Independence Days Redux

Sharon April 13th, 2009

Recently someone kindly pointed out that it has been a dog’s age since I bothered to post an Independence Days Update.  I really appreciated the kick in the pants - this is a project I really don’t want to let go.  It has been nearly a year, and it would be easy to say “ok, I’m done now.”  But I’ve found it so valuable that I really want to keep up, if not the “challenge” elements, the idea of integrating your food security and basic preparedness into everyday life. 

The idea of the Independence Days challenge was pretty simple - every day (or every week, or every weekend, or whatever) we try and do at least one thing that gets us towards our goals.  It came from the wonderful Carla Emery’s observation that from February to July, she tried to plant something every single day, and from May to December, to harvest something each day. 

And since all of us - me especially - are vulnerable to letting our lives get away from us, to getting so busy that there’s no way we can allot two hours to weeding the garden, this is the necessary approach.  This says “ok, but you can walk down there and pick the sorrel, and while you are there, pull out a half dozen weeds.  That’s enough.  You can be proud of yourself for that.”  And once a week or a month, I get to make a list of everything I did - without all the caveats “well, but I never…”  “oh, but I didn’t get to…” That was the best part - it forced me to make a list that didn’t include apologies or my failures, it forced me to look at the accomplishments, not the inadequacies.

Last year, despite the fact that I essentially wrote two books, I planted more, preserved more and kept up better than I ever have before.  I certainly didn’t do all I wanted to, nor did I do it all right.  But recognizing that just because I couldn’t do it all didn’t mean I couldn’t do anything mattered a lot. 

I don’t know if Independence Days was useful for the rest of you, but it worked like a charm for me.  I do know that I have a lot of new readers since last year, and perhaps it might be helpful to at least a few of you.  So I’m restarting the Independence Days Challenge - all you have to do is do something every day that you can, however large, however small, and credit yourself for planting,  preserving, harvesting, adding to food storage, reducing waste, expanding your preps…

Last year I divided things into categories, and there got to be quite a lot of categories - I’m not sure if I should bring them back or just ask people to list what they’ve done in general.  What do you think?  Is having categories like “increased your preps” or “reduced waste” helpful to you, to remind you to do a little of everything, or is it just distracting?  And was I the only one who found Independence Days useful?  For those of you who participated, has it helped?

And if this is new to you, please just sign up in comments!


73 Responses to “Independence Days Redux”

  1. robin says:

    Don’t forget, with the IDC you don’t fail if you just do one little thing!

  2. nicole says:

    Hooray for IDC! I played along last year and got amazingly busy in the garden and the pantry. Hardly ever managed to post about it though. This year I’ll write it down as I go - it must be wonderful to be able to go over the full list of accomplishments in the depths of winter.

    So far this year I’ve got 2 types of peas planted and a bit of salad (which I’m hoping will be big enough to serve to my Environmental Club at next week’s earth dinner — tho at the rate it’s growing, the kids will be dining on a very trendy micro-green salad). Also a pile of other seeds started (tomatoes, onions, broccoli, herbs, flowers etc).

    Started off preserving season with my annual batch of marmalade (so not local) and had some friends over for that. More friends want to come over when growing season gets going so it’s looking like I’ll be having canning parties right through the summer. Before then though I must get myself back into the basement for the annual pantry and freezer rotation & cleanout - preferably before CSA season kicks into gear next month (one of those detail things I learned the hard way last year).

    Thanks as always for the inspiration Sharon!


  3. Anne says:

    I watched this with interest last year, and would be interested in joining this year.

    My activities would be different from yours and many of your readers. I live in a small (very) urban apartment - planting means sprouting beans, and perhaps something on a windowsill. (At least I now have a window with sun - everything died in my last apartment… no sun at all.) And I have very little storage room. This is the tradeoff for living without a car, in a small space, etc.

    But I get my vegetables and meat from a CSA and a famer’s market, buy my staples in bulk, bake, pickle and dehydrate… This is all part of it.

  4. Lilyane says:

    I am new to your blog. Count me in for the ID challenge and i vote for categorie too.


