farm

A Simple Path: Journey of a Hedgewitch

November, 2011

The Self-Sufficient Hedge

The Hedgewitch lives in the space between the Village and the Forest. Between the mundane and the magical. S/He lives with a foot in both worlds.

This column is dedicated to the Hedgewitches of the planet earth.
As some may recall, I moved to a small farmstead in coastal Oregon a year and a half ago.
A tiny cottage situated on a few acres of land, half covered with ancient spruce, hemlock and fir.
Immediately I began digging gardens, and within a month had installed 6 fluffy baby chickens into my laundry room to brood.
The move came as a direct result of job-loss, with a downturn in the economy, so obviously, self-sufficiency was of some importance to me, in the land-use planning.
Living in a rural environment presents many opportunities for self-sufficiency, and have taken advantage of many.
We grow many of our own veggies in season, have eaten countless eggs from our hens, and processed our own poultry from an excess of roosters. We manufacture our own fertilizer, burn all our paper, and recycle the majority of packaging that comes into the house.
In our specific climate, being coastal, and subject to extreme marine influence, we are unable to grow a lot of the vegetables we need (particularly those requiring summer heat to mature) but we have access to the lush abundance which comes from the agricultural belt of the Willamette Valley, just 50 miles away.
Originally, our life simplification began as a way to “tighten our belts”, and to require less cash outflow. But it has become a quest.
My sense of things, economically, in my country is that they are not going to improve as rapidly (or at all) as people have been hoping/forecasting.
This feeling has spurned me on to find new ways to reuse, recycle and reduce our dependence on external resources.
The second spring, I obtained and brooded 8 more “straight run” chicks (those not sexed, and thus could turn out to be either gender). Of these 8, only 3 turned out to be hens. I was very disappointed by the lack of potential layers in the mix, but this became an opportunity for me to choose the Father of my flock with care, and from a selection.
In due time, as they matured, I did find the perfect specimen, and have since dispatched with the rest.
I understand that there are many who feel this is abhorrant, to kill ones animals for food. But we are carnivores in our home, and we would be eating meat, regardless. I simply prefer to eat meat which has been raised humanely, free of artifice and has been processed with deep reverence for Life and for sacrifice.
It should be noted that I, personally, process our poultry. My husband is of a sensitive nature, regarding this, so he plays no role in the act.
As a meat-eater, I have no hypocracy about where my food comes from, and thus, find no moral ambiguity about it. If anything, I feel worse about having to pay to support a commercial environment where animals of all sorts are raised and slaughtered in most inhumane ways.
As a devotee of my Lady Hecate, I am not what the Community would refer to as a Love and Lighter. I appreciate the Darkness as well as the Light, and find Death to be every bit as sacred and welcome  as birth.
This Fall, my broody hen went broody yet again, and I slipped some fertile eggs beneath her. She hatched out 2 perfect baby chicks, and is raising them in a natural way, with the flock.
The cycle of life, which I artificially set into motion by brooding those first little pullets has now come all the way around, and our tiny farm has produced its first generation of farm-raised offspring.
I am beyond grateful that I now have a continuing source of food for my family. Regardless of what happens with the economy, my family will eat.
I understand that many do not live in rural settings and do not have the opportunity to live so closely with the land and with Nature.
But in embracing the pure joy and connection that comes from living from the land, I encourage each one of you reading this to find a way to connect with this divine communion.
A potted herb on an apartment window sill, grown with care, and snipped for spicing a dish you are cooking, or for completing a magical spell can afford this same sense of union.
A trio of hens in an urban backyard can provide eggs, and a lovely form of cheap entertainment (believe me!) for the town-dweller. Allowing them to scratch and peck in the lawn provides them with food, and you with eggs, at a very low cost.
I hope you may all find a way to become more self-sufficient, and to enjoy a deep connection with the Divine in providing resources for your family.
To my friends hailing from the USA, Happy Thanksgiving! To the rest, Happy Giving Thanks!
Brightest Blessings!
By Earth and Air, By Fire and Sea, I wish, my friend, Ye Blessed Be!