Going Back to the Land

I still have a lot more city girl in me than country, depending on how survivalist a mindset you might have. Sure, I love canning and storing up food for my family, and having chickens and eggs and a garden this summer made me as giddy as a little girl playing house in her tree fort…

But I want more! I’m so intrigued by people who can survive without electricity, without purchasing or relying on stores for food, people who know how to make their own herbal tinctures and can walk through the wild identifying edible plants and herbs.

If you’re like me, you could spend hours checking out articles like this one on canning meat or this one on making your own bread (which is about way more than simple breadmaking!) or this long one on raising chickens or practically everything at this Backwoods Home Magazine website!

I recently discovered the best-kept secret in our rural community! We have a CSA farm less than ten miles from us…one that sells shares for summer and winter organic garden produce, as well as raises lambs, chickens and turkeys to sell, honey, and more! In getting to know this Christian farmer through emails and his newsletters, I’ve been invited to come help butcher chickens and turkeys on Monday! What a great learning experience for me and my oldest daughter.

What do you guys think of learning to survive on your own resources? In any case, something like this Emergency and Preparedness Guide might be very handy in the coming year…

I’m adding a pressure canner to my wish list!

25 thoughts on “Going Back to the Land”

  1. This is a great post Mary! My dh and I have recently made a herb/vege garden. I can see our world is going to get more and more scare on it’s resources. I see the need for us to be self sufficient hopefully in the future. I’m formerly a city girl too but I LOVE being in the country out of the hustle and bustle.

    Amy’s last blog post..The 11 year old gang leader

  2. Rather than seeing the future as a scary place, I’m thinking it could pose a fascinating challenge, and one that might bring neighbors and strangers together…that is assuming the Great Trib isn’t right around the corner! If so, I’m outta here! ;O) I’d love to see your herb garden, I’ve always wanted to do a little kitchen garden right out my back door…one of these days…

    Mary’s last blog post..Going Back to the Land

  3. I grew up in the country and now live in the city–it is a challenge to find ways to stay connected to those roots, but exciting too. It makes me appreciate even more the upbringing I had. This blog is inspiring me to try and grow a little indoor herb garden!

  4. Living in the city would make living off the land difficult. I know that my MIL is talking about thinking about getting a cow because she has a few acres.

    I’m not sure how bad it will get, or if it will get bad at all. Certainly during the tribulation you’ll find many more living off the land.

    MInTheGap’s last blog post..Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

  5. Yeah, Colleen, I hear you! Yet they say if there is a food/gas shortage or war or other reason to make it hard to get food, all the stores will be out of everything in three days. This website I kept linking to has an article that outlines exactly how much TP a family of four would need to last them one year for instance. Little things quickly become big things when you have no access to them.

    Well, MIn, even city people can plant gardens. In apartments one can garden out of containers on the balcony. But as far as raising chickens and cows, yes, I get your point. If things get bad, we Christians with land will need to band together in little communes to help those from the city survive.

    Leticia, those country boys are pretty indispensable, huh! And yep, I’m going to “attempt” to learn to butcher chickens at least! They seem to be a good place to start! πŸ˜‰ I actually was supposed to go out Monday but the weather was too frigid, so they postponed everything for tomorrow…we’ll see how it goes! My ten year old is going along too, pretty gutsy girlie!

  6. Wow what a brave 10yo! Good for you two! You have to be sure to tell us how it goes. I would love to learn more about being more self-sufficient. This year my DH started a garden and we had a small supply of our own veggies. We hope next year to have a larger garden (and hopefully be outside of city limits by then in the country!) but with Baby on the way due pretty much any day now (November 5 is the EDD) moving is a very scary thought right now. My DH has started hunting with my Dad though and they got an elk a few weeks ago so we have 1/2 an elk in the freezer and they are hoping to do more. We did do canning this year and our cold room is fairly stocked with canned peaches and jams and pickles, and my DH even decided he wanted to try canned watermelon rinds (his Mom gave him the idea-she had them growing up). I know that there are so many more ways that we could be self-sufficient though, but as a family starting out sometimes the cost of “starting up” for those things is more than we can handle. For instance, we would love to grind our own wheat for flour, but we don’t have the money to 1) buy a wheat grinder and 2) order the wheat in, since around here it is more expensive to grind your own than it is to buy already ground flour. But DH and I have a constantly growing list of what we would eventually like to do and things like a wheat grinder get put on our Christmas gift to ourselves so come Christmas him and I will choose what we think we need the most and treat ourselves.

    Hope everyone on your end of things is well Mary!

  7. Everything is wonderful on my end, Geri, thanks for asking! I can’t wait to hear news of your LO’s arrival! Maybe he or she will be born on my daughter’s birthday, this Thursday! πŸ˜‰

    Pickled watermelon rinds! That’s an example of not letting anything go to waste! I’ve heard of them, but never tried/tasted them. Are you a fan?

