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Digging My Own Holes: My Journey toward Self-Sufficiency and Beyond

Updated on February 7, 2013

When the Son of Sam, who was Jewish, was arrested, I heard a Jewish person tell about feeling shame, believing that the bad behavior of one of his own reflected poorly on him.  This is a common feeling among minorities and may explain, for example, why an African-American feels anger or shame toward an Uncle Tom.  It may also explain my feelings toward women who act helpless, believing this perpetuates the stereotype of women as the weaker sex.

So when a friend complained to me that her son-in-law would not help her daughter with landscaping chores by digging holes for her I said, “Well, tell her to dig her own holes.  That’s what I tell my daughters.”

I was a single mother of two daughters for a number of years and “digging our own holes” became our mantra.  One of my daughters later admitted, however, that she sometimes coquettishly asks her husband, “Will you dig my holes for me?”

When I met my husband I had been single for a number of years.  At the time we met I had just purchased some land and was getting ready to build a house, acting as my own contractor and doing some of the work myself. 

John soon started joining me when I would go to work on my land.  It was in the country and a lovely place to visit.  After I got my building permit, we were there working one day when I picked up a shovel and said I was going to the bottom of the hill to put up the post for the building permit.

“May I join you,” he asked, “or do you need to dig your own hole?”

I said he was welcomed to come along, but, shovel in hand, when we got to the bottom of the hill, I began to dig.

This is a rural, sparsely populated area, so we were alone, working beside the road, John silently watching me dig.  The ground was very hard and I was about ready to let him dig when I looked up at him.

He was standing with his arms crossed over his chest, smiling at me.  “You know, if anyone comes along, I’m going to have to take that shovel out of your hand.”

He’s been helping me dig my holes ever since.

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    • jo miller profile image
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      Jo Miller 6 months ago from Tennessee

      The Mennonite farmers are a great asset for us. We can get our vegetables straight from the field. And they're delightful to know.

    • Nathanville profile image

      Arthur Russ 6 months ago from England

      That’s cool, I had to look Mennonite up on Google, but from what I read I can imagine their crops are very organic, full of flavour and very nutritious.

    • jo miller profile image
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      Jo Miller 6 months ago from Tennessee

      Arthur, I am a great admirer of those who are completely self-sufficient. That's not us by a long shot. I grow mainly flowers. If we could eat those, we'd be in good shape. We do grow some vegetables, cut some of our wood for heating the home, but we're a long way from being self-sufficient. We have local Mennonite farmers who provide much of our vegetables.

    • Nathanville profile image

      Arthur Russ 6 months ago from England

      Nice article on self-sufficiency in life as well as on the land; an attitude to be proud of. I’ve always taken pride in trying to be self-sufficient in life. Paying our way in life, my wife and I bought our own home when we got married. I’ve always done my own DIY rather than pay someone to do the work; plus we’ve always paid our taxes (except for the Poll Tax in 1990/1991, in protest) and we’ve never had any welfare benefits from the State during my whole working life; except for child benefit of course (which every mother gets because it’s not means tested). The Poll Tax (introduced by the Conservative Government) only survived the two years because of the mass protests, and because people refused to pay; its unpopularity led to the resignation of the Conservative Prime Minster in 1992.

      The difficulty I find is knowing in when to accept help. My wife now gets PIP (Personal Independence Allowance) from the Government because of a medically diagnosed bad back, £2,894 ($3,730) per year. Consequently, as I’m retired and look after her for more than 35 hours a week (househusband), because my wife gets PIP I’m entitled to the Careers Allowance from the Government, £3,260 ($4,200) per year; effectively being paid to be a househusband. This does make me feel a little guilty in that I do have a good pension, and don’t really need the money; especially when I think of all the unpaid hours housewives used to put into the home in the 1950s when it was traditional for the husband to be the bread winner. But as it is a perfectly legitimate entitlement under British Law I would be a fool not to accept the money on principle. Besides it does help to raise our standard of living so we end up spending the extra money (disposable income) which ultimately helps to stimulate the local economy and create employment; so others do benefit, who in turn are then able to pay taxes and help contribute towards the economic cycle rather than being unemployed and reliant on welfare benefit.

      As regards digging in the garden for self-sufficiency; I’m right behind you. Apart from potatoes, we grow all our own vegetables, so we are self-sufficient in veg 12 months of the year; which saves us about £400 ($500) on our food bill each year. We even grow a lot of our own fruit which apart from bananas makes us almost self-sufficient in fruit for almost three months of the year.

    • jo miller profile image
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      Jo Miller 10 months ago from Tennessee

      FlourishAnyway, glad you enjoyed. I'm still digging, but sometimes now I let others help. The older I get the more that is appreciated.

    • jo miller profile image
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      Jo Miller 10 months ago from Tennessee

      Thanks, Bill for stopping by and commenting. Keep digging.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 10 months ago from USA

      I loved this! Some of us dig our own holes and know when to stop. Others just keep digging. I guess one challenge in life comes down to that.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 13 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Good for you, Jo! As an experienced hole-digger, I salute you. :)

    • jo miller profile image
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      Jo Miller 21 months ago from Tennessee

      Jodah, Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I had almost forgotten this hub. It is so typical of our relationship here, even today.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 21 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Haha I love it, especially John's comment as he watched you dig. That is classic.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 7 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      I wish hub pages had a "Was this Hub ...?" choice of "Makes me smile". This one did.

    • jo miller profile image
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      Jo Miller 7 years ago from Tennessee

      Thanks, Alison. I am glad I found your hubs also--the advantages of hub hopping. Look forward to reading more.

    • Alison Graham profile image

      Alison Graham 7 years ago from UK

      Jo, I am so glad you found my hubs so I could find yours. I really enjoyed reading this and look forward to more. Thank you for sharing.

    • jo miller profile image
      Author

      Jo Miller 7 years ago from Tennessee

      Wife Who Saves, thank you for your comment and for taking the time to visit my hub.

    • profile image

      Wife Who Saves 7 years ago

      Beautiful hub - and what a wonderful mother to raise your daughters to be independent.

    • jo miller profile image
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      Jo Miller 7 years ago from Tennessee

      Thank you, Tony, for taking the time to read my hub. Jo

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      Self-sufficiency is a really important value to me too. Great Hub and thanks for sharing the story!

      Keep digging!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • jo miller profile image
      Author

      Jo Miller 7 years ago from Tennessee

      Thanks, Ken. Actually it was my second hub, but close.

    • Ken R. Abell profile image

      Ken R. Abell 7 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      What a great first Hub. Enjoyed it much.

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      Wilson 7 years ago

      Jo seems to me to be both a self sufficient and independent sort of person, but one who is intelligent enough to take things as they come to her and make the best of any situation, whatever it may be. It seems to me the more of ought to have her attitudes toward life and not be so dependent on other people.