What was your impetus to begin homesteading and home schooling?
Homesteading. High fructose corn syrup is evil. Our current food supply is tenuous at best. For example, look at what happens to places after a disaster (Katrina, 9/11, severe ice storm, whatever). The grocery shelves are cleared out within days if not hours. Add in the GMO issue and terminator seeds and Monsanto having rights to so many things, yeah. I’m not putting my children’s lives at the mercy of that if I can help it, you know? Things in this vein really get my goat and piss me off so I can be rather opinionated. Therefore I have a tendency to not yap about it too much since most folks either don’t want to hear about it or don’t want to do anything about it.
I believe somewhere someone has said something along the lines of “when you control the food, you control the people.” Well, pump your underlings full of chemicals and nerve-dulling additives and you have an easy to control crowd. You can easier strip away their rights and wealth and so on. Hell, herbal medicinals over in the EU are now being outlawed at the push of pharmaceutical companies. Herbals that have been used for hundreds, if not thousands of years will be illegal because there’s a “safer” artificial chemical out there. Yup, those raspberries on the canes and fresh strawberries from the yard are hazardous to your health, here, have a genetically modified pill with artificial colors to whet your appetite for fresh fruit. Sigh. Cows are smarter than us – give them a field of GMO corn or heirloom corn, and guess which one they’ll ignore?
Homeschooling. The oldest was around 18-20mo. I was practically having panic attacks about the thought of sending him of to Kindergarten. Not so much because I’d miss him (hey, mama needs a break sometimes, too!), but because of what we’d have to deal with. He can’t sit still to save his life (his daddy’s still like that – drives me nuts when I want to watch a movie or a show or just sit and veg), is loud and opinionated, needs his sleep [they sleep from about 8:30pm-8am give or take], etc. I just knew I’d be talking to the teacher once or twice a week, minimum, and be on a first name basis with the principal. I think on MDC or something, I saw suggestions to read things by John Holt and so on. Then things clicked. I read Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto, left it around for hubby to read. Neither of us (nor our siblings) had anything close to stellar public school experiences either. We just didn’t want to take that chance with our children and their self esteem and love of learning if we were willing to do it ourselves. We had a short discussion, and there you go. We had our plan. Besides, really, does it seem like we’re the kind of folks that shy away from the more difficult things in life if we decide that’s what we want/need to do? 😉
How long have you been a garden goddess?
Um, not applicable? We first planted a grape vine and blueberry bushes and some tomato and pepper plants in our garden back in 2004. In 2005 I was about to run out of my grandmother’s amazing relish, and had to make some more since my mom had recently found the recipe (Grandma had died in 2001). Turns out that grocery stores don’t really sell the two main ingredients in that relish (under-ripe/green items). Planted a few more things. Started learning about GMO’s. Started worrying about how I was going to feed this family on our still one-income. Started planting more and more, and getting into canning (and freezing and stockpiling when certain things hit their rock-bottom price at the grocery stores) and so on. And that is how I have worked up to the pantry – and freezer and garage fridge – that I currently have. My paternal grandmother had a decent sized garden until the day she died, and when she had her young boys she had what we’d currently call a “hobby farm” that produced enough for them to barely live on. My other grandma stockpiled food because of the size of her family, but didn’t grow or can it. Mom surmises that it was part of how Grandma grew up very poor (she was the 2nd or 3rd oldest of 9, her dad died shortly after #9 was born, and this was before the days of official welfare I believe). Grandma had to help her mom grow and can everything in sight so they could survive the year. Once Grandma grew up, she didn’t want to do any of that if she could just buy the can and move on with life. Which I totally get, and she had the money to do so. Of course, HFCS wasn’t a main ingredient in a can of peaches back in the 1950’s, either.
How do you find the energy to can so much?
I don’t. I’ve spent too many nights up until 3am or 5am canning. Usually on days my hubby or mom are up here so they wake up with the kids. I can’t get squat done when it’s just me and the kids. My entire day is just full of daily living of naps, diapers, cuddles, stories, cartoons, movies, reading, school… with occasional attempts to go to the grocery store or whatnot.
Most of the drive is that I don’t buy canned fruit from the store. It’s pricey. Just do the math on 2-3 of those 15oz tin cans of fruit that we’d need for every. single meal. Ouch. And really, if you think you kiwi grows up here by the Canadian border in January? I’ve got a bridge to sell you….
Oh, well, last year I bought one case of tin-canned pears in pear juice since I was running low, and I bought some jars of peaches from Costco because there was a coupon and I’m reusing the glass jars for dry goods storage. But on a regular basis? I will likely only buy bananas, the occasional apple or orange from the grocery store throughout the winter, at least the majority of the time. And here, winter lasts from about October to May. At least, you’re not going to get much true, fresh produce during that time barring the functioning grocery system. Unless you have one heck of a greenhouse and heater and all that jazz.
what did you want to be before you had kids? (a mother? farmer? astronaut? beach bunny?)
