Friday, January 6, 2017

The Importance of Being Self-Reliant

I've been thinking a lot about self-reliance lately.

Mr M's current crazy work schedule means that he does not have the time to take care of things around the house, unless he gets the ok and uses vacation time. They don't give the ok very often and we want to save his vacation time for this summer and our family reunion road trip, so right now his focus is on work and mine is on stuff around the house. It's not optimal, but it's temporary, and the end is in sight, so it's doable.

This winter I get to branch out a bit and take care of things that are normally under Mr M's purview. This is good because it gets me out of my comfort zone, even if I'm perfectly fine leaving them to him ;) This past week, after using the mower to blow the leaves off the lawn one last time, it was time to drop the mower deck and attach the snow plow.

Last spring when Mr M switched from the plow to the mower deck, I took pictures, not realizing I'd actually need to use them for reference. I figured I'd just watch him this winter.... so much for that plan :)

When it came down to it though, it was pretty easy to drop the mower deck, and even easier to attach the plow. The hardest part was maneuvering the heavy plow into position. It's heavy and awkward, but I managed it.

After I got the plow attached, I also put the chains on the tires. We're all ready for snow now, and I really hope I didn't jinx us by actually being prepared. Just watch- now we won't get any snow this winter :(

We got the plow last year, but didn't put it together and install it right away. That proved to be a miscalculation on our part, since Mr M spent several hours in the dark, freezing shed in the middle of the first big snow storm first putting the plow together, and then installing it. It was much easier to do in 65(!) degree weather with plenty of sunshine.

Last winter Mr M did all the snow plowing, but I get to do it this year. I actually used the plow to clear brush around the chicken coop, trampoline, and tree house areas last spring, so I'm a lot more comfortable with that idea than I otherwise would be.

This project brought to mind a book I read a few months ago: Woman-Powered Farm. It was written by a woman who runs a flower farm while her husband works a traditional job. She talks about what she does to make sure she doesn't over-extend herself physically or get in a dangerous situation, being familiar with her equipment, using appropriately-sized tools, and so on. She has a tractor and knows how to use it and take care of it. At the time, my reaction to knowing how to take care of a tractor was 'meh'. I knew why she was saying it was important, but it wasn't something I wanted to worry about. Now, though, my thought process has changed. I may not enjoy working on engines (I really have no desire to do anything with them), but I do need to learn the basics.

It also reminded me of this blog post. The blog is written by a young couple building an off-grid homestead in northern Idaho. It's been fascinating to follow along as they document their process. Jesse, the husband, is a pretty handy guy and much more experienced and comfortable working with various tools and figuring things out. His wife Alyssa is learning on the go. Jesse recently had to take care of business out of state and was gone for several weeks. Alyssa was able to keep things running smoothly while he was gone because they had structured things so that either of them could accomplish the necessary tasks. She's also made an effort to get comfortable with the equipment they have.

These are good things to know, regardless of where you live. Do you know how to take care of things on a daily basis? What if something goes wrong? Do you know who to call for assistance when it's needed? Are you confident in your abilities, or will being wishy-washy lead to further problems?

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