It was one of those soft and comfortable evenings as I drove home from work; not cold yet not warm, cool and dim with a diffuse light that rounded and blunted everything like a slightly out-of-focus photograph. It reminded me of the ‘time between times’ spoken of in stories of Irish ghosts, standing stones, and time travel adventures.
I dealt with my chores and hooked the trailer to the truck, ready to go for a load of firewood after work the next day while the dawg was happily running about, sticking her nose into everything and rummaging through the old straw in the garden, tail wagging non-stop. It felt good to be out working in the gloaming, wearing old leather gloves and wrassling with equipment while the sunset cast a feeble gold tint on the western sky; echoes of when I was young and strong and walking home in the dusk after my farm chores.
There were no stars, just a featureless sky of deep velvet lit only by the trucks and combine in the field as my neighbor harvested his corn. I put some dinner on the grill, and sat in my patio swing with my dawg. A moment of peace, reflection, and quietude.
I rocked gently as I let go of the hurry and noise of the day, slowly becoming aware of the little things around me. The warm weight of my faithful old dawg leaning against me, one massive paw on my knee. The slight creak of the swing, that old familiar, peculiar whine of the combine in the field, the smell and sound of dinner (bratwurst!) sizzling on the grill, the cold beginning to nip at my ears and nose.
How I love living out in the country, in the quiet and peace! I wouldn't trade it for the most lavish of city dwellings! The cares and disappointments of the day are still there, but now I can put them into perspective, and spend some time in thought, in reflection, and in prayer for my family, and for my country. It seems that there are just too many heedless, careless, and selfish people with voter’s cards these days. Responsibility, morality, and wisdom were the losers this election, and I am gravely concerned about Daughter’s future as she prepares to graduate from high school and move on into the world. Yet I can take comfort in knowing that God is always in control, no matter what.
Current events also make me even more dedicated to a life of simplicity and self-sufficiency, and to protecting my little homestead. Am I going to run out next week and buy a thousand rounds of ammunition in fear of the zombie apocalypse? No. (Besides from what I hear you can’t stop zombies with bullets, but what do I know?)
But I am renewed in my determination to simplify and do more with less, while spending my money where it does the most good. At this point in time I'm actually spending more, which I really don't like doing, but it's time to purchase a freezer and a half of a grass-fed beef. High cost now, but it's an investment in high-quality, drug-hormone-GMO-corn-free meat for the next year. Looked at over time, not only will I save money over supermarket prices, we'll also be eating much healthier food. The second freezer will allow me to buy in bulk when sales are good for seasonal harvests, and have a place to keep the food until I can get it canned or dehydrated. As we use things up, I'll consolidate back down to one freezer and unplug the second to save on electricity.
It’s been a good year for stocking up food supplies, even though my garden wasn’t the best. I've been getting to know people and making contacts, learning to barter and trade - which I think will be even more of an economic necessity these next four years. I'm learning more about what we like to eat and to tailor our garden and food storage to match; for instance no squash this year, but lots of potatoes instead. I’ve discovered that canning meat isn't so scary as I thought, and it's great for long-term storage without worrying about freezer burn or electric bills, and it's been fun to develop recipes using my stored foods.
Here's one that we've been using a lot, it's so quick and easy:
Pint jar of canned chicken
Most of a half-pint jar of canned green tomato relish
Mayo (home-made or store bought)
dehydrated onion, chopped fine
dehydrated carrot, chopped fine
dehydrated apple, chopped fine
Drain chicken and relish but don't squeeze dry. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, using just enough mayo to hold it together, and allow to set for a few minutes to blend the flavors. This recipe is really adaptable - I don't measure anything, but simply adjust for taste. This can be spread over home-made bread for a sandwich, or mixed with cooked pasta that has been chilled for a quick and easy salad.
Until next time, may each of you know the "peace that passes all understanding".