DVD dreams yield real-life reality

Published 7:00 pm Thursday, July 18, 2013

     All it took was a DVD to send us over the edge.

     From our over-stuffed couch in the air conditioning, we watched a documentary showcasing five families pursuing a new American dream – self-sufficiency.

     Suddenly, our eyes were opened to our property’s potential. We had ground lying fallow in that spot, empty stalls in the barn, cabinets over there in need of filled Mason jars.

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     So we got off our couch and got busy planting rows – long rows – of vegetables. It wasn’t long before I got a call from the post office, on a holiday, informing me that our 25 chicks had arrived. Next, we acquired a few dairy goats and made sure they got bred when the experts said to (that’s a story for another column).

     Along the way, Mr. Joe at Wesson’s Custom Seed waded through all my questions.

     Of course, it didn’t hurt that we had friends fueling the same passion. We traded homesteading magazines, tatoo kits (for goats’ ears), soap recipes, incubators, and conversations that went like this:

     “Oh, I know what’s wrong with your tomatoes. They need some (fill in the blank with something you’ve never heard of).”  

     That’s how we increased our vocabulary with exotic terms like diatomaceous earth. Not exactly helpful on the ACT, but educational, nonetheless.

     I admit it was nice to have a steady supply of the white stuff for the most consumptive critters on our place –  teenagers. But dairy goats need to be milked twice a day, every day (did I mention every day?), and that wasn’t so nice. Neither was all of that row-hoeing. And like so many dreams, ours of self-sufficiency became expensive, too. Fifty-pound bags of lay pellets and goat chow are pricey. And doesn’t the fact that we have to buy something sort of defeat the purpose anyway? 

     In the end, it was the stillbirth of twin kids and the subsequent death of their pedigreed mother, Verbena, that did me in. Or maybe it was the vet’s bill that came a couple of weeks later.

     Whatever it was, I wimped out (emphasis on the “I”). My husband wants me to clarify that he did not.

     For now, it’s 15 laying hens, two raised beds of tomatoes and peppers, and a smattering of basil and rosemary by the kitchen door that keep us busy. I do admit, however, the smell of a county co-op can still make me long for a Little House on the Prairie kind of life. 

     Perhaps that’s why I read with interest of an emerging form of self-sufficiency that’s gaining appeal with moderns called foraging. Of course, the practice of collecting wild foods is actually as old as time itself, but it’s the “new new” in green society.

     People are taking to woods, streets, and parks in search of free-for-the-picking bounty.

     An enterprising pair of foragers from Colorado have started a website, fallingfruit.org, to put overloaded pear trees and patches of edible mushrooms on an accessible map, but I couldn’t find Brookhaven on it.

     I guess down here, word just gets around when Mrs. Dorsie’s muscadines are ripe.

     So let’s get this straight. If you picked blackberries in June, you’re a forager. Pecans last fall?  You’re a forager. And those wild plums on the empty lot down the street? Get permission, get picking, and then you’ll qualify, according to an article published in ScienceDaily.

     Sounds easy enough. So what if foraging won’t get you in the real self-sufficiency club. It will get you close, and you don’t even have to watch the DVD.

     Wesson resident Kim Henderson is a freelance writer who writes for The Daily Leader. Contact her at henderson7@juno.com.