The year of food

I don’t make new years resolutions. I don’t make arbitrary promises to myself that I MUST start on January 1st. The whole concept of a new year’s resolution just seems like the most difficult way to accomplish a goal. It’s cold, It’s winter, and our brains are naturally geared towards settling down into established routines, eating too much, and napping. This is not the time to force yourself to run every day no matter what. One failure, one nap instead of a jog will be so disheartening that you might just give up your whole plan.

Screw that.

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Instead, I’m going to do like my forefathers. I’m going to sit by my fireplace,and ponder what comes next. For weeks now I’ve been sitting, warming my toes, and reading. Since the farmer’s market season is over, We’ve taken this opportunity to review the 2013 bread production from our small business.  I’ve been reviewing sales lists, pricing structures, and marketing ideas, and coming up with some new ideas which, I hope, will work!  I’ve been reviewing our garden map, plant output, and pouring over seed catalogs.. I’ve bought a collection of books on making cheese, root cellaring, homesteading, and of course, I received Joel Salatin’s new book for Christmas.

2013 was a rebuilding year. 2014 is going to be the year of food. In 2014 I would like to significantly cut back on our trips to the grocery store. I would like to see how much we can do at home, and how much we can keep over winter. Canned goods, dried goods, and a root cellar.

ImageOur house inspires me more than anything else ever has. It is a beautiful old building and I wish the walls could talk. This house once saw true homesteading. There are a million incredible little details about the property that make me feel so inspired and leave me daydreaming about the women of the past that must have lived here. Someone planted the rare daffodils that bloom on one hillside and the wild roses that grow along the tree line in the yard. I imagine some tough old bird waking the men up when this was still a mill house, and putting coffee and fried potatoes on the cook stove. I imagine children from days past picking grapes out of the arbor over the chicken coop and mothers throughout history putting muddy boots out to dry by the woodstove. When I walk around our property, I can clearly see that this house was designed and used by people who were making their own food. The chicken coop is far enough away that the rooster wont drive you insane, but still close enough that the dog can keep the possums at bay. The berry patch next to the pond, the grape vines on the outbuildings, the smoke house in the back.. It’s all here to be used. This year, we’re going to do what we can do right now to prolong, enhance, and increase our home food production. Last year we dabbled in eating off our land. This year, I’m going to take it very seriously. I’ve got plans to build a root cellar, all of my seed selection is geared toward saving and storing, I’m going to bring the raspberries back to life and pay more attention to the grape arbor. There’s a fruit tree across the street and several mulberry trees at the end of the driveway that I have decided I will actually pay attention too. I’m going to look into what it takes to stock a pond and I’m going to consider adding fish to our pond. I’m going to learn more about eating crayfish and I’m going to try to do more of that. We aren’t permitted to hunt on the property, but I will be bartering with a hunter friend to get more venison to eat. I’m going to consider meat chickens. I want to have pigs but the infrastructure and time needed is prohibitive for this year.

2014 is the year I’m going to cut out the grocery store as much as I possibly can.

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Transitions

I wrote an email to one of my favorite authors awhile ago, and the gist of it was “how do I know when it’s time to quite the day job?”

Amazingly, she replied! She said simply “do what makes you happy”. So I have.

Unfortunatley that has meant that my company has stopped grooming me for management, but you know what? That’s totally ok. I don’t want it. I do not want to drive to the city and shake hands and sit down and discuss red tape with you. I don’t want to put on a business suit and heels and put my kid in daycare. I don’t want your money.

I want to find out if the red tail hawk that keeps roosting on the fence post puts a nest in the tall oak tree next year. I want to find out if the fox I keep seeing in the field finds a mate. I want to watch my dog catch voles and be around to supervise my chickens free ranging. I want my kids to get off the bus and take a walk through the woods with me, I want to take them to the library and let them hold the chicks that are going to hatch next spring. I want to walk around with a basket and some music, weeding the garden and gathering the eggs.

I would give up all your money to do that. I would give up just about anything.

Unfortunatley. There’s this thing called debt. I have some. It isn’t an insurmountable task to pay off the debt, but it means It isn’t time to quit the day job quite yet. I’m going to be using the Dave Ramsey system of snowballing your debt payoff, and by my calculations I should be debt free by early 2015. If everything goes like I hope it will, I should be able to stop working a day job around the time my son finishes kindergarten and goes into summer break.

