How it Started

baby goats, Loudon, NH

When we started researching how to be more self-sufficient, I started wondering, how did my grandmother or my great-grandmother cook? How did they do laundry, keep the house warm, communicate… with friends and family? I remember stories my father told me about Victory Gardens and how rubber and nylons were rare because of the war. There was only radio to listen to, no cell phone or internet. People wrote letters…in cursive, with pencil. People lived near town and walked to the markets or took a bus. Everything was well made and lasted. And you took care of what you owned so it lasted even longer. Socks with holes were fixed! Pants were patched. Buttons were replaced. People knew how to sew, cook, knit, build and make things.

I remember growing up my stepmother had a canning jar in her sewing room filled with buttons. No piece of clothing was tossed without the buttons first being removed and put in that jar. Then, if a coat, or pants or shirt lost a button, all she needed to do was dig through her jar to find another one.

I’d always been taught to follow strict directions. In school or at home there were a set of rules. Even recipes were written out in easy to follow steps. No thinking on my part was needed. Just do what you were told.

My epiphany started when we found a great little antique recipe box at an auction that had actual hand written (in cursive with pencil) recipes inside. There were no measurements! None! It was “add an egg”, a “thumb size amount” of butter, a scoop of flour, a “little of this,” and “just enough of” that. Suddenly it dawned on me that years of teachers and my parents telling me to follow the rules was all a big fat lie! There were no “rules.” It all depended on what worked for you.

Maybe all of you have already had that insight, but I was almost fifty before it dawned on me. Slow learner, I know.
Since that day, I’ve been on a journey to learn to do things on my own. There are a lot of things I needed to learn first. Things my grandmother and great-grandmother took for granted. I’m here to tell that you CAN learn these things and once you do you will have such a grand sense of self-accomplishment.
Follow our journey…