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  • Matt Breton

Self Reliance

There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.” - Aldo Leopold

A freezer full of meat is comforting

Here we sit in the midst of a pandemic, being asked to stay at home. Not a horrible thing, and, really, a small sacrifice relative to the ones made in other, harder situations. Obviously this is hard for the docs, nurses, and first responders who are dealing with this right in their faces. Sure, there are economic ramifications in the near and long term that must be considered. There seem to be two minds about this that I sway between, with one part of me thinking that this is all so overdone and another thinking that if we did more, it would be better. Neither side is right, and it is too late to change course now. So as I've accepted the situation at hand, mostly, and tried to leave the what-ifs and should-haves behind me. I've started to look ahead.

I see people coming out of this two ways. One will be those who want more systemic support, more assurances, and more from this experience. These people had the ground of society shake beneath their feet and saw the walls of order and ease crumble around them. The false narratives of safety and security were dashed in a way they haven't been in many generations, or perhaps ever. As the global industrial world ground to a halt, these seemed to be the people who existed almost exclusively on the societal systems we had in place. They had, to paraphrase Mr. Leopold, felt that breakfast came from the grocery.

The second group really senses the loss of our freedoms and worries about government over-reach as a result of this. The thinking here comes down to personal responsibility, that self reliance, to varying degrees, is the better path. People are on different points of that path, perhaps grew up on a farm, or had a garden, maybe even grew their own pigs. Hunting and fishing are on this path, with foraging and any number of skills for survival. The people in this group, at whatever level, are looking inward and seeing how they can prop themselves up to be better prepared for next time. For certainly there will be a next time.

The nuanced middle ground is that, as a society, we probably need people to do both things. Our world, as we sit, would not easily bear the stress of sustaining us if we all went out and handled things for ourselves. Nor should we expect the government and health care systems to pick up all the pieces and sweep them under the rug so that we can go back to living as if this never happened.

Here at home, we live with the luxury of a pretty full freezer and pantry. Plans for more. I do know we need a woodstove that is a bit better suited to independence. I suspect our garden will be a touch better tended this summer. The rural lifestyle suits us well, but we can be better prepared. We can manage for quite a while, government support or not. I anticipate more folks desiring this. We'll see how that unfolds, challenges and opportunities included.

For those considering it, there is a lot to learn.

A couple places to start -

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