Friday, August 11, 2017

50lbs of Flour

I have been sharing on social media my plans to set aside four months worth of ingredients for winter. Things like flour, yeast, salt, potatoes, rice, cooking oils, pastas,  etc. Mostly, the kind of bulk commodities that can be boiled or baked into a starchy base and stored at room temperature.

Nothing dramatic, the kind of stuff you can fit in regular kitchen cabinets without a backyard bunker. Food that is generally cheap, but gloriously enhanced with sauces, cheese, meat, and spices. I have been up to this for a few weeks. Freezing goat milk and cheese, buying a few extra cans of pizza sauce, getting flour in 50lb bags from the local Amish market. Basically getting my hibernation nation in order.

Out here in the countryside this is normal, economic, and prudent. Everyone is canning tomatoes, slaughtering livestock, and sighting in their rifles for deer season. But online it seems at best, eccentric, or at worst - launching into a book about "a year of cupboard living!" or a survivalist panic about North Korea.

I think sharing these plans online gave people the wrong idea? This isn't about locking the gates at the first flakes of snow and eating purely out of house, never to enter a grocery store or restaurant until spring thaw. I am sure there will be Game Nights with pizza delivered and the occasional trip into Saratoga or Manchester for a meal out. This isn't about purity of intent or a reaction to fear. It's about feeling safe, comfortable, and hospitable during the hardest months of the year.

I want a farmhouse full of food and a woodshed full of firewood because it makes me feel good. It's emotional insurance, as well as kind to my budget. When the cold months come I want to know that this place is a sanctuary. When there is a foot of snow outside and more storms on the way - I want to know that bread is rising by the woodstove and coffee is perking on top of it - even if the power has been out for days and the roads are impassable down the mountain to town.

The house is heated by two wood stoves. Both allow cooking on their ranges and one has an oven. Electricity makes life easier here and the internet is fun, but it isn't needed to keep me warm, fed, and safe. There are oil lamps, candles in bulk, and food set aside for months. There is a fresh water stream and deep well. There are livestock, seeds, warm blankets, and firewood. If the zombies come, this isn't a bad place to be. I mean,  I am an armed black belt guys. But it also helps (I am sure even more so) that I have three big geese that sleep in front of my main door at night in the lamp light. No one messes with angry geese.

As I write this I see myself wanting to slide into that prepper bravado. Bragging about what a fortress this is. It isn't. It's a country home. But in today's culture a normal country home does seem like a fortress compared to some urban apartments. Look around your kitchen. Do you have enough food on hand to feed yourself today? What if guests stopped by and you were both skint on cash? Having a few jars of sauce, some frozen meatballs, and some cheap linguini ready to whip up means never having to worry about dinner or sharing a meal with a hungry friend? Wouldn't you feel better right now knowing those things were in your presently bare cabinets? Wouldn't it be even awesomer if you had 2 weeks worth of pasta set aside? See where I'm going with this? For me, living with an unpredictable income means food is one less thing to worry about when sales are light. A lot of urban freelancers would do well to live more like country farmers. I know Seamless takes credit cards, but c'mon.

I want to be a safe place for friends and visitors. I want them to know a warm bed, kind dog, and hot meal are here. If you stay at this farmhouse on a winter night you will wake to bacon and eggs, piping hot tea or coffee, a giant library of books, a warm fireside, animals to tend and care for, dogs to cuddle and cats to ignore you - even if the rest of the world is in chaos. I want this not because I expect chaos, but because life is hard enough when trains are running on time. Make it easier if you can.

I want my winter energy to go into creative forces - like writing, design, and illustration. Or to go into the harder work of tending a winter homestead.  It's hard enough making it as a single, self-employed lady. I don't need to worry about being warm, fed, and safe on top of it.

I'm storing up food so regardless of outside forces it means I will be okay - not because I think the world is coming to an end - but because it is just me here. And I want to know I can depend on me through thick and thin.