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live like a pioneer


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CrunchyBreadTasting second sauerkraut

This one tastes very different from the first one. My daughter says she doesn’t like it. I have to agree, the onions and green peppers made a big difference, and I miss them.

However, I still think this one is edible. I’m certainly not going to let it go to waste.

I’m noticing this one has a different texture from the first. The first had some water added to make up the brine. This one is much drier. It was covered in brine when I started, but now the top half of the jar seems barely damp. I don’t know what’s up with that.

Also, the salt seems to have disappeared! I know that’s bizarre and impossible. But I can’t taste the salt in this kraut anymore. I actually had to add a tiny pinch of salt to taste when I ate it as a salad.

Live and learn. Fail and try again. :) 2 years ago

CrunchyBreadSecond Sauerkraut Set!

Two heads of cabbage, eight carrots, one apple, and plenty of salt got massaged together until the juices ran, then were packed tightly into three quart jars and covered with a paper towel held down with a canning ring.

Should be ready in a few days. 2 years ago

CrunchyBreadSauerkraut Chocolate Cake

I was searching for a photo of sauerkraut when I saw a picture of chocolate cake. That was so non-sequiter to me that I had to take a look.

It turns out to be just what it says: a luscious chocolate cake with sauerkraut as the secret ingredient! The lady who wrote the article says she couldn’t believe it either until she tried it. This is extremely weird, but that’s right up my alley… so I will certainly be attempting this some day.

Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake and Icing recipe and article2 years ago

CrunchyBreadSauerkraut update number two

We’re almost through eating the two large jars of sauerkraut I made nine days ago. That took us barely a week to devour! I need to make this again right away. Probably a much larger batch.

The flavor definitely seems to keep improving with age. It is delicious to eat as a garnish with German sausage, or a hot dog with mustard. It is very nice as a salad served with sour cream.

I like that it is a food that keeps. I’m always worried about making food and finding that we cannot eat it all before it spoils. That is not an issue with sauerkraut because of the good bacteria that populates the mix.

Here’s a good video that explains the process how to make it: Chef Franky G’s sauerkraut video

2 years ago

CrunchyBreadSauerkraut update

Today I had a bowl of my sauerkraut with a sour cream and pepper garnish, and it was really good!

My daughter (who has enjoyed canned sauerkraut before) said mine didn’t really taste like sauerkraut. She couldn’t describe what it did taste like. Probably the difference is all the extra aromatic vegetables I added, like carrot, onion, and bell pepper.

Anyway, authentic or not it is delicious! This is something I’ll certainly make again. 2 years ago


I can’t remember if I’ve blogged about this yet or not, so if this is a repeat please forgive me.

A few days ago I watched a video extolling the virtues of fermented foods, which it said were a part of food cultures all around the world and were very important to good health. Fermented foods such as pickles, sauerkraut, kim chee and other things all contribute good and necessary live bacteria to our systems to help our digestion and etc.

Of course, I’m already enjoying kefir regularly. But I thought it couldn’t hurt to try to make a few more things myself.

The recipe for making sauerkraut looked suspiciously easy. Basically, just cut cabbage into very fine shreds, perhaps add other vegetables like carrot, onion, etc. for flavor. Then sprinkle liberally with salt and pound or knead until the juices are released from the vegetables. Then pack in jars, with a weight or something to keep the vegetables submerged under the juice. Then wait anywhere from a day to two weeks. When it turns yellow and tastes properly sour, it’s done. You can then store it for months in the fridge, covered.

I’ve also seen people recommend you can jump start the culture by adding a little kefir whey. I didn’t have any kefir that over-cultured to the point of being separated, so I just added a bit of whole kefir to the mix. It seems to be working.

I started the batch on Thursday. Today it tastes like it’s progressing well, but not done yet. I added one kefir grain to one jar, to see if that would speed things up a bit.

I’ve never liked canned sauerkraut. I can already tell I’m going to like my homemade version a lot better. I added shredded carrots, onion, and bell pepper to mine. Next time I think I’ll try it with caraway seeds. 2 years ago

CrunchyBreadThree bags full

That was amazingly easy. I thought it would take more angst and mental stress and debate to get rid of three bags of clothes. I’ve been working barely 90 minutes, and have gone through most of my wardrobe and am happy to say I can let it go without another thought.

