We haven’t left the homestead in two weeks. I’ve been outdoors, but we haven’t moved off the property. There was ill health, bad weather and high gasoline prices to blame, as well as the natural tendency of Northerners to stay put in the winter, where it is warm and snug. It’s been three weeks since we were in a grocery store.
The photo above is not what we have in the house now. We are subsisting on winter vegetables, a flat of clementines, beans, and a small amount of cheese and meat. We have run out of some staples. We may run out of more before we venture out to shop for food.
This goes against what we are taught by television and marketing. We expect to have a large variety of food at hand, and if we don’t, we must go shopping. Load that buggy, folks – no one should be trapped at home for three or four days with just one flavour of ice cream!
When Jesus sent out the disciples two by two, He told them to accept what hospitality was offered them, to stay in one house and not gad about, looking for a better meal. (See Luke 10.) And do we follow this simple instruction today? No, we are unappreciative of God’s hospitality. God provides us with apples, pumpkin and potatoes, all good food that will keep for months, and we yearn for strawberries and tomatoes – fragile food that doesn’t grow in the winter. We have the appetites of spoiled princes, rather than of ordinary workers. It takes vast amounts of fuel and effort to keep us supplied with the desires of our bellies.
Locally grown food, appropriate to our climate, is God’s hospitality in the house He has furnished us. It is tempting to make sarcastic fun of “foodies,” people who place great value in exotic and high quality products that cost far above what most of us would spend on meals, but it is equally demanding and unsustainable to insist that we have tomatoes and lettuce on our fast-food burgers every single day of the year. It is selfish, and short-sighted.
Eat what is set before you. It implies more than just food – it implies that we need to be satisfied with what we can produce, what we can sustain, and not spiral into debt and financial despair chasing desire. We have become a restless people, anxious for tomorrow, not trusting God. We require novelty and stimulation and fun. We don’t eat what is set before us – we reject it as bland and boring, too much like what we had yesterday and the day before. Games and gadgets keep us amused for a short while, only to be replaced shortly with the newest gadget or game.
Are we prepared to be bored from time to time? Are we prepared to slog through long winters of tossing hay to farm animals, day after day, and splitting wood, and shoveling snow, with no chance of a fun Florida vacation? Are we prepared to eat squash four times a week and beets the other three days, because God gave us lots of them? It’s one aspect of homestead life for which not many prepare themselves. Can we live without weekly trips to Walmart?
I’m not sure how I’ll be doing by the end of February; I wonder if God gave me a spell of poor health so that I would be grateful for the slow winter weeks. There is much to do yet, but I can’t do it now, anyway. It’s the time for browsing seed catalogs, and making budgets, of tracking down farmers expecting lambs and kids, of even planning for next winter’s wood supply. It is slow and tedious sometimes, but it is the quiet work God has given us to do.
Amd we still have lots of potatoes.