We talk a lot about becoming more self-sufficient in this homesteader life, but in reality, being completely self-sufficient isn't possible in this day and age. In fact, it wasn't possible with the pioneers of old either. We must rely on the community, so let's unpack what community sufficiency means.
If you listened to last week's episode of the Pioneering Today Podcast with Kate from Venison for Dinner, we were discussing this concept of self-sufficiency vs. community sufficiency and it really got me thinking that this topic should be discussed and dispelled.
I happen to come from a long line of people who lived close to the land and produced as much food as possible because, back then, many people couldn't afford to buy it.
My dad grew up during the Great Depression era and saw first-hand what it was like to go without. In fact, my dad has shared many times with us what it was like growing up during the Great Depression, he even shared in an interview what it was like growing up without electricity or plumbing, especially in the wintertime!
Why Community Sufficiency Makes Sense to Me
Growing up we always raised beef cattle, grew a garden, and preserved our own food. Being the youngest of ten children, my parents brought me along on many of the day-to-day tasks so I learned by experience.
Out of my parent's ten children, only three of us are currently producing and raising our own food with this community sufficiency mindset.
For me, raising our own food is the best option. We raise enough meat to feed our family for a year and have recently expanded that number to sell to friends and our local community.
We do this so we have the assurance of how our animals are treated, what they're fed, and we have complete control over the processing of the meat.
Likewise, in the garden, I've learned to grow a year's worth of food. I get to decide what goes on my that food, how I treat for pests (organically, of course!) and I'm diligent to improve and build up healthy soil to naturally ward off diseases.
I do feel like the best option is to raise our own food, but I also realize that not everyone has this option.
If you're looking for high-quality farm-raised meat, or fresh garden produce, look around and see what's available locally to you. Consider supporting small farms, check out Farmer's Markets, ask around, and get the word out that you're looking!
From there, if you still can't find anything, then do check out ButcherBox. I have loved getting ethically caught seafood from them since this isn't something that's readily available to us, but they source and sell their products from farms and farmers utilizing the best organic methods for raising their meat.
I have tasted every one of their products and can stand behind their company as they source their products from smaller farmers wanting to provide healthy, sustainable meat.
What is Community Sufficiency?
The next layer of being community sufficient is to look beyond what you're growing or producing yourself, or perhaps getting from neighbors or the Farmer's Market.
Support Local/Independently Owned Stores
No matter where you live, one way you can become community sufficient is to support independent businesses.
Whenever I'm out in the surrounding towns where I live, or when I'm traveling, I like to seek out local, independent businesses to support.
Support Small Business Online
This also goes for shopping online. I know a lot of smaller independent businesses that put their products on Amazon because it's a way for them to get discovered.
Now, there are also a lot of products on Amazon that come from overseas, so I do think it's important to know where you're purchasing from before clicking “buy now”.
One way to utilize the convenience of online shopping while still supporting small businesses is that I'll try out a product found on Amazon (making sure it's a USA-made product and an independent company first).
If I decide I like the product and want to reorder, I'll then go to their actual website and order directly from them moving forward because they'll make more money off the sale than if I continue to buy their products through Amazon.
If you can't find what you need locally, consider looking regionally before just buying name brands or from the big-box stores.
I talk more about this in podcast #239 where I discuss stocking up on bulk grains and flour for your home.
We buy regionally with some of our animal feed as well because we can buy them in “super-sacks”. You can listen to the podcast where I discuss stocking up on animal feed here.
One way to be community-sufficient is to share your resources with those around you.
We have quite a bit of forested land and we harvest our own trees for our wood-burning stove that provides our heat all winter long. Because of this large task, we have invested in a log splitter because it's a huge time saver.
Just recently, my neighbor had a tree fall on his property but he doesn't have a log splitter because he doesn't have very much forested land. So we loaned him our splitter so he could take care of his downed tree without him needing to go rent one or buy one. Community sufficiency at its finest!
The beauty of this whole community sufficiency mindset is that this particular neighbor happens to have a chicken plucker, which is an item we haven't purchased our own yet, so when we dropped off the wood splitter, we picked up his chicken plucker.
Another method for growing community sufficiency is starting a working bee. A working bee is a group of people who come together to share the workload and the bounty.
