Sustainable Retirement – What A Concept!


What is retirement really and when did the concept come into being?
Retirement? What's that?

So, awhile back I was listening to a podcast and the topic came up about what retirement really is and what it should be.

I think we have been sold a version of it that serves others more than ourselves. In the days of old when families lived in large houses with multiple generations and had a farm, growing their own food and making their own stuff, old people didn’t “retire” as we understand it today. They simply did less physically demanding stuff as their bodies got older.  Maybe they helped maintain the farm equipment, tended the garden or whatever they liked to do. The thing is, they were around to impart all their life’s knowledge and wisdom to the younger generations and not holed away in some retirement home somewhere and forgotten about. How did we get from there to where we are today? Well, all that aside, here is an excerpt from a guy in Canada who makes some very valid points I think…

 

The concept of retirement is a relatively new one. Not so long ago, when we were a more agrarian based society, few people ever retired. Their daily duties just changed. As we grew older, we would take over running the farm, and then we would maybe step back and let our kids do that.  Maybe we would take over maintenance of the equipment or something little less physically demanding, but required experience. Maybe we would help out more inside the home. But flat out retirement to travel south or play golf all day was the domain of the ultra rich. Even then, most tycoons were still wheeling and dealing well into their 60’s and beyond.

Nowadays. with retirement plans tanking and pension funds bleeding out, we may find ourselves without the ability to retire once again. However, this time, we won’t have the farm to feed us and the multi-generational home to keep us occupied and close to our loved ones. If we’re very fortunate, we may be able to find a spot in a retirement home and sell our current homes to pay for it.

Me, I have a different plan. My plan depends on me getting prepared to take care of myself and my wife for as long as we are physically able. If my plan works, we’ll also be able to ‘retire’ early. That plan is preparedness.

When you think about it, if you can provide most of your own food, utilities, and medicine and your shelter is bought and paid for, how much money do you really need? Enough to pay the property taxes, run your vehicle, and take care of emergencies. Maybe you need some money for a bit of travel as well. But not as much money as two people working for more than 40 hours a week each generate.

It’s not hard to imagine a household income of around $100,000 a year or about $73,000 after taxes. (Remember, I’m in Canada. Our dollars are about 80% of the USD.) Now, we know a lot of people are going to have mortgage payments around $1400 a month, utilities of at least $400 a month, TV and Internet for another $200 a month, $500 for food, $400 for various insurances, $200 for gas for the vehicles…it goes on and on…


This post continues but I think that gets the point across. Retirement isn’t necessarily the old couple walking along the beach somewhere that they show you on T.V. as an idealized image in order to sell you into whatever investment scheme they are pitching to you. Retirement is about finally doing what you want to do instead of what you are required to do by obligations set by a society based on consume, consume, consume. Buy it now, pay for it later with interest until you are buried in debt. Start working your way towards liberty today!

 


Have You Considered Edible Landscaping?

Wouldn’t it be incredible if your lawn was edible?

Something edible instead?
Something edible instead?

About 5 years ago, I remember seeing this article going around the internet regarding a town called Todmorden in Great Britain where the entire town is full of raised bed gardens in which residents can plant, tend and take whatever herbs and vegetables they desire. According to a Mother Nature Network article I read about it at the time, the town had about 15,000 residents and it is located 20 miles from Manchester. Todmorden is home to Incredible Edible, a project which grows and campaigns for local foods. I found this all very inspirational and it reminds me of something I have discussed with others in the past. If you drive around a typical neighborhood or parks in towns and suburbs you will see mostly manicured lawns, ornamental shrubbery and the like. Then look at the medians in the roadways planted with ornamentals and grass for the most part. If you were to just take out 1 in 10 of those plants which produce nothing other than aesthetics and replace them with something which produces an edible, fruit, nut or vegetable instead can you imagine what that would do to help fight hunger and to give us the ability to produce our own food?

