ECONOMICS – Making it possible
Most people think of budgets only in terms of money. But the truth is, there are four or five budgets! Money, time, physical energy and mental energy, and for many, space. Some have more of one, and some have more of another, but everyone has their limits. A person may have plenty of money to engage in all sorts of useful enterprises, but if he takes on more than there’s time for, then there’s too much stress, and that can lead to disaster. A person that does office work, or some other mental work, probably comes home mentally drained, but physically over-charged. On the contrary, one who does manual labor may be exhausted when he comes home, so mental work is just the thing to remain productive, and rest at the same time.
The money one, may seem obvious, but spending can be illusive. Generally, it’s not the bigger items that you buy on occasion, it’s the less expensive things you buy every day, week or month. Look at it this way: if you spend on something every week, then multiply the cost by 52, so you see what it costs per year. Then ask yourself if it’s worth it or not.
Another thing is, cultural norms, that you just “have” to do. Analyze them, and see if it’s a true need. Like air-conditioner settings; are you ever cold in the summer time?! Use no more air-conditioning than you really need. The best way to do that, is to turn it off when you’re not in the house. When you come in, turn it on, but set it no more than 2-4 degrees lower than whatever it is in the house at the moment. If it’s 88 degrees, then set it on 84-86 degrees, or whatever is fairly comfortable to you. That way, you can cut back on air-conditioning, without having to swelter. Air-conditioning can cost hundreds of dollars per year.
When it comes to time, make a schedule, but don’t don’t over-schedule. Overscheduling causes stress, and will undo whatever advantage you hoped to achieve. There are other things that leak time also: like things that don’t function properly. That can be machinery, but not necessarily. Poor design can cause a massive daily waste of time. That gate that take three minutes a day to secure, costs you 20 minutes a week. Poor organization: Put your tools in a hard-to-reach spot, and they won’t get put away, so time is wasted hunting for them. Think ahead before you go shopping, “running to the store” is a huge waste of time.
Physical energy, well that’s pretty obvious, but most of the same rules apply as for time.
Then there’s mental energy. You can try to do mental work for hours on end, but the truth is, most people can only use their brain efficiently for about an hour at a time! Of course, some have longer limits, but everyone has their limits.
Then there’s space. Even if you’re blessed with a lot of land, there are still probably limits. Like full-sun areas for growing fruit trees, or maybe there’s almost no shade. Whatever, analyze what’s the best use for those limited areas.
MAKE THE MOST OF WHAT YOU’VE GOT! The place to start is to make maximum use of what you’ve already got. You can apply this principal to land, money, time, and so on. If there’s more time than money, then spend your extra time doing what saves the most. What food is the most expensive? Then make producing that, your priority. Is money not a problem, but time is at a premium? then go ahead and spend money to make things more efficient.
The second rule, is WHAT YOU NEED AND NO MORE! Don’t produce more than you can actually use or sell. Overproducing can turn a financially profitable enterprise, into a money-sink. If four goats will produce enough milk for your family, then don’t keep five. That’s even true for gardening, don’t plant ten zucchini plants, when two produce more than your family (and animals) can eat. It’s a waste of garden space, fertilizer and effort (weeding etc.) that could be used to grow what you never have enough of.
When it comes to being more self-sufficient, all you have to do is look around and see what you’ve got, and then find the best use for it. Just doing thay can increase your production, by about ten times!
When laying out a homestead, farm, garden etc. take inventory of the strengths of various different parts of the land. If a spot is naturally sort of clear, that means it’s very poor land. If it doesn’t even grow weeds well, you can imagine how much work it’s going to take to grow fruits or vegetables there. That kind of area could be used for a barn or patio. Or, it would make a good spot for “grow-boxes”, or maybe fish ponds. The area immediately adjacent to animal pens is guaranteed to grow magnificently – save those areas for your favorites and those that need extra fertilizer. A low spot will grow plants or trees that need more water. Obviously, the area near a pond or lake, isn’t ever going to be extremely dry, use that area for trees that suffer from drought. Water also holds heat; so you can grow marginally hardy trees near the water. The east or south side of the house, may be a great spot to grow something that is only marginally hardy in your area. When planting fruit trees etc. look for an area of lush growth, even if that means clearing some trees. The south side of a hill, is usually warmer, again a good spot for marginally hardy plants or trees. You don’t want to put animals in a low-lying area, you end up with muck. In subtropical areas that suffer from frost damage, position more vulnerable plants in areas that don’t get sun until late in the morning. This eliminates a lot of frost damage. A hill, can even be used to provide running water without electricity. If you position pathways in deeply shaded areas, you eliminate a lot of summer upkeep, and also provide coolness. Make maximum use of whatever grows prolifically in your area. Use a reasonable amount yourself, and use all you can for animal feed. Materials, too: If you have rocks on your land, or they’re easy to get in you area, then use rocks in your designs. An area bordering pines or oaks will be have acid soil. That’s the spot for blueberries or other acid-loving plants. Got tons of leaves? Bag them and feed them to the goats in the winter – yes, ruminants can get calories from dead leaves! They’re also great for your garden. If you have a pond, then you need ducks and fish. A very shady spot usually isn’t good for growing food or pasture, so it’s a good place for an ornamental garden, and can make a nice, cool sitting area – a good place for a swing!
So don’t waste time, effort and resources to make a chosen area fit to use, when one that’s already ready is twenty feet over! Design around it. Don’t struggle to grow what really doesn’t really do well in your area, when there’s something similar that’s just as good, and thrives with little effort. Italians don’t eat tomato sauce on everything because they like tomatoes better than other people; they eat tomatoes because they grow like crazy in Italy! Pick out plants for your places, not places for your plants. A perfect example of this is the grass lawns all across America. Lawns thrive in England, and Ireland, the Green Isle.
So many Americans are of English or Irish descent. That’s why trying to make grass grow where it shouldn’t is a multi-billion dollar industry here in America.
Another way to maximize potential, is to multi-use. Don’t plant plain green bushes in your landscaping when there’s a similar shrub/plant that produces fruit. Intersperse with ornamentals that are really showy and colorful. Also, blooming shrubs that grow rapidly, and need pruned a lot: they’re a good source of woody forage for the goats. Forget the “low-maintenance” idea! That just equals low production!