Learning to Live Radically

If Only a Bit

Big BrotherTwenty-sixteen pushed me ever closer to becoming an outright socialist. Twenty-seventeen is sealing the deal. Maybe I’ve been reading too much Angela Davis of late (that’s not a thing), or perhaps I’ve just had enough. Regardless, I have little desire to continue fully participating in a system that will let its members freeze or starve to death for non-participation or the inability to participate. That isn’t freedom, that’s subjugation to whatever Orwellian nightmare we’re now living in – more specifically in our current case, an ever-expanding plutocratic mendocracy. Here’s a handy guide to just how fucked up things have gotten in 5 days (ideally, the anonymous author will continue to update – h/t to a friend from grad school for sharing this list).

Stranger Things title text
I make a lot of ‘Stranger Things’ references. Not sure why.

In a world that feels like we all* just got pulled into The Upside Down, I am seeking to grab a bit of sanity back. No, my endless Facebook screeds will do nothing to turn the tide of people unwilling to listen, though I’m unlikely to stop (seriously, I cannot stress my ‘Fuck Yous’ enough). Perhaps, perhaps, something will seep through regarding our new reality. Perhaps we can collectively recall the American Myth that binds us together in all our messy differences. In a nation so divided and devoid of empathy, I’m starting at home in small ways. To a degree, pursuing farming is a rejection of the society that I see as profoundly dysfunctional at best, and irreparably fractured at worst. We have a set of destructive, vile, bigoted, xenophobic capitalists in charge now. One way I’m fighting back is one of the few I can easily control: with my wallet.

 

Gov't Departments gone Rogue
Follow these guys on Twitter. Not only are they fighting the good fight, they’re pretty damn funny. Plus, the Science March – which will hopefully help these departments!

Since well before anyone took the Orange Sphincter seriously as a Presidential candidate, Adam and I have been discussing reducing our dependency on external products of convenience. This is not to say we’re aiming for total self-sufficiency on our as yet budding, small farm, but that we both identify the intrinsic and extrinsic benefits to reducing waste, growing as much of our own food as we can, reusing and repurposing and mending possessions. Buying or making for quality, not luxury or ease. Now that this is our reality, this Upside Down, our urgency to execute on these plans has increased ten-fold. I am terrified, not only of what we as Americans have done to our society, but what we have done to the world and our future. The recent gag orders on the EPA, National Parks Service, and Department of Agriculture serve only to compound this fear.

In part, I’m opting to try to live more fully in my values, ones that I imagine (hope?) would rankle with the powers that currently be: environmentalism, inclusiveness, self-sufficiency, patience, conservation, frugality, and kindness for others, for myself, for the things that matter. In a consumerist world, stepping into a life that shirks the need to buy is a tiny, but self-assuring, act of radicalism. Nothing bothers the shitheads in the West Wing as much as people ignoring them and not handing over money with which to pad their wallets (except, perhaps, people of color and foreigners, as evidenced by their declaration of war on Sanctuary Cities).

I’ve been composting since the late summer, lazily, but determinedly. My garden wavered last year due to sad soil, and I’m determined to give my veggies a better chance this go ‘round. I’m expanding the garden, too, increasing the numbers of raised beds, to accommodate more and rotated crops.

My bees are arriving in a few months – the first shipment from Bee Thinking in Oregon (because of course Oregon) arrived yesterday – spare Warré boxes made from FSC pine. Setting up a beekeeping operation can be costly, but it’s a starting expense we’re willing to handle. When all is said and done, I’ll have about $800 into my two hives (including bees), but it’s well worth it to pursue this particular dream.

white Angora goat
Angora goats: because sheep need more charisma.

I have sourced two Angora wethers, and will hopefully be able to bring them home soon. Next year, I will likely procure a few female yearlings, and if I’m feeling extra ambitious, a buck or milking does another year or two after that. Everyone loves goat cheese. (Few truly love bucks in all their vulgar glory – it’s not something we should take lightly.)

We have plans for a chicken coop percolating, and fencing to consider. Our To Do list this spring is long and hard and expensive from the jump, but it is well worth the initial investment.

Adam is working on getting his wood shop in better order, both as a hobby and perhaps a bit of side income. If nothing else, he has plans to use his (oddly sizable) stash of 300 year old reclaimed barn wood to make us a new dining table. I’m looking for a decent road bike to get the few miles to and from work that I drive, to reduce our gas use and to keep me as far away as filling the pockets of the likes of Rex Tillerson & Co. I’m working on unplugging (hahahaha I’m deluding myself) a bit more and rejoining the slower, real, local world with a little more attention.

While I’m mad and fearful, perhaps by the necessity of growing things, I’ll also get up the balls to go meet my neighbors. Something about suburbia (and perhaps their Trump signs) kept me from extending any sort of interest toward them heretofore.

That last one might be a sticky wicket for a while, at least until I can think the words “President Trump” without fearing a stroke or they finally drag me to the gulag.

*By “all,” I currently mean the thinking, feeling, empathetic people who did not want this. The rest of you might come around, but I’m not betting on a damn these days. 

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