Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Independence Days Challenge, Year Three!

I began this blog a couple of years ago as a way to document my progress in this very smart woman's challenge. At the time, I had just become aware of peak oil and I was entering my first full growing season on our homestead. The price of oil had reached 147.00 a barrel. Gasoline was 4.50 a gallon. Food prices were inflating in response to the rising costs of production and delivery. As the cook and chief gardener, I felt a compelling drive to be able to feed my family simply but well. The implications of our food system's dependence of oil; from production to delivery, are great. To me, it seemed imperative that in order to ride out the disruptions that, individually, we would all have to become more self-sufficient. Since then, the economy has taken a turn for the much worse and as I have shared, our family has some potential challenges in our near future. ( Still no word yet).

At this time, there is a nearly empty freezer in the workshop that was filled to the brim with veggies we put up last summer. The pantry filled with all that home canned food is showing bare spots. Seed catalogs grace many bare surfaces in our home. The days grow longer and the snow retreats.

So it is time to begin the Independence Days Challenge. For my family it has never been as important to do this challenge as it now. Last fall, I felt a great sense of accomplishment as I added more to the list of Preserving Sanity along the side bar. I embraced the challenge of finding room for one more batch of pickled carrots in the very crowded pantry. Last year was a hard growing season in the north east. We had a month and a half of rain from June to July. Tomatoes and potatoes were blighted. The cool weather stunted the growth of the winter squash we depend on as a staple food. Much of what we would grow and put up ourselves was supplemented with bulk purchases from local farmers and u-pick farms. But still, although it seemed plentiful we are back to buying produce at the store.

So my goal for the coming year is to expand the range of foods that we put up and increase quantities enough so that we will have enough to get us to April, not just March. I would like to increase the amount of food that we get from foraging. Life is still in flux, so my garden this year will be heavy on those crops that will get us to August or just after; so, many greens, lots of spinach, carrots, beets, onions, broccoli, early potatoes. If we decided that we will be staying here, which we should know by May, then we we will expand. If we find that we will be moving, our new home has a cold room that I will use for storage of winter squash, carrots, cabbages, potatoes. The property has a dozen fruit trees, a mix of apple and pear. I will also have time to plant a winter garden with carrots, greens.

Ultimately, for me, it is all about becoming as self-sufficient as possible. This does not necessarily mean that my little patch of earth has to provide for all my needs. But it does mean that by doing what I can for myself, building relationships with farmers, employing barter, using second-hand whenever possible and fixing and mending to prolong the life of what we have; I will be less dependent on money to meet all of our needs and we will stretch what dollars we have for those things we can't get otherwise.

I'll post my updates on Mondays and look forward to sharing our work with you.


Pat aka Posh said...

I'm so excited spring is almost here and hope to be getting my garden plot ready this week..

Earth Mama said...

I'm totally with you...from peak oil to stashing your own food. It's tough to be able to pack up enough for almost 6 months for a family. I'm not to the point yet of being able to put that much by. We provide for oursleves during the growing season, extend it a bit, and store as much as we can. We buy 25# bags of gluten free flour and rice, but we always come up short too. March is tough. I want to be tilling the soil, but it's just not quite ready yet.