2011 was an exciting adventure at Joybilee Farm. Change abounded. Sarah, our youngest homeschool student graduated from High-school and started university, at home, online. This freed my time to pursue writing more intentionally. I set up a Facebook page and started blogging 5 times a week about frugal, sustainable, homestead living and bioregional clothing. I changed blogs and did 2 complete rewrites of the Joybilee Farm website. And I met you, online. The interaction between my community of nonconformist, self sufficient, purple sheep and me has been a profound catalyst for me. I am so grateful to those of you who have come with me on this journey to create a more self sufficient, intentional life that is kind to the earth, and kind to ourselves. Thank you for joining me on the journey. You are my inspiration. I hope that you, too, found inspiration here, for your journey.
Here’s the top 11 Joybilee Farm articles for 2011. These are the articles that you voted for with your comments, shares and interactions as the most inspiring, motivating, and encouraging. The way blogs work, older articles get hidden behind newer articles. So its helpful to have articles like this that highlight significant articles from the past.
Natural dyes are a sustainable and magical way to colour your own creative textiles. Since textile dyeing is a major water pollutant, switching to natural dyes that you grow yourself is one step you can take to walk softly on the earth and lessen your carbon footprint. Further when you dye your clothing with natural colour that you grow yourself, you develop a beautiful bioregional colour palette that is vibrant, distinctive and evokes pleasure whenever you see it…..check out the link to read more.
I was asked recently whether natural dyes were an important part of the parameters of a “local fibershed”. My thoughts about the importance of natural dyes have been shaped in a large part by the journey I’ve walked with my daughter in exploring woad-indigo. We learned that industrial textile production is one of the largest polluters in the world. That the dyeing and laundering process causes sickness, debilitation and crop failures downstream from the factories where these works are carried out. That artisans using chemical dyes suffer from sickness, cancers and skin diseases and that these problems didn’t disappear when our culture’s clothing needs moved off-shore — they just impacted a different culture. The textile workers of today are like the charcoal burners and woadies of yesteryear…check out the link to read more.
Here’s the top ten reasons why angora bunnies are better than sheep:
1. Bunnies purr when you handle them. Sheep do, too, but not as loudly as bunnies.
2. Bunnies jump up in your lap, while you’re reading or watching TV, just to snuggle. Sheep would rather watch you from the other side of the yard.
3. Bunnies are softer than sheep — they have the lowest micron count of any natural fiber…check out the link to read more.
4. The value of Black Sheep and the path of non-conformity
Black sheep, in the past, were valued for their multicoloured fleeces, while people were valued for their individual creativity and skill. When yarn was spun by hand and clothing was a showcase for individual skill and design — expressing both the inner beauty and social position of the wearer, as well as their talent — coloured wool trumped white wool in value.
Black sheep have black wool at birth, slowly lightening over the years of shearing from chocolate to mocha to a silvery grey in older animals. Black sheep had individual characteristics that echoed the individuality of the craft person working with the fleece. Industrialization brought a decline in the value of coloured wool so that white fleeces had value (less than 30 cents a lb. today) and black fleeces were worth almost nothing. White fleece conform to the market demands of an industry…check out the link to read more.
5. Debt Free Living: 50 strategies to save money and pay off your debt
In order to do what you love, where you want to live,you need to minimize debt. Debt keeps you in bondage to a pay cheque. It keeps you in the city, building someone else’s business. It keeps you living in emotional turmoil and bondage.
Getting out of debt takes a commitment to a few basic principles:
1. Stop spending money you don’t have.
2. Pay off the highest interest loan first.
3. Use the money saved by paying off the highest interest loan, to start paying off the next loan...check out the link to read more.
6. Rejection: How to know you’re on the right track
People hate me. Not everyone, but some people in our small town turn white when I walk into a room. They turn their back if I smile and nod in their direction. If I say a cheerful, “Hi” to them, they almost have a heart attack. They rage at their friends about me. They tell their friends lies about me and those women, who used to talk to me, now don’t. They rage at comments that I post on line. They spy on my Facebook page and my blog to see what I’m saying that they can pass around with derision. They are consumed with hatred toward me. You’d think I performed some heinous act against them — murder, theft, fraud — to elicit such long-term hatred. No, never. I’m a ‘nice’ person. Just like you are a ‘nice’ person.
It used to bother me. As a girl I want to be liked. Maybe you’ve experienced the rejection of your peers, too. It can be painful. But the pain doesn’t have to crush you. Now I look at the pain of rejection as confirmation that I must be on the right track...check out the link to read more.