  5. Jerry says:

    This is very new to me but I’m willing to sign up and would like to have categories to be able to be a little more organized. I’d love for our farm to be independant but the reality is it probably never will.

  6. jyotsna says:

    Sharon, thanks for reviving the challenge.

    I got 50 broccoli plants started yesterday, and about 15 sunflower starts today.

    I’ve got my garden measured out, and will start digging it out (little by little) tomarrow.

    Will sow the lettuce seeds as soon as I have turned some manure into my beds.

  7. Just Moi says:

    I check in before bedtime, and I’m in, too!!

    Never met a category I didn’t at least consider in this prep work! Table for one, and I’m grateful for the company.

    Tomorrow, the bird netting comes out to preserve the sprouting cukes, summer squash, and mellow melons along the new (made with recycled metal) 25′ trellis with adoring manure mixture at its feet.

    Contain excitement: Never!


  8. Hummingbird says:

    I’ll try it again this year.

    So far I’ve planted lettuce, chard and potatoes in whiskey barrel halves.

    (Chipmunks eat a lot of what’s put in the ground. This is an attempt to foil the critters. Last year I live-trapped three, but they become increasingly wary as the season wears on.)

    Can’t remember the rest of the categories.

  9. Brooke says:

    Newbie, here! I’d love to participate in the challenge. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed when starting out and I would love to have some guidance to keep me focused and on-track. Don’t know about the categories since I haven’t done this before, so I’ll just do the best I can with whatever format you choose. Thanks so much!

  10. English Animist says:

    Count me in - I feel the need to do more!

  11. Erika says:

    I like the categories. I missed it last time ’round, I think a bit on purpose, I didn’t think I could do it. I think I’m ready for it this time though!


  12. Kathie says:

    Count me in! I moved last June and with all the repairs etc., I didn’t participate though I wanted to. This year, I’m settled and ready to go.

  13. Sara: in northern rural Alabama says:

    Ok. And I like the idea of categories.

    And I liked Jean’s request that we identify our locations.

    BTW Jean, where ARE you located?

    Bought a poultry feeder and a small poultry waterer for my new ducklings: a pair of Pekins and a pair of Cayugas.

    (Laid on the floor and watched them for an hour … :-)

    Mixed up more “potting soil”. Harvested cabbage, parsley, and garlic chives.
    Purchased PVC supplies to finish building my dry composting toilet.

  14. AnneT says:

    I think I’ll give this a go. I’ll probably record in a notebook, though it might work in Basket Note Pads (a Linux KDE utility). I’ve been keeping gardening and preserving notes in it. The challenge’s categories might help me keep my other efforts more organized.

  15. risa b says:

    Lilyane … “Épluchez-vous vos tomates?”

    … jamais.

  16. risa b says:

    Sharonnnnnn — I want to put up your IDC icon on my site but it still says “Independence Days 2008″ on it … what shall we do?

  17. Katrien says:

    I’m signing up. I’m in bed with cold (!) while it’s 80F out and I still need to dig the raised beds and transplant the spinach and… No matter, I’m signing up!

  18. KatJ says:

    It sounds great - how do I get started? The folks who participated last year seem to be very enthusiastic about it. Where do I go for information/categories?

  19. gayle says:

    I am joining in. I love the categories. I have started a notebook with a category on each page and a printout of the descriptions so I can remember what they are :) . I am in the desert in Albuquerque, NM on a small suburban lot. And I work full time. So I may not post often, but I will be reading and trying to do something each week. I am container gardening right now. Today I planted two tomato plants, two pepper plants, a zuchini, and some flowers. I plan to save the seeds this year for planting next year and I am planning for a three-season garden starting now.

  20. Gina says:

    A bit late, but I am four weeks postpartum so I have a good excuse!

    Count us in!

    And I like categories - but perhaps a more manageable number, definitely less than ten.

  21. robj98168 says:

    This has become such a part of my daily life… I have been faithfully updating everyweek. LOL I even had to start sprouting in the winter so I would have something to harvest! I am so appreciative of this challenge YOU BET I AM IN for another year.

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