What This Means for You
If you're not sure how this idea of community sufficiency fits into your lifestyle, start looking at the resources you need and the resources you have.
Consider how those around you may benefit from the resources you have, and start looking to those around to for those resources you need.
All it takes for a mutually beneficial relationship to form is for you to fill a need that someone else has and vice-versa.
But don't limit this to supplies or products only, your time and labor can be of value to your neighbors as well.
More Ways to Build Community-Sufficiency
There are many ways my family is trying to foster this idea of community with those who live around us.
You now know that we've had a milk cow for over a month, and our small family of four simply cannot drink enough milk to keep up with the supply that we're getting.
This year we decided not to raise our own pigs as we've done in years past (you can read more about raising pigs here), but some of our neighbors raised more pigs than they need.
So we're doing a trade of milk for pork products and it's working out phenomenally for both of us.
We're also raising more backyard egg-laying chickens than we need for our family of four, but we're blessed to be able to provide eggs for our neighbors to purchase.
This is the same mindset that I have with the expanded medicinal herb gardens we're growing this year. We'll be hosting one or two herbal workshops on our homestead this summer where I'll be teaching how to use the herbs for the different remedies.
If this is something that interests you, be sure to sign up for my email list because these spots will be offered to those who are on my list first!
Verse of the Week: Judges 6:36
More Articles You May Enjoy
- Planning our “Farm Stay” Homestead
- 10 Things Our Grandparents Reused
- Essential Homestead Skills
- 6 Things Our Great-Grandparents Did Better Than Us
- How to Find & Buy Land Beyond the Usual Routes
- 5 Life Lessons from the Great-Depression
- 7 Depression Era Tips to Stretch Your Food Budget
- 8 Tips to Save Money Now
- Building a Great Depression Era Pantry
- The First Time Homesteader & Things I’d Do Differently
- Time Management Skills for the Homestead
- Our New 40-Acre Homestead Property (BUT It's Not For Us!)
Hey pioneers. Welcome to episode number 345 of the Pioneering Today podcast. Now, you can't see this because this is a podcast, but I am recording the very first podcast inside our brand new office space. I have for ever since the Pioneering Today podcast started been recording it in a corner of my kitchen, because that has been my office space has literally been like a two foot section corner of our kitchen for years. And we were able to do an addition onto the end of our house, which includes an office space for me that actually has windows. I'm no longer stuck in the corner. I can look outside and see the weather and the cows. And I probably sound very, very excited and almost poetic. And that is because I am extremely excited.
We also have a pantry storage area. So we added on a 10 by twenties room onto the end of our house. And half of it is my office space and the other half is our pantry storage. Now, if you've been following me at all on YouTube or Instagram, you have seen some different videos of that when it was in the beginning stages. And I will be sharing the reveal of everything and walking you through that in some upcoming videos on the YouTube channel as well. So, I share that with you because it felt like a very monumentous occasion, at least for me to tell you I was recording the very first episode in an official office space.
So today's episode is actually going to be about community sufficiency. What that means for you. What does that look like and what it means for us and it's mindset first, but then it's also putting relationships into place or maybe seeking these things out. And it may not be things that you have thought of before and/or it may be that you become that resource in your community space.
So welcome to this episode about community sufficiency and that term, I really like. If you listen to last week's podcast episode where I had Kate from Venison for Dinner on, that was episode number 344, that is something that we touched on briefly in the beginning of that episode. So I highly recommend checking that episode out. It's all about dairy cows, but we did talk about the community sufficiency. So I thought it would be appropriate to really dive into that more this week. I think it's an important topic and one that as homesteaders, we need to have more of this type of a conversation. I think once you get into homesteading and you've been in it for a longer period of time or the long haul, or you're more experienced, whatever explanation you want to give there or definition, you realize that it's not really possible to be a hundred percent self-sufficient with a homestead.
Oftentimes people think of self-sufficiency when we move into doing homesteading, producing our own food making a lot of things, growing our own medicine, all of the umbrella that homesteading really encompasses in this day and age, but honestly, the homesteaders back in the old days, when they actually had the homesteading act, they weren't even a hundred percent self-sufficient. Nobody can be a hundred percent self-sufficient. Now, you can become not as store dependent or as reliant on the store and being more self-reliant. But you really do want to foster a mindset of community sufficiency, especially if you want to be able to do this for years and decades and hopefully it will become generational. Again or more so. There is still some of that, though. It seems to have been the less and less, but I think we are making that shift right now and moving towards that.
