Minimalism and the Homesteading Life, Part 1


Home Canned Food On Counter

I never met Virginia. I knew about her from Ben, and from a photograph he kept on his bookshelf. In it, she wore a frayed knit cardigan, loose turtleneck sweater and bulky eyeglasses taped at the hinges. Seventy at the time, she had taupe hair, jaggedly cut, and few wrinkles.

I knew about her too from her stuff. She left behind everything from buttons to bottles to books, which she’d accumulated over the more than fifty years she’d lived on the Pennsylvania homestead. When she died at the age of eighty-nine, Ben inherited the place along with the stuff.

Now approaching retirement, he hoped to live there himself. He wondered if I’d mind helping him clean it. “If you can spare a week or so,” he said, “I think we’ll make a dent. And while we’re at it, enjoy the company of dear old friends.”

Glimpsing the homestead from afar, I felt confident of our mission. On one side of the dirt road stood a modest white-shingled farmhouse, on the other a weathered barn. Only after we arrived did I gather hints of the enormity of the task. Buckets of tools, kindling and logs filled the front of the wrap-around porch. Barrels of compost filled the back. The sides of the porch held shovels, hoses, rakes and whatnot.

On the main floor of the farmhouse, a wood-burning stove, used for cooking and heat, occupied much of the main room. Shelves and cupboards held cast iron pots, mason jars filled with peaches, apples and pears, and an assortment of crocks. The cellar contained large barrels of corn, potatoes and squash. These vegetables, aged beyond eating and even beyond planting, would need to join the compost, though not on the porch.  Another day, we’d tackle the upstairs, the canning kitchen, the barn.

4/6/2016 8:38:20 AM

It's nice to know others are passionate about Mason jars as well. Thank you for the link to ideas on how to reuse them. Felicia

3/29/2016 8:29:04 AM

Such an enjoyable read, Felicia. Thank you for sharing. We are passionate about Mason jars, canning, and homesteading! Thought you might be interested in our 'after-canning' solutions to reuse and re-purpose Mason jars:

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