I was amazed to see the number of things I didn’t even have to try on to know I never wanted to wear it again. Some were awful colors. I actually realized as I bagged them that those colors said to me, “I don’t like myself”. I must have felt really unloveable when I wore those.

Some clothes had awful, nasty, tacky polyester fabric. I can’t imagine how I ever tolerated that for a moment. I must have been playing the part of my mother, wearing things I thought made me look acceptable regardless of how they made me feel. BLEAHC!

Some did not fit. That was a surprisingly small segment of the wardrobe. I was reluctant to let go of those, because I still really hope I might lose a few pounds. I kept the jeans, because I’m collecting jeans to make a quilt. Everything else, though, I said to myself, “it’s time to let this bless someone else. If I get small again, I can buy new things.”

Deciding ahead of time to keep only 32 items was an AMAZING motivator! I didn’t quibble at all. Every piece I held I asked myself, “Would I enjoy wearing this once a week for the next year?” and my answers became obvious. I only had room to keep things I absolutely love.

I’m not done going through all my clothes yet. I still have many things scattered on my floor, and probably some in the dirty laundry. But my closet rod is now cleared, and now holds probably 30-40 items. I’ll do a final paring down after I sort all the rest of my clothes and winnow out the rest of the garbage. I’ll audition the survivors for the few limited parts I have available, keeping only a few as understudies (in a box), if I must.

I probably have three more bags of clothes to get rid of. I almost wish I’d counted the individual items, but I haven’t got that much patience. I’ll just go by the bagful. (13-gallon kitchen bags)

God, the extra space feels so GOOD! I feel like I can catch a breath. It feels absolutely wonderful to be sloughing off stale old clothes I no longer need, use, want, or look good in. I can hardly wait to get the rest of it done!

It’s like losing 50 pounds of fat overnight. :D 2 years ago

CrunchyBreadMinimalist Wardrobe

I’m thinking about reducing my “stuff” by getting rid of most of my wardrobe.

I worked it out on paper this way: I’d like to wash laundry just twice a month. Most clothes can be worn 2-4 times before they’re dirty, especially if you hang them right up to air out after a wearing. I figured how many pants, shirts, etc. I’d need to keep myself clothed for two weeks like that. I also included some specialty items for summer and for winter weather. All together (not including misc. and underthings) I decided I’d need 32 hangers in my closet. That’s only about 2-3 feet of rod space.

I emptied out my closet, and put just 32 hangers on the rod. I’m going to see if I can fill just those 32 hangers, and decide to either donate the remainder or store them in boxes.

Anyway, that’s my pioneer experiment for the day. It feels a bit extreme. I’m probably talking about “getting rid” of a few hundred pieces of clothing. But realistically, I probably don’t wear half of them anyway.

I’m also going to pare my shoe collection down to my favorite four pairs: winter boots, summer sandals, work shoes, and dressy shoes. Somehow I feel almost more scared about giving up my shoes than about giving up my clothes. I’ll probably box most of them instead of letting go right away.

I’ll know my experiment is a success if I can live a whole year without opening a box or buying any new clothes.

Two drawers, two shelves, and 32 hangers. Let’s see if it works! 2 years ago

CrunchyBreadSoap Making woes

Just found out that Red Devil Lye is no longer sold. I was counting on picking some up to be the lye I used in making my soap! I don’t know what I’m going to do now. I don’t know any other pure lye sold locally (or at all, really).

Probably I could find something online, but I hate ordering stuff online. Oh, well. Maybe it’ll be okay. I guess it makes sense to begin to build a relationship with a supplier who caters to soapmakers’ special needs. I’ll probably need to buy fragrances and colors from them someday, if I ever want anything besides plain soap. Regular colors and fragrances from supermarkets do not work in soap.

As I start I’m thinking of making lots of mini-batches, to test out how each special ingredient beyond the “basic” recipe makes a soap different. I think ultimately I’d make a soap with many different “special” qualities like having extra Vitamin E, moisturizing oils, fragrances, colors, or herbal additives.