I'm a prime example of that, actually. I come from a long long line of people who have lived close to the land. They didn't call themselves homesteading back then, it was just country folk. You were just producing as much of your own food as possible because quite frankly, you couldn't afford to buy it. And if you didn't produce as much of your own food as possible, then you most likely would go hungry. So that is the lineage so to speak that I come from. My dad, growing up, we always had a big vegetable garden. He raised and still does raise a herd of cattle. And then of all of my siblings, only myself, and one of my older brothers have beef cattle. I do have a sister who has some livestock. I actually am not sure if they have beef cattle at the moment, but I say that because I am one of 10 kids. And out of that, only three of us are raising our own livestock and kind of following in those footsteps.
So I hope that more and more generational will come from this movement. I know many of you don't have that, or it was your grandparents or maybe your great grandparents did, but your parents didn't and you are looking to learn these skills and bring it back for your present family and then also your children and/or maybe your grandchildren. So anyways, that was a big long leadway into this topic of community sufficiency.
And speaking of community sufficiency, which we'll be diving into this more, but you may not be able to provide all of your own meat for yourself and the needs of your family. And maybe you don't have a local source. Community sufficiency, if you can find a farmer down the road or in your county where you're able to go and purchase meat, that is locally raised. For me, those standards must be grass fed, grass finished when it comes to our beef. I want pasture raised pork, and I want pasture raised chicken. For me, they don't have to be certified organic if they are using organic practices, because for really small farms, like our farm, even we do offer half and quarter and full beef. We don't have a huge amount that we can offer. So it's just to local friends and family, but we are not certified organic though we use organic practices simply because becoming certified organic for that small amount of livestock would be silly. It would not be cost effective and there really would be no reason to do it.
So all of that, that is best practice, but if you don't have those options available for you, then the sponsor of this week's podcast, which is Butcher Box does have some great options. They have high quality meat that is ethically raised and sustainable. They source from meat partners that have the highest standards for quality, including a hundred percent grass fed beef, free range organic chicken, as well as wild caught seafood. And they are doing a very special offer that just started. So if you are a new member to Butcher Box, you will get a free grilling, not gilling. Grilling bundle in your first order. This is a deal that you don't want to miss you sign up at butcherbox.com/pioneeringtoday and you'll get two 10 ounce ribeyes. I have to tell you of all of the different cuts of steak, ribeye are one of our absolute favorites. You get five pounds of chicken drumsticks. Remember, that is free range organic chicken, and a pack of burgers for free with your first order for new members. So you will find that deal at butcherbox.com/pioneeringtoday.
Which we just had stake last week, as I said, ribeyes are my favorite. We kind of try to meter them out, but you can never go wrong with hamburgers or burger. And of course, we do like to make hamburgers out of our burger, but one of my favorites is to do meatballs. This is especially true when I have waited just a little bit too long to get dinner started. I actually really like meatloaf, but it takes longer. So if you are in a hurry, I will often take our meatloaf recipe and instead just create meatballs or make them smaller and bake them in muffin tins in the oven, because they're going to cook faster because they're in smaller sections. So I highly recommend go and get in on this. We've been very happy. I have tested their steaks as well as their hamburgers and their chicken and have found it to be very good quality. And it is wonderful that it ships right to your door. And even though we live really far out and we're at the end of the day, it has always came 100% still frozen solid. We've not had any issues there.
Now, back to the rest of today's podcast and talking about community sufficiency. So what does that mean? Community sufficiency kind of has several different levels. So I'm going to talk a little bit more about the broader level first and then how you go in from there. So what that means for me is, and this is true for no matter where you live. So even if you, my apartment homesteaders or this is especially true when we are traveling. When I'm traveling speaking at some of the different homestead conferences, this is something that I try to do as much as possible. And that is support independent businesses. I will look for coffee shops or bakeries or restaurants that are local, meaning they're not chains.
Now, to be fair, a lot of chains are franchised and do employ local people. So it's not that I'm anti. And if you are going to those places, yes, you are still supporting most likely the waitresses, cooks, servers, et cetera, live in your community. However, I really do try to support independent businesses as much as possible. Like I said, going to local coffee shops because when I'm not at home, I am not going without coffee. In case you ever thought that was a thing, no, it is not. In fact, when I was at Rory Feek's farm for the Homesteaders of America's Conference and will be going back in just a couple of weeks to speak there for the Homestead Festival. You guys...
Okay. I'm just going to go off on a little side tangent here because we are talking about coffee and I promise that this will come back to the point, but I live in Western Washington state and apparently here we have espresso stands like you have gas stations anywhere else. Even our little tiny town that's about 12 miles away from us. That's our closest town. There are three espresso places. There's a gluten free bakery called Five Bees, they have espresso inside as well as a wonderful, totally from scratch bakery. It's really, really fun if you're ever in the area. I will give a plug for independent businesses. And then we have Perks, which is a drive through espresso stand. And I actually worked there all the way through high school. So that is where I started my barista career and absolutely love. And so they are a fun little cafe, but they have drive through espresso.
And then there's another drive through espresso stand that's at the location of the gas station in our town. Personally, as far as coffee, I'm going to sound like a snob, the quality of the coffee and the way that the drinks are made, I prefer Five Bees and Perks. So those are the two that I go to if I'm buying coffee in our little town, which I have an espresso machine at home, I work from home. So it's only if we're traveling. But if we're traveling through, you know what? I want to support independent businesses, I want people to support me and I want to be able to support them. So I am not anti buying things if we are out from other places. And I know that might be like, oh, you don't pack your coffee and every single meal with you? No. Sometimes I do. But not generally speaking.
Anyways, the whole moral of this long story is when I was at Rory's or I should say, when I traveled to the Nashville to Tennessee, Columbia is where Rory Feek's homestead is at. And it's about, oh, about 40 minutes south of Nashville. So if you're in Nashville, there are coffee shops. There are espresso stands and there are coffee shops. However, when you get out, I could not... there's not espresso stands everywhere. So apparently in the west that's much more common and I'm like, "Oh my gosh," I sound pitiful. And I will fully acknowledge that. But I'm like, "I need espresso drip," especially hotel coffee is not cutting it.
And so I was at Marcy Joe's restaurant, which is independent. It was first started by Rory's wife, Joey and his sister Marcy. And they have delightful food. Really, really fun atmosphere, really good food. And we were there and I said, "Okay," I'm like, "I've just got to tell you guys, we've got to get you an espresso machine in." And I was kind of teasing, but not really. Like, "seriously." I'm like, "I will come and do barista training if you get an espresso machine." And I'm like, "Because you really need to have a breve on the menu." And breve, for those of you who are not coffee drinkers, you're probably like, Melissa, where on earth are you going with this?
For those of you who are coffee espresso drinkers, excuse me, breve is a shot of espresso with cream. Latte is a shot of espresso with milk. A mocha is espresso with milk and chocolate. Cappuccino is espresso with mainly foam. So it's a little bit of milk and then you steam that and create it with foam. So it's basically a shot of espresso with foam and just a tiny, tiny amount of milk. And then an Americano is espresso with water. Apparently I felt you needed to know the definition of all the different espresso drinks there.
However, they had never had breves. You guys, they'd never had a breve. I'm like, "Okay, we are going to find the nearest coffee espresso stand. You guys have to have breves. It is my mission before I leave here, I have to introduce you to the wonderful thing of breves." So I initiated them all to breves for the first time. And it was a coffee stand that was like quite a ways away. However, I think after they had a breve, I may have convinced them to at least look into getting an espresso machine at Mercy Joe's because yes, one should have a breve. If you've never had a breve, have a breve. You can thank me later.
Anyways, that whole tangent of my story is taking us back to independent businesses. And when I travel, I like to go to independent coffee shops, restaurants, especially local places. Airbnbs are also great, because that is supporting a local place. You really get a feel for the place. And I think it's wonderful that we've got more opportunities to support directly families and small businesses than we really ever have before.
