I love that the DIY movement is bigger than ever these days, but one of the things I find myself thinking about very often is, how far can I really take the idea of "do it yourself."
Could I really do it all myself, move off the grid and be completely self-sufficient?
I mean, I fantasize about having a ranch in the country with chickens and goats. I wouldn't eat my furry or feathered friends but I would certainly enjoy a freshly laid egg once in a while and the little goats could mow my lawn. However, the reality is that I know nothing of the work that goes into caring for animals on a farm, let alone growing a vegetable garden or any of the other things that go into a self sufficient lifestyle off the grid.
I decided that I needed to learn just what it takes to care for a farm. So, my friends and I decided to get our hands dirty. We found an animal sanctuary called Farm Sanctuary's Animal Acres, just north of Los Angeles, on the way to Palmdale. Many of the animals at the sanctuary have been rescued from factory farms or have been victimized by humans in one way or another. All of these animals have a name and a story and anyone can go to Animal Acres to volunteer their time. This most recent trip to the farm was one of the best days I have had in years. I highly recommend it!
So, this is what I have learned so far: Farm work is difficult. Often the work we do on the farm is extremely strenuous. We usually have to shovel all of the hay out of the stables where the goats, pigs and chickens live. Then you replace the hay. The sharp hay particles sting your eyes, nose and throat and prick your skin. The bins that the dirty hay goes into are very heavy and they must be carried out to the parking lot and placed on a tractor for removal. Then we finish the job by sweeping the walkways. By the end of the day you are physically exhausted and you smell like one of the 1000 pound pigs that you have been hanging out with, but, mentally you feel fantastic.
They have a month-long internship program on the farm where you live there and do this type of work everyday. This is another thing that I have fantasized about doing, but I am not sure I would be strong enough. For me and my friends, a day at the farm is novel. We get to go home to our computers and conveniences at the end of the day. Can you imagine having to do that much work everyday just to maintain your lifestyle? How would you have time to be creative?
I guess what I am looking for is an answer? How do you perch lightly on the earth and have time to build and create? Because as humans one of our most amazing gifts is our ability to actualize our concepts.
Either way, I feel blessed to have to luxury of being able to visit this farm.