My Motivation

Once upon a time our American sense of freedom, of independence, was connected to our ability, as individuals, to take care of ourselves; to feed, clothe and house ourselves. We were self-sufficient, and self-sufficiency was the American Way. And we were good at it.

Now we are about 2 generations away from people who really knew how to grow, build, and improvise for everything they needed. Most of us have lived in the lap of borrowed luxury; we have lost the basic skills and knowledge that our ancestors used to propel the U.S. from a third-rate colony in 1790 to the pre-eminent producer of new goods in 1850.

Think about that: we went from 3rd world status to 1st world status in 2 generations! That is amazing. No other nation has ever accomplished such a feat! American ingenuity and Yankee ingenuity used to be common phrases for the ability of American citizens, just ordinary people, based in an agricultural economy and lifestyle, to invent new tools and machinery that could make implements and products valued all over the world as ways to make life easier and the work day more productive.

That is gone. Most of us are consumers, now, not producers. We consume a job in a business in exchange for a paycheck, which we use to consume goods and services. We do not really create anything; we do not really know how to create, most of us. We certainly do not know how to feed, clothe and house ourselves. We need others to give us the money to buy food, clothing, and homes that someone else created.

Rather than stand as independent, self-sufficient men and women who might lend our expertise and skills to someone else’s enterprise, we have mostly become dependent upon the offer of employment from strangers. And when those jobs disappear, we are left standing around helplessly, waiting on the government to take care of us.

Not only would our ancestors be ashamed of us, but when we are so dependent upon others for our mere survival, we cannot be meaningfully described as free.

Well I do not want to be dependent upon the whims of politicians, businesses, or even national and international economics any longer. I want to learn what my truly free ancestors knew: how to make my own life, and how to have a comfortable life built by my own hands.

I want to recapture the real American Way. And I want to do it with a bit of style. My style; my way.

But up here in Vermont there is a lot of political nonsense from a governor and legislature that think they can redistribute Vermont wealth in a just and equitable fashion. As if, in a small state, that would make any real difference to our increasingly straitened national situation. Or as if, were they successful, they would not have merely kicked our fiscal problem down the road. Because, after you equally distribute all the available wealth, what do you do the next year?

Fortunately, beyond and behind all of that imported nonsense, there are old-time Vermonters who still make their own way. They grow their year’s vegetables and grains, milk their cows, collect their eggs, tap their trees for maple syrup, build their homes, and help their neighbors.

These old-time Vermonters are called Woodchucks.

I am not a Woodchuck. I am a flatlander.  Someone from away. But I aspire to be a Woodchuck’s apprentice; I aspire to learn the old ways of surviving Vermont winters and short growing seasons; and to add to that traditional knowledge the insights of modern sciences – sciences involving new technology and materials, and involving new revelations about the biology and life cycles of plants and the soil. I aspire to integrate these bodies of knowledge on my own 10 acres to create a comfortable, self-sufficient life as off the grid as possible.

It will not happen all at once – unless the bigger problems of our nation and world force it – but gradually over the coming years. And because I think better by writing things out, I am using this blog as a place to store my writing; and as a venue for sharing what I learn through my ongoing apprenticeship to the Vermonters who have come before me: those hardy and independent Woodchucks.

I hope one day to be worthy of having occupied some of their soil.


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