Permaculture Principles 3- Obtain a Yield

I have mentioned my Mum before in these posts. She trained as a Domestic Science teacher during the second World War – the end of an era when the object of Domestic Science in schools was to train girls (only girls) to be good housewives and mothers and / or good servants. It had not been uncommon for Secondary Modern schools in particular (grammar school girls would be employing the servants!) to have a small flat where girls could learn to clean, wash and iron clothes, bath a baby and light the sitting room fire; as well as a separate Cookery room where they learned to cook. I have this amazing (if grainy) photo of the cookery room she worked in as a teacher in a school near Bolton, Lancashire in 1941.


Thus when she left teaching to get married she prided herself on her housewifely skills and kept the house immaculate. Things she did daily are lucky to get done here weekly, her monthly jobs are my attempt at spring cleaning and so on. In many ways it was an example of Parkinson’s first law that work expands to fill the time available. Her justification for all this activity was that she wanted the place to look nice if someone came round. However she was so locked into her regime of chores that her only outings were to the shops. She belonged to no groups or clubs until I was well into my teens when she started going to an evening class in cake decorating. As a result there were very few visitors to the house – one next door neighbour came for a cup of tea quite often and relatives or old friends came occasionally but always by arrangement as they lived to far away to just call. And all that cleaning and polishing meant the house never felt homely or welcoming and everyone was afraid of making a mess or spilling something.  And to be honest any impending visit caused so much work and worry and baking that Mum too was happier not to see people.

So what has all that got to do with obtaining a yield? Well the idea of this principle is not to waste time and energy doing something just for the sake of it.

Of course what is wasting time for me might not be for you and vice versa and we will each value different yields differently. When I go to a meeting of one of the Permaculture groups it is not because I want to ‘earn’ a visit to my place and the work that will get done but because I enjoy the socialising and learning and get ideas for my own place. Most of the ‘yield’ is intangible but nonetheless real to me but someone else might think I am stupid to give my labour for free getting  wet and muddy into the bargain.

Another thing both my Mum and my dad were keen on was being sensible and that very lower middle class idea of ‘deferred gratification’. So I dutifully went to University and for want of any better idea became, to their relief,  a teacher. A nice steady job with a salary and prospects and with a pension at the end. John and I got married, bought a house with a mortgage, acquired wills and insurance policies. Actually I quite enjoyed teaching most of the time (though I was a bit creative and whacky for some of my colleagues even then! None of the other Maths teachers illustrated their lessons on fractions with chocolate cakes or used mind reading to introduce algebra!)). blog260418-2But having fun, experimenting, taking risks, chasing dreams were very low on the agenda and I regret that now. The yield was always ‘later’, when the children are older, when they leave home, when the mortgage is paid off, when you retire… H.E. Bates puts it rather well in ‘The Darling Buds of May’ “The word pension made Pop laugh…. ‘You mean sit on your backside for forty years and then collect four pounds a week that’s worth only two and and ‘ll only buy half as much anyway?'” I am not suggesting here that pensions are a bad idea – I have 2 very small private ones that top-up my state one and I am relieved that I own my home; I am grateful for the security those things give me. But I wish there had been more balance, more ‘yield’ of fun and adventure whilst I was young enough to take risks and bounce back if they failed as well as ensuring a ‘yield’ of security now.

Meanwhile writing this blog records events, gives me pleasure in writing the posts, has taught me new skills such as taking and loading photos and the comments are allowing me to meet a new group of people. A good investment – I am obtaining a yield.


8 thoughts on “Permaculture Principles 3- Obtain a Yield

  1. itwasjudith April 27, 2018 / 6:27 pm

    An interesting reflection on the deferred vs the present. Striking a balance between security and a bit more of enjoyment in the present is an important point, which is not easy to achieve…
    I have some property, mortgage duties and a job, but often I feel like a dog at a lead, not able to roam free
    Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂


    • coppicelearner April 27, 2018 / 8:44 pm

      A dog at a lead – what a lovely way to describe that feeling of being stuck with responsibilities! The balance is not easy and I still do not get it right but I think I am becoming more aware of how I want life to be. Good luck with getting it right for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The Snail of Happiness April 27, 2018 / 8:17 pm

    All that housework makes me shudder… but our grandmothers and great grandmothers would, no doubt have been horrified at our cobwebs and dust!
    Mr Snail and I have been very lucky to secure our own home without too much trouble, but I do wonder whether we should have been a bit more reckless in the past!


  3. coppicelearner April 27, 2018 / 8:45 pm

    So be a bit more reckless now! It is never too late to learn and shift the balance. Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. thatsawonder April 29, 2018 / 8:58 pm

    An interesting post – and one that made me nod every now and then as I’ve been similar reflective moods lately. Don’t think I’ve been too sensible in some areas but I’m trying to accept that I felt I made the right decisions at that moment, without having the knowledge I have now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • coppicelearner April 30, 2018 / 6:59 am

      i think we have all made decisions that we now look back on and question. Hindsight is wondeful stuff – I wish Opticians would sell it! Looking back on my own life I know that for many of those occasions if I had the same choices and the same knowledge now I would make the same decision. No use beating myself up because I now know something additional. Glad you found the post onteresting.


      • thatsawonder April 30, 2018 / 12:22 pm

        I once was in Canada in the period just before St. Patrick’s and I bought this small plastic card with a shamrock and the saying ” May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been
        The foresight to know where you are going & the insight to know when you’re going too far”
        That was 17 years ago (!) and I’ve kept it in wallet ever since. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s