Homestead Hurdles

by Hannah

The only fresh, local, certified organic vegetable at the co-op right now is cabbage. My partner made miso soup for dinner, to try to wipe out this cold. Carrots (Cali) and lots of ginger (Cali) and probably a whole head of garlic (Cali). Tofu (not sure where from), miso (non-GMO soybeans), and whole wheat noodles.

I’m in the midst of Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I would miss ginger if we did an all-local diet.  I mean, I would miss chocolate, black and green tea, and spices from the east, too. I could give up coffee – I’m already working on that. But ginger?

It’s hard eating locally in the winter. Left work early this afternoon because my head was pounding and I was starting to feel that dizzy hot/cold flu-y stuff, and walking past the row of vegetables…I wanted every one. Two or three bunches of bursting, flowery kale, a few heads of broccoli, a full parsley salad with dikon radishes…I was craving all those summer vitamins the way we yearn for longer days this time of year. Sickness brings that to the surface, I suppose.

Next year, I hope to have plenty of stored garlic for my January miso soups. Beets, carrots and celariac buried in buckets filled with sand in a root cellar. Canned tomatoes and pickles and frozen berries and rhubarb…

How does one do all this? How do you start from scratch and produce a full-fledged, functioning homestead? I’m having trouble finding time to stack this year’s firewood, not to mention start cutting and splitting and seasoning next years’ cord or two. What gives? Can’t stop paying the bills, bettering myself, building family, taking time to relax. (The latter of which, latent, is surely what causes the sniffles and headaches I find myself plagued with every few weeks.) And when I get sick, or she has a bum knee, or we have a dog crisis, or the holidays burns us out like an old oak struck by lightning, well, then it feels like ten steps backwards. And when you’re the plumbing in and out of the house, and there’s not quite enough room from side to side to sweep the dirt into a corner, getting behind becomes a crisis in itself, and I suddenly wonder if it’s all worth it, if we should just go rent an apartment in town with all its amenities.

But did you know that goats lick their lips when they see you approaching with hay? It is the sweetest thing in the whole world. And when they stop chewing mid-bite, letting you stroke their neck and jaws for minutes upon minutes…