Free-Range Living

What is Free-Range Living?

'Freerange' living might perhaps be described as the individual(s) aiming to lead an 'independent' style of life, thinking and deciding for themselves, determining their own values, along with aiming to live life in a naturally self and socially responsible manner.

'Backwaters ----- '

April 10, 2018 · 1 Comment

 'Backwaters ------ '

 'Unsprung spring----- '



  Here at the organic eco micro-holding now towards the end of March, there's not yet too many signs of spring about, apart from some daffodils out on the verges down the lane  - oh, and just seen, the first hint of blossom seen above the Retreat's roof in the paddock.  It seems to have been a long-ish winter here, with on-going low-ish temperatures and having had three snow episodes, instead of the usual one. The soil is still pretty cold but some onion sets and early potatoes have gone in, then covered up, in the interest of spreading out the workload. The wood pile is all but gone, another indicator of a cold-ish winter - not one with severe low temperatures, but more of a continuous cool/cold scenario. Not quite in the same bracket as those wilderness livers in Alaska contend with living often in sub-zero conditions (see later), but nevertheless real seasonal weather, with now spring and summer to look forward to. Long live seasonal variety - purgatory here would be endless blue skies. As it is, when they do appear, they're like jewels ----- .

' Going with the flow ---- '

 February/March saw the woodash and the compost go on the growing ground, with there being enough compost for the whole area to get a covering, the half that was 'due' compost getting a double dose. Prior to that any green trash was shaved off to then go on the compost heap, so now it all looks 'ready to go' - a good sight. There's still greens to pick, now mainly purple sprouting, one of the tastiest, but that's about all, with the over-wintered spring cabbage plants now putting on a growth spurt - they should be ready to cut as 'greens' (as opposed to a later stage hearted-up cabbage) in about a month. Home-saved broad been seed was 'shovelled in' under a piece of perspex a week or two ago and are coming up well - they'll be planted out in rows shortly.


compost on










As a legume supplying nitrogen from the atmoshere to the soil, they are one of the 'restoring' crops, along with the other main legume crop, peas, an integral part of the crop rotation needed for an organic growing operation. Not too bad really, also supplying gorgeous tender and tasty beans (they need picking before they get too mature and lose their flavour) fairly early in the season, plus supplying plenty of green material to go on the compost heap when the crop has finished, plus beans for use as next year's seed (it's a 'cash free' crop), and last but not least, then fertilising the ground, as long as the stalks are cut off at ground level after cropping, leaving the roots in the ground for the nodules on them to releast the nitrogen to the soil. Crikey - a bit of a star crop for sure - oh, and also providing a heartwarming sight, especially when in full bloom with the white flowers, which then also serve the bees -----


' Un-smooth sailing --- '

 A non-heartwarming sight, though, this winter has been the leek bed which, after looking really good, then suffered a late and heavy attack from the alium leaf miner fly, sucking the life-giving juices from the plants and decimating the crop. The same happened the previous year and with the help of a couple of doses of nettle juice, most of the plants then recovered to be then usable, even though through winter wasn't peak growing time. No such luck this year, with most of them perishing - maybe lower temperatures this winter has had something to do with it - ? Leeks were always a cast-iron stand-by winter crop, but not any more. The plan for this growing year is not to grow them in just one bed, as a few growing for some reason in a different spot didn't get hit. If that strategy doesn't do the trick, then it'll have to be a case of investing in 'enviromesh' and growing them under that, so at least there can be some distant light at the end of the tunnel.

 The paddock area is looking like a disaster area right now, due to the fact that K, who supplies logs here, and his mate came and spent a day reducing the size of a few trees that were getting a bit on the big side - a good job but leaving a lot of clearing up work. Fortunately big D from down the lane has said he'll come and lend a hand - many, well in this case four, hands making lighter work. Good to see the maintenance work done, and the feeling that the place is being kept up together. or at least it will be when all the trash is burnt --- to make more of that wonderful woodash potash fertiliser, which, as a mild alkali, also then avoids the need to lime the veg growing ground. A secondary benefit has been that the operation's produced quite a lot of burning wood, now sitting in a pile by the chicken run under a couple of tin sheets, maturing and drying for use probably next winter, along with the ample wood supples collected last summer from the local farm's spoil pile, and the residue of the oak floorboards salvaged (with permission) from a waste skip up the lane in the other direction. The universe providing ----- ?

'Up a creek ---- '

Doing the 'freerange' thing and aiming to practise some self-reliance, and an independent approach to life, probably means in effect by definition not following any 'automatic' modes and goals of the prevailing culture - i.e. the 'freerange' individual is exercising freewill and individual rights to sort things out according to their own guidelines. So for instance, not being quite such the avid consumer that modern western-style cultures can appear to want to direct people to be - even to the point of , say, practising self-reliant 'lean living', and of course doing things 'economically', which can give intrinsic satisfactions as well as leading to being able to have a reasonably light eco footprint, to try to help the planet in her time of need ('luxury lifestyles' are said to be overstreching Earth's resources, climate change adverse effects, plastic waste clogging the seas and so forth ---- ).

