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Evening Musings

8pm and I just got home from work a few minutes ago.  That’s 11.5 hours – far too long to be away from home with the poor dogs cooped up inside.  They are so good, never making a mistake in the house and just sleeping all day until I get home.  I feel horribly guilty that I then only have energy to let them out, play soccer for 10 minutes and give them supper.  Then I’m fighting with the woodstove, carrying in wood, getting breakfast and lunch organized for the next day, finishing any prep I have to do for work, answering emails (or writing in this blog if I have energy to do so) and into bed.  First thing in the morning I’m up and at it all over again.

I had hoped that this semester would be less hectic since am not traveling to Waterloo once or twice a week for my research.  However I seem to be driving to London instead.  This week I’ll have made four trips to town out of five days, instead of my planned two.  The one day I didn’t go to London, I went to St. Thomas to run errands.  Yesterday I had to go to London for a massage therapy session (for my back) and a job interview, and tomorrow I go in for a seminar and to pick up insurance paperwork (yes, I am STILL dealing finalizing paperwork from November’s car accident).  Then down the highway to Niagara for more work on my back.  Next week I go to Waterloo on Friday for a meeting.  At least all these treatments are making a big difference and I’m feeling a heck of a lot better.  Still, driving 100’s of kilometers every week – for all these various reasons – is not only expensive and tiring, but it goes against everything I am trying to do in terms of living more gently ecologically.

The job interview was for some teaching work for next year.  Nothing is set, but there are some promising options and I’m looking forward to a bit more income if it works out.  If I do get this work (which I may need to pair up with other part-time work), I will likely end up driving even more next year.  One step at a time, but once I know what I’m doing come September, this is something that I am going to have to address.

In the meantime, I would really like to at least have a little garden again this summer, and ideally a few chickens.  Of course I desperately want sheep too.  Land around here is simply too expensive for someone in my income bracket to rent, so unless some unexpected opportunity comes up (and I’m always optimistic about such things) I don’t know that I’ll be able to make the sheep thing happen this year.  I had so hoped I’d be able to.  But at the least I’d like to grow some food and raise a few eggs.  Getting really good, ethical, fresh eggs is a constant battle, along with getting fresh milk, and I’d like to have a little more control over at least one of these staples.  Not that one can control whether chickens lay eggs or not (from what I’ve seen they can go on strike very easily), but if I had my own chickens I would at least be guaranteed first dibs on what they do produce.  Plus I easily go through 2 dozen eggs a week, and for the really good, fresh, truly free range eggs I get, I pay $5 a dozen.  I suspect that, over time, it will cost less than $10 a week to keep a few chickens, even with building a hut and buying the chickens and feed.

I don’t have a focus or point for tonight’s post.  I’m just putting my thoughts down in type to hopefully empty a few of them out of my head.  Not having much stability in my life forces me to constantly keep one eye on the future, even though I do my best to live one day at a time.  I only have three months of work left in my current contracts, and need to start planning for my next step.  I actually have some exciting prospects on the horizon, yet I need to really focus on what I am doing now.  I still have quite a few interviews to finish transcribing, data analysis to be done, a couple of conference papers to write, and of course a dissertation to finish.  This on top of working and caring for the dogs, while job hunting and figuring the logistics of life.

I am not going to solve any of this tonight, but at least writing about it here has helped clear my mind and should contribute to a better night sleep.  This weekend I plan to attend a seminar on sheep care, which of course is going to stimulate more ideas and potential plans.  But for now, it’s time to stoke up the wood fire and climb into bed.

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6 Responses

  1. Hmmm…I know there’s got to be guilt about the driving, but you actually have no alternative. It’s not like you’re doing a gratuitous trip that you couldn’t do by bus, for instance! I think that’s really important. (I’m quite interested in this argument that the most sustainable settlements are actually dense urban ones rather than rural ones.)

    Don’t know if I told you, but my recent toilet work has now moved into urban diversion toilets and the collection of human waste in urban slums to create biogas. I’m not sure what my position is on these, but I’m fascinated by the problems that the global preference for water-born sanitation poses for urban slums in developing (and often very dry) countries. The people I’m hoping to work with are in South Africa and while urban diversion toilets and VIP latrines are preferred by people in development, their implementation has proven to be very controversial. Sorry, a bit of a ramble here…but just to say that I think the urban/rural dynamic is interesting and your accounts of the difficulties of living sustainably reminds us how ‘rationality’ often has so little to do with our consumption choices and preferences.

    • Thanks for pointing that out – you are right that I have no alternative given where I live. There is absolutely no public transportation and it would take me an hour (at least) to walk to the nearest corner store! What I spend per month on gas does rival what I am saving by living in the country, so something to consider when evaluating my next step. At the same time, my quality of life (other than all the driving) is much improved in this house and location.

      Your toilet work is always so interesting! I visited one farm recently that had a self-composting toilet. It apparently works very well and certainly had no odor. The only problem mentioned was an abundance of fruit flies in the summer. Considering our increasing global shortage of water, it does make sense to question using it to move our waste. I look forward to hearing more about your research!

  2. sounds like you had a long week ….just remember that the days start to get longer after Feb 10th.

    we sell our large and extra large eggs for $3.50/dz. We work very hard to grow all the grains that go into their rations . it is very difficult and cruel to force the hens outside at this time of the year to make them “truly free range”

    • I can’t wait! Here it is, 5pm and still light out. Spring is on its way!

      As for the chickens, I can imagine that they wouldn’t want to be out in this cold. My cats won’t even poke their noses outside this time of year! I wish I was closer to your farm so that I could buy your eggs regularly. I look forward to the next time my commute takes me your way. And I’d still love to have a good chat about farming issues if you ever have some free time!

  3. An interesting look at urban versus suburban versus rural living is discussed in Thriving During Challenging Times by Cam Mather. Check out his blog/books/speaking engagements etc at http://www.aztext.com He lives in Eastern Ontario totally off grid. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak it will cause you to make changes for the better in your life.

    • Jen – thanks for sharing this link, it looks really interesting! I have book marked the website and will explore it and his blog when I have a little more time. I love to learn about how people live off-grid. This weekend is supposed to be extremely cold for the first time and I’m curious to see just how warm our house will stay with mostly wood heat. The last few nights I have been sleeping with a wool hat on, two down duvets, pluse three dogs and one cat for warmth, and have still been a bit cold. Having no furnace as a back-up would be quite the leap of faith!

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