While I’m working on it, I’ve decided I’m going to blog about the transition. I’ve been blogging on and off at different sites since I was 15 and I like being able to go back and look at my thoughts.

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In Spring, Life is renewed again, Reborn.

“Spring is the season of birth. In the gust of her birth waters, the spring floods, the Great Earth Mother brings forth new life again. Summer, the warm season, is the time of growth and increase. Winter is the ‘little death’. In spring, life is renewed again, reborn.”

It’s funny how on the internet, people only broadcast the positive aspects of their lives, where as in real life, people seemingly never stop complaining.

In the last (almost) year, My life has gone through extreme radical change. I started this blog to “find my way” to where I wanted to be in life. Somehow, as if by magic, I have ended up exactly where I wanted to be.  My life isn’t perfect by any means. I still struggle with the most basic of “keeping your $#@ together” life skills. I’m a bad driver, I’m always late, and most of my clothes are too worn out and should be thrown away.

However, I wake up every morning in the midst of a fairy land, with three happy children and a wonderful man. One year ago, I never thought I’d get here, and now, Just by virtue of being myself, I’ve arrived.

 

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The Little Death

In my all time favorite series of books, I distinctly remember this conversation the main character had about winter. They call winter the little death. Even people, they said, sleep more and talk less.  This has been popping up in my subconscious a lot lately.

I think that maybe for awhile, I’ve been having a personal “little death”.  Things shut down, died, and went to sleep.  I think I’m at peace with this. It is all ok, because without the little death, there can be no spring awakening.

I think I might be ready to wake up now.

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I am thankful for my hard life.

I have tried several times to concoct some politically correct and dinner table appropriate statement to describe what I am most thankful for this year. I never did manage to come up with anything that felt true in my heart. The things I’m most thank for aren’t really pleasant things, and they certainly aren’t dinner table appropriate.

Ever since I was a child, my life has been full of the kind of trials that taken individually, would have been the worst moment of anyone’s life.

That is the biggest blessing God could have ever given me.

Through my trials, I have learned that even in the most horrible circumstances God’s love is real and is there. I have been blessed with the strength to make my way through almost any situation, and to see a clear path to better my life. I know that even if no one else seems too God is right there with me, wanting all good things for me.

Through my mistakes, and the mistakes of others that I’ve experienced, I’ve learned empathy and understanding for people who are making bad decisions or who are victims of the bad decisions of others. I’ve been blessed with the ability to love them and to want them to move down the right path.

Through the poverty and hardships I’ve experienced, I never grew desire for material wealth, popularity, or physical appearance. It did however give me an appreciation for hard work, a love of doing things for others, and the knowledge that life is worth more and is better spent when you are close to the earth and right with God.

My hard life has done more for me than I could have ever experienced if I grew up in a 2 parent middle-income household, and I cannot even begin to describe how thankful to God I am for that.

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Sometimes All You Can Do Is

I have decided, the best course of action for this blog and for my life is to start fresh.  The past year, past several years really, are all not something I care to dwell on or think about.  Soon enough that chapter will be over.

The new chapter is much more exciting.

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Man Plans, God Laughs.

I’ve always really appreciated that phrase. It goes right along with my personal mantra. “Life is a journey, not a destination”. There is no end goal to my life. I’ve got a lot of little goals, though.

Sometimes when I compare my life to the lives of others (don’t do this!) I think that my path has been significantly harder than theirs. Maybe it hasn’t though. Maybe my life just has more lessons in it.

If you think of this journey as a class room, the people with a so-called “bird” class don’t really get as much out of their studies as those in a class where the teacher challenges them. Constantly outperforming my own personal best is what makes me who I am.

I started this blog  a little more than one year ago thinking that I had all my ducks in a row to really “get somewhere”.  Silly Me. There is no “somewhere” there’s only learning, trying, doing.

Many of my lifelong dreams are looking impossible these days, and it’s extremely difficult to imagine a future without them. I have to constantly remind myself that just because one aspect of my life fails does not mean that all other aspects of my life will not pan out.

I am going through a separation. It is horrible and hard and lonely. It’s wonderfully freeing and terrifying all at the same time.  It has also made me question and worry over a lot of my life’s dreams.

I do not need a list of things that I know are gone from my life, or a list of all the reasons I’m making this transition.  Life is constantly moving, shifting, changing. There is NOTHING that I cannot do or have or become in the future.

I will find my place of happiness. No matter what I have to go through to get there.

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