Tuesday, January 10, 2012

january dreams

My new year's vows for this year is a bit different than in previous years.
It involves visiting our local libraries, scouring the shelves for books written in the 1970s on topics such as seed-saving and root cellaring.

I'm planning on making this our "shift-year": shifting into the life I've envisioned for so long, but have put off for any number of reasons (the biggest ones being busyness and exhaustion).

Simply put, I want to take a  step beyond eating locally. I want to start growing some of our own food. The problem in the past has always been time to process/can the stuff I grow. It often ends up on the ground, rotting back into the soil, because the busiest times in gardening happen to coincide with the busiest times in the school calendar.

Root cellaring seems to be a possible solution. We have enough land here to grow potatoes, squash, carrots, beets, cabbage, onions, and garlic to store for next winter. I also hope to put away enough apples to get us through at least part of the winter.

 January dreaming might just be my favourite kind; from the comfort and warmth of my kitchen, I browse seed catalogues, read up on starting seedlings, think about the wheres, whens, and hows, dash off a few emails to farmer friends, and wonder: could we raise a goat for milk? I wander through old, familiar cookbooks with new eyes, wondering: what can I make with stuff we grow ourselves? I'm far away from the realities of Colorado potato beetles, marauding deer, watering, weeding, and harvesting. I'm just...dreaming!

I know I'm not the only person who notices the rising costs of fuel and groceries (who notices it more than mothers, who have the mighty task of feeding a family AND keeping a budget?). We had a huge garden when Jude and Violet were little, but I'll admit my efforts since moving to a farm have been half-assed (oh, the irony). Thankfully, my children know the taste of "real" produce, thanks to our beautiful CSA farm; now I think they're old enough to participate in gardening here at home, or at least old enough to let me do the gardening while they play!

The long-term vision is to raise some/all of our own meat, and to get as much of our other foods locally. So far, I've compiled a list of sources for local: tea, honey, maple syrup, beef, and a variety of fruits. A friend's husband just started roasting his own fair-trade coffee in a stone oven in his garden (I know you're reading this, L!) It's all very exciting, isn't it? We raise our own eggs, plan to raise some more meat birds this spring/summer, and have plums, grapes, apples, and wild raspberries right here on our little acreage.
 My husband knows what I'm up to when he gets home and finds the kitchen table looking like this. I sit, poised, with post-its and pen in hand, my favourite mug having been refilled all day, devouring knowledge in my favourite way: through books. We often joke that I need a table all my own, so I can spread out and not have to pick everything up again so that we can eat!
There are older "back-to-the-landers" in the area with a wealth of wisdom, advice, and cautions. Some smile knowingly at the folly of youth. But. Another small vow this year is to let my silver hairs be; away with hair dye! I had to pick up a pair of glasses for reading/fine knitting. And I've decided to be okay with that.

So. The folly of youth becomes the folly of the not-so-far-from-middle-aged. I'm good with that.

January dreaming. You gotta love it.

18 comments:

  1. Well, this is an exciting post! January is also my favourite time for perusing books and dreaming of future plans. Right now I am reading about chickens. I love your book pile - wish I could have a look at it myself. Too bad you live too far away for a visit. :(

    You have very pretty hair. Is it naturally curly? My hair is very long right now, but I'm going to have it lopped off this weekend - it will be about your length. Maybe I am starting to accept middle-age approaching, too. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. January dreaming is a really wonderful post.
    Dreaming of all kinds is really part of the whole process. And that is what I keep telling myself - as someone who is on the doorstep of "middle age".

    ReplyDelete
  3. One of my new year vows to let my gray hair shine. Good to know I'm not alone in this.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love this post! It captures the excitement of January so well, all those possibilities. I'm sure it will be a ton of work, but I know you'll enjoy your garden so much, and so will the little ones.

    Also, I, too, need a second table for my books. Drive's Matt crazy.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Despite living in suburbia, we have been making some pretty big changes to the way we eat. We've been buying raw milk from a farmer out near you, have been buying only local free-range meats, and last summer, we built a modest-sized vegetable garden. My goals this year are to learn how to can, to make my own cheese, and to get more involved in the urben hen movement - bring chickens back to the city!! Excited to follow along with your journey. Please post tips and anything else you come across

    ReplyDelete
  6. Many years ago, fresh out of school and living back in the bush of N.Ontario, we read a book called THE GOOD LIFE, by Helen and Scott Nearing.
    Now living in the hills of the Ottawa Valley, we again have the book on the nightstand for bedtime reading. I highly recommend it!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I LOVE the idea of making a list of all the things you can get local and where to get them. Here in the desert we are just a few weeks away from our "spring" planting so we can get a harvest in before the heat stunts every thing. Good luck with your garden. And let me know how you do potatoes...haven't figured that out yet!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for the timely post I should be planing my garden too. This year I want to focus on foods my family really likes to eat and things I am good at growing. I guess I should figure that out and get a plan together.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Funny how when something is right there and available to you, you get lax in your efforts to take advantage of your situation! Happens to all of us...but when you recogise the fact and change it, it sure does feel good! I want to have a much better garden then last year as well ( if the 103 temps will stay away this summer!) and am determined to "get after it!" Your post reminded me to pull out my books today too and I found an old one titled "Gardening Month by Month in Louisiana" that I forgot I even had! I don't even have to go to the library...there is some benefit to getting old and senile..our memories fade and our books become "new" again! And I am still looking for for Simple Abundance (even checked under all the beds in the house today) - I think I will have to purchase a new copy...I just miss it too much.

    ReplyDelete
  10. The seed catalogs start showing right about now and I start dreaming about what to put in my garden! Last year was a more difficult garden starting year as we had a newborn, but this year I'm ready! I'm excited to start seeds indoors until those tender little plants can be planted outside about mid May. I"m also planning my garden a bit differently this year. I've become involved with a food swap group, so I'm thinking of things I can plant that will make goodies to swap! I did can a lot of things last fall, but you are so right about the harvest time coming at a busy time of year!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Another wonderful post! I love it in the summer when I can say that everything on our plate came from our own garden or from our family. Don't forget about the local farmers' markets as a source of local food and that my mom sells excellent local pork (grown by my brothers Tim & Ed).

    ReplyDelete
  12. Bravo and hurrah! Brilliant aspiration and enterprise... Looking forward to updates...

    xo

    ReplyDelete
  13. Oh yes yes yes!! January dreaming is the best kind. In those dreams my gardens are overflowing with produce, there are no weeds, no pests, no water issues, just lovely delicious food which I take in and lovingly prepare for my family. The reality is I live on a mountain and that garden I dream of would take a back hoe, a lot of chopping of trees and trucks and trucks of earth. One day maybe, one day.
    Enjoy your week and your dreaming!
    Jennifer @dark blue dragon

    ReplyDelete
  14. Such an inspiring post. We too are working to grow and raise more of our own food, and sourcing as much as we can locally. Our maple syrup comes from our neighbours across the road :)

    Your pile of books is awesome, will have to search out some of them myself.

    Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  15. You just reminded me that I still need to choose what seeds I'll buy this year! And then, of course, buy them. Somehow I became too busy and dealing with toddler meltdowns and knitting while he's asleep! LOL

    ReplyDelete
  16. Right there with you mama! We've always had our urban garden and we've loved it dearly. This year we're making the leap to the country...so we can get more/do more with our land. You've got some great books there in your pile...
    I am finishing up my post on our seed saving adventure this week...I hope.
    xo

    ReplyDelete
  17. Oh intersting! One day Id like to folow in your footsteps, Im afraid I couldnt help but do the dye thingy this time,I dont feel my age and it was starting to look speckly so off to a nice hair dresser and now its a glorious warm drown with highlights,I do feel guilty but I made 47 with natural hair,the greys peaking through at the temple was not going to happen yet especially when iw anted so much to wear an ornage Tee ")

    ReplyDelete
  18. Oh, I know and love January dreaming, too! :) sweet, sweet dreams they are, and I hope this is the year all yours come true!
    -Jaime

    ReplyDelete

This space is a creative outlet for a busy mama; I warmly embrace your comments and feedback, as well as questions/requests for details. I do check them daily and will respond where appropriate! Thank you for visiting the Knitty Gritty Homestead!