We have always tried to live simply. My kids have rarely seen the inside of a McDonald's since their father stopped working there. I love to cook and I love to bake. Anyone reading my Cooking blog will have seen that the one splurge we have besides the Internet and satellite TV are the sodas. To many sodas that I intend to find a way to get away from. One way or the other, but I digress Being as that we live simply as it is and I can feed a family of 8 on 150 dollars a week and that includes all my cleaning supplies, toiletries and medications when it came time to think about living simply I had to take it a step further. Were slowly going to move into homesteading. The problem is where to start.
We already have electricity and water from traditional ways and we have a house we are living in that only needs a good cleaning and some appliance upgrades. I could seriously use a new fridge and stove. We heat with a combination of the fire place on one end of the house and room heaters in the rest of the rooms on the other end of the house due to the fact the wiring in the furnace shorted out a couple of winters ago. We have window unit air conditioners because well..... We live in Arkansas and in July you can die in this heat easy. Its not the heat its not the humidity its both.
Though those things all need to be changed, switching to solar, and upgrading appliances would be the most expensive options. I’m sticking to city water because we live to close to a paper mill and the Arkansas river for me to be comfortable with the ground water here. So I needed to figure out a way I could save money so that we would be able to afford the Solar panels and appliance upgrades. The best option is gardening and finding a way to make our meat consumption less expensive.
Eggs have gotten outrageous. Milk is expensive as well, we have already switched to powdered milk because I can't afford the real stuff. Fresh veggies are right up there too. Paying nearly a dollar a pound for potatoes is sad paying nearly three times that for apples are even worse. So we are starting there.
We would almost have the money to do everything with the tax return except that we have to pay the back taxes on the land that daddy paid to the lawyers he bought the land from and some how never made it to the tax collectors office. We still have to pay part of the 2006 taxes and all of 2007 and 2008. 2008 can wait a few months that won't kill us but the rest have to be paid before we lose the land. that’s around 1000 dollars so that’s where most of the taxes will be going.
The rest will get going to buying three Arkansas Black Apple Trees, and three Gala Apple Trees. The Arkansas Blacks are late season apples but are good for everything from eating to making pies to making applesauce and they store very well. So were going to add those even though we won't get apples for two or three years its a start.
We are also working on plans for a chicken coop and hoping to order some B.B. Red Old English Chicks. Then we will have eggs and chicken to cut back on exegeses as well. We just have to figure out how to garden.
Okay my grandfather had the greenest thumb on the planet. He could grow or raise anything. I on the other hand kill house plants. So now I have to find is talent in skill in me. Unfortunately with his Alzheimer’s he can't help me. So I’m pretty much dependant on my own research.
Thanks to the Mother Earth News I now know how to go about planting potatoes and thanks to where we live, we can do both early and late potatoes. So that’s another place to start. I’m hoping to grow both Sweet corn and Indian Corn. The Indian Corn can be dried and ground up into mesa that we can use for baking. Which will work well.
I’m also using some old Native American Myths to help me in my gardening without chemicals attempt. The Three Sisters in Native American Myths are Corn, Squash and Beans. The kids don't really eat Squash but if I can find good ways to prepare it rather than the fried mess my grandmother always made Apparently the beans and squash will help add nutrients into the ground that corn needs to survive. The Corn can act as stakes for the beans, and the squash as ground cover to keep the weeds from growing. These things make me happy.
On top of that Ill grow peppers and Tomatoes and set up a run for the chickens around the garden to keep out weed seeds, bugs and rodents. I’m hoping to also have strawberries, lettuce, carrots, Snow Peas, broccoli, Watermelon, Egg plant, Pumpkin, Cucumbers, Onions, and Cantaloupe.
Ill probably do several different types of beans and peas if I can find the room. There is plenty of room up on the hill, but I’m afraid there isn’t enough sunlight even in that clearing. There isn't as much room down in front of the house, where we have been planting the garden but I won't have to buy several water hoses to water the garden. I think I should save the hill for the fruit trees and the yard for the garden.
I think we can expand the garden area, if we clean up that area where Bear's storage building use to be. We might have to cut down one of the trees but it would open up a lot more room and sunlight if we did. Neva might kill me for it though. So that’s where we are going to start and as ambitious as it is, I think if I start looking at the garden as our only option for feeding this family we might actually succeed in making it work. Now I just have to figure out how actually get everything to grow out here in a place where only trees grow and only if they come about the way a forest usually grows.
To anyone who reads this, welcome to our journey.