First, feed yourself

Long ago and far away when we first started this whole homesteading then small farm venture, our ambition first was to feed ourselves. We slowly achieved that goal, and at some point in 2008, we were producing almost everything we ate. We had Elly to milk, we had a herd of Tamworth pigs, all the birds for eggs and meat, and extensive vegetable gardens. We had active beehives, we made maple syrup, we foraged extensively for wild mushrooms. I canned, we used the dehydrator, five freezers were full. We bought flour, spices, coffee, booze, and not much else.

We then had surplus to sell, especially meat, eggs, some veg, maple syrup, honey.

So our first goal in this new place is to again get to the point where we feed ourselves. It’s going to be helped greatly by the H.U.G.E. amount of food we still have on hand. The size of my pantry of canned and dried goods is sort of astounding. We still have freezers full of beef and pork. We are hurting on the frozen veg, because this year was basically a bust, and without a milk cow, we have no dairy products at all. But we are way ahead of starting from scratch, so that’s good. I probably even have enough lard for us for a year with more to sell. (Frank says way more than that. Must get that rendering, which will free up some freezer space.)

We have imposed a hard and fast rule that there will be no new critters until we have very good fencing around wherever we put the gardens and along the road, so though I really, really, really want a cow, that’s going to wait. This is Vermont. There are cows everywhere and finding raw milk from happy grass-fed cows is trivially easy. We also want pigs, probably fairly early in the spring, but those are easier to contain with electric fence, of which we have plenty. Some of the people I sold breeding stock too are even in the area and will sell back to me at a deal because they like them (and me!), yay.

As we are sorting and unpacking, we are already trying to figure out where the seed starting will happen. We have a ton of shop lights with full-spectrum grow lights, now all up in the barn loft. We have seeds to go through. I have a potting bench, trays, heat mats. So when I panic that “first, feed yourself” is going to be hard, really, it’s not. We know how to do that.

Here I am, looking forward to spring when winter hasn’t even begun.

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