My friend Francine and I were chatting garden seeds when she mentioned she had been reading the Evelyn Richardson (a local lighthouse keepers daughter) books and if she lived back then, she would have starved. I said “Back then there was no Plan B!”
No grocery store runs if your garden didn’t turn out, no takeout, and no Amazon delivering to the lighthouse. There literally was no Plan B if you didn’t plan for food storage.
We eat 80% from our garden, from the food we put up and from the animals we raise. We go to the store however it’s more out of want than need, if we are honest and we swing pretty freely, aisle to aisle, in that 20%.
But as I age, I realize living in absolutes is for people who haven’t really LIVED. Therefore we will try to plan food for our family like we have no Plan B , but without a shred of guilt if I need something I can’t grow. Like olive oil . It just isn’t going to happen. But we know for the most part, we are doing all we can.
So what are we doing this month to make sure we are living like there is no Plan B as much as possible ? Well, lots actually. Homesteading is hard work, it happens all year round , and it involves planning. ( I just ordered a new homestead/farm planner from Alison Weaver – Her Story in Alberta. You can get more info on that Here)
But don’t let the hard work discourage you ! If we can do it, you can too. The satisfaction that comes from being intentional in raising our own food keeps us going year after year. I absolutely promise it will for you too!
Okay so here we go :
1. Meal Plan : this reduces food waste, it lets us see what we are really eating week after week, and how our food is rationed until the next batch of butchering. How many chickens a month do we need ? We use three whole chickens a month so right now we have 18 chickens in the freezer to last us till June ; one turkey every two months until October – we only have four in the freezer but one is cut in half as it was huge so that counts as two; a ham/pork roast every month so 9 till we process again; 2 lb of ground beef a week …..you get the picture. It allows me to know how much I need a year, how much we need to raise. If you are purchasing from a farmer, same idea.
2. Garden Plan: we can always grow something. You can too. Even if we just grew our herbs that helps. We are blessed with a 1/5 of an acre garden space that allows me to plan a garden filled with what we like to eat ( hint : a big time and money waster is growing things you DON’T like, heh heh- hello, fennel ).
We start planning that now: Ordering seeds, drawing out the garden on paper, looking at last years garden journal. It all means I’ll do better this year, as long as Mother Nature behaves!
You can check out our gardening for families and kids video series on YouTube we did last year during quarantine Here…this was loads of fun !
3. Learn the skills to use whole foods : so this month that means usually making lots of bone broth. I try not to let anything go to waste. So I have to sometimes learn the hard skills, while some I have always known having grown up on a farm. Apple scrap vinegar is a perfect example. When it’s Apple season, I can use the scraps to give me enough vinegar for the whole year.
Same goes for using the whole animal . You can be darn sure I get questions in my house when I am roasting up pigs’ liver, heart etc . It’s not my kids first choice, nor mine as I was forced to eat liver as a child, so it’s going for dog food. I use a mixture that’s rationed properly and then freeze in small bags clearly marked “dog food” (this is important, just ask me how I know. )
4. Read, borrow, listen and buy resource books: Yah yah , I know “just google it” but here’s the thing, I like having a resource that is always there. The internet might not be for whatever reason. I have books on storing root vegetables, cleaning naturally, canning and preserving, looking after and raising animals for meat, cookbooks, garden books etc. All help me be more intentional, get inspired and to be just a little more self sufficient. Every time I pick them up, I learn a little more and that usually happens in the winter.
5. Look at our money: just ugh. Although I went to university for Business, this part is a drag. HOWEVER, I have learned that if I don’t get things planned out in January, we worry a little more and kmeans we get less intentional in every aspect of our life, including growing our own food, because worrying is draining.
I usually try to knock it out in small time frames, like 20 min or so, then I move on to something else. Also I have found Dave Ramsey a huge inspiration in becoming debt free. I want to be able to be outrageously generous in this life so that means “living like no one else now so I can give like no one else later!” (Love me some Dave Ramsey, check him out Here)
6. Research and plan what you want to raise: okay so if you think I haven’t been distracted by cute baby animals, you’re wrong. But I have gotten stronger in my will to be intentional on the farm/homestead. I just had the chat today with the kids that we aren’t breeding rabbits this year. We don’t eat them ( we sell them for little to no profit), and it takes valuable time we need for other things we do raise to eat. Am I going to miss the little kits ? Absolutely, but “intention” is my mantra.
So look very carefully at what you want to raise or spend your time on. And for goodness sakes, if you get chickens for eggs, make sure you have a plan for when you end up with roosters ! Read all about beginning chicken keeping in my free ebook for when you subscribe to my blog Here.
7. How can we store more food? : every year I try to store up a little more. This year I really want to build a cold storage. But even if I get more storage carrots and onions put up I’ll be pretty happy! It’s all about the small victories.
And that’s really enough for this month. I hope you found it helpful what we are doing this month to be more intentional.And really, if you are just starting to get more intentional about raising your own food, just pick one thing to do. But it’s important to just start.
Every step into this intentional life is a step forward towards more self sufficiency and a life well lived. My wish for all of us in 2021 and beyond.