But I will also say shopping online because I have people who are like, "I will not order anything online" and also are opposed to Amazon. Now, I'm not saying I think they're a fabulous company. Don't get me wrong. Do not send me hate mail. Don't throw tomatoes at me. Don't waste your tomatoes throwing them at anybody. But where I'm going with this is there are small businesses that do list their thing on Amazon because they will be able to be found there. And so not every time you're ordering from Amazon are you ordering from Amazon. You're ordering through them. But a lot of times you will find small businesses. And so I will test a product through Amazon, and then if I like it, when I want to reorder, because they do pay a percentage of the sales to be listed on Amazon, I'll go directly to their website after that, and then just order directly through them.
But I have found some different companies that way. And my UPS driver, the postal service, those are all local people who live in my community who are doing deliveries. So like I said, my goal with this is to kind of just give some different outlooks and some different thoughts on what that community's sufficiency means. So right now, we're talking really high level.
Then I like to look at, can I get things regionally? So this is especially true when we're looking at things that I don't have a true local source, like a neighbor or a farm maybe close by to us that is producing some of these things. So then I see, is there a regional, like where it's grown in our region, it's not being shipped from as far away or at least it's been growing in the US. So for us, what some of those companies look like, and if you have listened to the podcast episode or been on the website where I talk about where to buy whole grains in bulk, which is episode number 239, we'll also link to it in today's blog post and show notes. Which, if you want to find those for today's episode is at melissaknorris.com/345, because this is episode number 345.
But there is the Palouse brand of wheat. So Palouse grains, they have more than just wheat, but wheat are grown in Washington state and they ship online. They're non GMO verified, but they are not organic. So that is something that is regional and in my state that you can order from. And so that's supporting kind of local. And then as we kind of go more close in, there is Fairhaven flour. And that is actually in my county. So first I look regionally and then state and then county if possible. So Fairhaven flour is in Skagit county, which is in Washington state. And their store is about oh, 45 minutes away from me. So you can buy wheat grains, you can also buy flour and you can now order online and have them ship to you. So that's something that you can look at, but I try to look at that.
We also have Conway Feed, which I've talked about a lot. They do not sponsor me or the podcast, but goodness, I would not mind a bit if they decided to. They are an hour away from me and they're a local grainery. So they mix up different types of feed. It's much cheaper for me than going to the feed stores because I'm buying it directly from the grainery itself. So I can get really good deals. I can buy 50 pound bags. I can also get super sacks. So if you listen to the episode where we were talking about buying feed in bulk and stocking up, you heard me mention super sacks and super sacks are usually about 400 to 600 pounds. So they come in these like huge toe... obviously, you have to have a tractor or something in order to lift them. You're not going to be able to move them by hand, but you're not purchasing it by the 10 yet. So it's kind of in that middle ground, but I can also get that at Conway Feed. So those are kind of like where we started regionally and that we're coming back down.
Another company that's local to me and you're going to have to search and see what's local in your area, especially for those of you listening. If you live in Washington state, then this is it. But I know a lot of you don't live in my direct state or area. So begin to search out, ask online, ask on Facebook, use your favorite search engine and start to look and see if you can find local and/or at least regional places to buy things from. And then you can kind of micro in and get even smaller and actually maybe find directly the farmer or as we're going to talk about going even smaller and direct direct with neighbors. But we have Scratch and Peck. They also sell through Azure standard. I think you can order directly from their website. You can get them in feed stores, but they are a local company. So that means when I'm buying from them, it's not being shipped nearly as far. And it is a local regional company.
I really see with all of the different... at the time of this recording anyways. We're two years in from the pandemic when it first started, we're still seeing supply chain issues, regardless for whatever reason that those may be. And I think that we will continue to see a rise in more and more people supporting local, which is really phenomenal because you don't have to worry so much about shipping and all of the different factors that have come into play, which I don't want to go into here. I know you guys know what I'm talking about and have your own opinions and thoughts on that.
But I really see a community sufficiency only becoming more important as time goes on for lots of varying reasons. So starting to find these resources and supporting these companies now, I think is only going to do you favor down the road. Now, you might not be have some of these resources near you, or they're just small. They haven't been as well known, but as they get more and more customers, then that will probably allow them to offer better prices or greater quantities. All of those things for small businesses that are really important. So now I'm off on another tangent. Apparently this is just like squirrel day for me. So thank you for sticking with me. I promise I'm trying to keep this on point though. It doesn't feel like it. I feel like I'm telling lots and lots of stories here.
