Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Our Way, part two

Although this probably actually comes first.

Feed Thyself First

It is one of our mottoes. Along with Sic Gorgiamus allos Subjectotos nunc. I mean, one can’t have too many mottoes, can one?

It means that we eat, we gorge even, on whatever is in, in season. When there are cucumbers, there are cucumbers at every meal. When there are eggs, eggs are for breakfast, eggs are in the bread, desert is based on eggs, etc. Recto reverso, when there are fewer eggs, well, there are fewer eggs.

It means that we eat before we put up. If we picked gooseberries yesterday, I make a gooseberry pie today. If I pick blueberries today, tomorrow morning it is waffles smothered in blueberries. I want to put up winter fruit, yes, but not at the expense of not eating it now. And I’ll confess, this was a real problem at first. It is a real temptation when you first start to think about providing for yourself later to neglect yourself now. It is easy to let the reward be the shelves and the freezer filling up while the family eats macaroni and cheese. That is a homesteading sin. And honestly, if you don’t eat a gooseberry pie now, in the winter when you come across the gooseberries in the freezer, your taste buds won’t tingle at the possibility because they won’t know it. If you don’t eat one now, what you will remember about gooseberries when you come upon them in the freezer in the winter is that you were sweating and they were full of very sharp thorns and how very much trouble they were. Eat it now, then in the winter you will think, oh my, what a treat a gooseberry pie would be, I’m so glad we picked and froze those.

It means that we adjust our tastes to eat what can grow around here and to what actually ends up growing well for us. We’ve never, for example, grown as many carrots as we easily could eat, but we do tend to grow enough winter squash to see us through, so while we thoroughly enjoy the carrots we do get, and while I am not above buying some or taking someone else’s waste and using them joyfully, well, I really love all the ways to fix winter squash (savory, herbed, sweet, pies, casseroles, etc.).

It means we never ever sell something before we are gorged on it. We don’t do without salads ourselves in order to sell lettuce. We wouldn’t sell potatoes until after we were sure they had produced more than enough to feed us. I’m not about to sell my quality produce in order to buy inferior produce.

Folks, feed thyself first.


Alecto said...

ok, I don't feel so bad about eating all those strawberries.

jenny said...

Very true! While I am disappointed my rhubarb is doing poorly this year and we are not able to freeze any, I am glad that we had enough to eat now. At least a little sampling of it in cakes and pies before it ran out.

I came over here from Wendy and I was intrigued by your comment on making 100 jars of jam. Just how many people are in your family? As a family of 5 (soon to be 6) we eat about 45 jars of jam a year, roughly one a week, give or take.
This does not include the ones we give away as gifts-- so I think on average, I make about 75 jars of jam.

CG said...

Our family includes six people, three of whom are teenagers or growth spurt pre-teens, although the 100 pint thing has been in effect for years. And that's 100 of blackberry -- that doesn't count whatever else we make jam from. But the goal is to have plenty, which this last year it was a very good thing that we had plenty left from years before since we didn't get the 100 made last year and we went through all that we did make.

The Purloined Letter said...

Now this is the kind of philosophy I like!

Anonymous said...

We are having a devil of a time competing with the local rodentry for our foodstuffs out of the garden. They left the tomatoes alone, but the squash are off the vines as soon as the blossoms are fertilized and start to wilt. Of the two developing squashes we've got, one is already chewed to sh*t. Unfortunately, it's obvious we will need to do some fencing and building before putting in beds. There's no point in trying to grow something that'll get "stolen" before we can get to it.

Other lost produce due to animal banditry:

passion fruit
sugar cane (recuperating)
bell peppers

I hate to put a fence up, but the hard choice has to be made.

Ren said...

I like this motto.:)
I think we could go through at least two jars of jam per week...I've never put up enough to last all winter.

laura said...

that's exactly what we've done with our budding garden. seems like we had tons of lettuce, spinach and green onions for weeks and now that's thinning. but during that time, it was salads all the time. we also had radish tops for the first time. sauteed with the green onions. kids thought it too bitter, but samuel ate all his anyway. i think i'll stick to plantains since our yard is so full of them.

i know in this first year of having a garden there will be no putting up since i started so small. but i will remember this advice for next year.

CG said...

Yes, eat. But you can also put up. Maybe not from your garden, but from pick your own blueberries maybe, or apples when they come in, or corn when it is 12 ears for $1, or wild food (blackberry jam maybe? I just saw elderberries in flower somewhere on I26 near you on my way home).