Dealing with Negative Nancy(s)
Maybe you have one of them. Or two. If you’re like me, six or seven. But man, when a Negative Nacy likes to rain hot manure down on your garden, you can’t help but want to till up the ground and give up!That’s a metephor for someone coming up to you and saying:
Quit growin’ your food!
Groceries come from the store, goshdarnit!
The vloggers out there like to smirk at their cameras sadly when bringing this up. I almost slammed my head against my dehydrator listening to that last one. I wonder if homesteading wives feel as helpless as I do when I get told to just quit. Do the husbands stamp their feet in the privacy of their barns and demand to be understood? Last time someone told me to just give up, I ended up sitting with my new pair of rabbits and pet them while I silently cried to myself. I may get more upset than others regarding critics because I have a load of mental garbage to deal with, but that’s another time, another post, etc. Either way, I had to dry off one of my bunnies, poor little guy was not okay with all that salt.
Anyway, what matters is the NOW. So! Someone decides to share their not-so-in-line view with me and while initially upsetting, I can’t help but consider their argument. Many of the folks I follow tell me straight up to ignore these people. No one deserves that negativity in their life anyway. But I bend an ear and consider their concerns. Why? ‘Cause I can be a Negative Nacy as well! I’m my worst critic. What these folks don’t understand is everything they’re warning me against I have already considered! Literally, on my desk, there is a notebook filled with lists upon lists showing all my doubts, all the cons about growing food, and even break down how much time I could realistically invest in some of these projects.
Crunching the numbers, it doesn’t look good. Then again, I may have overexaggerated on some of the prices of seeds.
For example, let’s consider yesterday:
Had a neighbor come up to me and scowl, “Oi! I gotta say, raisin’ them rabbits is kinda a silly idea. You should be tryin’ to save up money to go on a week long vacation. Those rabbits eat too much.”
“Well, I’m trying to grow their feed-,” I tried to explain.
“That’s another thing!” he barked at me, waving his hand dismissively, “You think you can plant anything on that lawn? I tried to plant years ago and them grubs ate up all my cucumbers. I’m tellin’ you, that ground ain’t any good and you’re just throwing your money away. Be a good girl and invest it in something else.”
Man did that hurt to hear. ‘Specially from someone I respect. Ah, but I can’t get down in the dumps. Here, let me show you how many steps ahead I was from my neighbor’s opinion:
1. Feeding the rabbits are expensive: Focusing on feed costs alone, I mean yeah okay it can be expensive if I bought hay from the local pet store. The cheapest, off-brand hay costs about $10 for 90 oz, that’s about 5.625 pounds once converted.
Now this person must think I’m a fool for purchasing hay like this. Sure, Petsmart and Petco have all different types of hay such at Timothy grass, alfalfa, meadow, and even oatmeal. If you own one rabbit that doesn’t eat too much, say like a mini rex or lion head, using the local pet store as your feeding resource can be convenient. As for me, I got two Standard Rex mix rabbits. Due to being mutts, I am actually not sure how much more I need to feed them than other breeds. The rule of thumb is 1/4 cup of feed (so say, alfalfa pellets) and free-choice hay.
The best thing I ever did regarding purchasing these rabbits was ask their breeder: what do you feed them? And how much do you pay?
The breeder pointed at the feed store we were standing in. Here?! I cried. Really?! Running to the front desk, I asked them to show me their hay bale costs. Sure, they didn’t have a large variety of hay, but for the price, I will not complain. This local feed store I chose sells coastal hay, 50 pound bales, for about $12.50. The alfalfa is a bit more and the alfalfa pellets are about $18 per 50-pound bags. Compared to the price at the local pet stores, this is one deal I will be keeping my eye on.
For last month, my rabbits haven’t eaten half of their 45 oz bag. This is because I used another fantastic trick from the homestead vloggers: Forage and dry your own hay. Now, I don’t have land. Not a single acre. But! There are many abandoned lots, public parks and other locations where I can forage for edibles.
It was on an abandoned field that I discovered and picked dewberries for my first blog post. For about a month I spent my weekends walking these grassy fields, using my grass clippers to cut and collect half a month’s worth of grass. I also learned how to identify other edible treats for my rabbits: horseweed, horsemint, lamb’s quarter, clover, dandelion, and a plethora of other goodies.
So, how did I get around the initial worry about feeding these rabbits? I asked a lot of questions, researched the best price for bulk feed in my area, and spent hours in the sun collecting grass to stretch my dollar. Regarding the alfalfa pellets, I have already begun to mix in the dried horsemint and other wild edibles I collected. Along with raw pumpkin seeds, dried carrots and other rabbit friendly treats, the pellet mix is their absolute favorite. I can only pet the rabbits when they are eating the pellets, they won’t allow pets any other time!
2. The soil is bad and you can’t raise a goshdarn thing: Man, this is my biggest annoyance. Not hearing this, but knowing how true it is.
I live in Texas and our soil is the worst clay imaginable. Only the strong taproots of dandelion can pierce it. The lawn itself is made of St. Augustine grass, which was grown on thick mats of clay and then blanketed over the topsoil. The grass is aggressive and chokes out anything that grows near it. Beautiful for a lawn, super bad if you’re growing food. I struggled for months trying to till this clay earth. I even broke down and stamped all over it, effectively compacting the dang thing even more!
I turned to Youtube and Google search. Sure enough, I wasn’t the only Texas resident struggling with the soil. Thank goodness for folks willing to share their success stories! After some brief research, the best thing I can do to grow food on soil such as this is to make a raised garden bed. I initially wanted to avoid building one due to my inexperience with powertools. But, with my lovely husband backing me up, we’ll be spending some time at Home Depot tomorrow picking up some much-needed supplies. Investing in soil, compost, and mulch will be the most trying part of this project. I can’t seem to justify purchasing such expensive bags of soil that cover a mere 2 cubic feet. In my city there are programs where you can go and collect your own mulch from the recycling center. They do not offer compost at this time. However, I do not have a pick-up truck to help haul all that material home. We depend greatly on our tiny Corolla to just get wood slats home.
As for the grubs: I figured picking them out and throwing them into the diseased cactus patch might make for an okay temporary solution. I’m still a little butt-hurt about the gardening part. Unlike the rabbits, where I could list out my worries and feel happy that I had already considered the argument, there is no getting around the terrible soil. I’ll just have to invest some more time and money to see if this raised garden bed works. Most of my supplies I scrounged from dumpsters or tossed on the curb. At least the wood won’t be as expensive.
Not everyone deals with their negative Nancy(s) the way I do. Some folks have so much confidence in themselves that they can easily ignore them. I can’t help but envy these people. But, I’m okay with taking the opportunity to consider these peoples’ point and maybe do some additional research. It doesn’t hurt to learn something new, improve a project, or find a way to save a little more money. The only thing it may do is help improve your current situation. Let me know how you have saved money on your projects!
As always, be kind, be tender, and support one another.
Have this meme as a pick-me-up: