How Self-Sufficient Are You?
by Carol Marriott
When Jim Anderson was a kid growing up on a farm, he was responsible for watering his mom’s chickens in the morning before going to school. He’d fill up two large buckets at the hand pump and carefully make his way down to the chicken house. By the time he got the water into the chicken coup, water had invariably sloshed all over his school clothes and chicken poop covered his shoes. It is a memory he’d rather forget, but what he remembers most about this experience is that in the freezing temperatures of an Alberta winter morning, the water pump never froze up.
His parents had purchased their farm in 1946, having come west from New Brunswick, and it is now a third generation farm with his son taking over the management this year. As a mixed farm, with a herd of 135 cow-and-calf pairs, Jim was interested in finding a way to extend the grazing season for his animals but water was always a limitation. The farm borders a river, and although he had experimented with a few different ways of providing water to his cattle in the winter months, he hadn’t found an efficient way, and was concerned about the erosion of the river banks. Remembering his early chicken-watering days, and the hand pump that didn’t freeze up, he and a friend decided to do an experiment in 1999 where they ended up creating the first Frostfree Nosepump™.
He thought this idea was an awesome solution, not just for himself and his cattle, but he knew that it could provide a great advantage to other ranchers, so he created six more for his farm, and has been marketing the Frostfree Nosepumps to others since 2001. There are now more than 800 such pumps throughout Canada, the US, and in other parts of the world.
As I was chatting with Jim, and perusing the interesting and informative www.frostfreenosepumps.com website, I couldn’t help thinking to myself, what a very cool, self-sufficient, energy-free way for everyone to have access to water off the grid, not just for animals, but for people, too! It is a fabulous system for making sure the animals have water year round, and for those living off the grid to have an independent, energy-free water source, as well. Living in the country and caring for horses, I know that if the power goes off at my farm, the access to water goes too, as my horse trough requires electricity to pump the water to the hydrant, and power to keep the water from freezing. The cost of heating water through the winter adds up very quickly, too!
Here is a testimonial from one of Jim’s satisfied customers, which highlights the benefits for the environment, and the animals:
“The Frostfree Nosepump offers livestock producers an inexpensive option to keep cattle out of water sources thus improving their water quality on the farm and also the quality of water for users downstream. Because of its ability to operate in the winter, this pump allows producers to move cattle away from the yard where there is traditionally a concentrated feeding area, to areas where the manure will be beneficial instead of detrimental.”
While chatting with Jim, it was evident that he has a passion for animals and the environment, including a deep belief that all of us would benefit from learning how to be more self-sufficient in our lives. So many of us live utterly dependant on others for our basic survival. Think about it, how many of us could survive comfortably, more than a day or two, if the power grid went down? What if food couldn’t be delivered to the stores, or if you couldn’t get to the stores to buy supplies? How many of us even have an emergency plan or emergency supplies? The earthquake in Japan is a powerful example of how quickly things can come to a standstill for a modern, high-tech country and society.
Jim strongly believes that all of us need to take more responsibility for our own self-sufficiency, and to lessen our dependence on others for our day-to-day lives. Accordingly, Jim and his wife Jackie are also building a straw bale, totally off the grid home, which they will retire to later this year. The new straw bale home is located in a lovely part of their land, across the river from their current home, while their son and his family take over the family home. For the past number of years Jim and Jackie have been growing and selling construction-grade straw bales, and Jim has conducted numerous workshops on straw bale building.
It’s obvious that most people aren’t able to live off the grid in a rural area, but many of us could do so much more toward our own self-sufficiency wherever we live. There are many wonderful ideas out there, such as profitable and sustainable urban farming, backyard chickens, roof-top and community gardens, eating wholesome meals at home made with food from local eco-farms, buying less stuff, and simplifying our lives. Check out the many cool sites on urban farming, permaculture, tiny homes, etc. Every one of us can make a difference. What can you do?
Carol Marriott is a Certified Equine-Assisted Learning (EAL) Specialist and the “Lead Mare” at Ravenheart Farms near Kamsack, SK. For more information, workshop dates, and/or private or group sessions call (306) 542-3557, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit: www.ravenheartfarms.com. For information on Ravenheart Farms’ 2012 workshops see the display ad on page 11 of the 17.6 March/April issue of the WHOLifE Journal.