So regionally, state, county, city, if possible, and then neighborhood. So for us, as I said, it kind of like was Palouse and then it's Scratch and Peck. Then it's Conway Feeds. And then we do try to either raise ourselves some of those items. But also we purchase from other people directly in our community as in like independent. So when we get hay for our cows, I actually purchase hay from my brother. And then there's another farmer that we also get our haylage from that lives about 45 minutes away from us. So we've been buying from them for, oh gosh, I've been getting hay from my brother for probably like 10 years. And the other source, his name is Jan. We've been buying haylage from him, oh, probably close to five years now. So just so you can kind of see, we support all of these different businesses and places and they have different levels within how close into the community are they? And are they big businesses or just independent? My brother just, he does hay for himself and has an extra for a few family members. And that's pretty much it. So you can't really get much more small scale than that.
Now we do directly buy hay from them. Those aren't trade in barter situations, but that is something that we definitely want to look at within the community. And if you listen to the episode last week, 344 that I did with Kate, you'll hear how they don't want the hay. They instead have somebody come in that has the equipment who hays the entire field, and then they just get a cut of that. So there's no money changing hands, but they're exchanging the resource for someone else's time and labor. And then they're splitting not the profits, the product that that produces.
So there's lots of different ways to think about that and to do that. So we even do this within our community. When we have a neighbor who needed to, he had a couple of trees fell on his property, they were too close to his house. They needed to take them down. There was some safety trees and they don't have forested land. It's mainly just pasture. We do have quite a bit of forest on our land. And so we have a wood splitter. If you have ever had to cut cords and cords and cords of firewood every year, amen, you will know how delightful having a wood splitter is. It makes the process so much faster and is one of the best investments that we have ever purchased. My husband and teenage son will gladly gladly acclaim to that.
However, our neighbor, there would be no point in him purchasing a log splitter wood splitter, excuse me, when he just has two trees, because he's probably not going to really need this in the future. So we have one and he asked, "Could I borrow it to do this?" And we said, "Absolutely." So he's borrowing our wood splitter right now. And we actually do not have a chicken plucker, an automatic chicken plucker. In the past, we have always rented them from our agriculture office, but he has a chicken plucker. And he's like, "I'm not using the chicken plucker right now. Why don't we just swap?" We're doing our chicken butchering workshop this coming Saturday. And so we went over, I went over last night and got the chicken plucker from him. And so this is a great, great trade because we don't both need to own these items. We may invest to get our own chicken plucker in the future. We're kind of looking and deciding and going back and forth. But for the meantime, there's no reason for him to buy the wood splitter. We already have one and we didn't need to go and buy a chicken plucker at this moment or go rent one from somewhere else. We could just trade resources.
So if you can get to know neighbors or people in your community and forge friendships with them or working relationships, it can be a really great thing. Some other things that we have done is we have another neighbor who has large equipment or had large equipment. And we had some trees that we needed to take out to convert into pasture, some junk trees that were falling all the time, losing limbs and knocking out our fence line that needed to be taken out. And we needed it to be cleared with an excavator because we needed the stumps pulled out. So he came over and he worked his machine, excavator helped us get that cleared. But then we had a lot of logs.
Now, as I said, we do burn wood. That is our heat source. Our only heat source that we use, even though we do have electric forest air, we don't ever use it. In fact, the thermostat broke last year. We haven't even had to replace because we never ever use it. But you could only go through so much firewood and these trees weren't good enough to sell or use for lumber. They were junk trees basically, which is why we wanted to take them out. There's no use cultivating them when we could use the pasture and they weren't worth anything. And we have plenty of other trees and wooded property.
So we, in exchange, he got some of the trees because him and his family needed firewood and they didn't have wood on their property that they could harvest from like we do. So it was great. It was kind of the same situation as the hey we had the product, they had the machinery. And so we did a swap. So they took so many of the logs and then went and used that for their firewood. And we were able to use their equipment in order to get it done.
So if you can look for opportunities like that, it can be really, really great. And something that you continue to foster. Now, as I said, maybe you become that community resource, most families, this is going to depend on your family size. We are a family of four. I have two teenagers now. My daughter just became a teenager and my husband and I and our teenage son. We got a milk cow, which you guys have probably been catching that if you've been listening to any of the episodes of the podcast recently.
