Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sustainability: A Homegrown Lifestyle

Sustainability is a word used to describe a way of life for many people, including ourselves.  My husband and I live next door to his parents, and when I say next door I mean in the country with an area of woods between our houses.  Up the road are my father-in-law’s cousin and her family, and on the back side of the farm are my husband’s grandmother, two aunts, and their families.  Those are just who is in immediate proximity.  His cousins, aunts, and uncles live all around us within a few miles; and most of us chose a sustainable way of life.  It was the way the older generations survived; by their own means.  It is not how I grew up, and it was not my husband’s first or second choice as to how he thought we would be living.  It all started with me wanting a garden.  I didn’t grow up around gardens, but always wanted one.  After our second child was born, my father-in-law and husband tilled up a spot in our backyard and I started my first garden.  I bought books on gardening and eventually about canning and freezing.  I was a self-made woman who was providing healthy, home grown food for my family.  I loved it!  As the years have passed our gardens have grown to a large vegetable garden, a smaller herb garden, a flourishing fruit orchard, 40 chickens, 8 ducks, 60 guineas, 7 Nubian dairy goats, two horses, a miniature donkey, two dogs, and a cat named fluffy.  It keeps us busy with feed bills, maintenance, and little adventures along the way.  We now provide ourselves with seasonal vegetables, fresh fruit and herbs, farm fresh eggs, and raw dairy milk on a daily basis.  The men enjoy hunting for deer, rabbits, squirrel, and turkey.  They are not trophy hunters and only kill what we eat.  I have the joy of making fresh rosemary chicken sausage or sage duck sausages.  We have large freezers to store meat and some fruits and veggies.  We had an ice storm in 2009 and were without power for 9 days; it reminded me how much I loved canning those veggies and fruit jams.  There is a new food movement among us along with urban gardening and a growth in hobby farms.  More and more people are appreciating the freshness and hard work of taking care of themselves and their families the same way their ancestors did.  They say history repeats itself.  Perhaps this is our new path as history is coming full circle.  With surging gas prices, unemployment, and larger grocery bills; sustainability is fast becoming a way of survival for some.  I have the pleasure of being a leader for the state of Kentucky in the B Kind 2 Earth challenge.  Ask yourselves this, what are you doing in the means of sustainability?