It's 3:00 pm and time to start thinking about dinner. I am excited because my oldest son and daughter are coming back to Hidden Hollow Homestead for the weekend. I haven't quite decided what to make yet so I put on my black rubber boots, grab a basket and a pail, and get ready to muck through the mud to take a pass around our little homestead and see what strikes my fancy. My faithful companion Bear -- now almost 13 years old -- lumbers beside me, his warm soft dog nose pushing against my hand in eagerness.
First we stop by the green house/tilapia pond. The most recent addition to our homestead, I am so proud of the hard work my husband John and our neighbors invested to make this work. Using the best practices of sustainable aquaculture and aquaponics this 30' x 15' building is a toasty 78 to 82 degrees all year round -- thanks to the ingeniously designed passive solar collectors. The natural lighting is provided both by state of the art thermal windows, and some supplemental artificial lighting -- powered by the wind mill we put up in 2016.
In here, I harvest some sweet butter lettuce and baby spinach for salad. I also snip some parsley, chives and dill from the indoor herb garden to use in seasoning our meal. And I use the net propped against the wall to catch 4 or 5 full grown tilapia for the main course. [A fish my children have loved all their lives -- but have never enjoyed so much as the ones we've grown here at home.]
From here I walk a stone and moss path to the chicken yard. Bear waits patiently while I step in -- reach into the coop and collect the day's haul: 8 eggs. We usually get between 6 and 12 a day. More than we can possibly eat ourselves. But we've decided to keep the flock small since by now it's commonplace to have a small backyard flock and there is absolutely no market for selling the excess. We give our extras away to the local food bank, or to the few friends and elderly folks we know who don't raise their own.
I head toward the house again, this time swinging by the side towards the root cellar we dug in 2014. Much more energy efficient than the extra fridges we had kept in the basement previous to this. From the cellar, I grab one of the last of the fall's crop of butternut squash, and jars of home canned pickles, applesauce, tomato sauce, sweet beets and peaches. The tomato sauce we'll serve over the fresh home made noodles John will insist on making at the last minute. The beets, pickles, squash and applesauce will be served as accompaniments to the tilapia. And I'll use the canned peaches to put together a cobbler for dessert. Everything harvested on our own 8 acres last summer. Everything grown with no pesticides. and no petrochemical based fertilizers. [The manure from our own pigs, goats, and chickens -- as well as our crop rotation schedule -- does wonders for our soil -- so we don't need to add anything else!]
I turn toward the house, content. I know that when John comes home from work he will take a walk through the woods picking a few choice fresh mushrooms to saute as well. He'll return to the root cellar for a six-pack of his home brew -- and we may even break out a bottle of the organic malt whiskey that is distilled up the road. We'll both sit at the table still in awe -- even after all these years -- that with the exception of a few choice spices, the salt, the pepper,and some sugar -- everything we will see in front of us will have been grown and harvested here at home. Oh -- I guess I should confess that I never felt up to milking cows or goats on a regular basis -- so the butter I serve with the homemade bread will have come from a friend's farm up the road a bit. And the flour for the bread will come from the local wh***-foods coop.
I wish I could say that by 2020 everyone, everywhere would be able to enjoy such a healthy bounty. I can only say that I know my husband and I will be continuing to do our small part to move us all toward that day.