And she, when we first got her, she was producing about two gallons, maybe two and a half gallons of milk. Well, we've had her seven weeks, almost seven weeks now at the time of this recording, she is now producing almost four gallons of milk a day. A family of four is not going through four gallons of milk a day, at least not many families of four that I know of. And we don't have pigs, which that would be a great additional source to give the excess milk to, but we don't have pigs right now. And so there's probably not many places where every single family would have a milk cow, but we do have a milk cow. And we have a neighbor who raised pigs and had an excess of pork. And so we are trading milk for pork, which works great, because we did not do pigs this year. We'll probably do pigs again next year. But that means it'll be a year and a half before we have any more of our own pork to harvest and to fill the freezer up with. So right now we are being able to trade milk for pork, which has been phenomenal.
We've got other neighbors who have, oh gosh, I have to be careful with what I say. Let's just say that there are many opportunities if you have a dairy cow to meet neighbors and to be a resource for them. There we go. I'm going to leave it at that. We also have neighbors, a lot of our neighbors have chickens. We live really far out in the country. So a lot of our neighbors are doing different homesteading aspects with that. But then we've got other neighbors who don't have chickens and I happen to have excess eggs right now, even beyond what we're using, filling up the freeze dryer. So I've got freeze dried eggs for during the winter months when the hens are not laying. So we have been able to be an egg source for neighbors.
And the herb gardens. Oh, you guys will get more updates on this as we come into summer. But our herb gardens, we expanded last year those because there was no local place for me to get some of the herbs. When my husband got sick, it was actually, we were doing chicken butchering workshop last fall. It was our very first one. And he got sick that night after we got done butchering everything. He started to come down with the cold. No, nobody else got sick, anything like that. But he started to come down with the cold. So the next day was Sunday and he needed some herbs. I thought I had the herbs in stock. I did not. And I realized that there was nowhere that I could physically go and get those herbs that day. I could order them online and they'd be here in a few days, but there was no place I could actually go to get those, which means nobody else in my community could either.
So we decided that we were putting in a herb garden, a bigger herb garden as a teaching herb garden. We're going to do some workshops here this summer and fall, probably with the herbs. I have to get those dates set. Part of the problem with that, if you're like most, I've been waiting for you to set those dates, I know some of you has messaged me and you're like, "I want to come to the herbal workshop." I'm trying to decide when to host it because in July, a lot of the herbs are beautiful and they're blooming. Bloorming. I make up words. They're blooming. And some of the herbs you will be harvesting the blossoms from, to use in the herbal remedies, and sometimes it's the root and depending on what the herb is, it's not like there's one time where you come in and harvest all of the things.
So I'm trying to decide when is the best time when the herbs are actually at the state where you would be harvesting them so that whoever comes, can have the hands on experience of being able to know what the herb is, what properties it has, safety, how it's used, but also being able to physically harvest the items. And then we'll go in and create if it's teamster soups, tees, et cetera, whatever it is that we're doing with them to prep them for that next step. But summer and fall, summer and summer, maybe we'll host two. I'm not sure. So as soon as I get that figured out, it will go out to the email list first so make sure that you're subscribed to my email newsletter if you are anywhere on melissaknorris.com, you will see an option on the homepage there to join the newsletter. You just pop in your name and your email. That information will be posted to the email list first as soon as I get them nailed down, which will have to be pretty soon because we're getting close to summer, even though it doesn't feel like it here.
So, you may decide that you need to become that community item or that you may need to be the producer of that item for your community, that nobody else is producing it. And you might become the source, but someone else is producing something else. So my whole moral of this story is not everybody has to produce everything because you absolutely can't, but we can look for opportunities within our communities and it may be broader as regional, or we go micro in and it's literally the neighbor next door. We've even had options where people have been like, "Hey, you kind of like old fashioned barn raisings, right?" Like your neighbor's like, "Hey, I need help with this fence or I need help with this building. And then I can come and help you." So sometimes it's actually resources like tangible goods and sometimes it's labor. And sometimes it's a mixture of both as I shared with our wood situation for firewood.
