For starters let me introduce myself, my name is Tara and I am a
28-year-old mother of two boys, 4 and 3, with another boy on the way. I grew up in a very rural area on the South Shore in Massachusetts, there for much of my childhood we raised chickens and turkeys before housing development began over running the area, at which time my family switched from poultry to breeding dogs. I grew up in the woods, exploring looking for deer and other wild life to watch, with little worry or fear of being abducted, able to go outside in the summer from about age 6 or 7 and not come in until it was time to eat.
A little more than two years ago I began the process of getting a divorce, and in doing such had to move back into my childhood home with my two children and we had to start a new life for ourselves. It was the beginning of a new journey that would also leave us financially in need of state assistance.
Our first year was spent mostly rebuilding our family unit as a threesome, of course with help and support from my parents, because as anyone knows you do nothing in this world without a little bit of help from someone else. Others will open doors for you, in hopes that some day you will be able to open doors for other people. It is with that divine hope that humanity should function, and function properly.
In 2013, for the first time in my children’s lifetimes we saw terrorism attack not only our country, but also very close to home for us with the Boston Marathon Bombings. It was the first real eye-opening event, that the world that I grew up in was not the same world my children would grow up in. They would forever grow up in a world that was ruled and dominated by post 9/11 life.
2014, started me on our journey to a life of sustainability. For the first time since childhood I decided that I wanted to raise chickens for meat production. Since my childhood our town had created new bi-laws that made it so that I could raise chickens for this purpose as long as it was for self use and not for profit, and I was fine with that. It had been so long since the last time that we had raised chickens, it was difficult to remember everything that went into the process of raising them. Brooding boxes, heat lamps, water tanks, feeding boxes, timing the whole process with New England weather which can be rather unpredictable, dealing with wildlife trying, and succeeding in our case, in getting into your coupe. Chickens turned out to be a bust, it was too much, too soon. By mid-May I had lost all of my chickens to raccoons, and weather, it was heart breaking, and has left me now eager to try again but hesitant to do so without making sure that I am prepared in the fall for my spring babies.
By May, my father had also recruited me to help him in the garden. It was the first time that I had ever done that, I was excited and I couldn’t wait to taste the fruits of our labor come July when fresh snap beans, and ripe tomatoes would be ready for the picking. Finally a nitch, I had found that not only did I not mind the hard work that was necessary to run a larger garden, I actually really enjoyed it as well. Living on about 3/4 of an acre with approximately a 1/2 acre fenced in for our dogs gardening became part of my daily routine with my father, we had the ability to bring the boys out with us and allow them to play and run free in the fenced in yard while he and I worked in our garden, a space about 30 by 50 also fenced in because let me tell you LABRADORS LOVE FRESH VEGITABLES almost as much as I do.
For my first attempt we kept things moderately simple we had peppers, tomatoes, green beans, yellow and green summer squash, butternut squash, and pumpkins. For the most part we had a relatively good season, we had more beans through out the summer than you could shake a stick at! We yielded high quantities of all varieties of squash. We did make mistakes though, we waited too long cage our tomatoes, they grew and wild and looked ridiculous, it also affected the quality of our product, our peppers needed to be in a different spot, and we started our pumpkins too late in the season to yield anything for the Halloween season.
At the finish of the season though we didn’t make out too horribly, and it worked as a spark for an idea. What if we could not only significantly reduce the amount of produce we bought from the grocery store, but figure out a way to eliminate most of our produce purchases during the summer months.
The first step in doing this was to figure out where the majority of our money was being spent on produce. Living in New England would make impossible for us to grow some things, we will never be able to grow pineapples, or bananas for instance. But we did come up with quite a list of things that we eat on a regular basis that we would, and gee the savings that it will add up to in the long run. Being our first attempt at this type of gardening for major food production for our family we have decided to keep it to our most frequently eaten foods, and we did add in a favorite of my future in-laws as well.
This years crops consist of:
Sweet Green Peppers – From Plant
Carmen Sweet Peppers – From Plant
Red Bell Peppers – From Plant
Yellow Bell Peppers – From Plant
Black Beauty Eggplant – From Plant
Big Boy tomatoes – From Plant
Husky Cherry – From Plant
Detroit Dark Red Beets – From Seed
Blue Lake Bush Beans – From Seed
Blue Knight Asparagus – From Seed
Salad Slicer Cucumbers – From Seed
Big Max and Big Moon Pumpkins – From Seed
Bonnie Spinach – From Seed
Black Beauty Summer Squash – From Seed
Early Prolific Summer Squash – From Seed
Butterbush Winter Squash – From Seed
Long Island Improved Brussels Sprouts – From Seed
Our hope isn’t to stock pile foods, in case as preppers would say SHTF, but instead learn how to live a life in moderation, below our means, sustainably and be able to live in such a manner should something happen that we have to. we have all seen what has happened since 2013 alone. We had the Marathon Bombings, we’ve had major riots in two major cities, we’ve seen police officers in New York shot and injured or killed. The world is changing around us, and being a family of Christian values maybe it is a sign of the times and saying that maybe it is time for us to change our lifestyles as well.
We are a family in exploration, can we do it, could we do it for a season, and if we can do it for a season, can we do it long-term. We will be exploring and experimenting with jarring, freezing, and different methods of storage. We will be sharing ideas, tips, recipes, what has worked for us, what isn’t, and we will let you watch us try to make it along the way without cheating on our challenge of trying to not buy produce between June and August! I will share with you our food expenses along the way as well and keep you informed about what future ideas we are looking into as we see if we could live a homestead lifestyle.
With Peace, Happiness and Salvation!
Mini A Frame Greenhouses and Planting begins!