After it became clear to me exactly where I did not want to spend the next year of my life (away from my family at school) a discussion ensued as to what the next year might look like for us. It was mostly relating to the garden and our desired family business, but they are so connected to how we live as a family unit, each decision affects all.
As so often happens, the further away from a situation one gets, the clearer it becomes. I believe my wanting, getting, and declining school was not all for nothing. Not so distant to have figured it all out, but far enough to come to some definite conclusions.
We (meaning me) are forever planning, listing, goal setting and looking waaaayyy ahead. But with all this hard mental (and physical) work being done, why are we not achieving success? Instead, not quite hitting the mark, we reside to simply try again.
We want to provide the majority of our families food for a full year, every year. Not each single item for twelve months straight, but a variety of continuous supply. Whether that be frozen, fermented, stored, picked fresh from the garden, or harvested from the island. Just not bought from the shop, out of season, shipped from Monoveggieville or Poorlytreatedanimaland.
This is entirely possible. After all, we are not inventing the veg. And it is already being done by tens of thousands throughout the world (guestimation). We own the tunnel, the books, the tools, and are surrounded by other great gardeners, fertile soil, and plenty of land for grazing our animals. And we’re smart, hardworking people. So what’s the problem then? What’s holding us back?
Then it hit me. Standing there in the veg section holding a cucumber wrapped in a plastic sleeve, it hit me. Not the cucumber, but the light bulb moment. Perhaps it’s proper motivation we lack. Maybe this needs to be a matter of necessity, not a choice with a produce aisle safety net attached to it. I put the cucumber down, ignored the packaged tomatoes on the to get list, and returned the chicken to the cooler where it belonged. I was not going to buy them anymore. Out of season, non organic, lacking taste, and often thrown out because of premature spoilage. We are done with it. I will add it is the veg and not the shop. Our shop offers so much for our small island and the owners will order in anything I request. So grateful.
Johnny was fine with the decision and the children seemed surprisingly excited by the thought. It wasn’t the reaction I would’ve predicted. Margaret Maeve immediately got thinking about lunch alternatives. The question was raised that if we eat less sandwiches, could I start making our bread again; I just couldn’t keep up with the demand. My youngest boy Tadhg’s (pronounced Tíge) only concern was whether we would still be eating spaghetti or not (we will).
It already has created more kitchen work for me. Quiche takes much more time to make than a few cheese and tomato sandwiches. But I like cooking and I’m okay with that. We will still buy some fruit for now and get planting more. And we’ll need to pick and freeze triple the amount of already available berries and apples than we did this past year. The extra garden work this creates can’t be ignored either–collecting the free manure throughout the summer a couple times a week instead of every fortnight. Gathering more seaweed, more sowing, weeding, watering, feeding, fishing, harvesting, storing. Storage space alone is a logistical challenge. Currently we overwinter bicycles in a corner of our tunnel. Figuring out which chickens are still laying and which are ready for the table can’t really be ignored any longer. How does one even do that? This one small decision is a huge step for us.
It won’t be easy to start. Meals will be made using less variety as there is much we will have to go without until seeds are sown and have matured, but we still have some of our own veg available in the freezer, pantry, and garden. Eggs and meat are plentiful, though there is extra work added there as well. It’s all doable, that is with proper planning and commitment. We will try to keep focus on achieving small successes rather than the end product–experience says this is how we were left feeling very overwhelmed in past years and disappointed at lack of progress.
We came to other conclusions about what the next year holds for us, a mixture of fun, challenge, and necessity. This is the first one to get put into motion. We’ll be tested for sure when we’d rather spend mornings in bed and days in a row at the beach this summer. Someone please tell me that you’re doing it successfully and that the rewards are worth the efforts.
While blurred vision is a large factor in our not accomplishing this goal, there is another reason that cannot be overlooked–the realities of having a family, dependents. Young children take up a lot of time, are very distracting, and require loads of hands on parenting. Please God, this is the year that there is some balance with this and they are working aside us more and pulling us away less. They are well able to understand our decision and accept that it’s just the way it is. They know that our family is better off because of it. They join in on our family business conversations regularly, envisioning their roles. The older ones have great influence on their younger siblings and this will work to our advantage. They all get that when we work cooperatively, playing together is more enjoyable because Mum and Dad are more relaxed and present.
I do believe I am beginning to ramble on, so I shall go walk the dog, think about my Haiku and 52 Weeks of Photos Challenge, and take all this one beautiful day at a time.
Any advice, suggestions, and personal experiences are forever appreciated. Xx
*photo credit ‘summer sunset from the kitchen window’ goes to my hubs, Johnny