Doesn’t it make you marvel at how arrogant we as a society have become that we actually breed trees like the Bradford Pear or pistachios which produce no fruit or nuts because we consider the food they produce to be litter? Look around your yard and see how many Photinias, Yaupons, and Box Shrubs there are. What if you just took one or two out and replaced it with a dwarf fruit tree or a berry bush instead? Wouldn’t it be nice to walk right out your door and be able to pick fresh fruit? You could save a few bucks at the grocery store and would be in control of what pesticides, herbicides, etc. would be on them. There are plenty of natural ways to control pests so you would have clean, healthy food for your family. Walking around my neighborhood I have noticed a few of my neighbors already doing this. Sweet potato plants have lovely leaves and make great ornamentals. They are becoming increasingly popular these days I have noticed. You might want to consider it too. I’ve seen some nice looking peach trees at Lowe’s, Home Depot and the local nurseries and blueberry bushes too. Not to mention dwarf apples, plums, pecans. These might be something to consider for the coming Spring.

Well, now I’m just making myself hungry. Hahaha! Have a great day! 🙂

 

Three Sisters Garden And Variations

Three Sisters Garden as featured on the reverse of the 2009 Native American U.S. dollar coin
Three Sisters Garden as featured on the reverse of the 2009 Native American U.S. dollar coin

Once upon a time, several generations ago, this land was populated by the native tribes of North America and many of them planted a garden that came to be known as the “Three Sisters Garden” which provided the majority of the necessary nutrients to survive. What can we learn from these native ancestors of ours?

Well, quite a bit actually as their wisdom lives on in today’s world if we care to pay attention. They had mastered living off the land here long before the first European settlers had arrived and in fact imparted much of their knowledge on to those settlers to help them survive in the harsh winters. But I digress. What exactly is a “Three Sisters Garden” anyway?

Well, in it’s most basic incarnation you lay out a round bed about 4 to 8 feet in diameter and hill it slightly in the middle. Initially you’re going to want to add a high nitrogen source to the soil to get your corn started but after that the beans should take care of replenishing nitrogen for you. Plant about 6 to 8 corn plants roughly  6 to 8 inches apart in a circle. Give the corn 2 or 3 weeks to get started before planting anything else in that bed. Then plant some variety of pole beans about 6 inches outside of your corn plants. Somewhere between fourteen and eighteen plants should suffice. Give the beans some time to get started and then plant about 6 or 7 squash plants (again, pick a variety you like) roughly 12 to 15 inches outside where you planted your beans. Now, as your plants grow try to train your beans to grow up the stalks of the corn plants and you squash to cover the ground in the area between your beans and corn.

The beauty of this arrangement is these plants are highly symbiotic with one another. The beans will produce the nitrogen that the corn plants need and the corn stalks are providing a natural trellis for the beans to grow up on while the squash provides shading for the ground which helps to preserve moisture.

Now, that being said, some people have trouble getting corn to grow for them around here and have instead substituted mammoth sunflower plants which are said to require less nutrients from the soil and be more pest resistant. There are several variations on this type of garden you can play around with but all in all it’s a very efficient use of space and resources and provides a good nutritional profile to boot! I don’t know if I will get around to planting one of these this year but if and when we do I will get some pictures and/or video up to share on it. If you have done or are doing this please share your experiences!

Honest Money Revisited

Honest Money? Pic By Jennifer Leonowitz
Honest Money? Pic By Jennifer Leonowitz

A few years back I wrote an article on an old blog of mine about the value of silver coins in the early 1960s and what they would still buy today and while listening to a back episode of The Survival Podcast that topic was revisited by Jack Spirko and I thought it would be good to revisit it here as well for those who are interested in such things.

In 1964 if you had a quarter (they were made of 90% real silver in those days) you could take it down to your local gas station and buy about 1 gallon of gasoline. If you had that same 1964 silver quarter today and took it down to a coin shop and sold it for its silver value you would have roughly enough to buy a gallon of gas today. That’s the value of honest money. Go to Shadow Government Statistics and look at the value of the U.S. Dollar in the past few years.  Now, they say the Dow Jones Industrial Average is trading near all time historic highs again but if you look at how far the dollar has declined since 2008 and compensate for that then is it really? In June of 2008 silver was trading at around $10 an ounce and gold was trading at about $800 per ounce and most of the “experts” were saying that price was too high and get out of the metals market. At the time of this episode of The Survival Podcast more than 2 years ago, silver was around $32 per ounce and gold was trading at around $1650 per ounce.

