It’s become a bit of a game. We sit down and see how much of the meal came from our farmstead. The best are frittatas. The eggs are ours. The vegetables piled in it are ours. The cheese and cream are the only things that I didn’t produce. (Okay, mental note, try goats again…or a big, fat cow that can’t escape…) The bread is homemade but I didn’t grow the wheat. (Could I grow wheat here?) Can’t wait until this wine was made here! (I guess I better grow some grapes.) The peaches were not grown here, but were grown locally, and canned by me.
Next meal; Sustainable fish (sure wish I had a stocked pond), mashed potatoes (from the garden), corn bread (we’ll see if I am producing my own cornmeal this winter from my experiment!). Grape juice from Aunt Donna’s garden.
How far into self sufficiency can one go? I can try to grow nearly all my own fruits and vegetables, enough to eat and enough to preserve. With the help of other friend’s gardens, this may be possible. (I have choke cherries, they have apples…we can trade.) I learned a lot this year on just how much I need to grow to provide meals and winter stores. I also learned that some of the vegetables take up a lot of space and take a long time to grow. That space could be used for more intense growing of common vegetables that don’t take as long to mature like beets, green beans, early tomatoes, etc..
I could get a cow or a couple of goats and have milk, butter, and cheese. I have chickens, so I have eggs. Ducks might be fun next year. We are not into “harvesting” our own animals but we did grow a lot of beans for protein this year!
Could I grow grains? This year we have our corn experiment to see if the varieties I planted will indeed dry nicely and become cornmeal and/or popcorn.
My mini-orchards hate it here. They promptly pop off and die. Maybe I can sneak a few trees into a different spot, water well, and hope they don’t realize they are at my house! They might just grow!
Food Self sufficiency Checklist:
1. Can we grow our own protein? Beans, legumes, fish, eggs, milk, cheese
2. Can we grow our own grains? Wheat, buckwheat, corn, oats
3. Can we grow our own vegetables? Spacing out vegetables so that there is something to eat in every season?
4. Can we grow our own fruit? Trees and bushes (We rent, is it worth it? If we get one good harvest, I’d say so.)
5. Can I preserve enough for winter? I think so!
6. How about sweets? Honey, maple (I don’t have any maple trees though…)
We could do all these things, especially with bartering, and help from friends, and careful planning.
Further self sufficiency would be moving somewhere with a well. A wood stove. A forested area for mushrooms and wood, as well as an open area for farming. An area for animals to free range. A place to grow fodder.
It seems like it is a never ending goal. And perhaps it is a lifetime goal. I’ll probably never be able to harvest yeast, or salt, or other valuable items in the homestead kitchen. So, maybe it is about the journey. One thing at a time.
This year we had the most stunning garden. People stop us in Walmart to ask if that is where we live. People honk and wave as they go by. People know us by our garden. We have stored, frozen, dehydrated, and canned over six hundred items so far for winter. We have saved money for the winter. We have learned new skills like spinning, knitting, farming. We have learned from failures; fencing in goats, bird netting over the chicken coop, making jam…I mean syrup. We grew enough to eat, but not a lot to preserve. (We got cases of veggies from one of my farmer friends to preserve.) Next year, I will plan better. I will use my root cellar checklist to order seeds!
We are ready for our next homesteading lessons. Right after we rest a spell from this crazy homesteading summer!