Transition Massachusetts

Maize's babies: Day 2

Its funny how a massive and scary idea like Peak Oil can wrap it's tentacles around the mind and nudge thoughts in particular directions. There is certainly the whole grief dynamic that one must cycle through, of necessity it is a loop and no resolution because we live within the moment of collapse, not the other side.

But Peak Oil was a specific concept that my scientific mind gravitated toward, it seemed like the most likely candidate for the next event horizon.

Its been a somewhat confusing time these past few months because the price shock of 2008 and then the collapse came sooner than PO estimates suggested. It was a non-intuitive dynamic with a non-linear trajectory.

Hindsight that tells us that CDSs and the whole Ponzi nature of the American and global financial system was manifestly unwholesome doesn't help people like me who didn't create it, participate in it, profit from it, nor can do even a single thing about it (then or now).

This hindsight only serves to make one feel small, angry, and foolish for buying into the claptrap of the middle class American Dream.

Like any religion, I didn't have much choice in that indoctrination but that doesn't lessen the hurt you feel when you learn that there is no santa claus, that what your parents told you to work hard for would in the end not result in a life that improves or equals one's own upbringing. That would not be such an issue for me except that it took me so long to figure out and here I am fully invested in the middle class nightmare of being excessively educated, well endowed with educational debt, further endowed with the massive debt of a mortgage and with 3 innocent kids. If I were single and childless, all this would be so much less heavy man.

Because of the dogmatic thinking that panic and fear can induce, I have not felt as prepared for this collapse as you might imagine. I feel that my resilience was impaired because I was watching out for one sort of collapse and then was surprised by another. It is a personality flaw of mine, to abhor this sort of surprise. I am still scrambling for footing and that means lack of resilience, sense of perspective and humor, lack of conviction.

It was a whole lot easier last fall when I had a job. It was frustrating because I could not be at home doing things but at least we had income. Even so, we could not use that income for many nifty projects because we were paying down debt that refused to be ignored.

Now that we both remain unemployed, the panic and fear is easier to feel and its quite easy to fall into a malaise of cold sweats, little sleep, dithering fretting and wishful thinking.

One might think that all this free time would translate into homestead related productivity but there are only so many things we could do in the depths of Massachusetts' winter. I have many seeds started, I have cleaned the raised beds, several times, I have built some cold frames. I am ready to grow. Where we live, the last hard freeze date is MAY 15th so there is a limit as to how early I can get started. No matter how early you start seeds, there is still transplant shock and delay - the growing season is only so long here.

Humble Garden 2009: Cold frames

Biology itself is pulling us out of the house into the backyard homestead though. Our dairy goats have been kidding like crazy. It has not all been sweetness and light though. Our first doe to kid was a horrific tragedy (you can read about it at my other homesteading specific blog Humble Garden in this post - RIP Wheatie, our sweet goat girl).

Since that horrible day, we have had 4 easy peasy deliveries and we have 7 precious little LaMancha goat kids.

Older kids, dehorned

Our chickens and duck are well and ramping up their egg production. Things are moving forward here, as biology has an inevitable nature and will to live.

Baby O and chickens

On dry days, I stand in the hay/milking shed watching the momma goats nursing their babies and I feel immense contentment. The smell of hay seems to relax me, sending me into rather amorphous thoughts of simple times when this sort of homestead was viable, made sense.

Other times, I stand with the goats and look back at the house and garden and force myself to really get in touch with how we are NOT a closed system and that we have MANY external inputs that make us profoundly vulnerable.

goat yard

We are MUCH more prepared than many in the US but it serves to reveal the giant gaps between a self-sufficient life/future and the extensively fenestrated lives we live; we are interlinked with incomprehensively complex and vast global networks of technology, energy, politics, and inertia that are infinitely non-intuitive on the ground and intentionally hidden from we consumers.

Going off the grid from that is an almost overwhelming task. For me, its not about electricity or even warmth.

No its about how we will find a way to feed the goats, llama, chickens if the supply chains fall or if we default on the mortgage.

I would say that our almost total lack of resilience is leagues more resilient than your average American but that only serves to scare me even more.

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Comment by nika boyce on April 3, 2009 at 1:11pm
Its an excellent way to look at the world! :-) I took a peek at your site and really admire what you have done!
Comment by David Eggleton on April 3, 2009 at 1:01pm
It's true you did not go there. Remembering a lesson taught by a friend who was losing her husband to ALS and her hearing at the same time, I was looking forward when I brought up asking for help. She concluded her talk with "love and help are all around." That became a sort of mantra.
Comment by nika boyce on April 3, 2009 at 8:39am
David: thnx for your supportive comment! To be honest, I wrote this to get it off my chest and not with any hope that it would result in help. Does that make any sense? The only help I really need is to find a job - I could never ask others for the kind of money we need to make ends meet.
Comment by David Eggleton on April 2, 2009 at 10:24pm
Thank you so much for this. Such honest, baring sharing will be of tremendous importance as we are thrown this way and that by waves propelled by both weather and tectonic shift equivalents. We need and will need the courage to reveal ourselves and to ask for the help we need.

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