I hope I find enough people happy to share my soapmaking journey. I’ll need lots of testers besides just myself, to give feedback.

I remember as a kid I once received a sample pack of about a dozen different little soaps from my Grandmother. I loved them, and never wanted to use them because then I wouldn’t have them anymore! lol I need to find testers less greedy than I was. 2 years ago

CrunchyBreadPioneer skill: Making Soap

Another new project I’m working on is learning to make soap. I’m doing the research now. Tomorrow if I’m lucky I will try to purchase some supplies. I already have many of the supplies I’d need. I do want to get some dedicated utensils and a crock pot from the thrift store, just for soap making.

My first batch of soap, therefore, should probably cost me about 20-30 dollars, or about $5 per bar. Not bad, really, given the quality and purity I know I’ll have in it. Future batches will probably only cost me a dollar per bar or less, depending whether I invest in specialty fragrances or colors or stuff.

My first batch will be very plain, just to learn what soap really IS, fundamentally. Eventually I’ll learn all about tweaking the ingredients to be more moisturizing, or more healing, or even more insect-repellent. Or just simply more gorgeous.

I don’t know if I’ll ever want to sell soap. It is possible. Not probable, but possible, someday, if it turns into a real hobby and I need money to support my habit. 2 years ago

CrunchyBreadI want a new word

I need to describe the latest house design, and I need a new word for it. It isn’t “Tiny House”, because that has come to mean a house of 1-200 sf or less. It isn’t quite the pioneer house I wrote about before, because the 20’x20’ version of my house is fully plumbed and has plenty of electricity from solar panels.

It’s different from just a “small” house. It has 800sf in its two main floors, plus another 400sf attic which will be used, and about 200sf in the cellar. So there’s quite a lot of usable space, but do attic and cellar really count? Anyway, this house is designed for a family of 4-6 people, so that works out to anywhere from 133 to 350 square feet per person, depending. Still pretty darn compact, when you consider the average American family of 3 lives in 2400 square feet, which is 800 sf per person.

So I need a word bigger than “Tiny” and smaller than “average”, and punchier and more innovative-sounding than “small”. My house isn’t small in style or substance, in family or entertaining. It’s just not a wasteful gobbler of resources. I need a word that describes how lean and efficient it is. How sexy and edgy and brave and strong. How sustainable. How personal. How not-debt-inducing.

If anyone has any ideas, please let me know! 2 years ago

CrunchyBreadDesigning my house

I’ve gone through several iterations of my “ideal” house design. I feel like I’m getting closer and closer. I swear on some level it feels like I’m doing a magic spell. I’m focusing on what I want, and why I want it. I’m imagining every detail with excruciating clarity, engaging all my senses as I do a mental walkthrough. Some part of me is behaving as if it believes I do live in this house already, but for some unknowable reason have found myself mistakenly waking up in this apartment still.

I know the house I’m designing wouldn’t be ideal for just anyone. It wouldn’t have mass market appeal. But it will be ideal for ME. I hope my children will also find it comfortable, as well as guests. Somehow I’m sure that if I am comfortable there, and am expressing myself thoroughly, then anyone who loves me would be comfortable there.

The house I’m working on now is 20’x20’. The first floor is kitchen, living room, dining room, and main bathroom. Second floor is bedrooms and laundry closet. There will be a cellar for storing all kinds of things in cans, boxes, barrels, and bins. I’ve also decided to raise the attic a bit and finish it like a room so it can be fully usable as storage, a child’s playroom/library, and an artist’s studio/sewing room.

I’m not sure yet whether it makes sense to use pull-down stairs as the main access to the attic. I don’t expect it will be heavily used every day, but at times it might be. I wouldn’t want anything rickety or hard to use.

I’m designing the landscape as well. I’m also stretching my mind by continually asking myself “what if” questions. What if I wanted to raise laying hens? What if I wanted to raise meat chickens? What if south was on the other side of the property? What if I had 20 guests come over for a party? What if I got sick or injured and couldn’t climb stairs? What if I had no money for a while? What if I suddenly got a great flush of money? What if I want to go on vacation? What if it rained all winter and my basement could flood?

