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.