that—I'd be less inclined to get up and out of bed while it's still dark out if I didn't have to be at the office.

See? There are so many ways to complicate this if you really wanted to. Is that worth your time?

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