    I just know you’ll be doing all the above and more someday, as you learn it all. It’s wonderful that your hubby is as excited about it as you are! Isn’t it wonderful to look at all those jars and know that you have wholesome foods put back, mmm! I want to have a bigger garden next year also, can’t wait.

    The chicken butchering went well! We had the most patient of teachers, and I was just feeling more comfortable with it when we finished up! So I’d like more practice, lol! My daughter was the official chicken head and foot remover…she enjoyed herself so much…we’re both excited about future trips to this special farm!

  8. Mary and crew now can claim “experience” in butchering chickens. They did a wonderful job and are quick learners. Enthusiasm and practice will perfect the process, and speed it up substantially, too, but all in good time.

    As for TP for a year . . . can’t anyone remember what corn cobs are for? And before that, the native Americans used mullein leaves – now referred to by hikers as “backpackers’ TP.” Oh, and horseradish has really big leaves if anyone is interested to know.

  9. Oh TP stories… As a college student I went on a 2 week backpacking trip in the desert above Palm Springs in the winter. The leaders went thru our packs before we started and removed many items they were going to teach us we didn’t need. No toilet paper allowed! It was the desert, no leaves on trees, just Joshua trees and other cactus. Well I’m here, 25 years later to tell you that rocks are handy. There is no need to stock up on paper. Buy seeds and dry lentils or something.

  10. Geri, I’m not sure what part of the country you’re in, but buying wheat berries directly from a farmer can be done in areas where wheat is grown. Food buying clubs purchase bulk wheat and other grains in large quantities so as to pass on the savings to their members. If you order wheat berries through a healthfood store, note the mill name on the bag and contact them directly. In terms of storage, it is much better to purchase the whole grains, then grind flour fresh when you need it. The berries will keep substantially longer than the flour itself. Eating breads made from freshly ground flours will let you see the taste and nutritional superiority of grinding your own flour. This becomes a wonderful teaching tool (the grinder/grinding process) to make sure your children understand how and where their food originates.

    We used to take children into the corn fields to “glean” behind the combines. Ears of whole corn were picked up, put into a two-wheeled cart, and pulled back to the farm where we taught them how to shuck and hand shell the corn, then grind it into cornmeal. We then taught them to make cornbread. Steaming hot, buttered, with a drizzle of honey, and partaking thereof – we then read the story of Ruth from the Bible. For the first time, they began to understand the gleanings, the handfuls of purpose, the amount of work involved, and the power of the story.

    Unfortunately, we can no longer glean in the local fields as then, due to the fact that over 90% of the corn grown in America today is GMO based.

  11. Hmmm, maybe keeping horseradish in a container garden isn’t a good idea…might not want to limit my leaf supply! πŸ˜‰ If you could see our property now, you’d know how ludicrous the idea of not having enough leaves is! We’re CARPETED in leaves. Beautiful yellow ones. Very interesting and handy TP info here, thanks Cena and John! Lol.

    On the chicken butchering, thanks for your kind praise, John! But I definitely noticed the butchering was harder the second time we helped…as your wife explained the dates and signs of the moon, and it not being an ideal day to butcher according to them, I really had my interest piqued! Pulled out my Farmer’s Almanac for 2008-09 and read that section, on the best days to cut hair, butcher, quit smoking, etc. I never put much stock into that, but now know better because I could definitely tell that things didn’t go as easily this last time. For instance, the entrails would NOT pull out worth anything. And last week, they slid right out. And that day was a good day for butchering according to the “signs”. Strange!

    Geri is in Canada, btw. Great info here for all of us on the wheat berries. I’m so blessed that my mom can grind wheat and shares freely with me. You are right, there is nothing better than freshly ground ww flour made right into bread. Mmmm!

  12. For those of you “stuck in the city” while fantasizing about country living, but feeling like you have to wait until you get to your dream acres before you can begin “living off the land,” here’s a great site about urban homesteading. This family has already grown 6,000 lbs. (3 tons) of food on 1/10 of a acre city lot, and are attempting to raise that to 10,000 lbs. this year. You can read about their progress and purposes here: http://www.pathtofreedom.com/about/urbanhomestead.shtml

    A lot of people are absolutely amazed that our own farm supplies hundreds of people with food every week of the growing season on such small acreage. Folks hear about us and image an 80-100 acre farm, when the food raising portion of our farm is about 2.5 acres of garden and about 2.2 acres of pasture land. Little is much when placed in God’s hands” – remember the boy with the 5 loaves and 2 fishes, that when he placed them in Christ’s hands, 5,000 men plus their families were fed? God can divide and multiple your blessings to spill over onto others.

  13. I know I was amazed and still am, at how you maximize your acreage, John! And raising 10,000 lbs of produce on 1/10th of an acre??? That’s almost unbelievable! I opened that site in a different window just now and am glued to their story, it’s fascinating! Thanks for sharing this!

