Thursday, November 19, 2009

the food supply

When it comes to food preps, storage and diet we are probably a little bit different than most folks are. Because we are trying for sustainability we have altered not only what we eat but the times of the year we eat it .

In order to minimize what we preserve for long term storage we have had to learn to eat what comes out of the garden and eat it when it does as much as possible. This has meant a huge change for my carnivorous self. I hated my veggies right up until we made the switch and now i can eat almost any of them, most of them happily although green beans are one thing I simply have not learned to eat.

Often times this means some really repetitive meals at certain times of the year. Of course creativity in cooking skills comes in handy so as not to get tired of having the same things. I have learned that there are at least 278 ways to fix zucchini and at least that many ways to fix potatoes.

Because we eat with the seasons in the garden and what comes out of the gardens some other things have changed as well. Lettuces and salads for us are primarily a winter and very early spring meal for us. Late fall is also when we indulge in salads here. Summer months many of our salad fixings simply do not do well. Potatoes and various dry beans are a staple here. One or the other is served at most every meal, We can get two good crops of taters in a year and I use drying beans and peas as filler crops all summer long so we always have a supply of them coming in from early spring until late fall.

We have also become primarily vegetarian. We do raise rabbits for meat since they are by far the most economical of farm critters we have found and we also raise a few hens and some goats. The goats are used for milk and product rather than meat and we sell off or trade the kids. We do always have a few on hoof if we have a hankering for goat but rarely slaughter. The chickens we use primarily for eggs and manure production.

We raise about half or a little more of the animal feed here on the land.This is our next big goal with the place is to raise that sustainability.With our terrain and minimal usable land it is a distant goal at this point. We may eventually choose to do away with the goats altogether but we do so like our fresh cheeses and such that for the time being we choose to keep them on.

The dogs are by far our largest expense here. Two well over 100 pound dogs can eat some food.

We do prep and stock pile some foods. Being from blizzard land it was just something i grew up with and we choose to continue to this day. It just sort of makes sense. We do not have hoards and hoards of cans and jars or secret rooms of stash boxes. Our preps we have on hand are simple and only cover the basic staples needed for survival for a fair amount of time. We instead depend more on the ability to grow the majority of our foods here on the land and we have learned to forage for a fair bit as well. We have worked foraged foods slowly into our diets over the last two years. We eat lots and lots of weeds in the spring, berries through the summer and acorns and other nuts are a staple in the kitchen. Kudzu is a fine plant contrary to what many think of it at this point in time and many many plants can be used in teas.

We garden 4 seasons of the year here , three of which are outdoors or in the greenhouse or cold frames, hoop houses etc. Winter time i set up a small growing area in the upper room of the shack. It has a wall of windows and keeps us in fresh greens, tomatoes and other herbs and veggies all winter long. I keep some plants going all winter and move them out side as quick as i am able too. We also use some permaculture growing practices and i do a bit of guerrilla gardening as well as just small random plantings in the general area. We save all our own seed and each year i try and buy a few new experimental types of seed. I also grow about 80 types of herbs either for culinary or medicinal use.

I also dehydrate and can quite a bit and we have a root cellar for storage of crops. We have a cool and/or hot smoker on the land and can preserve meat for long term

By doing things in the manner i described above, we are able to spend less than 20 dollars a week on all of our food and other needs. We generally spend an equal amount on preps and supplies we may need down the road while we can still afford to do so . For everything we need for a month here from gas, to chain saw oil, to canning lids and etc, etc we spend approximately 200- 250 a month. With all of our other monetary need we can live on 700 or so a month at this point. If we had to live on less we could simply cut the phone and power and cut it down to under 500 and be able to survive pretty comfortably and with minimal disruption..

Without knowing what lay ahead in the future we felt we needed to learn to live in a minimalistic manner before things got any worse. we wanted to ensure that we could cut back, live comfortably and yet keep far enough ahead of the game to be able to prepare for whatever may come down the path toward us. At this point the future is looking pretty grim when it comes to the economy and employment. It is very comforting as well as stress relieving to know that whatever may come atleast for the next couple years we are ok..

We have intentions of one day having a small produce stand along with herbs, medicinal lotions, soaps etc etc. Each year we thing we will have enough to be able to have a little road side stand unfortunately it hasnt played out that way as yet. Something always fails us and we need to make up for it in other crops to be able to sustain the life we live. I am sure that over time as we expand and continue the learning process great spirit will provide for us much as he has done up til now.

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