Grit Blogs > The One-Acre Farm

Want, Need, Can't Live Without

Jim BakerOnce more I will get on my soapbox about technology.  Ain’t it grand! My own grandfather once drew a picture for my daughters depicting how to hitch a team to plow a field. Then he said when I was boy that is how we plowed. He then went on to say — and I have sat in my living room and watched a man walk on the moon. One generation.

I am about as technologically challenged as they come. No smart phone, a two finger typist (yes dear reader, I type, I don’t ‘keystroke’!) and I struggle with and am not involved with any of the social media stuff. When I was healthier I mentored high school seniors at risk of not graduating. All of them had a mindset of ‘I would die if I lost my phone’ (or couldn’t get on Facebook or Skype or whatever else they were involved with).  

My last blog I mentioned my two freezers. Couldn’t live without them — hold on a second here! Couldn’t live without an appliance that costs me money to operate, that I don’t have back up power for in case my own power fails, that cost me a nice chunk of change and that if it broke down for whatever reason right now I would lose several hundred pounds of frozen beef, pork, vegetables and fruit. And that is defined in my own mind as being self sufficient? 

So, what are the options? I am really not sure, to be blunt. Can I smoke, dry, or cure grass fed hamburger?  How do you smoke or salt cure meat, I know it is done, 100 years ago even here in the South, smokehouses and curing sheds were on every farm. Yet now we have Big Brother watching it for us and so can I ‘legally’ do those things now? Can I smoke house my own meat? How do you smoke cure, salt cure, sugar cure a chicken? Is it even possible to do that?

Canning, dehydrating, smoking, curing, a root cellar are all viable options, yet how far ‘off the grid’ do I want to be, need to be, or can’t live without? Can I live without a washer and dryer? Sure I can. An automatic dishwasher (that I have to rinse all the dishes off before I put them in there anyway). Absolutely. Can I live without refrigeration, a gas stove or a gas hot water heater? Sure I could, yet in that same breath, I would prefer not to. Could I learn how to hand plunger wash my clothes and run them through a hand cranked wringer and hang them to dry? Sure I could and apologies to those that do. Yet there is just me doing all this. And I don’t have the time, the stamina or the desire to do that. Am I doing things I feel will get me more self sufficient, place me in a healthier lifestyle and get me less dependent on the grid, the man and allow me a certain level of freedom that I do not have now?

Yes I am, with apologies to all in the process. I will have bees, blueberries, raspberries (maybe), grapes, a large garden of raised beds and a way to store some of that food that does not require an electric appliance. Do I need any of those modern contraptions? Not in the truest sense of the word need. Do I want these so called modern conveniences? Sure I do or I wouldn’t have them. Can I live without them? Unlike the younger generation coming up that can’t live without their smart phone in one hand while they learn to everything one handed (how do they tie their shoes?), yes, I could live without a single one of those things if I had to. I had an aunt and uncle when I was a wee lad in Indiana that didn’t have any power in their farmhouse except for one outlet wired to run the cream separator. A wood stove for cooking, kerosene (coal oil as they called it) lamps, reading and craft type things for entertainment in the evenings.

So could I do without? Yes. Will I? No I won’t. Yet I will be living a healthier life, I will know where most if not all my food comes from, I will be going to the grocery store less, I will heat with wood, do without air conditioning (yes I already am) and will even look into a solar hot water heater that can tie into my existing gas hot water heater.

Like the song goes — a country boy can survive.



Photo by Fotolia/