I’m finding the answers to all these questions now. I’m designing in systems that work around every problem I can think of. I feel more and more like this home is MY home. I just haven’t built it quite yet. 2 years ago

CrunchyBreadLearning about Animals

For the past few weeks I’ve been studying all I can find about small animals appropriate to keep on a tiny homestead. I’ve learned about chickens and rabbits sure, but there’s also little Kinder goats and Shetland ponies and Dexter cows. It seems everything has a miniature version!

I’m starting to think one thing I’ll do in my little village is have a petting zoo, and buggy rides. How insanely cute would it be to ride around an adorable little village on a beautiful day in a light flower-covered buggy pulled by a little pony, or a beautiful tiny red cow, or a couple of sweet goats? And to look out and see the variety of different animals pulling the other carts would make it even sweeter. I can see my little village becoming quite the tourist attraction.

Obviously I would also value the animals for their other more farmish qualities such as giving milk or whatever.

I wonder if I can train a chicken to pull a tiny miniature buggy just for laughs? All I’d need then is a juggler and I’d have the makings of a small circus!

3 years ago

CrunchyBreadintentionally minimal plumbing

One thing I care about a lot is water conservation. To increase awareness of its value, I plan to NOT fully plumb my Tiny Village. I’m hoping to get away with having maybe one faucet at each house, from which there will be connected a garden hose and somehow also the indoor waterworks for the bathtub/shower.

I’ve learned something about showers heated by compost piles. Depending how they’re made, a compost pile can heat up and maintain temperatures of up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit for MONTHS, even in winter snow. If you coil a flexible water pipe through it as it’s built, you can have an instant, on-demand water heater for free. This idea has been used a lot in outdoor showers, but I want to try it for my Tiny House. I’ll buy a fancy claw foot tub, and enjoy the luxury of a really good soaking bath whenever I want. The hot water will also be useful if I need preheated water for cooking or whatever.

Other than those baths, though, I want to make do with very little plumbing. I hope not even to need to be hooked up to a sewer or septic tank. I’ll use “dry” wash stands with a pitcher and bowl for daily sponge baths. I’ll use a waterless toilet that uses sawdust to absorb liquid and eliminate odor. Grey water will be filtered through the compost heap, which will then kill the bacteria with its high temperatures.

I know not everyone would appreciate the task of carrying water daily, even such a small amount. And many people would greatly miss the wasteful use of water to which modern folk have become accustomed. But I really think it is wrong to waste water. Fresh, potable water should be treated like a treasured resource, not squandered. Streams should not be polluted just so we don’t have to bother with our own mess.

In my Tiny House, the focus will be on gratitude that we have all the water available that we could need, and even heated! We are so lucky compared to a poor African who has to walk for miles to carry daily water. THAT is poverty. What I envision is something I can see as wealth. Wealth in spirit, and wealth in conscience, gained through knowing the difference between waste, and a resource. 3 years ago

CrunchyBreada moral conundrum

A strange thought occurred today as I continued to explore my Tiny Village. Fundamental to the idea is that people would raise their own chickens, rabbits, and other animals for protein. I spend a few days calculating the relative cost effectiveness of keeping goats vs. cows for the whole village.

Then I started thinking… Most Americans have never slaughtered anything. Most have never even SEEN an animal killed. Philosophically I feel like I’m on the side of eating meat occasionally, though I agree we could all do with more plants in our diet. But if we’re going to raise (ever so humanely!) our own meat and kill it and eat it, how do we deal with the pain of killing something we knew and loved as a … well a sort of person, really. I mean, goats especially are well-known for having a LOT of personality and intelligence. Even chickens are considered good pets by some people. How could I possibly care for something enough to give it a good life, yet still steel myself to the guilt of causing its death and EATING it?

Yet if I couldn’t do it for my own animal, why am I okay with doing it to animals I never meet, but only see as meat wrapped in the store?

I realized the conundrum is that whatever justification you use to make killing and eating your trusting little “friend” okay, you can then use that same justification to make it okay to kill humans. Maybe even eat them.

