When I was just a kid, early teens, I dreamed of living high in the mountains, surviving by my wits and what I could grow. Even then I knew I couldn’t kill anything so I figured if I couldn’t coax it out of the ground or collect it already laying there I wouldn’t eat it.
Thinking about it with the clarity of age, I realize puberty was the primary culprit. Puberty and the seventies. At that time I wasn’t considered capable of holding my own checking account, renting a car or making serious decisions for myself. My age had nothing to do with it. I’m a girl. As hard as it is for young women today to comprehend, until the mid-seventies women had to have a male co-signer on everything. At least in my world, tucked away in Wisconsin and Michigan. The heart of America.
So I suppose it might be a natural psychological response to want to escape. Little did I know how hard the undertaking would have been. Hats off to those Mother Earth News types who homestead their land, grow all their own food and live off the grid. We do only a passing nod to that lifestyle and I’m here to tell ya – IT’S HARD.
With just five fruit trees, fifty grape fines, six nut trees, seven olive trees and two rather small vegetable gardens I spent the better part of six months canning, pressing, freezing and fermenting. That’s not including the other half of the year spent making sure said flora remains alive and producing. Remember I still have a Costco and numerous grocery stores to stock my shelves. The simple life isn’t simple! Yes I know what’s in the produce I grow, my olive oil has as much terroir as my wine, and I really truly appreciate consuming my own stuff. But we don’t do any protein sources (that comes from stores or my neighbor’s chickens) nor do we do dog food, many condiments, cheese (because despite my goal of becoming a cheese maker – I don’t have the set up and well – I had to draw the line somewhere), vegetables I can’t get to grow in my 100 degree, windy summer days and a whole host of odds and ends that make a dinner party pleasant and not a survival demonstration.
All this is to help you appreciate your local grocer, farmer’s market and yes – even the home gardeners who are trying to pawn their overabundance of whatever on you. Take it. Enjoy it. Simply be grateful that you can share in their joy and efforts. If the spirit hits you to try out a more agrarian lifestyle my advice is to go slow. Understand what you’re getting yourself in for before plunking down your 401K on farm acreage. Watch old episodes of Green Acres like documentaries. And if you decide to join us. Welcome – stop by and we’ll share everything we know.