Independence Days

Independence Days is a thing that Sharon Astyk does at her Chatelaine’s Keys website. She gleaned it from a The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery, which is the one book I’d want with me if I was ever stranded on a deserted island.

The goal then is to update on progress toward sustainable living goals.

There is something that I always say to my clients, especially when they are in early recovery.

You start where you are.

It works for any situation. When I start to feel panicked that my family is not prepared for disaster, I take a breath and repeat to myself like a mantra: You start where you are. And each week, each day, you make some small improvement, or even just stay where you are for a moment and take a breath. Over time it all adds up to progress.

So where am I?

I’m in a little town in Northern Nevada. We convinced ourselves that being near family was at least as important as having easy access to food and other necessities. After failing twice to raise a significant amount of food in poor soil and a 75 day growing season–we’re having second thoughts.

But rural Nevada is where we are now.

While gardening has thus far been pretty unsuccessful, I do have hopes for this summer. I also have plans to start growing indoors in the next month or so. We live in both sides of a duplex with a connecting door, so we have a full, sunny kitchen that we don’t use for kitchen-y things. That’s going to be my grow room.

We don’t have any livestock, unless two kitties count. (They do to me, because pouncing spiders is one of their favorite games. And I haven’t seen any mice indoors despite living adjacent to an alfalfa field.) I’ve resigned myself to learning all I can about raising chickens and goats so that I’m ready when we move. I can’t get my husband onboard to moving lifestock with us.

I’ve done some stocking up, and we actually have a decent pantry right now.

We’ve been stocking up also on things like blankets, warm wool socks, jackets, and other winter things like scarves, hats, and gloves. We don’t have a wood stove or any real way to heat should the power go out, but our house is very well insulated and in a pinch blankets and warm clothing would keep us.

So here’s the plan. When Sharon does it, I’m going to do it, too. The goal is to plant something, harvest something, preserve something, waste not, want not, build community food systems, and eat the food you’ve stocked up on or preserved/grown.

Plant something: No, nothing in a long time. I did order a seed catalog though.

Harvest something: Without planting, there cannot be a harvest.

Preserve something: I stocked up on potoatoes and oranges, which are currently hanging out happy in my very cold laundry room.

Waste not: This is a big problem area for us. I get ambitious at the store, or I decide I’m only going to go to the store once a month or something, and fresh food rots. We need to get a handle on this. In Europe they shop for each day, and I’m wondering if that equals less waste. Having a pantry is a psychological necessity for me, but going daily for perishibles? I’m not sure.

Want not: I was in Elko last week and did some stocking up. The biggie was peanut butter. I bought 18 jars. In retrospect I wish I’d bought another case of 12. Peanut butter is a calorie and nutrient dense food that, barring allergies, even the pickiest eater will eat for the most part. It’s a good food to have on hand in case of some sort of an emergency that requires eating out of the pantry for a while. My family are peanut-butter lovers and we go through about a jar every ten days, which make 18 jars a six month supply. They were on sale for $1. I also stocked up on Cheerios, which are Ruby’s favorite and again are not a bad thing to have in an emergency pantry. They have a lot of fiber and are a comfort food. Oatmeal is obviously less processed, and cheaper even then Cheerios on sale.

Build Community Food Systems: This is the one where I always feel lost. Other than donating food to the local food bank, I don’t know where to go with it. I need to remedy that. It’s important to me to know how my community will respond foodwise to an emergency. We’re so far from any major city, that should deliveries not be able to get through we would have to depend on each other for support. I would also love to start a food-co-op. I did request that the grocery store carry some more gluten-free products and they said they would.

Eat the Food: I learned how to make a gluten-free slowcooker roast!

How about you?

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