One of the greatest gifts, other than life itself, is the gift of creativity. The Bible tells us that we are created in God’s image, which is hard for me to wrap my head around except for the fact that of all the animals on earth, man not only has the ability to creatively think, but gets great satisfaction in doing it. We love to problem solve and figure out how to do things that once might have seemed inconceivable. Something I’ve discovered in my quest to understand the nature of God is that he often gives us gifts for both function and joy. For example he gave us the gift of sex so that we would functionally populate the earth, but with it (when done according to his plan) came great pleasure and ultimately the joy of family. Creativity is like that; it is a gift that functionally enables us to adapt and solve problems so that we might survive on earth, but also gives pleasure and satisfaction. The artist paints and the musician composes as much for the joy of creating as the product it produces.
The pursuit of a sustainable life is a life that demands a high level of creativity. It is a life that demands getting out of the status quo box and stretching the imagination to discover better, more efficient ways of doing things. Trying to build a sustainable farmstead in the 21st century is a great challenge. As I think about it and attempt to pursue it, I find myself looking both backward and forward. Recently, a friend of ours loaned us a book that was written at the turn of the 20th century entitled, “Farm Economy – A Cyclopedia of Agriculture for the Practical farmer and His Family“. The last edition was printed in 1921 and records comprehensive farmsteading practices that were commonplace during the time in which it was written. As I have been looking back hoping to discover creative arts and skills that are becoming lost to a postmodern era, I have found this to be an amazing resource. At the same time I am stretching myself to grasp and implement modern technologies such as solar and wind power. Let me give you an example of something I’m doing right now.
In two weeks Nancy and I will receive our delivery of spring chicks. In preparation for this I am using all my spare time constructing a new chicken house. This will be the fifth chicken house I’ve built in my life, but I want this one to be the best. A good portion of the winter has found me sitting in front of the fire thinking about what I might do differently than what I’ve done in the past. Three things will be responsible for the success of the simple project. One, learning from my own history; second, researching how others have done it in the past; and third, implementing the technologies that I am just now discovering. This chicken coop will end up looking like it belongs in the 1800′s, but will implement passive solar heat in the winter, and a solar cell to lengthen the winter’s light to increase laying production.
I have loved this process of figuring out new ways of doing things because it has pushed and stimulated all my creative juices. It has awakened the wonderful gift of creativity God has given me to both help me discover ways of surviving the difficulties that lie ahead, and to simply enjoy and relish the gift itself