Well, with all that's been said about food preservation you must be wondering where we keep it all. The answer is lots of places; more specifically, in our basement and root cellar. Basically we have three freezers in our house which we call the vegetable freezer, the fruit freezer and the meat freezer; overflow from these finds a home in an old freezer that is squeezed into one of our outbuildings.
Situated in the back corner of our basement is the pantry. (We give thanks unto God because He has mercifully granted us a relatively dry basement.) Canned and dried
The Root cellar was another very useful addition to our property. Before its arrival, we stored our potatoes in an old chest freezer with a light bulb (covered with aluminum foil so the potatoes wouldn't turn green) to keep the potatoes from freezing. (Yes, I know, it's an odd use for a freezer, but it worked really well).
Our root cellar is obviously home to our root crops. Beyond roots, we also store our apples and cabbages here. The damp cool air found in this underground compartment is particularly perfect for potatoes which will store well until planting time. We have a special technique for keeping our apples in the same place as our potatoes (see the root cellar article). They usually store fine until January by which time we have used most of them up. The cabbages do alright for a few months, though they do tend to prefer the dryer entrance into the cellar. Our root cellar has proven to be an extremely useful addition to our property.
In the fall we dig potatoes. We all come down and work on it together. Sometimes I run a pitchfork and dig for potatoes but most times I work with a companion picking up potatoes that they dig. Once they are dug, we spread them out on the barn floor so that they will dry and the damaged ones will go bad and don't ruin the whole bin of potatoes. I help sort them and Zechariah puts them in the root cellar.
There is another form of food storage which is not often mentioned. While cool and damp is perfect for the majority of the root crops, warm and dry is what the squash and onions need. For us the basement kitchen is the place of preference where the squash and onions, stored in crates, will last well for 5-6 months, that is, if you have good storing varieties. We actually tried storing our squash in the root cellar and then the shop; both were too cold and damp. Hindsight says we should have looked up how to store them in one of our numerous gardening books. Neglecting to do so, we learned the hard way and have only recently discovered how well a warm basement works!
There are a lot of things that we simply cannot get locally here in New England so once a year we make a trip into Lancaster County, PA to pick up supplies. To the mill and/or the warehouse to get hard wheat, soft wheat, rolled oats and raisins. On to a little family run bulk food store for coconut and dates by the case, corn starch, baking powder, yeast, nuts, canning jar seals, freezer bags, bulk herbs etc. Then to the local bent and dent for ten pound blocks of cheese. Pick up molasses if we need some and then, on the way home, stop by the apiary to get honey. All in all it's a fast yet broad shopping tour that lasts about two and a half days and results in a good supply of stapes for the year ahead. The greater majority of these goods get packed into our pantry.
Just before frost, Dad makes another trip this time north to an agricultural area where he stops at a whole string of farms and buys potatoes, carrots, onions, peppers and sometimes squash. This quick little half day trip fills in all those lean places so that our larder is full for the coming winter. The importance of this trip is increased whenever we experience crop failure, especially in the case of our potatoes, which are a mainstay around here.
In all actuality, there's a lot of work, as well as, a lot of variety and benefit from growing our own food. I want to mention just briefly in closing that although the thought of self sufficiency does at times occupy our minds, our true goal is not independency and self sufficiency but rather dependence upon God. Depending upon Him to provide for and sustain us, depending upon Him for sunshine, rain and a crop, and depending upon one another to work. The independent man has no need for God while the dependant one humbly admits that all that he has and is, his very future and life itself, is in the hand of Almighty God. We are dependent upon the Lord for the very breath we draw, knowing that in Him we consist and have our being. We plant the field but it is God, our beloved Father, who gives or withholds the increase. We will give Him thanks for whichever He chooses to bestow upon us, in His infinite wisdom!
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