There is just something about striving to be as self-reliant as possible that gives you a sense of accomplishment. A feeling of security. It may mean stretching your wings to learn something new, spending more time working outdoors than in front of a television, or using muscles you didn’t know you had, but in the end, it even offers a blanket of contentment.
Randy and I spent Saturday putting up 10 meat birds for our freezer. Thanks to Ayn loaning us her chicken plucker, the work went fast. With these birds, we will net at least two to three meals out of each one. Combined with the vegetables from the garden – either fresh or canned – we will put no less than 20 meals on our table. Not only that, but because we know how our chickens are fed, cared for and respected, we will also have quality food that hasn’t been given antibiotics, growth hormones or anything ‘unnatural’.
On Friday, I put up two gallons of blueberries. I didn’t grow them. I purchased them from the blueberry farm a few miles up the road. By doing so, I helped to support a fellow farmer. I ended up with eight pints of blueberry sauce, which I will in turn either serve over pound cake (one is baking in the oven right now), or putting a small pound cake and a jar of sauce in a basket to give as a handmade gift. In that pound cake is homemade butter and fresh eggs we raise ourselves. In addition to sauce, I also made some Blueberry Cordial – the non-alcoholic kind. Adding a little bit of this light syrup to a glass of Ginger Ale or Lemonade just takes a refreshing drink to the next level.
I may not ever be able to raise all the food we eat or bake with, but we are able to do quite a bit. In October, we will be milking again, so I’ll have fresh milk, butter, yogurt and cheese in my refrigerator. My dream is to one day grow a small patch of wheat to grind into flour. Next year, Randy and I plan on growing field corn to grind into meal. We have figured out that one season of sweet corn will last us two years, so it just makes sense to alternate years. Besides, that’s one of Randy’s favorite things to grow, so why take away his fun?
Each year we add a little more, as time and space allows. This year I added a few rows of Great Northern beans to the garden, and if they grow well, I’ll can the few we have, and next year I’ll double or triple the space in the garden to grow more. Eventually, I’ll add root vegetables to the list, but first I have to have a place to store them over the winter. That will mean Randy building some bins in the cellar, and he really doesn’t think highly of constructing anything out of wood. He’ll tell you in a heartbeat that he is a ‘wood butcher, not a builder’. Um, I guess that means I won’t be suggesting that chicken processing table anytime soon.
Whether you become fully self-reliant or just grow a few herbs and vegetables in your garden, it really is a great benefit to do as much as you can yourself. What you cannot grow or do, let your neighbor or local business benefit from your dollars, and not some anonymous corporation who doesn’t even live anywhere near you. By doing so, you can pat yourself on the back, and experience some of that well-earned accomplishment, security and contentment.
If you are ready to get started, visit me in the Kitchen for some great and easy-to-prepare recipes (the Sour Cream Pound Cake is one of them). Then skip on over to the Local Business page. Hannah has some great baked goods just waiting for your call. Ron can design just about anything you can dream up and provide you blueprints in the bargain. Alona will be happy to schedule you for a haircut, and Ayn and Kerry may have a few subscriptions to their CSA left.
Are you ready? Let me know what your plans are, and if I can help in any way, just drop me an email or a comment. I gotta go. That cake is out of the oven and I can’t wait to slice into it!