Besides producing goods for our produce stand, we also have the goal of being as self-sufficient as possible. This means we want to provide ourselves with as much food and heat (and hopefully some day power) as we can without having to buy them from some other source.
In the first few months of my farming career, I have quickly realized that the large purpose of the summer is to prepare for winter. This is not life-changing by any means, though it is perhaps a little depressing at first glance. Thinking of winter is not one of the things I revel in doing during the summer. However, I think this realization hits upon a bigger matter within our culture.
We have been freezing and canning vegetables, raising meat chickens to put in the freezer, gathering wood for heating our homes in the winter, and building a hay loft to store hay for the goats in the winter, and it has made me realize how big a deal the winter is to people who would provide for themselves. That is the time when you can’t provide. So you have to store up enough in the other seasons to get you through the winter. Older folks would say, “duh.” However, younger folks don’t think that way.
We have been raised in a society where we are constantly relying on the system to provide for us. Winter and summer doesn’t make much difference. The grocery store is just down the road year round, and the bills just get a little higher in the winter due to heat. It kind of makes me sad that our society has lost the sense of providing for itself and understanding what winter means. It builds wisdom and perseverance to learn how to store away things now to use later when you need them. It goes against the current, more popular trend of immediate gratification.
It may not necessarily be a bad trend. Perhaps the grocery store will always be there, and it’s not like I don’t still use it for some things. People can focus on other things besides storing up for winter, and perhaps that has helped to advance our culture. For me, however, I like going back to the basics and living a more simple life. I will enjoy pulling our own food out this winter and take pride (hopefully not too much) in knowing that my hard work over the previous months is literally putting food on the table and heating our home in darker times.