Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I've been pondering all of these wonderful homesteading blogs that I enjoy reading.  And chuckling to myself, because this new homesteading craze--it's how I grew up.  We all did.  All of us country kids anyway.  Our momma's had huge gardens (which we were pressed into weeding and picking), we helped make preserves and pickles and jams, we bought sides of beef and chickens from the neighbours to fill the freezer for winter.  My mom made bread for us, muffins and cookies--I don't think I had store bought bread until my early teen years, not at home anyway.  We had fish that we caught with our dad, and venison from my grandpa.  We didn't have hens, 'cause they smell according to my dad, but we got farm fresh eggs from the neighbour.  My parents huge garden had a compost heap (long before plastic composters were to be had), the garden was fertilized with manure from the family farm.

Don't get me wrong, I love that homesteading has become a new way of being/living for so many newly rural folk.  But I do chuckle at the notion that this self-sustaining way of living is new.  I was at a friend's house yesterday morning, a friend who grew up in the city.  He planted his very first garden this year.  Let's just say that this single man planted a garden that would provide for a family of 15.  He has enough tomatoes and beans to feed himself for about 5 years, if he gets it all into the freezer or canned.  I offered to teach him how to do canning and preserving.  He looked at me like I had just sprouted another head.  I offered him some gardening advice.  Again with the second head look.  I finally asked him what the heck was the matter.  His reply--"how do you know this stuff?"  I guess I have A LOT of knowledge tucked away in the back of my head, stuff that I haven't used in years.

I haven't had a garden for years.  Between kids sports, spring being the busiest time of year for a teacher, and just not enough steam to get things rolling in the spring, I just haven't done it.  I also moved a few years ago to a new house without the benefit of pre-made gardens.  A blessing and a curse.  Every year I have the best of intentions, but just never get there somehow.  But looking at the bounty of my friend's garden made me pine for it like crazy.  I think I might put the teenagers to work helping me get gardens dug and amended this fall, so that in the spring I can easily plant.  I have a vision!  And my hubs is likely cringing if he reads this, he knows what that means :)

My good friend shares the bounty of his garden and gave me a lovely basket filled with 5 types of tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans and onions straight from the garden.  A beautiful basket lined with a cloth, all piled up.  I ate a bunch of tomatoes and a cucumber with supper last night.  Nothing compares to produce picked that same day for flavour!  And he's offered more--I will gladly take him up on that offer, and he will be receiving some pickles and chili sauce made with his produce in return.

Speaking of chili sauce, I made a batch last night, with Ontario tomatoes purchased from the market.  Not as good as my friend's tomatoes, but they made a mean batch of chili sauce.  I need to make another 2 or 3 batches, 4 jars of this delicious sauce does not go far in a family of this size.  I think I'll make a batch of salsa with some of the tomatoes he gave me, and the ones I had leftover from the chili sauce.  He gave me some gold tomatoes, along with some kind of burgundy coloured ones (I don't know the name) and I think they will make a beautiful salsa--to look at and to eat!  I found a fresh salsa on pinterest (no 100 year old salsa recipes from my Scottish/Irish grandmother's!), that looks amazing.  I'll let you know.  And that reminds me to say what an awesome feeling it is to make something from a recipe that you know is at least as old as your great-grandmother would have been, 'cause it came from her recipe book.  You know, the handwritten, notes on the sides kind.  One of my most treasured possessions is a handwritten recipe from my grandmother--written in her beautiful handwriting, with her little notes to me on the side.  The best recipes ever!

I may even raise the hen issue with my hubs again....we go through a lot of eggs around here, it would be wonderful to have them right from our own hens.....that may be a bit of a hard sell.

My friend the Cargillwitch (hi ML!) posted an article on facebook yesterday (a link from the Toronto Star) about young, educated women taking up farming.  Great article, but some of the comments were even better.  The state of agriculture in North America is appalling.  The article was timely for me, given the thoughts I was already having about homesteading and gardening and such.  And I saw a Harrowsmith mag at my friend's house (I miss Harrowsmith, a "homesteading" kind of mag from waaaaay back that has gone out of publication).  Makes me ponder.

Today, no gardening, preserving or such.  Going to IKEA with my mom.  And likely some shopping too.  Talk about a change in pace!

Enjoy this overcast possibly rainy day :)

1 comment:

cargillwitch said...

oh! I miss Harrowsmith too! I have old copies squirreled away upstairs that I find at garage sales and used book stores.
I think we believe everyone lives the way we do- when we are kids.Part of my paid employment has been teaching what would have been known as " home economics" when we were adolescents. Twenty something new moms are eager and amazed that a person can grow and can their own food, make jam, sew simple items, knit socks.Once thought of as every day skills and nothing special suddenly in the course of a few generations are thought of as specialized as neurosurgery! I am thrilled they are so eager to learn but frightened that so much of our population are so dependent on others for the very basics of existence. Nicole? grow that garden next year! it is the best therapy in the world( and the fringe benefits are delicious!)