So what does that mean? Well if it takes more dollars to buy items than it used to we usually call that inflation right? So there has been a great deal of inflation in those metals which at one time represented real, honest to goodness money in recent years.  Jack went into a great deal more detail on this on his show and gave many more examples. I highly recommend listening to it and use the information to keep your wits about you in these times when they are getting ready to strike up the band and declare the economy has recovered. Do, use these times to strengthen your personal financial picture, keep an eye out for opportunities, etc. But don’t let yourself get caught in a debt trap trading years of your life in indentured servitude (i.e. consumer credit devices like credit cards) in exchange for sparkly expensive items that don’t add real value to your life or help you achieve real life, liberty and happiness. Never forget, it’s a big shell game so keep your eye on the pea.

 

Resources:

Episode 869 of The Survival Podcast – The Real State Of The Economy – Right Where I Said It Would Be In 2009

The gods are my pals, I shall not sweat it! – Our Pantheons Way, Arlington, Texas Pagan Blog.

Cheap And Easy?

It's cheap enough to do. You Vote Every Day
It’s cheap enough to do. You Vote Every Day

I have said this before and I am saying it again. Where you choose to spend your time and your money is a vote for what kind of world you want to live in. People have asked me, how are things going with Primal Aspects, my wife Em’s art business. Folks, Em’ hasn’t produced a new piece of art for sale in over a year now. Why do you suppose that is? We spent a good part of 2011 and 2012 pushing Primal Aspects, going to events and setting up to vend, displaying her art in museums and other venues, in a shop down in Cleburne that ended up closing after barely a month. She and I both finally reached a point of burnout. She stopped painting, drawing, sketching and pyrography for pretty much the same reason any other artist, musician or other creative person stops creating. When no one is buying your stuff you begin to have self doubt. Is my work not good enough? Am I doing something wrong? What should I try that I haven’t already? Oh, I’m sure if someone reads this at some point I will get some kind of feedback of, do this and try that. Chances are, we already did. Prints, yup, Cafe Press stuff, did that too, deviantART, ArtFire, Etsy, blah, blah, blah. Yup!

Financially, we’re okay. My income is enough to sustain us fine but because of how things have gone Em’ is talking about taking on a part time job after the beginning of the year and just doing art on the side once in awhile. The extra income will help us with things like newer and more reliable cars, the land we hope to buy soon, etc.

But I didn’t start this piece to be a woe is me or a woe is Em’ piece. It’s about a much bigger picture topic. It’s about the guy who used to own a small hardware store in town but ended up having to go out of business because a big box store moved in and sold reduced priced merchandize, some of it made by child labor overseas perhaps, but cheaper, much cheaper than he could hope to compete with. So he goes out of business and ends up working for the very people who ran him out of business for a barely livable wage. It’s about the hundreds of thousands of small farmers who have lost their farms to big Ag. It’s about a lot of things which have taken the power to choose how to live out of the hands of your neighbors, family and community.

Where do you spend your time and money each day? What kind of world are you voting for? Cheap, easy and disposable? Or quality, a little more work but worth the effort and sustainable. What sort of world will our children and grandchildren inherit? The power still lies in each and every one of our hands. We choose each and every day where to put our time and money. It’s how we got where we are today.

Take a look around. Are there things and places you miss? Does it seem that the world is missing a certain flavor it once had? Why do you suppose that might be?

Just a few thoughts. Your mileage might vary. But I think, the ways of our ancestors may have been wiser.

Blessings,

Cianaodh Óg

Stopped At Potager’s Other Stuff

Potager's Other Stuff
Potager’s Other Stuff

I stopped in at Potager’s Other Stuff a couple of times on the way home from work this week. What an amazing assortment of wholesome goodness! I’ve mentioned their cafe a time or two in past blog posts because I truly believe in what they are doing there. They are promoting doing things the old ways in food, cooking and other crafts. If you are near downtown Arlington, Texas while they are open sometime you should definitely stop by and have a look around. At the cafe they follow the concept of  “ask for only as much as you can eat and pay what you feel it was worth”. Yes, there are no prices on the menu and you are asked to only take portion sizes you feel you can eat while you are there for a meal. At the end of it you pay what you feel the meal is worth. How cool is that?! I know, it makes you think, surely there are too many people who would take advantage of a system like that and not pay nearly what the food is actually worth or not pay at all. But they have made it work for, I think, about three years so far and are still at it. As you walk into the cafe you can actually see the fresh herbs growing right outside which they harvest and use right there. They also buy their meats, fruits and vegetables from local growers and have often gone to a local farm to pick the foods fresh from the trees, vines and stalks that morning which will be a part of the meal served that afternoon. Talk about fresh flavors!

