Honestly, this post is not meant to be a brag, it's really not. OK, maybe a little bit it is, because I have been working my ass off and I want a little recognition I guess. :-) But really, I hope it's simply motivational...
So what's my brag? The amount of local food we've stored away for the winter--not "amount" as in quantity, because that will have to come later. Rather, I mean "amount" in terms of variety. Right now, between our fridge, freezer, pantry, garden and a shed outside, we have:
- kale (in the garden)
- chard (in the garden)
- dill pickles
- bread and butter pickles
- pickled beets
- carrots (in the fridge and in the ground)
- potatoes (packed in hay in boxes in the shed)
- corn (frozen)
- green beans (frozen)
- stewed tomatoes
- pasta sauce
- peaches (canned)
- pears (canned)
- apple cider
- raspberry jam
- strawberries (frozen)
- blackberries (frozen)
- blueberries (frozen)
- pears (dried)
- apples (dried)
- corn relish
- turkey meat (freezer)
- turkey stock (canned)
- butternut squash (stored)
- delicata squash (stored)
- heirloom pumpkins (stored)
- And in the greenhouse, spinach, chard, lettuce and green onion seedlings that will either get planted in raised beds outside or nursed along in the greenhouse as an experiment
And I'm not done. Well, it's November. I probably am done. There are quite a few things I didn't get done yet, like salsa verde, catsup, and hard cider, and I still have a bunch of apples that I was hoping to get pressed into apple juice for the hard cider but that didn't happen (so they'll probably become applesauce).
Best of all, every single thing you see on that list is local, either grown by us or purchased from a local farmer (except the peaches and pears which came from the other side of the state where they are happier to grow).
Do you know how good I feel reading through that list???? Do you know how awesome it feels to be able to make a meal that's not completely but mostly local, and from our own stores?
The Hubby and I are not striving to be completely self-sufficient. We couldn't be because we both work, for one thing, so we don't have time to. (As a farming neighbor down the road says, "We work so we can farm!" because farming is not cheap!) Raising just the little bit of food that we do takes a lot of time (and money). Raising even more would take more time...time we don't have, and definitely money we don't have.
So it's not that we're trying to be totally self-sufficient. But we are trying to be a bit more food independent, by growing some vegetables in a garden that's slowly taking shape, harvesting what we can from the orchard that came with our old farm, buying other produce from local farmers, and either raising pastured meats or buying pastured meats locally.
That picture above is one I took in August, looking towards the back of our house. It only shows a little bit of the garden, and really, only about half of the area got plowed up (by pastured pigs!), but it's a good start for next year. I have really ambitious plans for our garden, but getting to the end goal will take time and money (and blood, sweat and tears). And we grew more sunflowers and pumpkins than anything else! Yes, those are our sunflowers and pumpkins in the picture, and no, I won't grow as many next year. I just got a little carried away. :-)
But you don't have to have a garden, you don't have to raise all your own, in order to have local food stored away for the winter. In fact, most of what I've put up was not grown by us, but by local farmers. And really, it's not that hard to put food up. It's not. I spread this out over three months, and there were only a few times where it was all-consuming. It's also helpful to do it with someone. It makes the tasks go faster to have an extra set of hands and company. (I find wine makes it more enjoyable too, along with fun music).
And...it's just a little bit addictive, once you start thinking about local food that's in season and ways you can preserve it for later. Even now, I am thinking about buying local cranberries and making preserves to give to friends for their Thanksgiving meals...and I'm the only one at my house who eats cranberries! Even now, I'm looking at all the apples I've picked and not used yet, and debating between applesauce or trying one more time to get the cider press guy to let me come over. And, even now, I'm thinking about all the things I could have but didn't preserve.
Because it's not only addictive, it's so very satisfying. It gives you a feeling of self-sufficiency like no other.