I listened Jessica Sowards and I turned my waiting room into a classroom
I'm dreaming about owning a small farm where I could grow enough food for our family and have a small roadside farm stand to sell all kinds of vegetables, flowers and breads. I imagine a romantic setup in the garden, with bird houses, a creek, a little bridge, string lights and a swing surrounded by beautiful flowers. I want a dreamy farm where people would be able to come and have their wedding pictures taken.
It's difficult to find the proper words to express how exciting this dream is for me and how much my soul hurts with impatience for it to become my reality. But while it is not possible for us right now to move to the country, Jessica Sowards, from Roots and Refuge Farm on YouTube, gave me a very wise advice : ''Turn your waiting room into a classroom''. And I did just that! A year ago, I made a list of all the skills I wanted to learn to become as self sufficient as possible. I wrote more than 100 skills on that list and then, I started to learn! Here's a review of everything I learned in the last year.
Because September always brings an abundance of fresh seasonal produces from the farm, it was the perfect time to start my learning journey by preserving food using both the water bath and the pressure canning method. So I went ok Kijiji and found a brand new pressure canner that had never been used at all for 50$. I also bought a big waterbath canner as well as a couple cases of mason jars at WalMart. That month I put up 9 pints of pickled beets, 8 pints of celery, 11 half-pints of strawberry-rhubarb jam, 7 quarts of vegetable broth, and 8 pints of each black beans, red kidney beans and chickpeas.
SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2019
Then, at the end of September 2019, I learned to bake my own fresh bread. I made a simple white bread with commercial yeast, using my stand mixer to knead the dough. It's the easiest thing to bake, seriously! I've been making my bread ever since.
November is usually the time of the year when people really start to think about Christmas and by that I mean gift shopping. I wanted to do something different this year and make some well thought homemade gifts. I got some inspiration on Pinterest, looked into my craft drawers, found lots of yarn and knitting needles. So I decided I was gonna learn to knit. Everybody got a knitted present, let it be dishcloths or slippers. I really enjoyed learning to knit. This year, I'm thinking about learning to crochet!
In January 2020, I stepped up my bread game by baking my first whole wheat bread. Shortly after that, I got into the art of sourdough baking and made a starter from scratch with The Kneady Homesteader's sourdough challenge. I have to be honest, my first loaves were a total disaster. They turned out flat and hard as a rock. I tried a couple of methods until I found this video and baked a perfect loaf. Now I use this one as my basic recipe and I bake a fresh loaf of bread every other day.
By February I was really determined to make a garden to be a little more self-sufficient. I bought some growing lights, seeds, dirt and containers to plant my seedlings in March. I was so excited when the first sprouts popped out of the soil! Every day I would spend many hours just watching them grow. It's fascinating how fast plants grow!
Then, in March, everybody in my area got locked down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I was happy because that meant more time for gardening, but my husband needed a haircut and the hairdressers were closed. Circomstances made me learn to cut my husbands hair. My first cut was a success, I had done a better job that the hairdresser my husband usually go to. So I've cut his hair ever since. Another check mark on the self-sufficient skills-to-learn list!
April, May, June, July, August and September have been a huge gardening crash course for me. I learned to plant seeds, to transplant seedlings, to fertilise, to weed, to pest control, to understand what every different type of plant needs, to harvest, to preserve, to save seeds for next year and most importantly, I learned to let go of the garden when the cold weather came (which I learned is very heartbreaking). I'm already planning my 2021th garden. I'm already thinking about what I want to plant, how many I want and where I want to plant them. Truth is, I need about 6 times the space I have to plant everything I want...
In August, my husband and I had the opportunity to take part in a wild mushroom foraging course. The first part of the day was spent in class where we learned to recognise and identify wild mushrooms. The specialist had specimens for us to touch and smell as well as more that 20 books to help us identify the different fungi. There was also a lobster mushroom soup, chanterelle muffins and changa tea for those who wanted to taste those plants. In the afternoon, we went hiking in the woods to find different mushrooms and then went back to the classroom to identify our specimens. We personally had the chance to find a bunch of lobster mushrooms that we later ate on a homemade vegan pizza.
This week I made two sourdough breads, I canned black beans, salsa and vegetable soup, I harvested and froze my last green beans and I've got everything ready to start micro greens, sprouts and an indoor herb garden for the winter. Now that I look back on this past year, I realise how much I have learned. Turning my waiting room into a classroom got me a step closer to my dream of being self-sufficient. I truly am starting to feel like a homesteader!