This is a guest post by Mother Earth and entry for our non-fiction writing contest.
So you understand where I’m coming from…California girl marries country boy. Yes, it was as bad as it sounds. The first time he cut a chickens head off and went to hand it to me, I ran screaming for the house! That was not how they came from the store.
If you have not planted, weeded and harvested vegetables or fruits before, you are in for a huge and not pleasant surprise. Being dirty, sweaty and bug-bitten was a real eye opener for me. And some of the bugs and spiders in that hostile area known as a “garden”…aargh! I was a city girl in a foreign country…meaning not close to a big city with lots of grocery stores.
I was soon to find out, there is a massive amount of knowledge, experience and hours of labor involved with growing and harvesting your own produce. I feel lucky that my mother-in-law took pity on me and taught me a lot. The first time I realized it can be cutthroat was picking strawberries in a field. I was happily picking my row when another lady finished her assigned row and started on my mil’s row. I thought there was going to be bloodshed! Can you imagine if there was starvation going on? I have my own raised bed of strawberries and you can’t imagine how good popping a sun ripened berry in your mouth is. And plan on covering those berries unless you are offering a buffet to the birds, yes, another lesson learned the hard way!
How about fruit trees…do you know how to trim a fruit tree, recognize a disease on that fruit tree and treat it, do you know when the fruit will be ripe? Okay, let’s say you managed to figure this all out, how do you preserve this fruit? Will it be jellies / jams? Will it be canned in syrup? Or pie fillings? Do you have plenty of sugar and spices on hand to preserve this fruit? Have you ever canned? Do you have the equipment? Will you be dehydrating? You do realize it takes hours of labor to do all of the above and that’s just one fruit tree. And if you haven’t already planted that tree a good 5 years ago, you won’t be eating any fruit. Yes, I truly expected heaps of fruit the next year after planting my first apple tree. If you are picking wild fruit, please expect to find snakes among the blackberries, another tip well learned.
How about that vegetable garden? Can you raise plants from seed? Can you work the soil with hand tools? Even with tractors/tillers its hard work. Weeds become your arch enemy, the battle is vicious. Know that holding weeds in the air with a victorious yell will bring unwanted stares. Do you have the knowledge to plant based on cold or warm crops? Are you timing the planting of herbs so they will be ready when the produce is? Nothing like having cucumbers and the dill you planted is not ready! Can you protect your crops from critters? I thought raccoons were the cutest thing ever…until they wiped out a corn crop in the blink of an eye. Lets stay with corn, do you know when it’s ready to pick? How will you process the corn, will you can it, do you know how. Can you process 150 ears of corn at a time? Will you stagger the planting so you don’t have 150 ears at a time? And yes, I did end up doing that at first. Now I know better.
You should know that you might have cucumbers, green beans, corn and tomatoes all ready at the same time. You will then be spending hours a day preserving those crops. It takes hours to break green beans for canning, long painful finger hours. In the meantime, people need to eat, (got that bread rising?) laundry needs done and the huge clean up that comes with preserving. Hope you have plentiful, clean water because it is messy work. You will also need big buckets and bowls along with your canning equipment.
This is of course after spending hours on the spring/early summer fruit/veg crops the weeks prior. And don’t think you’ll be resting now because fall crops are coming! Oh…you did manage to plant the fall crops while doing all of the above…right? Again, got a place to store your root vegetables?
Now if you are planning on resting over the winter…good luck! There is soap making, salves to make, sewing to be done and oh, the housework you didn’t get done, it’s still waiting!
There is nothing easy about this lifestyle and I haven’t even touched on farm animals! Yet I hear people say if times get bad (like the aren’t already?) they will hunt and put in a garden like its so easy or stock canned food from the store. Like that won’t ever run out?
Many of you on this blog already have this knowledge or experience and I’m sure can add some more advice to help with your comments. To those who don’t, please note it takes years to figure all this stuff out. Fast forward 30 years and I’m still learning new stuff all the time. Imagine if you needed the knowledge now, what will you do?
Prizes for this round in our non fiction writing contest include…
- First Place winner will receive - A $150 gift certificate for $150 off Wolf ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner. A Humless 2.5 Watt Portable Solar Panel courtesy of LPC Survival, Sopakco Sure-Pak MRE – 12 Meals courtesy of Campingsurvival.com.
- Second Place winner will receive – One Emergency Seed Bank (stored in military ammo cans) with over 33 varieties of non-hybrid garden seed courtesy of TheSurvivalistBlog.net.
- Third Place winner will receive - a one year subscription to Personal VPN service courtesy of unspyable and a copy of my book 31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness.
Be sure to read the rules before entering… This contest will end on September 9 2013