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.

Great Expectations --- or not - ?

May 8, 2022 · No Comments



(below is the fourth occasional blog since regular monthly blogs ceased (without the usual blog pictures) - further 'freerange living' pieces are available on the 'books' page of the website)


'Great Expectations ---- or not -?'

The winter here at the organic micro-holding (small smallholding) in the UK midlands was on-going cool/cold but without seriously cold weather.

 The log pile has notwithstanding steadily decreased, struggled to see the winter out. Over-wintered crops have had mixed fortunes, with curly kale turning out to be a small and limited crop, beetroot having a first ever (in over forty years) eating attack by rodents, seriously impacting on yields, but then purple sprouting has come up trumps with a vigorous and productive bed, living up to its reputation as one of the very best veg types.

'Normal service --- '

The septic tank problems seem to have been solved by the applied solution after the drain to the soakaway ditch blocked up. The electric submersible pump and hose sends the liquid - mainly bathwater - to the ditch in less than five minutes and is only a once-in-ten days job, the other septic tank now with less volume of liquids, soaks away down the old clay drain pipe itself. The veg growing ground was easily cleared over winter via a dutch hoe working, the trash then building up the latest compost heap, and the cleared ground, or rather half of it, getting woodash and compost applications. Apart from the patch of 'green manure' being dug in, there's no other digging, the friable dark loam soil then being just loosened with a garden fork to facilitate the imminent planting and sowing.  Seed potatoes and onion sets have been bought and are on hand, (now being planted under plastic early March)(and put into the ground mid-March), and home-saved broad bean seed has been sown in buckets in the top glasshouse, then covered by sheets of glass to protect from any rodent damage. 

'The micro-holder expects ---- '

This is an 'expectationary' time of year for growers, wondering what sort of season will develop. Last year for instance, the home-grown onion plants were more or less a total failure, all of them disappearing after being planted out (after hardening off), with the result of a much reduced onion crop courtesy of the planted-out onion sets ('baby onions'). Potatoes can be up and down a bit, mainly due to the air-spread virus that is blight, always a threat to the organic grower, not being able to resort to chemical protection. No doubt in one sense the season will be 'normal', with its usual crop of successes and at least one or two failures - c'est la vie du le 'grower organique', n'est-ce-pas?

'Life's dear ---- '

The 'everyday' cost of living here in the UK is going up quite sharply, reportedly worrying more than a few, and with the rapid rise in energy costs as a major factor. Although the UK isn't apparently over reliant on imported gas from Russia, some European countries are, which must be worrying for them considering the West's sanctions against Russia in response to its invasion of the Ukraine and its folk, poor guys. Why countries put themselves in a position of dependence for a key need such as energy to an autocratic regime is though a bit of a mystery -? One of the limitations of urban living wherever presumably must be the reliance there often has to be on imported services such as the provision of energy. Here at the micro-holding in the UK's midland countryside, part of the 'living strategy' is to aim to have reserve capacity, especially in the urgent areas of food and energy supplies. The 'foundation' to the latter is three sizable woodpiles representing probably 3 -4 years supply of the main fuel that is wood, and in the particular case of these three wood piles, much of it thankfully accumulated at zero cost. 

The yearly supply of bought wood from a 'good ol' boy' has not thus far tended to rise in price by too much, fingers crossed this year's wll be the same. There's also on the place a decent supply of the 'smaller' wood that helps the fire along, thanks to a good drop off of free wood pallets awhile back. Bottled gas supplies for the gas cooker have been bolstered a little while back at un-risen prices, to last a year or two, as have supplies of smokeless fuel more recently, again at previous price levels, whereas a different source in town had increased the price for exactly the same product by a pretty hefty two and a half times ---

The solar panels continue to produce 'free' home produced electricity for home use, and particularly to provide hot water and to run the air source heat pump, a main heat source for day living space, again often at no cost from the grid. All in all, not too bad of a semi 'insulated' position given the fast rising cost of energy, adding to a sense of some security against the vagaries of the global economy. Off-gridders must presumably be feeling even more secure, as their investments in solar, in battery stacks, in domestic wind turbines and heat pumps and the like, will have insulated them from such as today's energy price hikes. Self reliance 3, reliance on grid 0, with the freerangin' type of self-reliant style of life coming up trumps, not only in the short-term but also for quite an onward spell ----

'Powerful currents ---' 

The power of the mainstream culture, given the extent of media coverage including of course, social media, could be such that significant pressure acts on individuals to conform to the culture's 'dictates', particularly maybe if the individual hasn't yet had the time to be able to build internal protective strength. The potential problem with such a situation is that the culltural messages can tend to be of the 'perfection expectation' nature, with associated expectations that the individual should just be 'like this or that' but without at times recognising that many if not most, are 'works in progress' and that resources especially in the form of 'time', are needed to reach that particular point of perfection. It was reported a little while ago in the UK broadsheet press that British women, for instance, 'beat themselves up' on average eight times per day, presumably an effect of 'perfection expectations'. Prince William of the UK, a mental health champion, has tried to take the pressure off, saying 'It's ok to be not ok', and that good ol' boy Dorset (UK) farmer back along probably had a similar sentiment in mind : 'tek yer time me boyo, tek yer time'.

'Desired state' expectations ----

A person might for instance aspire to be like someone they know, or someone, say, in the public eye, which could presumably be a negative or positive situation, in that if it's a case of 'I should be like that',  a negative experience might occur due to disatisfaction/frustration. If however the individual can then say, 'ok, that's not me right now, but it is how I aspire to be, and I'll work towards that end', then the required 'journey' is undertaken, with that individual allowing themselves the resources (eg. time) to develop and 'build' themselves. Expectations then can have a positive or negative effect, depending on how they're handled - ?

