It struck me today, like a bolt of lightening…. Eating local is the shizzle!

There is an amazing farmer’s market every Saturday in town. We like to buy our veg there, and pick up delicious rashers and sausages, bring home farm fresh eggs, grab scrumptious coffee sprinkled with chocolate, and listen to live music. We cooked a late breakfast after the market today and as we sat there in the kitchen enjoying conversation and good food, it dawned on me….

“Everything we are putting inside our bodies is grown right here! Right where we live!”

The pigs have felt the same rain we have. The chickens, the same breezes that whip our trees to and fro. These animals live in the same vale we do. The pig farm is on the horizon, just on the other hill. I can see their little houses from the front garden. The blackberries for the jam came from our hedgerow. I began to imagine I could taste even the scent of our townland in my mouth.

I put up my own St. John’s Wort this year, in preparation for the dark winter. I gathered blackberries and made jam. I foraged rowanberries and apples for jelly. My sloe gin is stewing, and my herb cabinet is stocked with the wholesome goodness of tinctures, oils, and salves made with plant material collected from my own laneway. I feel a distinct pride is this bit of self-sufficiency. I also feel thankful.

Besides all the environmental reasons for eating local (reduction in carbon emissions, etc), I am supporting economies of scale. Which really means… I’m ensuring the family farm lives on! My family was unable to withstand the changing landscape of farming in Texas and what my great-grandparents, and my grandparents after them, worked so hard to build has fallen to parceled-out-and-broken-up-heart-wrenching-to-look-at-five-acre-tracts-with-crappy-houses! I have a choice where I spend my food money and I prefer it goes into the hands of women and men who are cultivating the land they live on, and husbanding the animals in their care. And… it just tastes better!

It might be all in my head but, seriously, I could almost taste the sweet breeze that blows across this gentle ridge.

OH! I mentioned apples….. This is the first time in my LIFE I’ve picked my own apples! We never grew them in Texas, at least not where I lived. It never got cold enough. They are everywhere here in Ireland. Well, I don’t know about everywhere, but there seem to be loads of apple trees where I am. We were on our way to get 99’s the other day and spotted a laden down tree by the side of the road. Unsure if they were available for public consumption we stopped and asked in at a nearby house. A German lady with little kids was living there and she said the trees were hers but for us to pick as many as we wanted! “There are more than I can use.” She even got us a bag!

Feeling quit like the farmer I’m sure my Grandfather wanted me to be, I am about to get my own chickens! We have a little stone chicken house in the back that surely longs to be put to proper use. I just need to build a secure wire door (to keep the fox out), put up some perches, and build a few nesting boxes. My little BIG is coming to visit soon (for the entire month of October!), so maybe it can be a group project! I have been told there is a man nearby that sells hens for €4 each. Maybe I can find someone closer who is willing to sell me a few starter hens. I would love to get chicks, but I’m not sure I could (this close to winter) or whether it would be a good idea (this close to winter). I wonder whether you can still get an egg a day out of layers here…with the shorter winter days.

Another group “farm” project on the autumn horizon is preparing the garden beds. We have a great raised garden area that gets almost full sun all day (when the sun is shining). I plan to lay out a few rows, turn up the sod there and cover with good compost for the winter to prepare them for spring planting. I really am a complete novice regarding what to plant here and when. Fun times ahead.

Speaking of the long winter…. I felt my first hint of S.A.D. day before yesterday. It was sort of gray and cold here, and I unexpectedly felt gloomy, a little hopeless, and had a craving for chocolate. Himself noticed these signs right away and asked when my St. John’s Wort would be ready to go! He mentioned getting a sun lamp. I wonder… Anyone reading this…Have you ever suffered from S.A.D., and if so, what success did you have coping with it?

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