It’s been an interesting month. We learned a ton. We are ending the “formal” part of our experiment, but we will take what we learned and continue to integrate it into our life. Here are some of the things we learned.
We can live without going to the store. But, this time of year, with things set up the way we have them now we would have to do without fresh produce of any kind. That was bad planning on our part this past fall. We know how to fix it, but the dead of winter it isn’t economically or logistically the smartest time to start. We have plans in place to solve the fresh food problem for next winter.
We can live (stay alive) on our storage. But, one can get pretty tired of stewed tomatoes, apple sauce, and green beans. We discovered that there were a lot of bits missing that would have turned our storage items into delicious meals. We are working on a list of spices, dried foods, and small quantities of other ingredients (like mushrooms, bamboo shoots, curry powders, etc.) that we will include in our pantry in greater quantities. By envisioning whole meals prepared from our food storage we are getting a better handle on what we need to grow, buy, and store so we can eat well year-round.
Bulk grains are a problem for us. We don’t have a good source for them. Kim’s post about using a food co-op got us thinking and looking, but we haven’t found one yet. We are really pushing hard on this. We didn’t run out of flour or other basic baking supplies this time around, but I can see the bottom of the flour bin and some other things are getting low too. Besides looking for a co-op or other bulk food source, we are also going to experiment with growing some of our own grain. I’ve seen it tried before. The results have been pretty bad. But, I have some ideas I want to try. Hopefully they will improve the results. Have any of you tried micro-scale grain production? What worked for you?
We didn’t have any problem with non-food items. We buy most of those in large quantities, and had recently stocked up. We did notice that we use a lot of things (toilet paper, Kleenex, zip-lock bags, etc.) that we should find alternatives for. This is something we will be actively exploring this year.
One of the reader comments on our first post suggested we explore ways of diversifying our income. That is another area we will be working hard on this year. There are a number of things we will be expanding and treating more seriously. Our farm shop is one of the main ones. We are also exploring other outlets for the things we produce. We will be offering a number of classes here at the farm when the weather warms up. Mostly hands on, experiential science classes for kids. There is a small group of folks interested in a series on micro-farming. I’m exploring that idea as well.
Some of the things we thought were good income generators are looking a little less promising. Egg production is something at which we have been looking really hard. Everyone loves our eggs and we sell a lot of them. But when we did the financial breakdown it turns out we really don’t make much from them. Sometimes we don’t make anything at all. It is time to rejuvenate our flock, so this is a good time to take a hard look at how egg production fits as a financial enterprise. I will be posting what I’ve learned on Friday.
We are still working through some of our other dependencies. Energy, water, access to health care, land payments, etc. It will be a long process, but we feel like we have made a good start. We are not independent. We are not even sure we want to be completely independent. But we are started down the road toward less dependance, more control, and greater freedom. Thanks for sharing our journey.