Coronavirus constraints make me appreciate self-sufficiency


I’ve always had an independent streak. The pioneer lifestyle has always fascinated me. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong century, except if I had then I never would have taken up writing.

Modern editing capability makes writing fun. I have so much respect for anyone who did this before the 80s. The typewriter was the standard tool then, and I’m a lousy typist. I’m even worse at asking someone else to do it for me.

I’m just into self-reliance. I like to fix things and get by with fewer resources. This virus and our response to it has shown me that as a country we have allowed ourselves to be less self-sufficient. Back in the 80s and 90s, CEOs were praised for outsourcing and making their companies and stockholders large sums of money. I thought it was short-sighted then and I feel vindicated now.

We need to be able to make certain essential products here in this country. It’s even better if we can produce many of these goods locally. We can’t afford to be hamstrung by other people who might hate us.

Like most folks, I’ve been to the grocery store recently. Many people are nervous. They must be because certain shelves are bare. For awhile milk, bread, meat and toilet paper were basically nonexistent. Toilet paper and paper towels still are.

I overheard people in the store complaining about the toilet paper shortage, and I wanted to tell them to go to a hardware store or online and order a bidet attachment for their toilet. It would likely cost them less than $50. I haven’t installed one, but I’ve done my research.

As far as food goes, my freezer is full of meat, but most of it didn’t come from the store. My pantry is loaded with home-canned stuff and it’s better than any similar items you can buy in the store. I love homemade bread too. That’s probably part of the reason I’m carrying more weight than I should, that and arthritis.

Social distancing is a buzzword now. Government mandates have forced us to curtail certain activities. Restaurants are now only for take-out orders. Schools are virtual and all assignments and correspondence are completed via computer. It’s certainly not my style but I’m adapting. We all are.

I have a cabin in northeastern Maine. As the crow flies, it’s less than ten miles from the Canadian border. We have no electricity and no running water. Only a hand-dug well and a spout pump keep us from the drudgery of carrying buckets of water.

I love that place. When I’m there I see more eagles than people. In the summer we live on fish chowder and blueberries. When it’s cold, the old wood stove keeps the place warm. I love it, but I think the biggest reason I do is because when I’m there, living without modern conveniences is my choice.

I’m not too keen on government mandates, but I realize we all must comply for the welfare of all during this crisis. I’ll be glad when it’s over, and I can be more in charge of my life.

 

Ted Manzer teaches agriculture at Northeastern High School.

About tedmanzer

I grew up in Old Town Maine and got a B.S. at the University of Maine in Plant Sciences/ minor in Botany. From there I moved to West Virginia and earned a M.S. in Agronomy at WVU. I also met my wife there. She grew up in rural WV as the daughter of tenant farmers who raised cattle and hogs. Their lifestyle at times was one of subsistence and I learned a lot from them. I've always been a foraging buff, but combining my formal botanical knowledge with their practical 'Foxfire-type' background opened up my eyes a little more. I now teach agriculture to high school students at Northeastern High School in Elizabeth City, NC. My wife teaches with me and we make a great team. I also write a weekly nature/foraging column for the local paper (dailyadvance.com). I also have written several Christian nature/adventure novels that I plan to publish eventually. One is a five book family saga I call the 'Forgotten Virtues' series. In the first book, Never Alone, a young boy comes of age after his father dies in a plane crash, and he has to make it alone. Never Alone is now available in paperback, Kindle and Nook. The second book, Strange Courage, takes Carl from his High School graduation to his recovery from a nasty divorce. The third book, Second Chances, takes Carl from his ex-wife's death and the custody of his son to his heroic death at age 59. The fourth book, Promises Kept, depicts how his grandchildren react and adjust to his death. In the final book, Grandfather's Way, his youngest and most timid granddaughter emerges from the shadow of her overachieving family and accomplishes more in four months than most do in a lifetime. I use many foraging references with a lot of the plants I profile in these articles in those books.
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5 Responses to Coronavirus constraints make me appreciate self-sufficiency

  1. tonytomeo says:

    Self sufficiency is not so simple anymore. While designing my home (that was never built) I was aware that building codes dictated what the home needed, and what would not be allowed. Heating a home with the abundant wood for the forest is no longer legal for new homes. Building a home from lumber from the forest is not legal. If the home had been built, hunting and fishing around it would not have been legal. It is as if we are required to be part of the big picture.

  2. tonytomeo says:

    Self sufficiency is not so simple anymore. While designing my home (that was never built) I was aware that building codes dictated what the home needed, and what would not be allowed. Heating a home with the abundant wood for the forest is no longer legal for new homes. Building a home from lumber from the forest is not legal. If the home had been built, hunting and fishing around it would not have been legal. It is as if we are required to be part of the big picture.

  3. Teresa says:

    So Ted–how did you do remote teaching? Or did they not do that in Maine?

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