Such an approach then probably means using a bit less of a 'mainstream' approach, or even more of a 'backwater' take - ? One of the by-products could be being able to lead a mentally healthy life - apparently for instance according to press reports, rich  'mainstream' people are having to seek therapy due to stressing re. their positions in the 'rich league table' - crikey, is it worth it, especially when there's so much to enjoy in a diverse life - ? With an approach that's focused mainly on money accumulation, maybe though there could  be, from a 'being' point of view, a danger of ending 'up a creek without a paddle' - ?  Charles Kingsley, who wrote the classic The Water Babies book, made a somewhat withering comment on the subject :

 'To have all that money, they must have been dull enough to want it in the first place'

'Own canoe paddling -- '

One of the attractions of the self-reliant style of life is presumably having the opportunity to put some self-responsibility and self-determinatiom into practice, as well as any practical benefits, plus fostering the spirit of independence - ? Watching on TV Alaskan 'wilderness living' guys  - one was 400 miles from a town, another had to walk 60 miles (100 km) to the nearest road - often literally paddling their own canoe, as generally there's an absence of roads so rivers become important transport arteries, real mainstreams - reminds how self-reliant and resourceful some people can be, with an amazing array of skills and knowledge.

One guy featured on these particular series of programmes could seemingly literally do anything, from building houses/cabins, to mending machines, to fabricating more or less anything - a quality wind ice yacht was one of his creations - to having an array of hunting and fishing skills, to  running dog teams. Admittedly he'd been at it for quite awhile, over 30 years, and living wilderness-style, miles from any conurbation, he'd had to sort things himself, the challenge of which suited him and obviously gave him much pleasure and satisfaction. Another guy fabricated a neat, portable woodstove for hunting camping trips, just out of an old oil drum. Talented, resourceful, freerange people ---

At another Alaskan location, and living in an isolated small community, a family, via fishing and humting, more or less sorted most of their food , clothing and building needs out themselves, possessing a formidable spread of hunting and fishing techniques. Anything other they needed, say, further building materials, they would 'trade' for it - swopping some, say, caribou meat. This seemed to be the common way to do business there, with people in the communty pretty socially aware, not wanting to, or to be seen to want to be exploiting any of their neighbours. A bit different maybe than modern so-called more civilised life, where 'on the make' exploits can at times seem to hold sway - ?

  It could be a good example really of the value of a community, one of the areas modern life maybe is not so good at, particularly with the strong emphasis on free-market 'lone unit competitiveness' - ? Another strong community-orientated practice there was the widespread custom of not locking doors on the wilderness cabins so that they could then be sanctuary and refuge for anyone who might need the same - lost walkers and/or climbers for instance. Does the heart good ---edifying ---.

 'Eddy-fying----- not - ?'

 The fourteen households that make up the hamlet here in the UK heartlands, make up a real community with activities such as helping hands, looking out for each other, passing on spare plants and produce and generally practicing good and satisfying sociability - well thirteen do, with the odd one not really making much of a social effort, even to the point of 'blanking' neighbours, generally seen as an 'un-natural' state of affairs to the socially-orientated inhabitants of this area, who regard friendliness and neighbourliness as 'natural and normal'. Could be, though, that this household perceives itself to be a bit of a 'cut above', with a touch of the 'superiors' - ? Ah well, takes all sorts, but such anti-social stuff still can take a bit of getting used to in a close-knit friendly community ----

'Making waves ---- '

One man might put 'non-social' behaviour down to 'over life specialisation' :

 'A human being should be able to change a diaper (nappy)--- butcher a hog-- design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall ---- comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone ----- analyse a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal --- die gallantly --- '

( Robert. A. Henlein )

 And that may not be all --- still, the point's made - modern life is pretty specialised and often non too practical. If there's anyone who's not in the 'over specialisation' mould, it must be those Alaskan wilderness livers, their mega exploits putting the micro-holding self-reliant efforts somewhat in the shade --- but hey, 'each to her/his own', and 'horses for courses', as they say. A particular interest here has been to try to produce something useful from basically waste, and whilst not achieving on the Alaskan scale, useful (and unique!) edifices such as the back porch and the 'Retreat' cabin in the paddock (token wilderness area - ?), have materialised. And the back porch is less than 60 metres from the nearest road - 60 miles might prove to be just a little too much of a trial, certainly for the more aged 'wilderness liver' ----

Tags: Eco-holding husbandries · Free Range Living


1 response so far ↓

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