Subsistence farming and gardening


Yesterday, Sue harvested the first crop of beans from our back-yard garden. A row of bean vines growing up a fence about eight or ten feet long by four feet high yielded a couple pecks of bean pods. (Woah, antique measurement units! Seems appropriate here…)

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These aren’t the green beans that you eat fresh. These were pinto beans and black beans. Very pretty pods, mottled red and white while fresh on the vine. You can still see the mottling on the pinto pods.

She spent hours harvesting and shelling those beans. The net result is about 6 cups of lovely looking beans. We will get some great soups from those beans during the winter.

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Do you remember reading stories like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s biographical “Little House” series? Food and farming were a frequent topic – not surprising, as Laura’s family were subsistence-farming (and hunting) pioneers. It was a damn difficult life. For many, it was too difficult and they starved or gave up and went back to the cities.

About a decade ago, PBS made a series called “Frontier House”about trying to live that lifestyle. I watched some of that. Basically they took some 20th century couples, gave them a little education, a wagon full of supplies, and a bunch of land, and turned them loose. Those families worked amazingly hard, with the goal of becoming prepared for a Montana winter.

We’ve sure got it easy now. Our garden is a source of tasty fresh vegetables, and a pleasant hobby for Sue. But to extrapolate from “We can grow some good salads, and enough beans for four or five meals!” to being able to truly support ourselves? I appreciate even more the lifestyle we live.

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One thought on “Subsistence farming and gardening

  1. Pingback: Expectations, reality, and happiness | chemprofdave

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