“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.”
― Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
I’ve always loved that second quote, and was reminded of it when a few folks on the ChiChickens group changed it to their signature line (I’m tempted, but have had my cornbread-slogans as my tagline for so long that changing them now would feel like “goin’ back on my raisin'”, haha)… the first is a new one to me but it reminds me of the quote that inspired the infamous Greenpeace banner… “When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.” -Alanis Obomsawin
Today has been that sort of mixed-up high and low-tech day. The coffee and milk, organic and very store-bought. Oats, also. Lunch was mashed potato pancakes with pesto… the eggs came from the backyard, I grew the basil at work, hand-milled the grain which I picked up in 50 lb sacks last fall with a bike trailer from the farmer’s city apartment a few miles north of here (the wheat she and her dad grew a few miles away, of course), and the potatoes were from Wisconsin but by way of Restarant Depot (another 50 lb sack, bought in the fall for about $7. Slightly sprouty, but still good in the cellar). Rabbit cacciatore soup on the side- the rabbit a present from our dog-treat making friend (it’s high-quality, and packaged for human consumption till he grinds it up into dog jerky…), oyster mushrooms also from The Plant that were a little too squishy to sell but still mighty tasty, a jar of tomatoes from our 2011 garden (I love the safety net of being a year ahead in tomato canning when I can pull it off, and found this guy in the back of the pantry, still as perky as they day they were put up), home-canned rabbit stock (see above), some white beans grown on a small Michigan farm that a neighbor left us when she moved to California, and an ancient jar of green beans- 2009! from the first year I gardened at the studio (the fella had installed a small herb and hop garden before that, but that was the year we really started going with our first garden here long before we bought the “cabin”. I love being able to know the whole story behind what we’re eating, which in these days of extreme home-rehab is sometimes tough. I’ll admit it, the temptation to throw some extra cheese and giardinara on a frozen pizza is strong some nights, more than I’d like… but as gross as that is, it beats dropping insane amounts of money to have someone drive one over that’s not much better.
So today has been this weird mix of eating local and far-flung foods, typing away in the virtual world as I figure out this website move, and all the while, stoking the woodstove. I take it as a point of pride if the furnace doesn’t kick on all day, especially after I got the last gas bill… the first one since we lit the furnace for the first time. Yowza! $160, and we kept the thermostat somewhere between 47 F and 55 F. Granted, there were two very cold days in there where we had giant holes in the house while swapping out for more efficient windows (worse before it gets better) and at least one evening that we cranked it up to 60 so that the caulk would cure upstairs between the foam board insulation layers… add in that our eaves were still mostly open for most of that month and you can see how it would add up. Can’t wait to see how much better it gets next time! I’m glad, in a way, to have that first bad bill as a baseline for how much energy we’ll be saving after we finish insulating and air-sealing upstairs, and eventually the first floor as well. Since we are currently burning only scrap wood from our and others’ construction projects (untreated of course) and storm-killed local downed wood, it’s about as green as we can get in this house without moving underground or shutting off the water and sleeping in parkas instead of long-johns three months out of the year. We’ve done that, by the way… and I hope to never do that again! Brr.