It may well be that due to the mainstream culture often sending out 'perfection messaging' (people should be this or that, eg. the thin  body frames of models), bolstered by modern social media phenomenoms (egs. violent verbal abuse, mass conditioning movements eg. the 'woke cancelling' operations),  that the negative experience side is more commonly experienced - ? Maybe then 'the quality of mercy' is a tad underdone, and so it's important for the individual to aim to develop the 'freerange' traits of  self-protection, self-nurturing and self-compassion, all of which, whilst maybe going against the mainstream, maybe nevertheless valuable in terms of pshychological health and the ability to gain fulfillment in life - ? 

'Influential --- '

The situation's probably not been helped too much by the influencing factors from the social media platforms, both in the form of individuals who set themselves up as 'influencers' (but often seemingly without qualifications or credentials?), movements often associated with left or right leaning tendencies, or modern 'mass voice' phenomenoms such as the social media outfits themselves and the 'woke' trend, which again can give out perfection expectation signals in that it indicates 'how people should be'. Such modern pressures can then work against the individual 'being themselves' and so inhibit the development of individual strength, which, along with the development of so many large concerns, are said to be 'disempowering' individual strength.

The modern strong emphasis on external (to the individual) validation areas (eg. such as wealth and power) can presumably also impinge on the gaining of individual internal strength - ?  Developing 'freeranger' type internal strength and independence could then be a necessary protection area for individuals , along with the full range of human needs and traits (eg such as social needs and impulses)  also being taken into account. Some of the masss culture trends can smack of a limited dimensiond 'black and white' viewpoints which can lead to too narrow and over-simplified takes on things---- 'Opposition is friendship' they used to say, somewhat different o the modern cry of 'if you're not with us, you're against us', and that old Zen Master was undoubtedly aware of : 'not necessarily so --- '

'Max - ing-----''

Another maybe less than direct influence pushing things the 'perfectionist' way could have been the fairly ferocious business focus on the making of 'maximum profits' -- . This seems to have given rise to some 'on the make' practices, aiming to extract maximum money out of customers, to boost sales, then to boost profits, rather than, say, aiming to give customers a good deal, good value for money and good service, all of which may well produce a situation of slightly lower short-term profits, but better longer-term 'profit sustainability' - ? 

A local-to-here windows, doors and conservatory firm had an always-full order book without any discernable advertising or marketing campaigns. Rather they had built up a solid local reputation for a good product, good service and reasonable level of charges, their 'marketing' message being spread by 'word of local mouth'. Such an approach contrasted sharply with some bigger outfits operating in the area having, seemingly ever on-going sales campaigns and so-called 'offers', but nevertheless gaining a reputation somewhat less solid and reliable than the local firm above - they hadn't seemed to have yet worked out what people valued when buying (a 'we're big so we know best' type of limitation - ?). The local firm resisted the 'push for greater' profits', ('maximising profits'), and in so doing were able to create a solid on-going profitable business operation.

'More--or less -- ?'

The process of 'profit maximisation' as the key objective area can too create expectations of the 'more, more', variety, then taking attention away from the core basics and roles of the concern, whilst at the same time creating 'over pressure' potentially causing 'reactive buying defences' from prospective customers, and also narrowing the vision of the operators of the business concern. Many smaller lifestyle businesses tend to find the 'maximum profit' concept to be somewhat nebulous and imprecise, which  can makes it un-useful for business planning purposes, as against using, say, 'profit sufficiency level' target expectations, which can be fairly precisely identified and then usefully used in the business planning process.

For a rural business, say a family farm, items such as yearly private drawings, yearly likely tax burden, yearly loan repayments and yearly likely capital (eg. machinery) expenditure can be reasonably accurately identified, and when added together give a level of cash profit that the farming system needs to achieve for the lifestyle business to be on-going viable - a useful figure to know, and one which can then facilitate realistc business planning.

'Non-reality beckons ---?'

'Things should be this or that' , for instance, negative happenings 'shouldn't be', which would seem to be a not uncommon mindset in more modern times. In reality, though, things maybe not quite so simple. Someone may, for instance, start up a business, full of positive expectations, but then , but then conditions suddenly sharply changing. Imagine, say, having set up a cafe business just before the covid virus hit -? Sometimes high levels of expectation themselves when starting up an enterprise can contribute to problems, in that possible 'downside' scenarios  haven't been considered, and planned for. Bankers, for instance, traditionally used to like to see a downside analysis included in applications for borrowing, on the basis that the would-be borrowers were taking a realistic approach to their business planning. If the downside analysis showed 'squeeze vaibility' -that is, the business with maybe appropriate measures could survive the 'hit', then they'd be reassured in terms of the likely overall viability and sustainability of the proposed venture.

'Hope springs ---'

Springtime expectations here on the organic micro-holding can naturally involve hope for good crops and a good growing season, which then have to be seasoned by the recognition that key growing forces and factors such as the season's weather, are often largely not under the growers control, so expectations are then 'grounded'. The same might hold good generally, in that 'man' might want and expect 'this and that', but life as it is does not always play ball, and so it's not a too bad a thing to 'qualify' expectations. It's still good though to look forward with 'hope in the heart' - maybe one day the perfect growing season will arrive, and muted expectations then exceeded --- Expectations then,  could be like progress, thinking of that American's quote :

 'Progress is ok ---- but you can have too much of it -- '

Tags: Eco-holding husbandries · Free Range Living


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