About Sustainabillies Sustainable Living

Eating with the Season

Winter. This is the time of year for resting, learning, and eating.

There is a ton of good food that needs to be consumed. We are burning a lot more calories when we do work around the farm keeping warm. Having jars of home canned food in the can room is one of the most joyous things that a person can experience in winter. We just walk downstairs and open a door to our own private organic grocery store.

Cans of beans, tomatoes, pickles, sauces, jellies, syrups, chilies, salsas, soups, ciders, and more grace the walls in our basement. Freezers full of meat from a 2 year old Scottish Highland cow we saw grow up and a hog named Ruby that was grown for us by our friends in KY. 

Winter is the time for building brains and spirits.

Getting fat is not just about jeans getting a little tighter. The scale reflecting 10 pounds of pure joy that have crossed your lips over the holiday season. It is not just about getting to read and watch movies, cuddling and fire hovering the woodstove while you slow cook a roast in a Dutch oven.

Knowing that spring and summer are on the way, with greens fresh from the garden and grazing all day on fruit gives you the resolve to follow the rhythms of natural food consumption.

We eat how our bodies tell us to, and stay strong and healthy by staying active on the farm all year. 

Cooking with the season means that you really do eat very different foods at different times of the year. It is an adjustment to not eat fresh strawberries in January and apples in May. We do eat frozen berries all year in our smoothies, pies, and other baked goods. Anytime we get the craving for sunshine in a jar, apple sauce and canned cider are sure to please.

In winter you eat a lot of meat, winter squash, eggs, canned foods and frozen foods. We still cook diverse and delicious meals.

The tomatoes are in a jar and the peppers are frozen. The sauces are homemade and the beef is lean, local, and flavorful. If it has been warm we get a sweet treat of shiitakes that can flush all winter. They bring something fresh to the table.

Many meals incorporate greens of some kind. Kale, mustards, and chard will persevere through winter in the garden. 

Cooking with the season also means that you get to take advantage of fire. We cook foods in Dutch ovens and pots directly on top of our big woodstove downstairs. We slow cook stuff all day when it is a small fire and can quickly boil a pot when it is super cold outside.

You do need to determine what to cook based on how hot your fire is, which correlates to how cold it is outside. Chilies and thick soups are better for low temps and thin soups and roasts in liquid are better for hotter fires.

We also have a wood fired cook stove in the kitchen that heats the house and cooks dinner at the same time. We try to only use the electric stove if it is too warm to burn a fire. 

Winter is also the time for planning.

Looking at what we grew last year and determining what seeds to order and in what quantity. We are starting the adventure of hosting a CSA on our property, and hope to grow enough food for 4-5 boxes of produce each week. This will require us to plan much more intensively for the next growing season.

We are also gearing up in the shop. Making tools, art, and things we need for the farm. Cleaning, straightening, and sharpening tools and our minds until the weather gets warmer again. 

Here is to wishing you a good eating season and sweet dreams of sprouting plants and spring wildflowers.   

About Sustainabillies Sustainable Living

I Am Not A Blogger…

I am a teacher, a grower, a maker, and an outdoors woman, I am definitely not a blogger.

Starting a homestead and holding down a full time job so you can pay the bills doesn’t afford you much time to write about what you are doing. Add starting a business and having a kid to the equation and we were lucky if we had time to sleep.

As it seems that we are emerging from the other side of this tunnel, I am finding that sharing what we do and know is becoming more important. In these times were uncertainty is the only certain thing, learning how to do things yourself is becoming more and more valuable.

The Story of Sustainabillies

Our journey started because of our love of the earth. Wanting to live in a way where we did no harm to others or the future of the planet, we decided to grow and make most of our own food. We wanted to control how our food was grown and what was in it.

Living Off the Land

The property we bought was not a farm. It was a steep property with a small valley bottom that had been mismanaged and poorly maintained for almost a generation.

To grow our own food we would have to create a network of terraces and build soil that would support healthy plant growth. Later we realized the need to cut down a lot of trees to let in more sunlight.

Crafting Quality and Functional Art

Our hobby of blacksmithing turned into a business with the addition of welding. Necessitating a shop, which then had to transform into a bigger shop, and eventually get remodeled so it would be efficient and safe.

We are producing hand tools and knives as well as other homesteading tools.

I am making my art again in new ways, functional ways that incorporated recycled metals. I actually recently set up the first display of my artwork in nearly 15 years.

Growing Food for Others

Our hobby greenhouse has turned into a permaculture installation. It has given birth to an addition for bonsai trees and a greenhouse for our ever growing organic garden starts operation.

We have gone from starting a few extra plants for some friends and family, to starting thousands of plants and selling at the farmer’s market, local festivals, and a local brewery.

Our gardens have gone from providing some of our food into a full-fledged farm. We now grow 60-70% of our own fruits and veggies and sell extra produce. We are growing and selling garlic bulbs by the hundreds now. We planted 1,600 cloves this fall.

Teaching Others to Live Lightly

Now we have decided to enter a new realm. Teaching others what we know about living on an evolving, modern homestead.

Balancing living lightly, having fun, having a kid, and one of us working a full time job to pay the mortgage and insurances, trying to do as much for ourselves as we can.

I will try to share how we do what we do and let people see a how our lives can lend some insight to their own journeys. We hope the discussion of our mission, trials, failures, and successes will aid others and make their transition to a more sustainable life easier.

Join us on our journey!

Sara and Dustin Sustainabillies pink daisy and lily garden