A lot of my attention lately has been on a new dream of mine: living at the Gypsy Café, an all-female collective focused on sustainability, permaculture, and active community.  Oh, and they like to have fun, too!  That's very important.  No sanctimonious monasteries for me, no matter how self-sustaining they may be.

The ladies at Gypsy Café also produce the We'Moon calendar, an astrological datebook.  Within its insightful pages, I found the following gem on transforming community, by juliett jade quail. 

No matter where you live, or what your community looks like, let this be an inspiration to you as it is to me:
how to transform a suburb into a community

 
 
Life as a farm hand sure does take up a lot of time - so much that I've got no time to talk about it! 

Farming is already an overtime job... I also work as a professional modern dancer two days a week, plus I spend wonderful days with loved ones, then I spend the rest of my free time doing all the homesteading projects I normally write about!

Phew.  It's tiring just to write about it.  So, my apologies for the lack of brilliant, insightful, and helpful posts - I'm too busy living!  And that's a great thing. 

My challenge to you today, dear reader, is to pick one project / action / idea from the vast web of inspiring blogs, then shut off the computer and run with it.  Have fun!

What have you (yes, you!) been doing to:
use your resources wisely, gain skills, heal yourself & others, connect with the Earth, reach out to community, and take creative action?

I want to hear about it!

 
 
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Fall garlic in our western fields
It's hard to believe it's almost June.  I've been a farm hand for a month now, and it's already changed my life.

What to say about my first month farming?  There's so much - things I didn't expect, new skills I've learned, parts of myself I feel growing as I work with the soil.

You've already seen a typical "day in the life" from my Farm Girl Diaries: Week 1 and Week 2 - so I'll give you a deeper insight into life as a farm hand on an organic veggie farm


 
 
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Last week on Farm Girl Diaries: 
It was my first week on the job at an organic veggie farm here in the Rocky Mountain Foothills. 
I dirtied my boots, iced my knees, practiced Spanish, and found out that if we don't get rain, my job is in serious danger!  Yikes.

This week...


 
 
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It's official - I'm a farmer! 

Well, a farmer's assistant, anyway.  And pretty soon here, I'll have the farmer's tan to prove it (okay... it's a freckle line - who am I trying to kid?)  So here's a run-down of my 'breaking-in' on the organic veggie farm, here on the Rocky Mountain foothills - it's really a 7-day stretch over two work weeks.

Coming up on this week's Farm Girl Diary - new friends, local food politics, Spanish-language learning, major drought drama, and a lot of planting! 


 
 
I'm a 23 year old feminist, am unmarried, don't have kids, live in rental housing, and have no plans to 'settle down' any time soon.  Yet, I identify as a homemaker.

Call it urban homesteading, simple frugality, traditional skills... I like to call it radical homemakingI am creating home, wherever it may be, with conscious intention.

My version of homemaking often doesn't look like others' - mine is a bit more ragged, opportunistic, and environmentally focused.  My homestead is less fleshed out than others' - my home is rented and shared, and my gardening and fermentation projects are tucked away into corners and windowsills.  My motivations are my own, too - though I'm sure many of you share them:

 
 
Wellness is physical and mental.

All things cycle, and we all go through natural emotional lows.  Sometimes, though, these lows can make it hard to even function, let alone be proactive about feeling better.  At times like these, we just need to take care of the basics.
The Icarus Project, a radical mental health network, published a wonderful poster by Sophie Crumb - "Taking Care of the Basics".  I reference this gem often, especially when my mental/emotional wellness is starting to tip off balance.  It's a great reminder of basics that are too easy to forget.

 
 
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Sexy bad-ass Lauri Newman, my new inspiration
photo by Hannah Combs
Alright folks, I have a confession:  I stretched the truth on my farm hand job application.

I believe my exact words were, "I know how to lift properly - 50 pounds shouldn't be a problem for me."  Well... lifting 50 pounds shouldn't be a problem for me.  But it is.

In reality, I am a lightweight, petite woman with low upper body strength.  As a dancer, my core strength and flexibility is great, but my upper body is... 'delicately' muscled. 

So, in an effort to be a valuable member of the farm crew, I made a plan:  Farm Girl Bootcamp.


 
 
  1. Make what you need.  If you run out of lip balm, make your next tube.  If you love yogurt, make some more.  You can make most of the things you would buy. 
  2. Learn to want less.  We need food, water, air, shelter, exercise, meaning, and love.  We want comfort, beauty, entertainment, sensuality, and so much more.  Control your desire to consume and learn that you can live on much less.
  3. Choose your projects based on need and interest.  Do you love eating tempeh?  Make some.  Always wanted to learn to garden indoors?  Do it.  A note on pretty DIY projects:  Yes, we all crave beauty.  Craft a home that reflects the beauty of your spirit, of your dreams and imagination.  Don't just start a project because you're bored and the tutorial online looks pretty.
  4. Use what you have.  Upcycle and re-use, don't buy new materials.  Be resourceful.
  5. Source materials that are used, free (gifted, traded, found, dumpstered), local, and recycled.  If you really need something you don't have, do what you can to avoid buying new and imported.
  6. Choose function and frugality over appearance.  Don't buy fancy fleur-de-lis contact paper to decorate your new plastic wall-hung organizers, no matter how well it matches the curtains.  That's just wasteful.
  7. Learn skills as you go.  Don't let inexperience stop you.  Read, plan, read some more, learn from others, and give it a shot!
  8. Ask others for help.  Other people are so smart!  Ask questions, work together, and build community.
  9. Teach others what you know.  Trade your skills.  Network, barter, organize skillshares - the more everyone knows, the better.
  10. Consume less, produce more.  Radical DIY returns the power of production to your hands; it doesn't lead you to consume more.  

 
 
This year, I built a bike.  I finished it in January, and haven't ridden it since!  Snow, early sunsets, knee pain... I come up with a lot of reasons not to commute by bike, though I'm passionate about reducing my carbon footprint

Today (finally) I woke up and decided to ride my bike to do my errands.

I got all bundled up, took my bike out of storage, put on my helmet, and grabbed my handy U-lock... then I tested the key.  It didn't fit.  Waah waahhh... I don't know where my new bike lock keys went, but they sure aren't on my keychain!  Discouraged, I stored my bike back in the garage and started my car. 

I drove halfway down the hill (I live a mile into the Rocky Mountain foothills), feeling bitter that the lovely cloudy day and brittle wildflower husks were passing by so quickly.

Then I remembered a quote from The Urban Homestead, "We're embarrassed to admit that we used to drive to our local ATM, which is only a half mile away... Everything within a mile is an easy walk." Oh, right - the grocery store is only 1 mile from the bottom of the road.  So I parked my car, got out, and started walking.

 

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