The following is my homework this week. How cool is it to take a class that asks you to think about goals to establish around food?
I have been thinking a lot about food lately. As a homesteader food is primarily what encompasses most of the work I do on the homestead. I was a stay at home mom. I grew a 600 square foot garden, boiled maple sap down, grew meat birds and layers, chased sheep,canned, pickled and dried, collected wild edibles and herbs, made our own medicinals such as salves, syrups and teas, baked our own bread, made our own yogurt, made mozzarella cheese, made fruit and flower wines, made granola and every meal was from scratch. It was a full time job. I loved standing in my cold room every fall to see just how much food I had produced and preserved.
My life has been in transition over the last year as my partner and I divorced and I returned to work, school and my youngest was no longer homeschooled. Because of these changes last years growing/ preserving season was not what it needed to be. The energy was just not there as I was trying to adjust to our changed circumstances. As a result the changes in our diet were apparent. Many things that I used to make from scratch were purchased. My son started eating school lunch. The amount of time I needed seemed to be a scarce commodity . The amount of money I spend on food for a family of three is considerably more than I used to spend for a family of four. A lot of this food is not as local as it used to be or wholesome.
It is now a year later and I feel as though I am nearing the point of finding the balance I need between home, work and school. I will be working 4 days a week. This gives me 2 days during the middle of the week to work in the garden and take care of food stuffs. Sundays are a day of rest. I may also be doing a work share for a local farmer which will supplement the food I grow. This is what I know, the more I do for myself the less money I need. In terms of food this also means better quality and more local. One of my goals this year is to return to a level of food self-sufficiency that I used to have but with some important changes.
First, I hope to grow a number of crops that do not need a lot of effort to process. I used to spend so much time at the canner. I will be growing a fair amount of winter squash this year. I also will be growing a fair about of brassicas. Kale can be extended into December. Cabbage can be made into kraut and brussel sprouts are easy to freeze and can also be harvested well into the fall. I will be growing a fair number of root crops as well.I like these because they can be successively planted, easy to store, and can stay in the ground later in the season. I used to have an electric dehydrator. It pooped out and I have been thinking about alternatives to it for a while. I have a crawl space that gets REALLY hot in the summer. I think I could easily construct some drying racks and stick some stuff in the crawl space. I am starting shitake mushrooms this year. I love that they do not require a lot of work and can easily be processed by dehydration.
Second, I am planning to grow two small batches of meat birds this year. This spring I purchased a meat/ layer bird package from Murray Mcmurray. They arrive the end of May. The first batch of meat birds will be ready for butchering by the time my little guy gets out of school. The second batch I will start in the fall for the winter freezer. This would be the first time I have done this in the spring. It would provide some needed protein in the summer when my work hours may be cut and my little guy will be home from school.
Third, I find that I have found my kitchen mojo again. I am baking bread while I am cooking dinner. I am planning batch cooking recipes that I can have for quick meals after a long day at work or to take to work for lunch. I want to continue to do this so that it becomes habit and will easily adapt to any further changes that come into our lives.