7. Nonconformity and problem solving
I wonder what the mechanism is that changes a person from a potential world-changer to a conformist? Does it happen before birth? During the school years? During adulthood?
Is it that pain of rejection, or maybe the fear of future rejection, that changes you from a potential leader and remarkable person to a conformist.
Would giving people a way to deal with the pain of rejection transform them into people with unleashed creativity and courage to solve our most pressing problems?
What would your community look like if you embraced your own nonconformity and creativity and pursued your calling? Would pursuing your calling create less security or more security for you?…check out the link to read more.
8. Gandhi’s Secret – sustainable clothing to revolutionize your wardrobe
A sustainable textile heritage: What happened?
While our ancestors grew, spun and wove or knit their own clothing, today we buy it in a store or online. Our clothing travels many miles, touches many hands and assaults the water quality and air quality of many countries world wide, during its growth, manufacture and waste. People are also harmed by the creation of clothing with subsistence income being the norm. Exposure to dangerous chemicals that colour and coat the fabrics, degrade their health, while harming their offspring. Home seamstresses are also implicated through sourcing their fabrics from China and India, where environmental regulations are less stringent than in North America. Does this make us less responsible because we can’t see the degradation that our need for covering causes?…check out the link to read more.
9. Golden Opportunities — Why food is more important than gold
The economic climate is grim. The strong Canadian Dollar isn’t big enough to stem the world tide of economic uncertainty. Many self-sufficiency leaders will tell you to invest in gold in uncertain times. There is a limited amount of gold in the world, so economies based on the gold standard retain their value, while economies based on fiat power — paper money backed by debt — falter. Unfortunately, because there is a limited amount of gold in the world — only a few people can have it — keeping the price up as demand exceeds supply.
What we are facing very soon is economic uncertainty, high inflation, more bankruptcies and layoffs, more unemployment and a widening of the gap between the very rich and the poor, and rising interest rates. The standard of living will be lowering as more families try to buy the necessities of life with money that doesn’t stretch as far…check out the link to read more.
10. Nonconformity: Embracing the natural cycles for greater creativity, serenity, and profit
As you embrace the homestead lifestyle, your life becomes tuned to the cycles of nature and the seasons of planting, fruitfulness, and dormancy that occupy the year. Some people, with a romanticized idea of old fashioned homesteading and the “Amish” lifestyle, enter homesteading thinking that life will somehow magically simplify, external demands will quiet down, and life will be one long meditative peaceful circle-of-life. That’s the Disney version. The reality version looks more like a complicated spirograph picture of intersecting circles that make a complicated but unified pattern. While there is peacefulness in the homestead lifestyle, one must seek out the natural rhythm and tune in to the seasonal cycles to transcend the noise and tyranny of the ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’ and the institutionalized, conformist mold. Becoming attuned to the natural schedule is part of the appeal of the self sufficient homesteading and a delightful benefit of the nonconformist lifestyle…check out the link to read more.
11. Empower your creativity through (adult) home education
Its the day after Labour Day — the most anticipated day in the whole year. Myriads of parents are eagerly feeding their kids, making up lunch boxes, gathering brand new school supplies into brand new back packs. The hope is for peace and quiet. No more sibling fights. No more wars about unmade beds. Peace.
Myriads of kids are waiting in eager anticipation of seeing their friends again, after a 2 month break. They are a bit nervous about the new face at the front of the class room — will he/she be nice, nasty or boring? And then there are the new kids, that necessitate the pecking order be reestablished. Why?
Is it for socialization? No. Kids that never know the anxiety of school are better socialized with all age groups. They have more confidence and do better at standardized tests. They consistently perform better at university, too…check out the link to read more.
What you can look forward to in 2012
What do we anticipate for 2012? More articles on bioregional clothing and colour, more inspiration articles to encourage you to do what you love, where you want to live, as well as tutorials on some exciting projects, to help you realize your dreams.
I will be continuing to write an article every day, but I’ll only be publishing 2 articles a week here. I have some new blog projects that we are working on as a family, I want to write a couple of e-books this year, and I want to write some guest articles on other blogs. In 2011 I wrote two articles that were published (or will be published) in print magazines. I want to do more of that, too.
In 2011 I started an email newsletter, and for a while I sent it out once a week. But in my desire to consistently publish 5 articles a week here, I couldn’t keep up the pace writing fresh copy on the newsletter, too. So in 2012 I am going back to sending out the email newsletter once a week. But it will be different and hopefully more helpful to you. Look for it on Thursdays in your inbox. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can use the box at the right. And if this is your first time here check out the Start Here page.
A blessed and Happy New Year to you and yours.