Potager's Cafe and Other Stuff
Potager Logo

So, while I stopped in on Thursday I talked for a good while with Susan about an interesting myriad of topics ranging from Irish/Scottish family history to geopolitical history to container gardening and many things in between. She is an interesting lady full of a wealth of knowledge that she doesn’t mind sharing with others. Yesterday Cynthia, another kind lady and the chef and founder of Potager Cafe was at the shop. Both were very helpful though and I took the opportunity to try some natural granola from Grapevine Grains. The Honey Almond is marvelous by the way. Also I enjoyed the Cinnamon Apple and the Gourmet Chocolate flavors. Now, at their store, Potager’s Other Stuff, up the road a bit from the cafe there ARE prices on the items, don’t get confused. The meals at the cafe are pay what you feel they are worth but most of the items at Potager’s Other Stuff are on consignment from local producers and do come with a set pricetag. Anyway, I just wanted to clarify that right quick. Let me go on about the phenomenal stuff I tried. I picked up a dark chocolate bar with forest mint that I thoroughly enjoyed and it even got the kids’ seal of approval which kind of surprised me because I thought the dark chocolate flavor might put them off a bit.

Potager Contact Info
Potager Contact Info

I also had a wonderful hard cider called Leprechaun from a brewery in Houston and bottled in Oregon (how does that work?) which I will most assuredly be getting more of in the near future. Also I discovered the wonderful assortment of brews from Jester King Brewery which are carried there. OH MY GODS! They have a huge variety and such cool looking labels to boot. I tried the Black Metal because when I told her I liked Guinness she said this one has been described as like Guinness only better. I said, that’s some awful strong language there! So I tried it. It’s definitely a stronger brew than Guinness Stout which is okay but even Guinness Stout has a bit stronger flavor than I enjoy typically. I generally go for the Guinness Draught when I have a choice. But it’s a good brew if you’re into the strong, black stuff. It looks about like used motor oil when you pour it into a glass. 😉 Another thing well worth trying are the  TruRoots cookies. I picked up the Three Seed Ancient and the Orange Ginger. Both are wonderful! Oh! One other thing, even though the website says they are unable to take debit and credit cards they do now have Square Up on their phones and are able to take cards for payment.

Anyway, Em’ and I will be stopping by there again today either before or after we head up to Wise county to look at some properties we’re considering. One is near Chico and the other near Springtown. Wish us luck!

Go raibh an ghaoth go brách ag do chúl,

(May the wind be always at your back,)

Cianaodh

 

Back To Our Roots – Sustainable Living

The roots of life are what sustains us in the tough times. Our ancestors knew what was important.

The Boy And His Dog - The Roots Of Joy
The Boy And His Dog – The Roots Of Joy

One thing that strikes me about the ways of sustainable living and organic growing techniques is that they put us back into closer touch with nature and the ways of our ancestors. From a spiritual standpoint, I think that’s a pretty good place to be. So whether you are learning how to forage for food with Merriwether’s Foraging Texas or buying locally grown foods you’ve found through Local Harvest or maybe even building a Rocket Mass Heater you will be employing techniques which put you in closer touch with the cycles of nature and learning things that, in many cases, are wisdom that our ancestors already knew but we’ve lost touch with in these modern times.

I have long had a fascination with plants and Green Medicine. My mom had an amazing green thumb and I grew up surrounded by a variety of plants. Her father was a farmer early in his life and still maintained a large back yard garden even after moving to the city. Em’ and I dream of getting a few acres of land outside the city somewhere so we can grow our own foods and experiment with natural building techniques such as cob houses and such. We would like to be close enough to the city to easily make runs to the store or to go get together with friends but far enough away to be able to do our own thing including having ritual space and shrines on the property. Things like permaculture fascinate me as well and I will probably add a page to the site here under the library tab with resources for this type of thing. I believe this sort of lifestyle goes hand in hand with living in a more Pagan way. I also have a friend who hangs out with the Sumerians who turned me on to Paleotool Weblog. That’s another interesting field of study I wouldn’t mind someday having more time to pursue.

Threefold Blessings,

Cianaodh Óg

 

Sprouting Those Sprouts To Be Stout

Pro-Vita and Alpha Mix Sprouts
Pro-Vita and Alpha Mix Sprouts

I was reading over at Conor’s blog Under The Owl’s Wing this morning and he was talking about having to take two pills that his doctor prescribed to him because of a vitamin deficiency due to several months of existing purely on ramen noodles. Not a healthy food staple by any means but an inexpensive one when you’re having to budget every penny. Anyway, reading it got me to thinking about some of the things I learned about while I was on my sabbatical from spirituality and listening heavily to prepper podcasts. Now, I’m not saying this is a more economically feasible way to go (although, if you figure in doctor’s bills and vitamin prescriptions it might be) but it is a healthy and sustainable thing.

Organic adzuki beans, peas, lentils, mung beans, triticale, wheat and fenugreek.
Organic adzuki beans, peas, lentils, mung beans, triticale, wheat and fenugreek.

Anyway, one episode I was listening to had a representative talking about their company, up in Utah, no, wait a minute, now that I think about it, the show I am recalling was with another lady who has a cooking program but they were talking about prepper stuff and she actually mentioned sprouted seeds as a good thing to have on hand in case of food shortages. Anyway, this might end up reading like a paid product endorsement or something but I promise you no one has paid me anything to plug this or any of that sort of stuff. It’s just something I have found useful and would like to share with my readers, all five of you. I was even talking with a buddy of mine at work about this very thing the other day so I guess Conor’s article reinforced the idea in my mind that I really should write about it. Now, one cool thing I have learned about sprouting is that the young sprouts of plants, just as they have germinated from the seeds and grown for a few days, pack more nutritional punch than the full grown vegetables. Also, the vitamins and other nutrients are more readily absorbed by the body because your digestive system doesn’t have to do nearly as much work to break the food down. I use the Pro-Vita mix of sprouts which is reputed to supply a body with all of the nutritional needs for day to day living if you have about a cup and a half of them a day. I pretty much use them wherever you might otherwise use lettuce. I make a salad out of them, put them on a sandwich, even blend them up in a smoothie.

Organic alfalfa, clover, cabbage and radish.
Organic alfalfa, clover, cabbage and radish.

The other sprouts I like are the Alpha Plus Mix. These sprouts are reputed to give you an energy boost so I am guessing this mix has a lot of B vitamins and such in it. Anyway, I bought three of the Sprout Master thingys which are the rectangular white plastic box looking things you see in the back propped up by the pumpkins (picked from my sister’s garden by the way). The process of sprouting these seeds and keeping them going is so easy that this cave man has no trouble handling it. Basically you just grab a bowl, put some water in it, soak enough seeds to form a layer on the bottom of one of the sprout master boxes (there are instructions to help you figure out just how much this is for each variety of seeds but I just eyeball it) let them soak overnight then rinse them and put the sprouts in the sprout master. Then a couple of times each day, rinse them and let the excess water drain and put them on a counter until they are fully sprouted. I usually rinse mine in the morning before I go to work then again in the evening when I get home. After they are fully sprouted you can keep them in the fridge for up to two weeks but you still need to take them out and give them a good rinse. Preppers like them because while they are still dry seeds in the container they are great for long term food storage and will last almost indefinitely. I get several months use out of a couple of the containers of seeds like you see here so they are also fairly compact considering the amount of food they ultimately make. If you have any questions about this stuff feel free to comment below and I will be happy to help. Another topic I might want to write about for tomorrow’s blog post is one which Tommy touched on at From Within The Circle when he was writing about his experiences of discovering he was Pagan while in the U.S. Air Force in the late nineteen eighties. I too have some experiences to share about being Pagan in the work place.

Remember, The Gods Are Your Pals So Ye Shall Not Sweat It!

Cianaodh