When I was 20 years old, I was deployed to Guantanamo Bay in the Army. One night we went out for dinner to celebrate the birthday of a person in our unit. There are a few restaurants in GTMO, and we went to one of the fanciest, the one attached to the Officer’s Club. It was pretty lush compared to the chow hall fare I ate for most meals, so I decided to go all out and order filet mignon, just how I like it, rare. Everyone at the table gasped in surprise. “I thought you were a vegetarian!” one of my fellow Soldiers exclaimed.
In general, there’s an AllOrNothism idea out there that if conventional animal production produces greenhouse gasses, then all animal husbandry should cease immediately. I respectfully disagree. I understand and respect the choice to eliminate some or all animal products from your diet on moral grounds about the rights of animals or the ethics of killing, although I don’t share the same moral concerns myself. But I am skeptical that we can make any kind of food system that’s intended to feed any kind of industrialized society work without any animal inputs at all.
Obviously summer is over in the northern hemisphere, where I live, so I am currently engaged in preparing my garden for winter. This used to be a much less involved task, but now that I’m a year into my horticulture program I know a lot of stuff I didn’t previously. Here’s what I’m doing to get everything ready for winter.
We had some major successes and major failures this year, and since I didn’t chronicle them in real time (I guess that counts as one of our failures) I’m going to list them all here. We also have some very specific plans coming up for the winter and next year you can expect to hear more about. Finally, there are some general ideas we’re tossing around that we still need to settle on and decide a timeline for.
We’ve been keeping quail for over a year now on the Rocking Homestead. It was something we thought we had researched pretty well, but no amount of reading really prepared us for it. Not that it’s been exceedingly difficult, but it was different than expected.
Here are some things we’ve learned so far.
Well, our garden is in and like every year gardening, I’m learning a lot. We have 13 tomato plants (I think), 7 peppers, carrots, radish, lettuce, kale, spinach, 5 or 6 zucchinis, 3 spaghetti squash, 3 watermelon, 1 cantaloupe, 3 summer squash, 18 or so strawberries, herbs, and two pumpkins (just for S’s and G’s). I never ended up getting my cucumbers in and at this point I’m just going to have to live with that.
Recently I read this article at Grist and while I liked some parts, I disagreed with much. It argued that urban farms and homesteading were unlikely to do much in the quest to feed an ever growing, ever urbanizing, ever globalizing population, but it might provide some kind of educational benefit or something. Their arguments make sense, if you go into it assuming that everything else they talk about is the right way for things to be. Personally, all I could take away from it is that they were focusing on the wrong problems. This is why intersectionality in environmentalism is so important.
I have a confession to make. I buy my meat at Costco. And I don’t even buy the organic stuff.
I know! I know! It’s terrible! What kind of self respecting paleo, environmentalist, holistic health enthusiast am I? A not rich one, that’s what kind. Grass finished, pastured, organic meat is expensive. Even when you buy in bulk it comes out to something in the range of $5.50 a pound (that’s for beef), and I don’t have the money to put up front for that. But I hope to one day be able to say that all my meat comes from sustainable, healthy, local sources. It’s just going to take some time. Here is how I’m working towards that goal.
It snowed today, and I’m thinking about my garden. Curled up under a heated blanket, with Freja asleep in my lap, and Elijah snuggled up next to me watching Iron Man, today is the perfect day to get started. This is what homesteading is all about. A good garden is the cornerstone of a homestead.