The road life takes us down can be both terrifying and beautiful at the same time. We don’t always know what the next curve will bring, and that is one of the things that makes life worth living. For me, seeing myself change over the years has been just like driving down a long road. The scenery has changed, my feelings about where I am and what I am doing has changed, and most of all, I’ve enjoyed every moment of the trip. Deanna and I are in the process of changing once again and we are really beginning to enjoy the scenery more than we did before. We are starting to appreciate actually living rather than coasting through life, what it means to actually eat, to breathe, and to survive.
People mistake growing up in the South as growing up in the country. While the South may have smaller cities (Atlanta excluded), it isn’t true that everyone from the South is “country-folk”. I grew up in the city. My parents were from the city. I didn’t learn to drive a tractor, I didn’t kill my own food. Heck, I don’t even remember my parents having a garden that was edible. Food came from the grocery store. I didn’t know the source of the food, and in the 80’s and 90’s, no one really cared. I don’t think we understood the implications of the industrially produced food that most of America now consumes. Things have certainly changed in recent years, both in my perspective and in the nation as a whole. People are joining the slow food movement, the local food movement, the organic food movement, the insert-whatever-here movement. It seems there is a movement for pretty much everything. What I find the most interesting, is that we are all really just trying to return to what eating was like for our grandparents. A time before High Fructose Corn Syrup was used to sweeten everything we eat. A time before half the ingredients on a label were unpronounceable. A time when you knew that what you put in your mouth was grown by a farmer, not a chemist.
I don’t know when the shift began for me. Maybe it is with my incredible in-laws that have shown us more about gardening and working with our hands than anyone else in my life. Maybe it is my friend Rich, who showed me just how easy and awesome it is to brew your own beer and make your own wine. Most likely, it isn’t just one thing, or one person, but the perfect storm of events that are transforming my life. It is more than just about the source of my food, but also my ability to create the foods I eat. From making my own ketchup, to stuffing my own sausage, and roasting my own granola for Yogurt. I have slowly started doing more things for myself that I would have previously just assumed needed to be bought from a store. Not only has the quality of homemade food surpassed my expectations, but my appreciation for them grows even more so. I now brew my own beer, make my own wine, make my own cheese, and try to grow my own food where I can.
Twelve years ago, when we moved to Birmingham initially, I never imagined we would be here long. Deanna always wanted to move to the city. To be in the mix of the action and noise. I just wanted to be away from the South. Things have definitely changed. We now seem to dream of a morning where we can wake up, go outside with a cup of coffee, and overlook our garden and our animals.
To this end, Deanna and I have started looking for some land on which we can build a farmstead. We have four chickens now, but we really want more. I would love some ducks. I especially want some dairy goats. We want a large garden area where we can grow the majority of the food we eat. We want to learn to be self sustaining, to provide for ourselves and potentially our families. To get back to the land.
How times change.