Lay The Groundwork for the Future- Part 1, by Sarah Latimer

I really feel like a farmer’s wife this week. We’ve been busy up to our eyebrows harvesting, processing the harvest, canning, freeze drying, dehydrating, and even butchering as well as doing some welding and other structural homesteading chores. Whew! It’s been a hard but productive week. I am exhausted and thankful that Sabbath is almost here so we can rest, and even before it arrives I give God great thanks for His goodness and provision and for the knowledge to participate in the cycle of life!

It’s Hard Work, But It’s For Their Future

There are mornings when I wake up really tired and just think I would really like to roll over and stay in bed for another hour or two before facing my very long “to do” list, but then I think of my family. I picture the big round eyes of my grandchildren, who are continuously seeking to explore, learn, and understand the world around them and are such soft pieces of clay needing to be gently molded and firmly protected so that they can become the unique and productive masterpieces God has destined in His heart for them to become. I think of my adult children and the hard work they invest in caring for our family and their own families and the productive physical, intellectual, and creative contributions they make to society, their families, and to me personally. I think of my hard working husband who is just brilliant and relies upon me as his help mate to oversee many aspects of our living, including our nourishment and supplies for such, and I think of the friends, extended family, and community that need our help, too. I think of our parents who we care for who got up to check on us in the night when we were children eve when they were very tired and would rather have just rolled over and gone back to sleep. I think about the future that seems more and more likely, where there just aren’t enough resources and people are hungry, sick, homeless, and desperate to survive. It usually doesn’t require me to get that far into the thought process before I am up and getting going, but some days I have to go all the way through this logic to get the motivation to push this aging body onward. This body that used to belong to a “morning person” and jump out of bed before sunrise is not so enthusiastic about leaving the comfort of her very comfortable Temperapedic bed after a short night’s sleep. The days are long and the nights too short, but we will do what is required during the harvest season, because it won’t always be a harvest season. Winter is coming. Hard times are coming. Some are already here around us, from what I am hearing.

Are you prepared to care for yourself and your loved ones in the event that the produce trucks stop rolling into your community, if stores close due to lack of electricity or commerce? Do you have the resources, knowledge, and experience to be able to provide for your family long term, if California and Florida don’t produce and we can no longer import produce? What if your community were cut off from the rest of the world? How would you survive without the grocery store, gas station, bank, or dollar store?

Is It Really Too Hard?

While I listen to some of my lady friends talk about their experiences with high prices and even recalls on store produce, meats, and supplies, our family is enjoying a plentiful supply of homegrown fruits, vegetables, and herbs as well as eggs and meat. We are at the peak of our garden’s harvesting and I am enjoying being able to share the bountiful blessing with them. They are grateful because they either don’t have gardens, have given up on their garden, or only had a tiny one that merely gave them a small taste of the potential goodness a garden offers. Guests at our dinner table rave over the feasts of whole grain breads, flavorful vegetables, tender meats, herbed side dishes, aromatic beverages, and delicious desserts.

Some of the friends who had gardens have given up on them due to weeds, drought, heavy rains, or just the busy-ness of life. It wasn’t as easy as they expected it would be. They enjoy the delicious proceeds from my garden but just weren’t willing to put in the time and energy to give their own garden a real go this year, or they only had a few containers and barely had anything to show for the work they put into growing a few plants. Those in that latter category are the ones most earnestly seeking more. It is my hope that they will expand their gardens next year, because they have learned and tasted the difference in homegrown and store bought. They’ve seen some success and know it is possible. Some of these folks are farmers who produce grains for livestock in massive quantities, but their families just don’t grow food for themselves. It is an adjustment to pursue self sufficiency by growing small beds of many types of crops, but it is necessary.

I sometimes think about the childhood story: The Little Red Hen and wonder at what point it will begin to apply. So far I am still able to share, some. However, I am careful not to allow anyone to become dependent. Other families need to become self-sufficient on their own. There will be a day when I cannot share any longer. What they have is what they will live (or die) with. It is my hope that they will see the benefits of my garden and desire it for themselves. I am happy to help them along the way, but they have to do the work.

Like anything, you get back what you put into it. Fruits, vegetables, eggs, and meat don’t just drop out of the sky like manna. It takes work, practice, and some failures to teach you along the way before you begin to really get it right. Also, what works for me where I live– with my soil, weather, water, seeds, and practices– may not work well for you. There are basic principles, some of which I will describe below, that apply everywhere, but we have to find what is required for where we live. I have repeatedly read and experienced that the greatest investment should be in the soil. It takes time and effort to get the soil right. It is the foundation and the “ground work” so to speak upon which the garden depends. One of the biggest differences by area is pests. What pests I battle may be very different from what you battle, so solutions are different, too. However, having healthy plants is a great weapon against pests, and you don’t get healthy plants without good soil– the foundation of your garden.

The Foundation of Your Food Supplies

A garden should be the foundation of your food supplies. I cannot emphasize this enough! While you may be storing years of dried foods in your larder, there will come a time when that food either expires, gets used up, gets destroyed or stolen, or has to be left behind for some reason. It simply won’t last forever. I do encourage everyone to have a larder of stored foods, preferably several year’s worth of food that they are accustomed to eating and that can be easily prepared. However, knowing how and having the means to grow and produce food as well as preserve it is much more valuable than having a really large larder, because you can then renew your food inventory when there is no food to be purchased and shipped to you. You are not dependent on others, so long as you have stored seeds, maintained gardening tools, access to water, and good soil.

Are you willing to begin the journey to gardening? Do you want the confidence that you can provide food for your loved ones? It is work, but you can wake up thinking about those you love and know that you have the ability to invest in literally nourishing their future. It takes work and perseverance, and in some locations and environments it requires more effort than in others. Are you willing to begin the journey to lay the foundation for a renewable food supply? If so, start laying the ground work– plan the location and start building the soil right now and through the fall and winter. The soil needs time to become rich. It may actually take years before your garden soil is producing optimally, so do not delay.

I don’t think we have time to waste. I know that I am already grateful not to have to spend hundreds of dollars a month on meats, eggs, and produce and to have a higher quality than what is available at the markets, with absolutely no pesticides or genetically modified organisms. Wouldn’t you like this same satisfaction? Wouldn’t you like this kind of security, even if the banks and grocery stores close? Wouldn’t you like to not begin a countdown to the end when the SHTF but rather know that you will be able to continue growing and increasing your supplies (or at least slow your depletion rate through your garden supplementation)?

In part 2 of this article series, I will share ideas for how to determine the best location for your garden and prepare the soil, including possible crop covers to put in right away. Please start thinking about how you can be part of the production of your food rather than just a consumer and storer! Your life and those you love may depend upon your knowledge and experience with food production and preservation. There is no time to waste in learning these skills! Even our government is telling us to begin preparing, though Obama says it is because of “global warming” that we need to do so. Finally, he doesn’t act like he is our savior and that everything is okay. Of course, he can’t be blamed for global warming, can he? Global warming is not even on my list of concerns. Temperature fluctuation cycles take place and are normal. What is not normal is a cosmic (way beyond skyrocketing) level of national indebtedness, irresponsible government bail outs, and red carpet invitations to terrorists to come and dwell among us. We must learn to care for ourselves and those we love at home!

Food production and preservation is a fundamental skill I encourage you to begin pursuing and practicing NOW!