This is my 5th year of participating in the Independence Days Challenged offered by Sharon Astyk of the blogs Casaubon's Book and The Chatelaine's Keys. Five years. Wow. After all this time it would seem that many of the lessons to learn from this challenge would be learned. But I find that every year that goes by my thinking about growing and preserving food, preparedness, and local living have evolved to refine or distill my approach to these skills which make our homestead run a little better every year.
For example, we are growing much more foods from seeds; instead of buying seedlings. A few years ago, I spent weeks and weeks; usually very hot weeks, canning every single veggie that came out of our garden. Now I practice lacto-fermentation, more cold storage of veggies and season extending practices. We used to grow a pig every year; a much more expensive venture than the roasting birds we grew last fall. I have expanded the amount of wild foods that grace our plates. My herbal knowledge has grown and I use herbs in our daily life. I still have a bit of decluttering to do. But I also am much more aware of everything that comes into our house and whether is serves a use or is just another thing to dust. I am very aware of sources for local foods incorportate them into our meals as much as possible.
So here is to another year!
Plant: leeks, celeriac and bunching onions.
Harvest: Maple sap
Preserve: not yet but we will start boiling sap down this weekend.
Local Foods: Local milk, local meat, local spinach, local potatoes
Eat the food: The yummy spinach has been gracing every meal. Our favorite is a chard pie we have substituted spinach for.
Want not: A friend gave us a big bag of children's clothes for Evan. We finally found and awesome chaffing pan to use for maple sugaring this year. Mark found it at this great kitchen supply place we have in town that sells, second hand and vintage cooking equipment. We also bought some new cinder blocks for our sugaring set up. Mark got our '81 Mercedes working so we have two cars working again.
Waste not: That Mercedes is a biodiesel. So we have been able to cut our gasoline bill and emissions significantly. We pick up used cooking grease from some local restaurants. Mark processes it to clean it out of chunky bits and we are good to go. I passed on any of the clothes we did not need for Evan to another friend. We are using a lot of brush and fallen branches in our sapping fire. Mark is cutting some big field pines down. We plan to mill up some of the tress for some building projects we have planned....( a green house!!)