And finally what you've all been waiting for.
All four of you who read this (thanks, Mom).
We are buying a cow! Yep. As in meat on the table, not Pet Bessie in the backyard (though if Chris would let me I would do it in a heartbeat). That means ground beef, steak, burgers... you name it, we will have it in our freezer by the end of the summer. And by "we" I mean our family and three others are going in on the heifer because frankly we can't afford the whole thing by ourselves, not in one fail swoop anyway. Can you taste the freshness in your mouth... ohhhhh yes.
We were originally thinking of going with River Ridge Farms down the road from us to help support local economy...the huge and bustling economy of Ten Mile. We will likely purchase other things such as chickens or eggs from them, but after casual conversation with one of our summer staffers we learned that his family has a farm outside of Knoxville. It's a small family-run farm that has about fifty head of cattle right now. Forrest, whose father owns the farm, told me that those cattle would likely pay for his college. I was sold. Hands down, these were the folks that we would get our slab o'beef from. I was elated and began to ask several questions of the poor boy who graciously humored me with answers and repeatedly told me he would give me his dad's number and I could talk to him... I guess I just couldn't contain my excitement and got a little bit of tunnel vision - eyes on the prize, if you will.
Our beef is free-range, grass-fed up until the last two weeks before it's sent to slaughter, in which those two weeks it is given corn in addition to her regular diet to fatten her up. I can live with that. And even better, Mr. Stroud has a relationship with the folks who process the meat, his family has used them for years, so theoretically we will "know" the hands that have prepared our food. God bless them.
In other food news, I am reading this book:
I've also read this book of hers:
This woman is my hero. Seriously. She kept me entertained through the first book and now has my complete and intense focus on the story of her family's life-altering decision to move across the country so that they can eat (mostly) locally and tend a garden themselves. Hero.
Chris and I have been tossing around the thought of doing this ourselves, even before picking up her book, and now I just feel affirmed in the decision. Now, I know this isn't something that can change overnight or without a ridiculous amount of planning and calculating, but I wish I could start tomorrow. I think we will start after a rest from our busy summer season. Here are some things I am considering and loopholes we may create:
1. Noah won't be totally included in our "local only" harvest, at least not at first. There are certain things he needs and enjoys that I don't feel is right to cut out for him right now (e.g. Yo'Baby from Stonyfield, whole grain cheerios, etc.). But I am considering figuring out how to make my own yogurt...could be interesting.
2. We live in the country. We have a local farm right down the road that sells produce six months out of the year which could potentially cut out our once a week grocery runs... which the closest store is seventeen miles from our house. That's a big deal.
3. Local equals in-season produce and Barbara's website provides seasonal menus and recipes. Score.
Now, I will likely have to alter her meat selection because of the whole cow we will own in a few weeks.
4. We are considering joining a local co-op, Three Rivers Market. This will help us in the local and in-season part.
5. Chickens. I really really really want chickens. You all should message Chris, phone or facebook, and push for chickens for me. 'Preciate it.
6a. I've already canned (halfway) my first mess of beans. I've learned that one bushel is equal to twenty quarts... I opted for half a bushel. I don't like green beans, but my boys love them. I am giving two away, but the other eight should last us a good while. Next up on the canning menu: tomato sauce. Six to eight quarts of it. This will be my trick: stock up now, can, enjoy in the winter when there isn't much "fresh" to choose from.
6b. If anyone has a pressure cooker they would like to donate I would gladly take you up on it. Or a deep freezer.
Whew. I am wearing myself out and the work is just beginning. We will be busy in the upcoming weeks sorting out the details, making a plan, and hopefully we can hit the ground running after the summer heat. Lots to do. Maybe there will have to be a Part Three to this saga.
So I will leave you with a thought from my dear friend, Barb:
"It is not my intention here to lionize country wisdom over city ambition. I only submit that the children of farmers are likely to know where food comes from, and that the rest of us might do well to pay attention. For our family, something turned over that evening in the diner: a gas-pump cashier's curse of drought was lifted by a waitress's simple, agricultural craving for rain. I thought to myself: There is hope for us."
Taken from "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle", page 8