Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Until Today - It Wasn't a Concern

Just yesterday my mom and I were discussing "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" (I've just started it).  I made the statement that while I understood why people were concerned with oil consumption, and were therefore changing their lifestyles to a more sustainable one; our main reasons for producing more of our own food were the quality of food and personal fufillment that came along with it.

Today, I was listening to the radio while making dinner, there was an interview with some scientists involved in an independent study of the affects of the tar sand mining in Canada (National Geographic photo gallery and article).  This little bit of trivia just shot me into the group concerned with oil consumption:  "About half the oil produced heads south: The U.S. is Canada's biggest oil customer, importing more from its northern neighbor than from any other nation." 

I'm not from any kind of background that stands up and shakes their fist at the industrial machine.  I understand the need for fuel.  My husband is a diesel mechanic (semi-trucks and heavy equipment), and I was one for a few years.  Our very livelihood is dependent upon the industry.  I get all these things.  What I can't wrap my head around is the incredible way this process affects everything around it.  Thousands of acres of woodlands are just...gone.  Not just picked up and carted out either, the soil is washed with water.  Shale mining also falls into the shameless-use-of-water category.

It's the water thing that mostly gets me.

And the fact that I grew up in wide, beautiful spaces...and seeing those pictures of thousands of acres of land just gone just baffles me.  When you grow up outside, you constantly think of where animals travel on land, what they eat, where they drink/sleep, and what the predator/prey balance is.   It gives me a big, empty feeling inside seeing this resource harvest...where's the consideration of life in all this?

I can do without a car.
Without a lot of things.

Water is second on the need list only to oxygen.

Therefore, all things have clicked and I'm now concerned.

It's been a long time coming.

I think about what we can do, really simply and cost-effectively.  There is not a chance that we can buy a new, high MPG car.  We drive older vehicles because we own them outright and they're easy and inexpensive to fix.  We spend less in fuel than we would on a payment plus fuel.  Plus, I drive a total of 50 miles a month probably.  Not a big need there.

This isn't where I hop on the activist wagon, just where I add another reason to the list of why we spend our growing season months with our hands in soil.

There will always be a need for equipment and vehicles, but how much it is used depends much on how we choose to live our lives collectively. 


What can we do?

Get serious about producing most of the food we consume.  I will continue to buy big, fat watermelon until we find a way to grow them here.

1.  Convert more of the lot to food production this spring (in reality, we could grow enough food for all of us on half the lot).
2.  Grow our own grains.
3.  Buy some sort of bike (suggestions appreciated here) that has 3 wheels and a basket for 2 small children.  They wiggle and I'm certain we'd get tipped over on 2 wheels.  I am not an exceptional bike operator.
4.  Find a property/barn near town to keep whatever milk cow is fresh in, and ride my bike to milk her.  This would cut down our dairy-based food costs quite a bit...since we drive old, low MPG vehicles!
5.  Raise a beef and/or a few lambs on free pasture (hauling them would be our only costs beyond purchase), and fill the freezer in the fall.

These are just the things that we have been nonchalantly thinking about for the last couple years, and are now more convicted, so may actually get serious about implementing a few of them.

I would love to hear some input on these ideas, the issue (especially if I have misunderstood at some point), things that you may be doing to lessen your impact etc.  Suggestions are always appreciated!

P.S.  The prospect of paying over $4/gallon for gas this summer is seriously influencing the thinking about a bike.