Saturday, June 11, 2011

Don’t have my drawing book

The lion farm

William was a guy we met in Exuma, a painter who hung out at the bar at Peace and Plenty, the hotel where we docked our dinghy, stole fresh water, and bought internet. We hoped that we could get some work from him. I have it in my little notebook, although it seems like it must have been a pretty dim possibility. We must have been hard up for prospects to put him on the list.

On the boat, we lived off fish, coconuts, and a 50-pound bag of rice, like Alexander Supertramp. I bought my first 50-pound bag of potatoes this week, Aroostook County potatoes, for $12. How long will that last? A long time, I’m hoping, but one never knows. How long would a bag of potatoes last me, if that was the only thing I had? The first thing I’d add would be a couple of chickens for eggs, but it’s when I begin thinking that way that I wonder about my financial security.

I don’t have a whole lot of expenses up here. I have to pay the electric bill, buy potatoes. And neither of those are essential, if eventually I install a solar panel and grow my own. But I still have to find away to pay for sundries. To replace parts. To buy seedlings and seed and peat moss.

How am I going to pay for expenses on an ongoing basis? That’s the challenge for those trying to live off the land. I could take a part-time job at a convenience store, or find something that pays more in the big city, thirty miles away. I could make and bottle my own hot sauce, if all the pper plants pull through. What I really want is to sell a story, but in order to do that I have to have a story that’s finished. I continue to push forward with writing every day, even on the days when it’s like digging a ditch.

I know it’s a long shot. Writers eat food that costs 24 cents a pound. Or less, if possible.


Crosby Kenyon said...

You do keep at it. It's the only way, I guess. You must be aware those potatoes will sprout eyes.

Melissa said...

Potato farmers hold potatoes up here all winter long--thousands of tons--and they don't sprout. The key is keeping root crops in a cellar environment--that's also my goal in planting so many onions and squashes. Whether or not I stay in one place long enough to enjoy the fruits of my labor is another question entirely.