Your parents, grandparents or maybe great-grandparents probably lived a lot closer to the land than most of us do. My great-grandparents on both sides were what we now call “subsistence farmers“. Even though they lived in town, my paternal grandparents practiced square foot gardening in their back yard and on a 50’x100′ lot my grandfather was able to use, before anyone thought to write a book on it. My maternal grandparents gardened on a larger scale, but there were a lot more mouths to feed. My parents had gardens when I was younger, but after my Dad had to start traveling for work, my Mom let it fall off to tomatoes, cucumbers and occasionally squash, watermelon or onions.

My Dad would bring my Mom home green beans by the bushel, any time he could find her favorite, half-runners. My Mom would draft me as help, and we’d sit out on the back porch, stringing and snapping beans for hours, getting them ready to can. One of my paternal great aunts took canning to something of an obsession. She had her husband line the entire inside of their 8’x8′ utility room with floor to ceiling shelves on every wall, except around where the water heater stood. And by September, they would be full.

Not the greatest view, but it’s what I have handy at the moment. I took it in 2016 when smoke from forest fires in the west made its way to us. Those 2 big pines in the foreground at 90+’ tall. And there are a lot of them.

Me, not so much. We have done some container gardening with modest success, and we have made and canned salsa and made pickles. Even though we have over an acre around our home, the part that ought to be garden is taken up in pine trees.

A lady down the street, who unfortunately recently lost her husband to an industrial accident, recently came into a check with many zeroes on it. Not really compensation for her loss, but it’s what can be done. She’s recently used some of it to have her front yard, which looked a lot like that picture, mostly cleared out. I have the name of the company that did it. They do nice work-better than the guys who did my front yard. I’m considering giving them a call and seeing what it will cost me to timber off the back half acre. I’ll have to factor in the cost of repairs to a friendly neighbor’s property who has volunteered to allow me to truck out the logs across it if I’ll pay for the inevitable damage. And I want three rough-sawn pieces of that pine, about 6’x12″x8″. They will be a replacement mantle for my home, one for Daughter’s and one in case Son ever gets into property ownership. It might be silly of me, but I’d like a bit of those trees, which have stood on this land for 90-ish years, to remain here.

I honestly wouldn’t mind having it all milled into lumber and using it to build an outbuilding and maybe a real “ham shack”, but that’s pushing Mrs. Freeholder’s tolerance.

It may not be obvious, but there is considerable fall from left to right in that picture. I can see a small but deep pond out there, fed by runoff when we have it, surrounded by raised beds and maybe some fruit trees. Perhaps another outbuilding to keep tools and such in. Three or four yard hydrants so attach the drip irrigation to. Maybe even a hive or three of honey bees. Chickens would be nice, but they’re banned by deed restrictions, at least for now.

I figure if things get really bad, no one in the neighborhood would complain about my chickens, because they’ll also have chickens. And gardens and so on. Because that sort of thing won’t be a hobby, but a necessity. Grandma knew how to do stuff, and we’d best get learning what she knew.

1 thought on “Grandma knew things

  1. Do it, or do what you can. You may need manure to mix into the soil after the trees are gone. Most riding stables and farms will give it away.

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