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Independence and the Food Chain

Star-shaped Pancakes for 4th of July (Eve - the day before)

As I worked in the kitchen this morning, I was thinking about the Independence we sought as a family regarding a food supply. It has been almost a year and a half since we bought any bread. Scott was making it while I was working, and when we switched to me being home and him working, I started making bread.

We received a letter from our son’s school urging us to take part in the school lunch program. We wrote back that we were perfectly happy to supply him lunch made on homemade bread, with jam made from berries he helped pick.

Then we started thinking about that lunchbox. Sure, the bread was ours. We make our own mayonnaise, and raise our own meat and vegetables. But the snacks and treats were store-bought, mass-produced, full of preservatives and who knows what else. We had to ask ourselves if we were really living up to our dream of providing for ourselves.

That’s when I started full-on playing in the kitchen. Now, it’s the treat section with homemade granola bars, cookies, things I can send along in lunches and sweets for weekends. And while it’s super fun to make all these wonderful goodies, there is a lot of time spent in the kitchen, and dishes are done sometimes nine times a day.

Just this morning, there were the smoothies (1st wash up), then the meat prep (2nd wash up), the marinade preparation (3rd wash up), baking a cake (4th wash up) – and that’s before lunch or any of the dinner prep gets started. And this is normal. We aren’t even talking the non-stop kitchen work that happens when it’s canning season (a couple of weeks out). It seems crazy, and like I’m tied to my kitchen. Yet, I’m becoming more and more self-reliant. There is a whole lot of work involved in getting independent.

The thing is, there would be no way to do this if I was working full-time. It seems, we can either have enough time to do all these things for ourselves, or we can make enough money to have someone else do them for us. We get to choose which one we want to do. Do we want to have leisure time? Then, perhaps its best to work, make money, and buy the things we need, so we can put our feet up and have nice vacations.

If we want to raise our own food, then leisure time really isn’t in the equation. I’m not rushing, I guess. So there’s leisure in that. I’m home with my kids, and that’s a delight and a half. There is that afternoon nap that I almost always squeeze in before afternoon chores. I guess there’s more leisure to it than I first thought. But there are endless chores: feeding, watering, cleaning up after animals, watering the garden, tending it, then starting the daily task of cooking, baking, and cleaning. Somewhere in there, I get into the office and do some work so Scott can continue getting his Bucket Truck out there and trimming trees. Then, by 4:00 in the afternoon, the chores start all over again. Then it’s time to make dinner, and we are ready for bed long before the kids ever get tired.

We can’t imagine taking a vacation. The view from here is insanely gorgeous, for one. Just looking out over the back pasture is a pleasure. Then, getting someone to take on two-plus hours of chores both morning and night on animals and garden seems like a far-fetched idea.

So we sit back here, watching our kids roam around, creating worlds of their own and forts in all sorts of nooks and crannies. The other day Bean lost his bike. We thought, it must be rough to have so much room to run and play, that you actually misplace your bicycle. We kick back at the end of the day, usually tired, and sore, but happy, because we’re doing this for us and for our kids, and for the taste of home-grown everything.

I know this isn’t what Independence Day is all about. I know that we also spend time reflecting on the great sacrifices made by so many so that we could be our own country. It’s just what was whiffling through my head as I went from one kitchen project to another today.

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