When one does not watch a lot of television sometimes you have no other choice than to get into really long conversations. 🙂 Papa and I pass many hours talking about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness. We always talk about our dreams. We would love to get far out of the city, find us a few acres and live off the land. To be completely self-sufficient. The small city where we live will not allow us to have chickens. Even though people who live 2 miles away can. Well as much as we hope one day for our dreams to come true for now it looks like we will have to make do with what we have.
I see so many beautiful blogs of people who are living this dream, but what about the rest of us who live in the city or are not allowed to live off their own land? This brings me to goal # 3. To not be reliant on grocery stores for food. This of course is still a work in progress.
We often wonder with so much hunger in the world why our country decided to grow lawns instead of food? I look across the street at all our neighbors perfectly chemically sprayed green grass and think wow we are wasting SO much land we could be using to grow our own food.
One of the first things Papa and I did when we bought our house was to find the best place to plant a garden with our first crop being tomatoes. Each year we have made our garden a little bigger adding more and more crops. We now have blueberry bushes, potatoes, onions, garlic, broccoli, zucchini , cucumbers and lots of peppers. We hope to add grapes, spinach, and carrots this year.
I have learned how to can tomato sauce, and salsa using our crop as well as make breads, muffins,and jam for the freezer. We are now in the process of making room for a “root cellar” in our bedroom. We had a lovely little storage space that connected to our bedroom from the backyard. Papa made a doorway in our bedroom wall to connect it on the inside. We have left the floor concrete, as we live on a slab, and this is the coolest place in our home while using the wood burning stove. Perfect for storing bushels of apples and potatoes during winter.
Okay what about meat (if you are not a vegetarian)and other things you can’t grow in your yard ? Find local farmers in your area and make friends. It truly has been very rewarding to get to know the people who are behind raising the food on our table. We are truly blessed to have SO many local places in our state to purchase food.
Once you find a farmer who believes in the same practices you do (free roaming, organic, and no hormones) see if they offer bulk purchases. Once a year, our family of (now) 4 saves and purchases 1/2 a steer, 1 hog , 20 chickens, and 1 turkey to last us through out the year. We believe in using all of the animal that gave its life for us and not just parts.
You will need more money up front this way but in the end it is much more cost-effective than buying from the store (averages about $2.99 a pound) and you are getting local, fresh, organic food. This of course will fill 2 stand up freezers so you will have to make sure you have enough space. Again our home is 980 square feet. We have learned how to organize our space quite well. You also want to make sure you have a back up to run your freezers if you were to have a power outage. A years worth of food would be a terrible loss. We have a small generator for this reason.
We get our eggs, milk, and dairy from a farm, buy our honey (which we hope to start our own hives soon) and maple syrup by the gallon from a farm and the majority of all fruits and vegetables we don’t grow from farmers.
For us good food is our top priority right under shelter. These 2 areas are not negotiable. There are many other ways to cut spending. Really look at your budget, keep a journal of all your spending. I love the idea I read (I believe over at Simple Mom ,great information over at those blogs ) about having a separate envelope with a budget for each of your purchases, for example food in one envelope , clothes, school supplies, field trips,and entertainment each have their own envelope. This way you see first hand which savings you are taking from when making a purchase. I want to add that we are considered a low-income family and “could” qualify for government assistance if need be. I know what living paycheck to paycheck looks like. I have also come to realize that electricity is a luxury that gets taken for granted. Remember baby steps, one step at a time.
So now you grow your own food, can, put back, and purchase the majority of your food from farmers what is left?
Learning how to cook from scratch. With prices going up at the grocery store this really is becoming a necessity.
So what does my pantry look like and what comes home with us from the store? And how do I find the time to cook from scratch? Well I will have to save that for my next post.