Why the Heck are We Doing This Anyway?

First homeschool. Then owning our own business. Now bits of farming being thrown in (which is something I swore I’d never want to do, and Kevin was in no way prepared for!).

Well, each choice has just seemed right at the time. Independence is a good thing. The buck stops with us – if we do it right, then we reap the reward. If we screw it up, that’s our accountability too. But we really weren’t sure that we wanted to farm in any way at all, even in the back yard.

As Latter-Day Saints, we are counseled to grow a garden, and to be self-reliant. We are also counseled to have a food storage, savings account, etc. Now, this is counsel, not a commandment. But following counsel usually results in blessings, so we try to do so as much as we can.

We always had a food storage. And whenever we lived where we had a yard, we tried to garden, until we got to Wyoming. Here, it just seemed so much harder. And more expensive. For less return.

Gradually, we were able to store less and less. Mostly because we could eat fewer stored foods. This time last year, we had no food storage at all. The dietary requirement for fresh organic foods meant that we had to live from week to week on the groceries. A hard thing out in Wyoming. It also meant that our food budget skyrocketed. I hated being extorted by whatever price was being charged that week for the things we had to have. I also hated being an hour from the nearest supplies, on unpredictable roads.

The only way we’d be able to get our food costs lowered, to know we’d have what we need, and to have a food storage, was to grow it ourselves. We’d have to have the food storage on the hoof and in the ground. But we live in town, on a small lot. No space for a big garden, no space for a big greenhouse, no space for barnyard animals.

So we tried hydroponics (in the diningroom). That worked some, until I could no longer eat the things I could grow there, and nobody else ate much of them. Too costly and time consuming to do for a few heads of lettuce.

This year we didn’t even plant a garden, because we went to camp instead. Gone during the two best growing months of the year. No point. But when we came back, life was different – a little. I could eat a few more things than what I could when we left for camp, and we were making headway on reversing the Crohn’s Disease in myself and the two kids that have it. We’d still have to eat organic, and lots of fresh foods, for the rest of our lives though. So while we could now eat more of what we could grow, we still needed to grow it.

Before we left for camp, we talked about rabbits. So we did that. Then ducks occurred to us. We studied it out and got the ones we felt inspired to get. We’re still discovering¬† just how inspired that choice was, as we learn how much that one choice is affecting our costs and health.

We had a desire to be more self-sufficient, and Kevin and I have talked about land and raising animals for some time. But I didn’t really want to raise the animals. He halfheartedly agreed (turns out he loves caring for the animals). We bought the rabbits when we did because we knew we would not have the choices we wanted in Wyoming, and David was traveling to Utah – right then. We got the ducks when we did because it felt like we needed to – turns out we really did need to.

So a series of needs have sort of pushed us where we might not have gone otherwise. I think we might have talked about it, but not really lived it.

Even now, we did not expect to do this in Wyoming, while still living on a small city lot. We expected to plan and prepare and move somewhere warmer first. A common thing for people to do as they get older, but this isn’t exactly retirement we are talking about.

So now, we divide our time between business and taking care of the animals and greenhouse. Hard to balance sometimes. Takes the cooperation of the kids to make it work too. But both the business and the farm stuff yields a profit. More than we thought it would.

One little Muscovy duck. Gave us 4 lbs of meat. Kevin and I had a meal of duck steak. Our family had duck soup for dinner. We gave 1 meal worth to my mother. Had enough left for seven meals for me (I was having pretty severe protein malabsorption so I had first claim on the Muscovy specifically, while the rest of the family continues to have hamburger). So let’s see…

Each duck cost about $10, and we’d put about $2 of food into that one. 4 lbs of high quality nearly organic meat (no medications in it) is worth about $5 per lb or more. So $20 worth of value from a $12 expense. So a profit of $8 on that duck… or so we figured ahead of time (we did the cost analysis ahead to make sure it would be worth it).

Except that I digest Muscovy so well, I now only needed two servings of meat a day instead of 3. Make that a profit of $20.

Oh… and then my vegetable needs dropped from 9 servings a day to 6. Make that a profit of $30.