When I was 5/6yo, according to a booklet I drew/wrote, I wanted to be a mommy. Then I wanted to be a daycare director. Then a combine or wheat truck driver (but I’m a girl, so I was told for years that was an impossibility). Then a forest service ranger. Then a camp counselor. Then a daycare director again. Then some kind of business woman, complete with spiffy suits. I started in college with an IT major (ugh, barf, how stupid I was), then switched to Human Resources until my GPA was too awful for the business school, and I ended up in General Studies with class threads emphasizing Human Resources and Interpersonal Communications. Then a mommy again after my 2 year stint in the tourism industry. Rather boring I guess, but hey, that’s me. And I’m okay with it. Why yes, my college degree had absolutely no bearing on my out-of-college job, other than it showed the fact that I finished and got that pricey piece of paper. And my M.R.S. as it was joked around since my college had a fair number of LDS folks.
Beach bunny… hah, you’re funny. I had one single bikini. When I was 7. It was bright, electric blue with hot pink hearts on it. Probably the exact same size a college girl would wear nowadays. Sigh.
and how have your desires changed as you became a mother?
Interesting question…. Well, besides the obvious matter that I did an almost complete 180 after having the 6yo… before him, I thought I was going to be a working mom, have him in daycare, he’d go to [public] school, etc. Um, yeah, our reality has turned out a bit different from that. I know some folks are all hot to trot about saving the earth or whatever cause. I can’t say I’m *that* driven. I just want to do my own thing, be happy, attempt to be healthy, and raise my family without big brother looking over my shoulder.
The fun part? I wouldn’t be who I am today without hubby. Seriously. He was even the one that brought up cloth diapers and a sling before the 6yo was born, and I just blew him off at the time (I had my Baby Bargains book! I knew it all!). Well what do you know. He also changed my mind about Law & Order (although now I’m not such a fan *because* of all these kids I’m protective of) and cheesecake and BLT’s. Because of how awesome and supportive he is, I’m able to grow into myself so to speak. I am able to follow our prompt into homeschooling our children. I am able to spend more time doing the gardening/canning stuff.
where did you mother/father get the name “Lanna”? is it a family name?
I have tried many a time to get any kind of explanation out of my parents for that one. Most I was ever able to get out of them was that my dad liked the name. It’s not a family name. That would be more along the lines of Myrtle and Olive and Velma and Hazel (the last of which actually isn’t that bad a name!). There’s also a Lillian in there somewhere, and one of the names I’d had on hand in case the babe was a girl (Lily for a nickname). He wasn’t a girl.
if you could gain any virtue in the world with no effort, what would it be?
I haven’t a clue. More patience? Like not instantly flipping out to unexpected circumstances?
When presented with something, my mind immediately goes into overdrive of how to make it work or how I’m going to handle it. For example, when hubby was laid off. I think we spent about 10-15 minutes sitting there in the living room in shock reeling over it, and thinking it over in our heads. Then we put together a rough course of action. Later that night I threw down our bare bones budget on paper, and we looked it over. Filed for unemployment that night or the next day, I researched WIC and food stamps and so on. Calculated how long we’d be able to make our savings stretch, how to get our car spiffed up enough to sell, etc.
Or like right now things are in upheaval once again. I feel slightly more comfortable mentioning it now since I think all the key people already know. Hubby put in his notice at work. His last day will be the end of October. Life is too short to deal with what he’s been dealing with there, and there are several other major issues with that work environment that are irrelevant online here. There are a few things that could happen, but right now? All I can do is come up with several scenarios and come up with a tentative plan for each one, and just wait and see what happens.
Did you and your husband grow up with canning/gardening households, or is this something that is different from your families of origin?
Hubby’s mom dabbled a little in canning, but I sincerely doubt it was to the degree I’ve gotten to already. His dad made a huge chunk of change back in the day, so they never worried about money or budgeting or anything from what I can tell.
My mom had enough on her plate what with basically being a single mom with my dad as a roomie who spent money on coffee and cigarettes. Just so you know, librarians aren’t exactly rolling in dough. Not to mention the soil in our yard was pretty much death. Nothing edible ever survived the soil, and I know we tried here and there. We gave up.
My maternal grandma grew up in the depression. Her dad died when she was little, so it was her mom and 9 kids all alone. Before the days of the welfare dole if I’m understanding family lore correctly. To where Papa’s sisters kept saying Grandma was a gold-digger when she married him (um, 54 years later, I doubt that was the case ). They were wheat farmers. Anyway, according to my mm, Grandma had enough of canning and living on the edge like that, so when Grandma was running her own household she always bought already canned goods because if she had the money, she was going to pay someone else to do it.
My paternal grandma was the one that had a homestead, the one that raised four boys in a modified chicken coop, had the decent sized garden, chickens and cows, the “crick” was their fridge for the longest time, and Grandpa worked across the “street” in the lumber mill he started (that closed down after a good 30-40 year run if I remember right – I only remember visiting it once or twice with him in my very young days). In their “retirement” home they also had blueberry bushes the size of an older Rav4, had a fruit room slightly more dust covered than my pantry, and had 3 freezers and two fridges. Kinda makes me look like an amateur, eh?
So I guess the direction where *I* want to head for myself career-wise to supplement hubby’s income makes sense if you think about where my grandmothers came from. I’ve got tons of ideas, but until things get a little more settled, I have no clue what may or may not be a possibility/reality. So many different kinds of things could be potentially doable, and I need to work on cost-analysis and all that jazz as well.