Djcnor’s Weblog

True Self-Sufficiency, or at Least Self-Sufficiency of the Community

Posted on: January 29, 2009

I sometimes wonder if I am the only one who yearns for self-sufficiency or at least community self-sufficiency. I’m watching a show called Victorian Farm.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Victorian-Farm-Alex-Langlands/dp/1862058210

The thing is that they knew or had access to so much useful information that they were very able to take care of themselves with hardly any money. Just two minutes ago, I learned that brick dust and vinegar together make a great abrasive cleaner. The wife says all the things we buy for that are simply abrasive (the dust) and acid (lemon juice will do as well). Tomorrow, when I go down the hill, I’ll collect some of those small chunks of brick that fall out of the walls during the winter, and I’ll finally give our hob (the stovetop) the scrubbing it deserves.

The best way to get a streakless shine on your windows is to finish the job with newspaper.

They know how to make so many things, and so many of their materials for that making are free, or nearly so. Who needs electricity with a manual sewing machine?

I guess my frustration is that I know how to weave fabric. I have a loom. I know how to sew. I’ve been offered a manual sewing machine. I know how to make baskets. I’ve got a bag of long pine needles I gathered from the tree down the hill for just that purpose. I know so many useful things and love doing them all.

But doing them is a luxury for me. In fact, in these days of hunting for a job, they are a luxury I can ill afford. Why should time be so much more valuable working for someone else, or selling things made elsewhere, than when used for something personally useful? There’s such a satisfaction in doing things for yourself using things that cost very little. But people have been almost entirely robbed of that satisfaction.

Ah. Here’s another one. Coal soot is excellent for the garden, especially roses.

She’s sewing herself a new dress. Apparently, it’s difficult to get the quality of fabric today that they had then. On the other hand, a Victorian woman would have had only four dresses. I wouldn’t mind having a very restricted wardrobe (as long as it included blue jeans). I really tend to wear the same things over and over again anyhow. Doesn’t everyone?

Ah, now I know why the lambs and sheep I see in the fields are marked with letters. I was afraid it marked them as soon to be slaughtered, but instead it marks them as belonging to each other, to help the farmer in future breeding.

By the way, have you ever felt, preferably hugged, a sheep? They’re wonderful! They even smell nice from all the lanolin in their wool. Lanolin is excellent for skin, by the say. When I was young, my doctor used to recommend it for scars. You could get it at the drugstore, on the bottom cheap basics shelf.

I guess all this means I’m getting old, and so I am. And I need to make it clear that I don’t want to entirely go back. For example, a computer and printer should make it quite possible for a person to download a custom-fit pattern for his or her clothes, or shoes, or bags, or whatever. There should be a computer-controlled dobby loom in every home. The new technology should not rob us of the chance to design and make, but instead make designers and makers of us all!

Music and video has been taken to this point. Young people have mastered the technology and are making their own music and video. Why can’t the same thing be done with the rest of life so that people can actually directly participate in filling some other of their own needs? For those who are mechanical, why aren’t there ways for them to use computers connected to direct home machinery to make their own transportation or furniture or electronics?

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