There’s an “ah-ha” moment when you’re open eyes are suddenly seeing, a moment of bewilderment settles on your shoulders, and you look at each other and say “What the heck are we doing and why?” From that moment forward, every thought, every endeavor, every plan, dream and goal are fueled by the fire of your new found spirit. Choices that seem like they would have been impossible to make just a few years ago, just “become”. There’s no second guessing or questioning it.
I suppose homesteading, like most things in life, comes about from a dissatisfaction with, or a realization of something. Several years ago, we were becoming more and more dissatisfied with “food” at the grocery store. Chicken breasts seemed too big. And the chewy texture and bland taste just made us angry at how much per pound we had paid for them. We kept saying “What is WRONG with these chickens?” Meat was quickly becoming unappealing to us as well. So many things we were bringing home just didn’t seem “natural”. We found a local butcher, who buys all his meats and chickens from local farmers in the area, and this is where we now purchase all our meats and chicken. It does cost more than grocery store, yes. But, one of the choices we made was eat less meat and chicken because of this fact. Sometimes, it’s just not in the monthly budget. Yet, we don’t feel deprived at all. I usually get a mix and match package that costs around $60.00, and from that I can make several different meals. (More on that in a future post.) And the satisfaction with the taste, texture and the knowledge that these animals came from local farmers in nearby areas is well worth the additional price.
The same is true for vegetables. After several failed attempts at trying to find a satisfying tomato, we decided we would grow one ourselves. We headed to our neighborhood nursery, bought tomato plant and a cherry tomato plant. We were just tickled with ourselves as they started to produce blooms, eventually turning into beautiful red, juicy ‘maters. When harvest time came around, we planned a cookout to celebrate. A fresh grilled burger with a garden fresh tomato on it – oh, pinch me! The cherry tomatoes were eaten like popcorn by our family. The sliced tomatoes were eaten on the burgers, and as a side dish. It was quite sad when we realized we would have to wait another day or two before we could have another tomato ripe enough to eat.
While discussing how delicious these tomatoes were, one of those “ah-ha” moments slipped in. If we could grow this, why can’t we grow anything? And this set about our plan for our garden the following year. The next spring, we had several tomato plants, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, and green runner beans. Each season, we include these items in our garden, and try a few more. This past year, we tried heirloom seeds for the first time and were more than astounded by how successful they were. I kid you not, we had 8 foot high heirloom tomato plants! We finally got tired of staking them and just let them grow together so they looked like a huge tree. The heirloom carrots, radishes, cowpeas (field peas) and cucumbers did well also. There was no luck with our squash or corn, but I think lots of folks had trouble with those this year. Too many bugs from a mild winter before, and a drought during the summer left a lot of different crops at natures mercy.
And this has been the natural progression to the point we’re at now. Growing as much of our own food,(naturally without chemical pesticides or fertilizers) as possible; purchasing from local businesses and farmers; “weaning” ourselves away from the “traditional” world, where quality is sacrificed for convenience or faster service; and decreasing our dependency on the outside world as much as possible.