Stability: Aging, and Retirement

*All pictures have been taken by me using my iPhone 8 with no filters* I took this one as I was taking dry laundry off the clothesline. I noticed this dragonfly, which was on the other side of a cotton dish towel. I thought it made an interesting picture.

Stability > Stability, Aging and Retirement

Our vow of stability means we plan to grow old here. We like to think of it as our retirement plan and safety net for Michael (and Hannah) when we are gone. Thinking in these terms means that as we grow older we are transitioning our systems to make it easier for agin bodies to do the work. We are also making sure we document our best practices. We strive to teach our adult children they whys and wherefores of the decisions we have made. In fact, I envision this blog becoming a sort of how-to for our property.

We have 12 years until retirement age (67). We have a list of projects that will need to be done. Each project has several pieces.

  • Housing: convert to rainwater collection only, reduce electricity usage to below 500 kWh/month (currently at 500 kWh/month), continue to find non-electric solutions, build rocket mass stove, build rocket mass heater, solar hot water tank, summer outdoor shower, dry pit/outhouse, re-insulate exterior walls to 12”, re-insulate roof and floor, build solar food dehydrator.
  • Gardens: add 4 beds, raise all beds to 2 foot high, beehives, add more soft fruit, permanent culinary herb bed, permanent medicinal herb bed, build 4 more chicken yards and another chicken house, build 4 rabbit runs, all plants either perennial or home saved seeds (increase diversity each year)
  • Yards: plant 5 trees per year, mow paths to scythe width, plant yard/meadow/paths with clover, vetch, and rye, increase pollinator garden space, add second clothesline, outdoor screened sleeping room.
  • Transportation: bikes, cargo bikes, and bike trailers
  • Finances: get debt free, stay debt free, save as much as possible, redo wills and trust for land/Michael/Hannah

 

 

Stability & Autism

Stability > Stability & Autism

This is Michael. He is 31 and on the autism spectrum (ASD). We have known since he was 9. We consider ourselves very lucky to have him in our family. He brings hardwork, joy, and “preciseness” to our family.

We learned early on that Michael does better with precise instructions (preferably no more than 3 at a time) and structure/stability. His routine very rarely changes. He likes to eat the same things, wear the same things, etc. He also has some pretty intense sensory issues — especially texture/touch, and hearing.

Our committment to stability means that Michael has spent most of his youth and young-adulthood here on our farm. He knows this property. For the past few years, he has taken over a lot of the caretaker jobs. He mows (with a pushmower) our front yard, the strip behind the house, and the paths are entirely his doing from design to execution. He carries the dead tree branches to create brush piles that protect wild saplings and a host of critters. He carries up the largest of those branches to chop into firewood to heat our home on the coldest of days. He dug all the cisterns/run-off ponds and trenches to carry the flooding waters away from the house foundation and back into the woods. And this year, he built a chicken house and yard almost entirely by himself with materials that we had laying around. He let me know how many additional 2x4s he was going to need and how many rolls of fencing would be required. He also turns our compost beds over each fall.

All of this has taken years for him to learn to do. Years he has had because we are committed to stability of place. This place.

*All pictures have been taken by me using my iPhone 8 with no filters*

Stability

Stability is the state of being resistant to change and not prone to wild fluctuations in emotion. When used in the Benedictine vows it refers to the importance of community and commitment in life.

In connection to our life and our land, I use this word to mean allowing a deep connection to develop between me and the actual land. I remember what it was like to stand here in my 30s with small children; I remember what it was like to garden here in my 40s with teenagers and a menegerie of animals; and I anticipate what it will be like as I move through my 50s, 60s, 70, 80s, and 90s. All while staying put in this place.

And so, I plant trees. Trees that take a long time to grow. Trees that will shelter my hammock now and someday will shelter my ashes.

And so, I design systems for caring for chickens and rabbits that take into account an older body. A body with limitations that still knows that to mimic nature is best for my critters.

And so, I start building raised beds so that the land can continue to sustain and nourish me as I strive to continue to nourish it.

And so, I ask Michael to mow wider paths through the back so that tired legs and failing eyes can still walk and enjoy the beauty that is present here on this land.

And so, finally, I practice gratitude that this is my home.

*All pictures have been taken by me using my iPhone 8 with no filters*

Harmony

Harmony: 1) the quality of forming a pleasing and consistent whole, 2) living together peacefully. *Credit: Collins Dictionary on-line

I am not a musical person, in fact my singing is pretty awful. But there is something that happens in church (or I suppose wherever groups of musically inclined people gather) when we are singing a simple melody and someone slides in with the harmony. It changes the whole feel of the music and it transports me into deeper levels of worship. Now, I am going to show my age and my weirdness in one sentence — The Osmonds do it too. They can be bubble-gum rocking away and boom! They hit that sweet spot where their voices meld and I become the human equivelent of goo.

If I didn’t lose you with the Osmonds reference . . . I want my life, home, and farm to be like that. A sweet spot of wholeness, where all the parts are working together and becoming more than just the sum of the parts.

I said before that harmony is like a talisman word for me. When I’ve got it right, it feels magical and miraculous. It is nearly tangible . . .almost like I can hold it. I suppose that is where the Greek telesma comes into play. It is a religious rite that I am striving to live. I see this on display at Canterbury Cathedral each morning. I love to tune in for morning prayer and in these days of COVID the dean has been doing Morning Prayer in different spots in the Cathedral gardens — he, his prayer book, his tea, a cat, chickens, and beautiful designed and tended gardens. It is like my own little abbey.

If harmony is my abbey, then simplicity, stability, and sustainability are my vows.

*All pictures have been taken by me using my iPhone 8 with no filters*

Introductions

Hi. I’m Kim. I am mid-50s, married (1986), mom of two (31 years and 30 years) caretaker of Jasper (5 year old rescue chorkie), and protector of five glorious acres. I have lived on 3 different continents and found much to love on all three. My favorite, besides this home, was living in the eastern desert of the Republic of Turkey. There is one place left on my bucket list and that is Wales. I want to go someday and walk the entire Welsh Coastal Path without speaking English. It is likely just a pipe dream, but I will continue to dream it.

Mt family lives on 5 acres in the mid-west. Our farm, in its past life was a corn and soy bean field. It had a few trees that lined 3 deep ditches. For the first couple of years we were here you could still see corn stalks and the waste weeds would get 6 feet tall if they weren’t mowed. Water would run off the soil in sheets. It was a sad sight. But I had a dream, a vision, and a calling to restore this piece of land to a more lovely and healthy place.

We fenced in the entire 5 acres, brought in sheep, goats, a Jersey cow and calf, a horse, chickens and rabbits. We fed them good local hay and left most of the manure in the fields. We began composting the bedding. For eight years we spread bag after bag of clover, vetch, rye, and grass seed. I was also known to stop on walks and dig up herbs and other useful plants in the ditches and along the creeks to add to the fields (with permission, of course). After eight years we got rid of all the animals except a few rabbits in hutches and chickens in a fenced run.

Year 8 was the beginning of Idlewild Farm. We stopped mowing all but the front acre and a narrow strip behind the house. We dug a cistern/ run-off pond and a drainage ditch system. Then we left nature to herself and let her heal her wounds. And she did heal. A few trees along three ditches has grown to 3 1/2 acres of woods and it continues to spread to fill the last 1/2 acre. The trees have also grown up along the fence line except along the western border of the garden acre. The three ditches ended up being the runoff of three stream heads. This was a surprise and a joy to discover. We will continue to plant trees and encourage wild saplings until the woods reaches 25 feet from the back door.

Today the acre in front of the house is divided in half. Half is being planted with trees to keep the house cool, a pollinator garden, clothes line, rabbit hutches. The other half includes the chick house and yard, 2 peach trees, 2 cherry trees, a plum tree, an apple tree, 100 feet of thornless blackberry bushes, 20 feet of asparagus, 4 grape vines, a compost bed, and 15 garden beds (5’ wide x 20’ long) with grass paths between them.

Future plans include planting 15 more trees, a new rabbit hutch and yard in the eastern 1/2 acre and a larger chicken house and yard, a green house heated by compost, and the addition of 11 more garden beds in the other 1/2 acre. The additional beds will be for herbs, strawberries, more asparagus, elderberries, currants, and food for the rabbits and chickens.

Nature has moved in and made herself at home. There is nothing as enjoyable as sitting on the porch in the cool mornings listening to bird song and watching the skinks trying to warm themselves as the sun comes up. Or looking out the kitchen window and seeing the mama rabbit with her litter exploring the edges of the mown space. Or walking the woods and seeing deer, foxes, owls, bats, chipmunks, and squirrels going about their lives. Or sitting in the quiet evenings and hearing the coyote chittering, the bats swooping, and the owls calling from their roosts. I was made to love this place.

*All pictures have been taken by me using my iPhone 8 with no filters*