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Slow Learner

Coming Full/Fool Circle

Bill WittmanI guess you could say I was a fortunate child, though at the time I had no idea. I was raised on a half acre of land in a suburb of a major city near the water. I didn't even know the city was there until I was almost in my 20s, though.

Every year my dad would plant six beds of vegetables as would my grandfather, less than a half mile away. In addition, we worked with one of the local waterman – fishing, crabbing and oystering. Composting, wood heat, hanging clothes and weeding were just regular chores, which you never got paid for because "there was a roof over your head and food on the table." Of course there was 'cause I worked to help put it there! Yes, my dad wasn't fond of my sarcasm. But the thing was, he was right. Yes, Dad I admit it! We wanted for nothing. Ever.

Our little half acre and surroundings supplied us with everything. Fresh vegetables, fish, crabs, oysters and activity – we were never bored. In addition, my dad had building projects and would experiment with raising different animals from time to time – ducks, chickens, rabbits, and I think there was even a goat for a short time. And as a youngster I hated it.

I didn't like weeding, cutting the grass, freezing on cold mornings, walking through duck muck, or any of the other chores or projects that came along. My goal was set early – do well in school and then make a million dollars and buy whatever I wanted. Yup, that was the whole plan, and it never really got more detailed than that.

What I didn't realize – for a very long time – was that there was something in my blood. I first noticed it after I had moved out on my own and into an apartment. I missed mowing the grass. What?!? How could this be? But sure enough, I would ask people if I could mow their grass just to have that smell and sense of accomplishment. You should have seen some of the looks I got with that.

That wasn't enough to make it click though. I went through my 20s, 30s, and into my 40s chasing the money dream. The problem was it wasn't my dream, it was what I was told should be my goal, my dream. After I started making money, I realized it wasn't making me happy or satisfied, nor were any of the things that came with it. But there was something that kept pulling at me all the while, a call back to the land.

I would often find myself looking at plants at the box store, or flipping through countless seed and plant catalogs. I also found my peace when surrounded by nature. When I lost my job and was burdened by debt, it forced me to take a step back from the rat race and look deep within to really determine what it is that I am truly looking for out of life. Funny how it was with me all along, I just couldn't see the forest for the trees.

The pull was and is back to the roots! Not just my roots but the roots of nature and the roots of where we come from. A simple, free life.

So with a new direction in life I was off – except for the anchor that I had compiled trying to find my happiness in the consumer world. So the steps are small right now. I'm on a quarter acre, with terrible soil, but that hasn't stopped me from starting to raise rabbits and chickens. I have also started to compost again and will try my hand at hay bale gardening and beekeeping this spring. Also up for this spring is rain water collection and vertical planting.

Funny how I ended up right where I started.

Chickens
My 3-month-old Black Austros