Sunday, February 13, 2011

Off the Grid-iness

What's going on around here? Something is different..

This morning, one of our first to-do's was to take our homemade chicken stock, simmering through the night, off the stove and drain it. We left a a stewing hen's carcass, carrots, onions, celery and a bunch of parsley behind as we poured out a silky, golden stock, smelling, though I say it myself, heavenly. Bone broth, as I learned from Nourishing Traditions, a cookbook I find myself pouring over the way spiritual scholars seek out the great religious texts of the world, is "extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow and vegetables as electrolytes, a form that is easy to assimilate." Mary Fallon, co-author of NT, attributes "the decline in the use of meat, chicken, and fish stocks" as a "lamentable outcome of our hurry-up, throwaway lifestyle." Few of us buy meat still in tact, "on the bone" as Fallon calls it, unlike our "thrifty ancestors [who] made use of every part of the animal." Homemade chicken stock...

At the library yesterday, after making a large selection from the children's side, we stopped off in the gardening section, only to meander a few rows over, past animal care (where Dory selected a book on hamsters), before cookbooks, there! that book! Made from Scratch: The pleasures of discovering a homemade life. An unexpected find that went straight into the bag, with great delight.

A slew of books, actually, littered around the house (Handmade Home and Coop); on hold at the library (Radical Homemakers); online magazines checked on a daily basis (Mother Earth News and Mary Jane's Farm)...

Yesterday morning, awake before the rest of the family, I sat in our living room, pouring through our seed catalogue, checking and double-checking that we had all we wanted and no more. We picked Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds for delving into the world of growing our own food. Our virtual shopping cart is now full to the point of tipping over and yet I thought, I bet this is a drop in the bucket to real homesteaders...

Homesteading? Is that what we're moving towards?

Surely not. Off to a farm forty miles from anything? Hmm... I love where we live, to me centrally located to what's most important (parents within a fifteen minutes drive, our local park and library a quarter mile walk, many friends anywhere from three to fifteen minutes away, a farmer's market a three mile drive on three different days, Matthew's work and mine easily accessible). Creating our own energy... Matthew's first question: is wind-powered satellite-television possible?

Yet books about keeping a family cow and how to raise your own chickens appeal to me.

Maybe this isn't a surprise. Moving out of the mainstream appeals to me lately, not different for different's sake, but a genuine questioning of what I value and what I hope to model to our next generation. We're already parenting in mostly unheard of way (still trying to follow Dory's lead, in co-sleeping, breastfeeding, cloth diapering until potty trained, the list goes on), so its not surprising these other worlds would start to pull me in.

I would have thought this a tiny community, difficult to find and impossible to incorporate into an everyday lifestyle, available mostly through beautiful blogs and websites. Not so. In fact if I start to look around, I can see where it's been happening around me this entire time. Mental flashbacks to my parent's garden when I was three and four and my dad's stories about me picking tiny green tomatoes far too soon. Some of our first friends when we moved home, who live on a tiny farm, with goats and sheep, she spinning her own wool, both of them commuting half an hour into work everyday. Another friend who makes her own yogurt, juice, broth, dried fruit, the list goes one, while, during winter, a supermarket and interstate sit in view behind the woods and creek at the back of her house. A neighbor one street away who used to keep chickens...

I'm curious how many of us have these longings as of late? Perhaps disillusionment with work, the government, the media, stemming from a realization the promise given won't be fulfilled by that particular establishment, that their brand of happiness just doesn't do for me. Maybe a sudden longing, as generations before us pass on, a call from the past, tugging at the fingers and heart to find the same dirt that slipped through our great-grandparents hands. Or a modern concern, an understanding we don't want to be labeled the "throwaway" society, this isn't the legacy we want to leave behind...

Check "all of the above" for me.

So something is afoot, something definitely moves through the house. I have no idea what I'm doing and, because I came of age during the boom, I mostly look to books and websites for understanding. Another something on the list, sandwiched between "find raw milk source" and "learn to sew"- talk to people. Find people! Other living, breathing humans, preferably in the same room people from who to learn.

And if any of this sounds like I am disparaging technology or haranguing how life has fallen apart since the development of the internet, let me relate this snippet from moments ago. Dory, at two and a half, just plopped up on my lap to nurse, and with the laptop open in front of her announced: "Mommy, yook! I'm having bobos and pushing buttons on da internet!"

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