So I hope that you found today's episode helpful, even though I did go off on several story tangents, hope you don't mind my storytelling. I'm a storyteller at heart, I have to say. That is another aspect that oral story traditions I think are really important. I also obviously love written. I love books, but my grandmother was an amazing storyteller. I did write down some of her stories, even when I was little. She passed away when I was in the seventh grade, but she was a phenomenal storyteller. And I think that that's something before we had access to paper and now of course we can type and even do audible books and all of those things. The art of oral storytelling is something... it's not being lost. There's people that still do it, but it's not as prominent as it once was and something that I love. I love listening to someone who can tell a good story.
So anyways, I also wanted to share with you the verse of the week before I get off on a whole nother tangent, if you've enjoyed any of these tangents, I would like to hear more on any certain things. Please do let me know. But the verse of the week is actually a section of verses. And it's from Judges chapter six, which is the old Testament really starting in verse 36. If you're familiar with this story, it is Gideon and it's called the Sign of the Fleece. So I'm going to start Judges chapter six, verse 36.
"Then Gideon said to God, "If you are going to save Israel by my hand, as You have said, then behold, I will place a fleece of wool on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to save Israel by my hand, as You have said." And that is what happened. When Gideon arose the next morning, he squeezed the fleece and rung out the dew, a bowl full of water." Now there's more in there and go and definitely read the full story there. But I wanted to share this first with you, because to me, this is when this is like a... not like a. It is when you are praying or asking for confirmation.
There are times when we have decisions and my husband and I, I'm not going to share with you quite publicly yet, but hopefully it will be something I will be able to share with you very shortly coming up within a month or so. My husband and I were faced with a really big decision. And we had to make the decision that day. There was no waiting and we really weren't sure. We wanted to make sure one, because it was a big decision to make that we were doing so only if it was God's will, one way or the other. And so we prayed and asked for confirmation from the Lord and felt we were given it that same day and we'll know the final outcome of that. I know I'm talking so critically right now, shortly within a month, and I'll be able to share more.
But the reason I wanted to share this is because this was a verse and story in the Bible that we actually went back to because sometimes, and you'll see if you read this, Gideon gets his first sign of confirmation from the Lord. And then he is like, "Lord, don't get angry at me. Can we do this one more time? I need one more test. I want to be absolutely sure that this is from you" and the Lord had patience with Gideon and did so. The reason that I'm sharing this with you though, is because we did have confirmation that we felt was from the Lord, but you can still sometimes have doubts. Even Gideon is like, "Lord, I need one more go round with this. I got to really make sure that this is from you." And I think that that can be very, very normal, but I also think that when we ask the Lord for confirmation and are certain that we did get the confirmation, that it was from Him, that a lot of times, then the enemy will come in and start to cause worry and doubt and try to get us to doubt that confirmation from the Lord.
And so it's important to remind ourselves that once we do get confirmation from the Lord, and if we have asked for wisdom, because God does promise if you ask for wisdom that He is good and our heavenly father. And if even earthly fathers, their children ask for bread, they're not going to hand them a rock or a serpent. I don't remember the exact verse that that's from, but that is a biblical verse. I didn't look it up ahead of time. Then if we ask God for wisdom, He promises to give it to us.
Now, I'm talking about biblical wisdom. But wisdom in making decisions and seeking His will, as long as we aren't making the decision and asking Him to bless it, but we're truly seeking His wisdom to guide us in the decision and accepting even if we want it to be yes and He tells us no. And I know that is very, very hard. There's been many opportunities in my life where I really wanted God to say yes. And He said, "No." And usually not always, not always, but usually it may be years down the road, I will see why He said no, even though I couldn't understand it at the time.
So that being said, I wanted to share this first with you because I know a lot of us are in a place where we are needing confirmation in order to make a move or to do something. And we want to make sure that it is from the Lord, so seeking His wisdom, asking for confirmation, and then once we've received that confirmation, keeping in faith and moving ahead and in His will. So I will hopefully be able to share more with you about that. And then this whole thing will probably make a little bit more sense to you once I am at liberty to do so.
Thank you guys so much for hanging out with me today. I know this was a little bit more of a rambling one, but I hope that it gave you some food for thought, had some options that you will be able to put into action on creating a community sufficiency where you live. All right, blessings and Mason jars. Bye for now my friend.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.