Always Getting Ready

| 10/24/2011 9:35:00 AM

Tags: calving, canning, Ohio, Mary Lou Shaw,

wood burner cooks dinner in winter timeOne winter a few years back, I worked in the medical center in Bethel, Alaska. Never have I seen a flatter or whiter terrain than this winter tundra. However, I very much enjoyed working with the Yup’ik people, and when I left they gave me a book telling of their Eskimo culture. The book is called, “Always Getting Ready.”    

Surviving such harsh conditions certainly does require that knowledge and skills be handed down to each new generation. These skills include being prepared so that food, clothing and shelter are available when needed. Our lives in Ohio are much easier than the traditional Eskimos; and Ohio certainly doesn’t offer the challenges that the subarctic tundra does.

However, as I watch what is required to grow our own food, I do see that there is a rhythm of the season on a homestead and each season has different tasks. In a sense, I’m getting the feel of “always getting ready” right here on our little farm.  

I have always loved seasons and welcome the change that they bring. If I describe seasonal activities, I tend to begin with winter because it is physically the slowest of seasons for us. It is slowest because food and firewood were “gotten ready” during the previous seasons.

Food is prepared when it is harvested in the summer and autumn. That means a winter’s meal can be easilyBaby Dutch Belted cow born made by combining a few items from the freezer, canned goods or root cellar. It’s a time to rest and catch up with reading and letter writing. This quiet time comes between bundling up in the mornings and late afternoons when animals are fed and protected from the weather.

Winter is also the time for tasks that make the summer’s work easier. My husband built the milk-room in the barn last winter and had completed the turkey house before the ground froze. Indoor painting and deep-cleaning of the house gets done then, or probably doesn’t get done at all. Winter also becomes the time to research the questions we accumulate during the summer about animals or the garden.

Kathy Grill
10/26/2011 4:29:10 PM

What a wonderful article. I'm currently a 'city' girl with very high hopes of becoming a country girl before I'm too old. I have such a hard time managing life now, with having food available on nearly every street corner, I am having difficulty imagining how I'm going to manage a large garden and animals. (which is my goal). This article is SO helpful and inspiring!! I can hardly wait for next year when I can finally move to the country. I SO want a storage room like yours!! Thanks again!

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