My friends know me well.
I’m chatting with a buddy who is a commercial distance transportation specialist (that’s “trucker” to most folks) because when you’re stuck in traffic with a few tons of marketable goods or hazardous materials, you can’t read a book. Sometimes you call up a friend and chat them up to keep your sanity as the jerk who can’t read the LANE ENDS MERGE RIGHT signage topples a cone to dash into the inches worth of space between your rig’s nose the tail of the one in front of you.
He asks how the family is doing and bring him up to speed; the teenager is sulking today for some reason or other, as teens will often do. The husband is fine, prepping for another road trip in search of a podium finish. I mention his eye is doing better; he recently had to have a small piece of metal removed and has been on prescription drops since. The perils of working in a race shop.
He suggests to me I visit my local Tractor Supply and pick up welder’s caps. The brim he says helps keep bits of ground metal from getting into his eyes, and the cover prevents pieces from embedding in the scalp or becoming caught in the hair and falling into the face and eyes later. Hmm, not a bad idea. Then he suggests I could just whip out the trusty old Singer and make a few myself.
I scoff at this suggestion. “Honey, what do I look like to you, Little Susie Homemaker?”
“Nope”, he laughs, “you’re Little Susie Freaking Homesteader!”
I realize he has a point.
It wouldn’t take much for us to be completely self sufficient here. Though my summer garden is much smaller than prior years (still recovering from that broken ankle) it will be more than enough to keep our family of three in fresh produce for months. The surplus will be dried, frozen or canned and put up into the pantry for cooking during the winter. Nothing like breaking open a few quart jars of my chili base in mid January, the tomatoes, peppers, onions and garlic smelling like I picked them yesterday. Richard can eat an entire pint of pickles in a single siting, he adores them. The fruit trees are bearing well too. The pie cherries are coming along. The apples are already weighing down every branch and I’ve been getting my supplies together to make batches of apple butter and packages of dried apple slices. My peaches need another year to produce enough to put up a few quarts of preserves but we can wait.
Our small flock of egg layers and our rabbitry residents love the garden surplus too. The back meadow gives us cuttings of orchard grass hay for the bunnies to snack on in colder months and during the warmer ones, our pasture boxes allow the rabbits to graze on a natural diet and exhibit natural behaviors. Every other day, we just move the habitat to keep them in fresh clover. What we do not eat is traded with friends; our rabbits are large and tender and in demand. The flock free ranges around the property during the day, eating their fill and basking in the sun. The ducks lounge around their pool quite a bit. Rough gig, right? The extra drakes, when we have them, go to freezer camp.
The back 40 provides a few other wonderful things for us. Wild mushrooms. Beneficial herbs and plants. If you know where to look and what you’re looking at.
The freezer is often supplemented with wild game, too. Whatever is in season at the time. The dogs enjoy the bones and organ meats, and we have a great variety of excellent nutrition for the whole year. You should try my venison stroganoff!
We’ve brought in lambs to ‘finish’ before processing before. We have enough space to add a steer for beef, a hog or two for pork and even a couple of goats for milk , weed control and meat. Our long terms plans involve getting the right knowledge base for care of these animals and structures and shelters to support and contain them first. No cart before the horse here. These are not decisions we enter into lightly.
We’ve established barters between some like minded folks; trading one another what we have for what we don’t. Sharing tips and tricks along the way. I love where I live!
We already have rain barrels and gravity fed systems for some of the animals so they always have a steady supply of drinking water. Add a few solar panels across the roof and my stock tank fish ponds and we’re good to go.
So I guess my friend is right. And I admit it- I do own and know how to use that sewing machine. Being able care for yourself and your family with hands on skills for planting, harvesting, hunting, processing, and what used to be called the “housewifely arts” before the advent of political correctness, is fast becoming extinct. If this entire system of instant gratification fell apart tomorrow, if the stores were all closed or empty, would you be able to feed your family? Mend clothes? Care for an illness or injury? We can.
Want to learn? Start small. Try a garden with your kids to show them where food comes from and maybe even try eating things they may ordinarily turn down. Its different when they can say “I did this!”.Turn the computers off and go outside. play a game with your children of naming the tree and plant species you see. Extra points if the know a fun fact about them. Get back in touch with life- open a window, a real window, not an electronic one! Take your shoes off. Dig your hands in a rich pile of garden soil. Slow down and get back in touch with the world. You’ll be glad you did 🙂