Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Home Farm Movement. . . Raise Chickens . . . Avoid Hunger

One of the best things about the home farm movement and raising chickens is the food. More and more people are taking part in this movement to become independent, insure survival in economic downturns, and eat a nutritious organic diet reminiscent of generations ago. Home prepared meals from home grown gardens, meat and eggs from chickens, and often the addition of a milk goat, bee hives, or whatever slice of country life the homeowner has the room for.

It's the life our grandparents lived, except for modern conveniences to cook and prepare food with. What we're now calling 'slow food' isn't nearly as slow to prepare as it used to be, of course. Frankly, I couldn't be more pleased that even people my age are beginning to want to live this way. One of the highlights of my childhood is visiting my grandparents farm. You see, my Grandma and Grandpa were pioneers, in a way. They scrimped and saved for several years after they were married, because they wanted a place of their own. Living in a tiny house while Grandpa labored day and night to keep up with the milking, plowing, and gardening for the owner of that house and farm was a way of life they desperately wanted to escape.

And escape they did. After having saved up a small nest egg, Grandpa refinanced his old jalopy to make up the difference between it and the $300.00 asking price for a 40 acre plot of land "out in the sticks". It was heavily forested, so they first had to harvest a few trees to build a tiny house that served them until they had two kids. Little by little, they added to their house until they finally ended up with a three bedroom home, plus a barn and shop. They put up with much doomsayers and criticism, but persisted with their plans, planting a garden that was the envy of all the neighbors every year and raising a variety of farm animals.

It's the fruits of their labors that I remember the most . . . Grandma's cooking. The refrigerator may have looked bare, but in no time flat Grandma would be calling us in for dinner. Her secret stash was in the "fruit room" (the first room of their house), the 1958 Coldspot freezer she was so proud of, and the root cellar. To this day, I can still almost taste her mashed potatoes and hamburger gravy, cole slaw, homemade bread, corn on the cob, apple jelly, and, of course, pie for dessert. The next morning, she served potato cakes from the leftover mashed potatoes.

After running ourselves ragged to and fro on Grandma and Grandpa's property, my brother and I ate like farm hands. Before going to bed on the pull-out couch in the living room, we 'helped' Grandpa chop kindling and bring wood in for the next morning's fire in the ancient dining room heater. We always woke up when Grandma started the fire in the morning, but being city kids used to a thermostat set at room temperature, we pretended to be asleep until the warmth of the heater began to spread throughout the room.

Throughout most of my childhood, Grandma raised chickens, and I took it upon myself to be the egg gatherer during our short visits. Mostly, she had White Leghorns she'd bought from a nearby neighbor. Grandpa was a logger before retiring, and had both eggs and toast, as well as oatmeal -- every single morning. They lived a simple life. worked hard, and lived frugally.

A visit to my grandma this last weekend sparked these memories . . . she doesn't really remember me, but I sure remember her . . . with great warmth, love, and appreciation.

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