I feel like there should be a way out of this moral morass. I feel unhappy with the idea of being vegetarian, and I really REALLY want to figure out the solution here. But the best thing I can think of is that humans are a slow-maturing predatory species, and goats are a fast-reproducing prey species, so that makes it natural. And the good life and protection they get from us while being raised to slaughter is just a bonus, because they could have had to live in strenuous natural conditions.

I don’t know. This isn’t cut and dried. I feel angsty about this, and I don’t know how to reconcile it. Meanwhile, I’m having pork chops for dinner tonight, and fried chicken for Thanksgiving. I’ll have to think about it more later when I’m not so busy fretting about the holidays. 3 years ago

CrunchyBreadPlanning a Tiny Home (and more)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it would be like to move into a tiny home. Like, less than 200 square feet. I was wandering around some sheds for sale in the Lowe’s parking lot, and it just occurred to me that with what I know about permaculture and sawdust toilets and compost water heaters and solar panels and insulation and root cellars and gardening and small animals and maximizing every damned inch of storage and living space… I could probably live off-grid in a tiny little 12×16’ house quite comfortably. WITH one or even two children, plus a partner.

It’s insane, but it looks like it’d work. And it wouldn’t be third-world or uncomfortably cramped or anti-technology. A claustrophobic person might not like some parts of it very much, because there is a certain amount of coziness involved, but I happen to like small spaces so for me a sleeping loft with a 5’ ceiling would be just fine.

I’ve been sketching plans on graph paper for weeks now. I’m trying to figure out just how much land is needed to grow most of the food to feed a household. It’s a shockingly small amount, what with the advances in intensive gardening and stacked functions. I’m not finished figuring yet, but right now it looks in the vicinity of about a 20×45’ lot, including the cottage.

One feature of my design, though, is that some major functions will be outsourced, like laundry. I dream of living in a community with a lot of both independence and interdependence. So, while a cottage may more-or-less function by itself, it’s comfort will be greatly enhanced by having other resources nearby. So things that take a lot of power or water or are just plain more efficient in bulk could be located in a nearby building which services many such cottages. There could be a laundromat, an industrial-type kitchen, and a meeting hall which serves as a gathering place to play games, have church, do “town hall” type meetings, or put on a play.

I’m thinking about village life as opposed to town or city life. I’m realizing that the difference is that villages have COMMUNITY. It’s where you live with up to maybe 150 people that you pretty much all know, and are known by. You work together on some projects, but it’s not a “commune” because each household COULD still make it alone if they had to, and nobody can make it just “skating by” on the work of others.

Towns are different because they have INDUSTRY. There are factories or stores or other forms of output. Cities have TRADE, and are centers for importing and exporting goods, culture, and education.

I’m not saying towns and cities are bad. I’m not saying everyone should live in a little village like this. But I’m starting to think having a few of these little places around wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Tiny homes could be a great way to avoid expenses and pay off debts for young people just starting out. They could be a good retreat for folks on vacation who want a country experience. They could be a transitional form of housing for good people who are homeless through misfortune or divorce but still want to work to get back on their own two feet. They might make a good place to retire for folks in reasonably good health who want less to fuss over. In all cases one of the major attractions is the unique combination of privacy and a sort of organic community bonding and support which would automatically happen.

Another wild idea I had was that if these homes and this community are attractive and comfortable, then not only low-income people would want to live there. I can imagine having quite a good income, and still enjoying the efficiency of such a life. But suddenly then we have a “rich” class and a “poor” class both living in similar conditions… and I think that’s marvelous! The discrepancy between the “haves” and the “have-nots” is drastically narrowed. Poor people have the dignity of knowing they live in just as much space as a rich person. Rich people have the joy of being known and loved for who they are personally rather than being seen as just “money”. A rich person could upgrade the finish materials and furnishings of their home, hire neighbors to clean and maintain it, buy a fancy car, go on international vacations, attend conferences… but they’d still be living in a “micro-mansion” off-grid, not some unfathomably expensive palatial compound for the 1%.