Plus… my milk consumption dropped from 6 servings (milk and cheese) per day, to 4 (people with Crohn’s have higher dietary requirements than the average person). Make that a profit of $37.

And then… my need for dietary supplements dropped. By about a third. I have to take a LOT of individual supplements (B-12, B-6, Folic Acid, Magnesium, Potassium, Niacin, Calcium, etc). Make that a profit of about $50 total.

For one little 4 lb duck.

What a blessing! The ducks will make a bigger difference to our food bill than we could have possibly imagined. We thought we should wait and do it later. Doing it now has ended up being the best choice, even though it was hard to come up with the funds to get the ducks (when your food bill is high, it is hard to purchase something that will reduce it later – the double whammy is hard to afford).

We knew we were in a trap though. Food costs were high enough that they were sucking the life out of our ability to be self-sufficient in other ways. You can’t save money if you have to pay $6 per lb for organic meat, and $2 per lb for organic potatoes, and when your grocery budget quadruples in a period of about 2 years.

The greenhouse is now producing also. I was using dill (as a healing herb and to help control clotting problems in my legs). A lot of dill. It needed to be fresh to have the right properties. Fresh dill is costly – one $2 package lasted me 1-2 days. So when I got the greenhouse ready, I planted dill seed – I didn’t have any seed packets for dill, could not find it anywhere here this time of year, and did not have time to wait for it to be ordered by mail. So I went to my spice rack. Found an old jar of dill seed – those seeds had to be 10 years old at least! I figured at least a few might sprout, so I just planted the entire bottle. About 2 TBSP of seed. I think about half of them sprouted. I am drowning in dill! But that is actually good, because I was able to start using it within a few weeks, by taking the tops off the thinnings, and using them. One less thing to buy.

That is why we decided to do it. One more step in a series that may take us somewhere we didn’t plan on going. But it will put us in a position where we have the only kind of food storage we can have, and where we can have more control over the costs of the food that we require.

But I still wake in the morning and wonder how we got here, and where it is going to take us. I marvel that I am actually enjoying what I never thought I would. I am amazed at the number of miracles we have been blessed with in it, in finding ways to do what we thought we could not.

Now… I just need to figure out how pay tithing on a duck.

2 Responses to Why the Heck are We Doing This Anyway?

  • Jan Verhoeff says:

    Okay – explain the dill prevents blood clots in legs part. My mom is having that problem due to her cancer – new issue. My mom lives with me currently.

    She’s using natural only, so if you have suggestions, pass them on.

  • Laura says:

    If she is on chemo, or any natural substances that act like chemo (immuno-suppressant), then the dill can help slow down the clotting problems that sometimes happen as a result of it. She’d have to see what helped.

    Peppermint, chamomile, and fennel seed teas (take them together, 2 cups per day) can also help. I know I slept SO much better taking those. Put 2 tsp of each with 2 cups boiling water. Steep 5 min.

    Fennel leaf helps too, but impossible to find as tea, so I used fresh dill (stronger anyway) instead. You want the fresh green baby dill that is sold in the grocery stores by the specialty salad greens – get organic, not regular, the regular stuff has chemicals that can aggravate cancer.

    Be careful with Garlic. It is a blood thinner, which can help, but you have to be careful that you don’t use too much or it can have serious consequences. I used the cheap stuff from Wal-Mart, Spring Valley, I think. No bad breath from it, and works fine for blood thinning (not so effective for antibiotic use though). I took 1-3 of them, up to three times a day, depending on how bad it was.

    Heat is also helpful on the site of the clotting, and elevating the legs if that is where they are happening.

    Some of the info on my Crohn’s site might help her. The treatments for cancers and Crohn’s are similar, just different in extremes in some areas. And chemicals in foods are often carcenogenic, or mutanogenic (they mutate cells, making them more likely to mutate into cancerous cells). Preservatives of all kinds are in this category (their purpose is to kill living cells – they do that in the body as well as out of it, and some that they don’t kill, they just damage).

    Best wishes.

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