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(DV) Velazquez: Oh Lord, Won't You Buy Me an Acre of Land





Oh Lord, Won't You Buy Me an Acre of Land 
by Sheila Velazquez
March 26, 2007

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I couldn't sleep replaying in my mind everything I have recently read and heard from savvy observers who think as I do regarding the looming crisis. I tried counting sheep, but as someone who once raised sheep, it didn't work. It just led to thinking about shearing and spinning and all the nice organic lamb we used to put in the freezer. I won't go into particulars about what is coming down the pike regarding the real estate situation, dollar, foreign entanglements, energy and the corrupt financial, political and corporate non-ethics that are destroying this country. Many are doing that. Instead, I'd like to address self reliance and taking control of one's life. 

If you wake in the morning, turn up the thermostat, pour your coffee from a coffeemaker, grab your car keys, and head out to fill the gas tank before hitting the highway to go work for the man, you may soon be screwed. If you wake in the morning and stoke the woodstove with seasoned pieces you have cut, stacked and piled to dry, walk to the barn and gather eggs and milk the cow or goat, check the garden for newly ripened produce, and return to the house with your bounty, you are a man or woman who works harder than most, but you are blessed and will be more blessed as time passes. 
If you are an urban dweller who has created a garden from a small patch of earth alongside your house, or who plants herbs and patio tomatoes in buckets on the porch or in a sunny window, you are on the right track, and I'll bet you have an inkling as to the disaster that we may soon be facing. More than half of our food is imported, and this percentage will rise in 
proportion to the number of acres that are reassigned to producing plant crops for ethanol. Fuel prices will rise again, and the net result will extend to increased costs of transportation, including of our food. We were recently shocked to learn that Chinese wheat tainted with an extremely toxic chemical managed to get into a huge chunk of our pet food supply. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to understand that it could next show up in our frozen pizza dough. So there are plenty of reasons to become more self sufficient. 
If you long for the independence of providing your basic needs but have no clue as to where to begin and think you'll never be able to afford the land, think again. If everything hits the crapper, and real estate values tank, and you have the foresight to put away a little cash and do a little learning, it may become a possibility. The trick will be beating the carpetbaggers to it, but it doesn't take a lot of land to grow enough vegetables for one family and maybe even fit in a chicken coop. If you think that big daddy government is always going to provide you with a job and home, protect your food and water supply, and keep you healthy, you are so living in fantasyland. It isn't going to happen, and the plain fact is that before long, everyone will have to look out for himself. If you asked your neighbor today if he'd like help digging a well, he might think you crazy. In a few years, maybe not so crazy. 
The Foxfire series originated in 1972, with the original The Foxfire Book, a collection of articles from the magazine that was begun in 1966 by children of the Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School in Georgia. The name Foxfire was chosen as the magazine's title for the glow emitted by bioluminescent lichen that grows on decaying logs in the Southern woods, noticeable on dark nights. Since that time, the magazine has been published uninterrupted, a museum has been established, and the core principles, based on self-centered learning and community-based education have been adopted by families and educators who favor the Foxfire Approach to Teaching and Learning that "promotes a sense of place and appreciation of local people, community, and culture as essential educational tools." 
Beginning over four decades go, the students interviewed the elders of their area, documenting their lives and skills, and in doing so they became aware of the close relationships and sharing that were an integral part of creating a strong community. We need more of that -- relationships with neighbors and an appreciation of lost culture, not only in Appalachia, but in the urban, exurban, and suburban communities where most of us live. 
There are now twelve books in the series that began as a sociological work, and nearly ten million copies of individual volumes have been sold. I bought the first six books of the series in the 1970s. I was a city girl learning how to establish a homestead. I had no experience with farming but was a believer. It was part of the times, and the times they are a comin' again. 
It is in these first collections that most of the practical information can be found. You may not plan on butchering a hog anytime soon, but you will certainly want to plan a garden. The original book has sections on planting by signs, building a log cabin, making soap, basket weaving and preserving food, as well as making butter, soap and moonshine. For the religious, there's information on faith healing and snake handling. The next five volumes offer instructions on spinning and weaving, animal care, tanning hides and logging, as well as making cheese, apple butter, wagons, kilns, tools, and shoes. And for "when the work's all done and the sun's getting low" (thanks John Denver), you can also learn how to make old-fashioned toys, corn husk dolls and primitive dulcimers, banjos and fiddles -- just in case you can't power up the tv. 
One of the advantages of technology is that there are many Web sites that offer help and guidance when it comes to learning the homely arts. For someone like me, who poured over hard copies of magazines like Countryside & Small Stock Journal and other homesteading publications, there is now a bonanza of information online. My biggest kick has always been in making things for a fraction of the retail cost. How about an incubator for hatching eggs made from a styrofoam chest; a hydraulic ram pump; or a greenhouse made form OCV pipe. The National Gardening Association website contains a great USDA planting zone map. 
The first six Foxfire books are now online at the Librum. These large files are scanned versions and often difficult to read. The books themselves are available through the Foxfire site, which is a great place to begin if you'd like to secure your future in small ways, and possibly in bigger ones. And remember the Boy Scout motto. 
Oh Lord, won't you buy me an acre of land 
I swear I'll improve it however I can 
And care for your creatures that sustain us all 
Oh Lord, won't you hear me and answer my call. 
Sheila Velazquez is looking forward to soon establishing another homestead. She can be reached at:

Other Articles by Sheila Velazquez

* Religious Overtones of the Global Warming Debate
* Drug Wars
* A Tale of Two Cities
* More BS From the BLS
* Bonds Are Us