A tiny home of this type could be built for only a few thousand dollars. Seriously. Including solar panels, land, and all fittings it could probably all be under $10,000. So a “rich” person in this situation would just be someone with a yearly income of say $40k/yr. That’s barely middle-class! Think of the ways your money could go so much farther if you had so much LESS to spend it on! No debt. 200 square feet of home to decorate instead of 2000. You could put up the fanciest wallpaper you ever WANTED, and it would still be affordable! You’d need mere scraps of fabric to make curtains, so you could splurge on the most amazing $100-per-yard stuff anywhere! You could have the best mattress, the highest-quality tailored silk and hemp clothing, real linen sheets, wool rugs, bone china and lead crystal. You could have anything you wanted, because you’d only need about a tenth as much of it as with a regular house. So you can afford to get stuff ten times more awesome! Oh yeah, and the best frikkin’ computer money can buy EVERY YEAR.

This life isn’t about not having an outside job. It’s about making your outside job money go farther than ever before. You’d have college money for the kids. Donation money for charity. FREE TIME to just plain decompress and not worry about anything. Flexibility to stay home with a newborn rather than needing to go back to work in six weeks. NEIGHBORS who know and love you well enough to actually be HELPFUL with your newborn.

It’s all about making choices where to spend YOUR money. What’s important to YOU. It’s not necessarily about low-income as much as it is low-outgo. Me, I’d rather have luxurious things, and travel, and build a community than to live in a large house. 3 years ago

CrunchyBreadPioneer Clothes

One thing iconic of pioneers, to me, was their clothing. Women wore floor-length calico dresses and sunbonnets that shielded their face from all sides. It seems a cumbersome way to dress, especially given the heavy chores they had to do. I wonder how much of that was practicality and how much was mere fashion?

The calico I can see as being a practical pattern. Dirt and small tears or mends would show much less. And of course, clothes were only washed once a week, and certainly not thrown away just because they began to look a bit worn. They were used until they were absolutely unmendable, and then they were turned into quilts. Dresses in the Little House books were mentioned as being worn for an entire year (that’s ONE dress every day for an entire year!) and then all the seams would be ripped, the dress turned inside out and re-sewn to have the fresh side facing.

Outer clothing would be wool, and quite likely spun, woven and dyed at home. Sometimes hemp canvas would be used, especially for men’s pants, for its durability. (That’s what the original Levi’s jeans were made of – hemp canvas sailcloth.)

Inner clothing was probably made of linen, because that fiber is very strong and wears especially well even when in constant contact with body oils. Bedsheets were also usually linen. I have no idea what kind of towels they used.

People would have one set of good clothes which they wore on Sundays and for special occasions, and those clothes were not allowed to ever get dirty. That explains something of pioneer ettiquette, with everyone always sitting so still and quiet and never playing or being rowdy at all when they were on “best behavior”. These clothes were expected to last many years, and would often be handed down from one child to another as the family grew.

Aprons would generally be worn whenever working. Men would wear overalls, which were like aprons in that they went OVER their normal clothes, to protect them from barnyard dirt. Aprons and overalls were washed weekly too, and were not expected to stay clean. However, a proud woman might have more than one apron so that she could whip on a clean one if company was coming.

I’m not clear whether pioneer women tended to wear corsets or not. My impression is that they did, for formal occasions, but not necessarily for daily work. I can see that while a corset might help a lady retain the ramrod-straight back so necessary to elegant behavior such as never leaning back in a chair (might wrinkle formal clothes!), a corset would be a terrible hindrance to performing hard daily chores. Still, I don’t doubt somewhere there were ladies who did. I have never found that there is an end to the amount of torture a woman will put herself through for the sake of respectability, and they didn’t have brassiers then. If a woman had unexpected company and were found jiggling around inside her clothes, I’m sure she’d be utterly mortified.

I’m wondering what parts of this pioneer clothes ethic I might be able to adopt. I rather like the idea that clothes should be severely limited and washed only once a week. I like the idea of having work clothes not expected to be clean, and nice clothes not allowed to get dirty. I like aprons, to help things stay presentable.

Of all the things off-the-grid that I would miss, I’m sure an electric washer and dryer would be my number one loss. I can hardly imagine the amount of work it would take to wash the family’s filthy clothes by hand every week, hang them to dry, then iron them with a coal-filled iron weighing several pounds. I can’t find information on the exact weight, but I’m sure it must be 6-8 pounds at least. Like ironing your clothes with a cast-iron skillet. YUCK! I would definitely have to come up with a different solution than ironing. No WAY am I slave to that kind of fashion!

