If it was Henry David Thoreau who ignited the fire in me to live this life, it was Laura Ingalls Wilder who fanned the flames of that fire and kept it burning until we could actually find our country paradise. I have been thinking about them today because our living room looks more like a warehouse than a room for living. Thoreau and Wilder did not have to live with UPS deliveries though. As the orders have arrived from the goat catalogs, the boxes have been unpacked, the goat stuff has been put away, and the boxes have just been sitting in the living room.
I have been convinced for some years now that there is just too much stuff in our lives. That was the beauty of Thoreau's Walden. There was no stuff there. The Ingalls family could fit all of its possession into a covered wagon. I don't think a month's worth of 21st century mail could fit into a covered wagon. And a great deal of our stuff is ultimately garbage. All of the bags and packaging of our modern foods are just garbage. In the 19th century, flour was sold in 50-pound cloth sacks. When the sack was empty, you had fabric to make an apron or to use as a towel. Although I peronsally buy flour in 50-pound bags, they're paper, which is good for nothing more than starting a fire or spending eternity in a landfill. I realize, however, that most modern American will buy ten 5-pound bags of flour, which produces even more garbage than a single 50-pounc bag. And really, most people buy very little flour at all. They buy bread, cakes, cookies, and other prepared food items that require even more packaging, creating more garbage.
Among the many reasons I love living out here is that we are producing so much of what we need, and when we do that, we produce less garbage. When we produce our own milk, it is stored in glass jars and bottles, which are washed and reused. For the past couple of months, I find myself wondering what we can do with the remains of a milk carton. In the middle of summer when the farm is in full production, we create very little garbage at all. For breakfast, we have homemade biscuits with goat-milk gravy and fresh eggs. For lunch, we might have a fresh salad or quiche made with fresh goat milk, fresh eggs, fresh spinach, fresh goat cheese. Dinner might be a fresh chicken and other fresh vegetables. Even when considering all of the things I've done in my life, there is little that compares to the feeling of accomplishment when we sit down to dinner and note that virtually everything on the table was the result of our labor. It's healtheir because it's organic and it's fresh, but it also tastes like a little bit of heaven. I can hardly wait for summer!