  14. With four to six bales of hay and an old storm window or two, one can build a “cold frame” in which salad greens can be planted. You can have a garden fresh salad 2-3 times per week nearly all winter long with such an arrangement. Not much effort, not much space, minimal expense, and the result is a great winter blues breaker sith wonderful taste and nutrition. Just face it to the south and your “winter green” garden is ready to go!

  15. Oh wow! I read about doing that last spring on some blogsite, and Cena and I discussed it in comments. I’ve always wanted to try that…I need to plan ahead better for next winter. As in having a storm door and seeds, etc. I think that would be a super fun project!

  16. I think I can still do this here on the west coast… If I had 6 bales and a french/glass door for the top (hubby has removed and saved many such doors while remodeling) I could do it! I think we have the bales, but then our sheep would go hungry. Think, think, think.

  17. Have you thought it out yet, Cena? πŸ˜‰ That would be a delicious project. We don’t do as many salads in winter time as summer…but they would sure be a good complement to all the soups…mmm! What’s your favorite salad lettuce? I usually buy Romaine and Green Leaf.

  18. I love romaine and the frilly red stuff. I have a tendency to mix all my lettuce seeds together and plant often. Whatever comes up and is large enough gets cut and brought in. Whatever out of the cut stuff grows back, grows back. But I usually have a separate area for romaine that I let grow bigger. I like the inner crunchy leaves that grow inside the more mature heads. I also have a list of non lettuce greens that I get, mix together and grow in summer. It’s so hot here from the first of May till the end of Sept that lettuce is bitter and bolty. (My spell check informed me bolty isn’t a word.) I live on salad. Especially now that I’m trying to eat a great deal of my food raw for health reasons, I want non radiated organic greens. I put the darkest greens in fruit smoothies. Yes, I eliminate green now…

    Another fun thing to do is plant the root ends of all the onions we use. They grow another onion. The kids love it.

  19. Oh that would be a fun recycling project with the onions! Hope I can remember that for next year…that and mixing your lettuce seeds together, how fun!

    I love the inner crunch parts of romaine also, yum! I’m looking forward to trying some of John’s chard and kale next year, that will be a new experience for us.

    We had blackberry smoothies this morning and I was wishing I had some fresh spinach to toss in! Can’t wait to try a green smoothie, I’m hearing about them everywhere these days!

    We need a catch-up email, I’m curious about our girl!!!

  20. you guys keep it up and please write more about your activities…its great to read and inspiring … me and my best freind are looking for a land in Oregon for our “live of the land” plan … can’t tolarate the city lifestyle anymore…

  21. I sympathize…having spent several years of my childhood in Austin, TX…to this day, rush hour traffic makes me shudder! But that’s the least of the reasons why I’m glad it’s the country life for me. Hope your dream comes true, Oregon is beautiful! Westward, HO!

  22. Southern California is experiencing a severe drought, and unless substantial rainfall ends the drought, the water allotments from the canals will be significantly less for farmers in ’09. This area of the U.S. raises about 45% of the lettuce and greens for supermarket sales. Many Cal. farmers have indicated they won’t be planting any lettuce this season. So we expect fewer quantities and varieties of lettuce available in the stores and at higher prices, unless you want south-of-the-border fare that is irrigated with human sewage, then “nuked” (irradiated) for your convenience.

    So, all the dreaming about a garden needs to find some feet! Better get some seeds and start planting some lettuce. Remember, rabbits and deer like lettuce, so you’ll either need a fence, a dog, or a non-rabbit area to get your lettuce beds going. We are planting extra lettuce to sell this season, knowing that no supermarket has as many varieties or anything so fresh as what we can raise.

    Sure glad we never need to go to Wal-mart to buy anything! We do still buy bananas, olives, citrus, semi-tropical fruits, and a small number of other items in local grocery stores. We buy most non-farm raised items through area food buying clubs. We still buy TP, but do know how to deal with the lack of it if need be. Our table is set with 80-100% foods raised from our own farm for every meal.

    We’ve been shelling and munching our own popcorn recently – oh, so good for winter time snacks (or any other time too)! So we have plenty of corn cobs on hand for other duties.

  23. Ew…no south-of-the-border sewage sprayed lettuce for me if I can help it. Yes it’s ever the bunny dilemma at our place when it comes to spinach and lettuce crops. I’m glad to know about this–I think. πŸ˜‰ Best to be prepared. How early do I need to start planting lettuce seeds here in our area?

    I’m so impressed that you can self-supply most of your needs. And pretty soon you’ll be able to grind your own wheat and corn!!! I know you’ll love that.

    We do love your popcorn! I ground up some for my mom to try in cornbread the other day…haven’t heard yet how they liked it, but am sure it will be a favorable report! Ours was so delicious!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge