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 aging 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 4-15 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*