Recently I have been reading all I can on on permaculture-a consciously designed way of homesteading (and living actually) that works with nature instead of against it. Because it is working as much as possible with the natural world each garden, each homestead, and each system following the same principles will end up looking very different. Where one plants their tomato’s on one farmstead, will be different on the next because the climate, soil conditions, and physical features will be different. While this seems obvious on the mental level, on the practical level it can be frustrating and mind boggling because there are no hard and fast set rules-just principles to follow (which means you need to use a lot more of your own brain power to make it work). When trying to use permaculture principles there are no web search out there that will tell you exactly what to do.
One of the beauties of Permaculture is the fact that you are working off of principles. Since every piece of land, every climate, and every location is unique, the responsibility of ‘doing it right’ the first time is greatly alleviated. Working from principles, who’s application changes from place to place and time to time, allows one to try, fail, succeed, try again, improve and continue on improving indefinitely without feeling like they are failures.
I knew homesteading would be difficult, since I know so little, but I had no idea what I was in for when I purchased this raw prairie land. As you can see, my neighbors have been kind to me, and have allowed me to make lots of dumb mistakes without ridiculing and belittling my efforts. What little success I have found has been so thrilling to experience since I have not had to worry so much about keeping up with the ‘Jones’. The ‘Jones’ in these parts are so far ahead of me in wisdom, experience and understanding, that I don’t even try. I am grateful that they are also infused with an extra loving and tolerant natures that while I am sure they get a few chuckles from me, they have been so kind and generous.
This whole process is like Life. We are all sent to earth with different skills and desires and opportunities. We are all sent here to try, to fail, to try more, to succeed, to experience joy and to impor ve indefinitely. Just like permaculture is based on a series principles, so is the gospel. It reminds me of Joseph Smiths comment to a members of the legislature who had asked Joseph Smith how he was able to organize so many people. His reply-now a classic quote was “I teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves”. This governing of ‘oneselves’ is a challenging concept to truly grasp and implement in my life. I can not tell you how many times I have said to my husband when faced with difficult decisions “I just wish God would tell me exactly what he wanted from me and I would do it. It is so hard trying to figure it out myself”. The fact he requires us to ‘figure it out ourselves’ on so many issues, questions, challenges, trials and situations tells me that it is okay to make mistakes. This is a comforting feeling, and the older I get, the more I am grateful that I have a whole life time to stumble, learn, succeed, fall and learn some more. I am so overwhelmingly aware of my own failings, that I keenly feel the need for the atonement and also the need for us as individuals to have room to learn and grow daily towards Christ. I love the thought that “it doesn’t matter where on the path of exaltation you are, just in which direction you are facing”. This has also helped me be able to be more forgiving and kind to the other humans around me who are learning, falling, forgiving and growing as well.
Recently I was reading about Alma the younger, and it struck me that likely, a huge part of Alma’s success in being able to lead the members of the church would have been the type of community in which Alma lived in. If Alma, was surrounded by people who would not let him repent of the awful things he did, and become new in Christ, I doubt he would have been able to have been as successful as he was. The community that he grew up in, obviously knew of his past sins, and yet they let him move on to become the man that Lord desired him to be.
Living in this farming community, realizing how little I know about homesteading, reminds me daily about the need to be the kind of person that people feel comfortable being around, failing around, and succeeding around. In Conference they talked about our home being a refuge for not just our own families, but for anyone who needs a safe place to be. I have been so grateful for this community that is willing to help me become self-sufficient. Even when my idea’s seem bizarre, they have listened to my reasoning, agreed with some of what I have said, and have gently offered advice. More often than giving advice, my neighbors have been willing to give us a hand. Without such caring neighbors, there is no way I would have such a beautiful house to live in and be in a position to work on my homestead as much as I can. This is the kind of person I need to be. I need to always remember that we are born to different circumstances, with different weakness’s, skills and talents. Our Heavenly Father has given us this whole lifetime to learn what we need to learn to return back to him. I need to follow his example. He is ever loving, caring and forgiving, I need to strive to be so. He gives us room to make mistakes and repent, and so I need to allow others that same opportunity. He celebrates with our successes, I too need to celebrate more with others. He allows us to ‘start small’, I need to allow others that same grace.