Maybe I can come up with a modern interpretation of linen undergarments, hemp or calico clothes, fashion that includes wrinkles and doesn’t include corsets, and woolen overclothes. And once a week I’ll take my clothes to the laundromat, because that seems like a reasonable, limited use of electricity to me. Worth a buggy ride, to be sure. 3 years ago

CrunchyBreadWhat I think living like a pioneer means.

This goal is funny to me, because at least three other people have signed up for it, but nobody has ever written an entry about it until now. I wonder why people make goal titles, and never make entries for them? People are so strange.

Anyway, to me “living like a pioneer” has many meanings. I want to get away from reliance on most modern conveniences. I don’t say I’ll actually go off-grid, but it would be nice to know I could if I had to, and I’d still get along. Also, to me it means living with a sense of adventure, courage, toughness, and willingness to meet challenges and blaze new trails.

I don’t want to get bogged down in the slough of guilt that awaits even the most casual glance at the heinous treatment of American native tribes by the white man’s government and people. I am very sorry those atrocities happened, and it is a cultural shame I can never correct. But since I cannot alter the past or correct its injustices by feeling guilty about it, the best I can think to do is admit it was horrendous and go on with the world I live in now, trying to live the best I can and not be the cause of anyone’s suffering again.

That being said, there are a lot of old technologies and wisdom which I would like to be able to revive. I’m already learning old skills like baking bread, pressure canning, wearing an apron, washing without shampoo, and putting my hair in a bun. Okay, maybe those aren’t exactly all “pioneer skills”, but to me they feel that way.

Someday I want to build and live in my own cabin. It may have one to four rooms. It might have access to one electrical outlet for emergencies, but I’d want to do all my normal living stuff without relying on it if possible. Washing clothes I can see would be a major issue, and require a serious re-think of what laundry is all about.

I want to have a kitchen garden where I grow all the vegetables I need, and medicinal herbs. Also I’d keep useful animals for meat, milk, eggs, protection, and getting work done. I might even want to grow wool, spin it, dye it, and weave fabric. I know I do want to be able to at least sew my own clothes. I already know quite well how to hand-stitch a seam with tiny, even stitches.

I want to live in the cycles of nature, being a part of the natural world instead of living with no knowledge of summer or winter. I want to celebrate each changing season with its own unique purposes, from spring planting and birth through summer and fall abundance, putting up food and fuel to last through the long cold winter. I’d like to be able to rely on my own resources year-round.

I’d like to practically eliminate garbage. I’d like practically everything I own to come in a form that produces no waste, but can be re-used indefinitely or composted. That means no styrofoam, no plastics, and precious little glass or metal.

I don’t imagine that by living this way I can change the way of the world. I know how things are, and I do enjoy the conveniences of modern life. I would probably always want to keep in touch with a modern home somewhere that I could use in emergencies. I’m not such a fanatic that I’d like to die for my dream.

With sadness I must confess that I privately believe there really is nothing any of us can really do to evade the downfall of civilization as we know it. Unsustainable means it cannot go on like this. Not that it should not, but cannot. The world will simply run out of resources, or be polluted or overcrowded into oblivion. I don’t see this as something we can avoid, or even likely delay. It’s coming. It’s just a matter of how many years we have left. Several decades, probably. I may very well see the end of my own life in comfort. I doubt a full century, though. I doubt my grandchildren will grow old with the same luxuries I do.

Whether mankind or any other living thing larger than bacteria will exist after that time will depend on whether we die from nuclear holocaust or simple exhaustion. Anyway, when thinking this way it pays to be nihilistic. We’re all going to die someday. It’s just a matter of living the life we want until then.

I think I’d just enjoy living a life of sustainability, whether or not I get vaporized at the end of it. To me, that is a life I would find purpose and honor in. If my great-great-grandchildren survive, it will make an interesting family history for them because surely I’ll write all about it, and possibly they’ll benefit from their inheritance of hand tools and acreage. If not, oh well. Nobody can predict the future. 3 years ago

CrunchyBread 3 years ago

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