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Mission creep

 
master gardener
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I have recently completed reading  Leigh Tate's "5 Acres & A Deam: The Sequel."   Although she never uses the term, she devotes a good bit of space to the topic of Mission Creep.  Relevant to this site, that would be, "How does what we are doing now compare to our original vision."

Usually, our mission can change several times. I can remember when my mission was just nor to starve or freeze to death. In the long term, I would say I began with the idea of getting being self-sufficient in a few years. Now I see my goal as being less reliant on outside resources such as groceries, electricity, gas etc.

So I wonder, how has everyone else's mission changed from the point of having the original dream to the present?
 
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Thank you, John, for this wonderful topic about how nature transforms us over time. Twenty-eight years ago, the over-grazed and abused land around this homestead could barely support tumbleweed. Through composting using debris from early anchor plantings, I’ve found success in creating healthy soil to provide food for my household. That early mission of regenerating the land and feeding my tribe feels fulfilled.

With enough food, my mission has changed from feeding people to finding ways to coexist with wildlife. Coyotes, bobcats, snakes, raccoons, hawks, and many bird species live here. In the morning, I follow wildlife tracks to dens and hiding places. I find that balance happens when I don’t interfere too much. Predators keep herbivores in check. I have my “territory” and deter overly curious critters with strategically-placed human-made ammonia. I am letting go of certain crops that are too tempting to certain mammals so we are less likely to fight. Watching the human population grow, I am sad to see wildlife increasingly displaced as homeowners put up fences. Striking a healthy balance with wild and domestic nature has become my unintended mission.
 
John F Dean
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Hi Amy,

You certainly started with a good many challenges.   In MN I have had to battle rock, weather, insects, and neighbors, but the soil was in good shape and easy to improve. The main problem, crop wise, was growing season.   I remember snow in June and snow in Sept.  That didn't leave much in between. Of course, after a few years I decided to move further south. It turned out to be one of my best decisions.

You must get a great deal of satisfaction to be able to look over your property and see the changes you have made.
 
pollinator
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Hahaha mission creep is my go to buzzword around the office! It's a very real problem is a professional sense and the reason 75% of crap doesn't get done around here. If you don't have a clear defined end state then how do you know when you get there? How do you know how much (time, effort, materials) to focus and where?

Anyways, for all that I am the worst example in my own life and on my own property. Wood shed isn't finished because now it's a water-collector and a lumber rack as well. Skirting around the house isn't done cause, "what if I use scrap lumber from the old shed...) and on and on. My garden beds this year would have been a lot better if I would have written down a plan and stuck to it. Instead of constantly coming up with "great ideas" and just let them be. On the bright side, I have done exactly that for the upcoming season and I got a line on some corrugated roofing to pick up this afternoon, hahaha.

A well developed plan is good. Changing a plan that isn't working is good. Constantly improving or expanding on a plan in progress is bad.


AND ON TO THE ORIGINAL QUESTION:

My mission has actually contracted somewhat. I started out rarin' to be 100% self sufficient in as short a time as possible. Then I hurt myself, became more realistic about my property, and realized how poor I was... Still working towards the goal but my mission has become "become MORE self-sufficient" as opposed to "become self-sufficient". I am actively trying to set smaller targets and one by one hammer them into dust as opposed to one big target that is hammering me. This thread has been well-timed, I just made all of these promises to myself within the last few weeks, hahaha.
 
Amy Gardener
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Thanks for your reply John and your honest reflections Dan. Yes, the challenges of restoring fertility to desertified land are extreme. When recovery of some portion of the land occurs, I feel cautious satisfaction. My growing awareness relates to the temporary nature of this “recovery.” The desert landscape is vast and patient. Without intensive human tending, the encroaching sands will reclaim this little oasis. Maybe the “mission creep” of returning some of the land to the wild is acceptance that this land cannot be “permanent agriculture.” Transitioning to native and low-water plants reflects the realization that this high desert can offer subsistence for wild and human foragers. However, there will never be surplus as in John's region. The soil is too far gone. The water too scarce.

Like you John, I grew up in the Upper Mississippi River Basin (MN, WI, IL, MO) where the soil is fertile and alive. The rich soil of the Upper Mississippi is a priceless treasure that I never fully appreciated until moving to the desert. I’m glad to know that soil-conscious Permies are among the stewards of the amazing Upper Mississippi River Basin. Protect that life giving humus while there is still time.
 
John F Dean
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Hi Amy,

When I was much younger, I used to do  good deal of solo desert hiking. Yes, it was dangerous to degree, but I loved the  rawness of it.  And night .....  all those eyes glowing in the dark!
 
pollinator
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I've heard the term "mission creep" used before, and it always had a negative connotation somehow. As if we had a perfectly defined mission, step by step, ready to execute and cleanly escape, and then we got mired down by complexities and unforseen events.

I think thougtful gardeners on a fertile patch sort of unconsciously expect change and adaptation. It's the coin of the realm. The land will change, the gardeners will change, and they will hopefully change and adapt in a compatible manner. Perhaps "mission evolution" is the better description?
 
John F Dean
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Hi Douglas,

It certainly can be a negative. In the corporate world, imagine a company of 200 employees with several departments ... and each department working toward a different mission.  But even in a corporation, a department may discover something new they are good at.  As long as this is communicated and deliberately imp,invented, it can be good.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
pollinator
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That's true. Quite often we don't know what we don't know. It's only revealed as we work through a problem, or take a high-level goal and try to put it into practice. So, mission creep is to be expected and, as you say, not necessarily a liability but a potential opportunity. That certainly fits with homesteading.
 
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