The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Battling perfectionism

Baby apple

Perfectionism has long been a character failing of mine.  When other kids were aiming for straight As in high school, I figured I should keep an average of 98 and above --- 97s were a sign I needed to work harder.  I'm afraid I carried that need for 98% perfection over to the homestead.

Picnic lunch

Years ago, Mark helped me awaken to the fact that striving for perfection results in missing the true joys of this imperfect life.  But try as I might, I only managed to make about a C- on pop quizzes in that subject.

Cut rye

While reading and watching introductory permaculture materials over the last few weeks, though, I had an epiphany.  My main trouble is that I treat our entire homestead like zone 1, with all the high upkeep that choice entails.  (Okay, I treat the house like zone 4, but that's neither here nor there.)  Two people can't maintain over an acre in zone 1 conditions with hand tools and stay sane.

Temporary chicken

I need to think more about how to plan certain portions of the farm as zones 2 and above, but in the meantime, I decreased my stress considerably with some stopgap measures.  The broiler pastures are getting severely overgrazed since the Starplate coop is taking longer than anticipated to finish, but moving at least one flock into temporary pastures is easing pressure there.  We've been wanting to install drip irrigation for the blueberries and mini-apples, but it occurred to me that rearranging my sprinklers a bit would allow quick coverage in the meantime.  And I decided most of the woody perennials are going to get a quick-and-dirty kill mulch rather than a real weeding job this month.

Forest garden

The result?  I got an A+ in noticing the sheer beauty and peace of the farm this weekend.  Creek-walking, bathing in the rain, reading while watching chicks, mini-experiments with silkworms, lightning bugs in the dark.  That's why I moved to the farm, after all --- I'd better enjoy it!

Our chicken waterer keeps the coops closer to perfect by preventing soaked bedding and dirty water.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I can so relate to this post! Both to the need to have everything meet unreasonable standards as well as to the relaxation into enjoying nature in it's wildness. For example, our bees have helped me appreciate flowering weeds in places I usually hate to see weeds. It also helps when I focus on OUR space and not compare it to others. If I spend all my time flitting around trying to fix everything, I'll never have time to enjoy it:-).
Comment by Jane Mon Jun 3 08:45:43 2013
Comment by Everett Mon Jun 3 09:56:53 2013

Yep, I can relate, too. My garden is supposed to be a tranquil, relaxing place. All too often, when I go out there, all I can see is work that needs to be done. I love the work, but I need time to relax, too.

Knowing which spaces are free to hand over to nature (or at least to put on a low-maintenance schedule) and in which places I need to be more attentive, really helps to reduce the perceived workload. My mower has been broken for the past two weeks so that hasn't helped at all.

Comment by Sara Mon Jun 3 10:45:25 2013

"And I decided most of the woody perennials are going to get a quick-and-dirty kill mulch rather than a real weeding job this month."

A multiple benefit. Your time which is always in precious supply and the plant and the soil. The mulch will prevent evaporation and shade the plants roots. The mulch will break down into compost over time. Check the edge zone between the mulch and the soil and you will see all kinds of life at work decomposing the mulch. And imagine the life that you can't see.

Comment by MikeH Thu Jun 6 06:43:15 2013

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