But it does come to an end. Winter is coming, and the way the weathermen and Farmers Almanac are predicting it will be quite the winter this year, yet many have given little thought to it. We tend to treat farms and farmers markets like the grocery store. We act like there is one continuous growing season. Yet, In just a few weeks the last of the summer vegetables will be harvested. By the middle of October we will process the last of our free-range chickens. Have you stored up?
The ebb and flow of farms and farmers markets more closely follow the seasons than does the supermarket. Vegetables don't grow all year, chickens are terrible in the winter, and lamb and calves are typically born in the spring. The supermarket has stripped us of the natural flow of life. It may be convenient but it has removed from us the responsibility of preparation and saving back. It has changed our notion of the seasons to no more than the time of play and the time of snow men.
We must change the way our culture thinks about food and the seasons. During the times of plenty we should be storing away for the lean times. That means canning, freezing, drying, and preserving your food, both meat and vegetables, so that you are ready for the winter. Yes, this may take a little work, but you may be surprised what you can put away in a couple of weekends.
Buy A Freezer
Some of you may be thinking, how do I start? It can be intimidating if you have never done anything like this before. One of the easiest places to start is with a freezer and not the one over your refrigerator. That freezer, in my opinion, is sufficient for about one to two weeks of food. You need a dedicated freezer: an upright or a chest style. Start filling this with meat. Our meat does well through the winter in a freezer. All you would need to do is plan to store six months of meat. If you have room left over start vacuum sealing vegetables.
Add a Root Cellar
Then there is the root cellar or some variation of it. There are many fruits and vegetables that can be kept for most of the winter without freezing or canning as long as they are kept cool and dry. A traditional root cellar will often be a small partially buried cinder block building. The one on our farm is just such a building. A root cellar need not be this elaborate. One can be built in a shady corner of your yard out of straw bails or even buried trash cans.
The next progression in this journey is canning. I won't delve too much into this in this post, but I will say, if you can grow it you can can it. Meat, vegetables, fruit, and even eggs can be preserved by canning. I love pickled eggs. I think they are one of the best snacks out there and they are easy to make. My point is, anything you pick up from the farmers market or the farm is preservable for the winter.
Which character will you be from Aesop's Fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper? Will you be the grasshopper that enjoyed the bounty of the summer but stored nothing away for the winter? Or will you be like the ant that stored away the bounty for the winter? Just think, if you store away like the ant you will beat the national average which says that most people only have three days worth of food on hand. And, when everyone is cleaning the shelves before the big snow this year you can drive home with the peace of mind that you have plenty on hand.
Question: Do you have another method of storing food away for the winter? Let me know in the comments below.
You may also be interested in this story: Losing Our Heritage