A Well Stocked Cellar: Luxury or Necessity?

root cellar.jpg

Images from the movie based on  J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit  appear when I think about a well stocked cellar.  The scene that pops into my mind is of Bilbo Baggins watching in horror as the Dwarves raid his cellar, carrying out dishes laden with hams, cheeses, breads, wines and so much more.   

Scenes of abundance

Scenes of abundance

When I think of the “cellar”, I think of any food storage option.  For our home that includes a cold room full of canned and dehydrated fruits, veggies, stews and soups, freezers full of farm raised meats, and cold storage root cellars for potatoes, carrots, rutabagas along with a myriad of other crops. When I have a well stocked cellar my mind is at ease knowing that all the hard work of summer will nourish my family until the harvest of next year.  It doesn’t bring horror to my heart like it did for Bilbo though, when food is being brought out of the cellar.  My heart is satisfied know we are enjoying the fruits of our labors.  

As the intense heat of summer turns to the warm days and chilly nights of autumn so do our daily activities.   

Here on the farm we try to live in harmony with the natural seasons of the year.  That means that spring is the time for planting, summers brings weeding, watering and maintaining and autumn is the season when we start preparing our home for the upcoming winter.  Then winter brings a more relaxed pace that allows us to be refreshed to start it all over again come spring.  Let me give you an opportunity to take a peek into our winter preparations. 

After the rush of spring planting and the warmth of the summer our garden is finally ready to start harvesting all those nourishing crops that we have so carefully tended.  The root veggies are being dug and safely stored away on the few nice days we get in between the unseasonably cool rainy/snowy days we are having this year.  The green tomatoes we harvested a few weeks ago are slowly ripening and being turned in sauces.  The dehydrators run almost non-stop processing all the apples for winter snacks.  The potatoes and onions are curing in the shop and the garlic is hanging in the wood shed waiting further preparation. 

The meat chickens are all in the freezer, the turkeys and geese will join them by the end of September.  The laying hens are still enjoying green pastures, but will be moved to their cozy winter house when the temperatures consistently dip below freezing at night, which will be in a couple of weeks. 

The cattle and sheep that have been grazing our lush pastures all summer and are growing well.  The forest raised pigs are fattening up beautifully.  But, as the pasture grasses and forest forages slow their growth with the onset of cooler weather their optimal nutritious stage passes away until next spring. Here in the north, this is the time of year we plan for the harvest of the ones that will sustain us through the winter.   

From the bounty of our fields we will be able to enjoy so much variety.  Our table will be graced with mouth watering roasts, steaks, and pork chops.  The grass-fed goodness of sausages made with only pure meat and seasonings will provide for those quick meals when time has gotten away from us on winter projects.  The aroma of a naturally cured ham roasting in the oven will waft through the air or coming back to the house after the early morning milking of the cows to hear comforting sounds of home cured bacon sizzling on our wood cook stove on a chilly morning. 

To me, a brimming full “cellar” is the best form of convenience food there is.  This is not a luxury.  It is a frugal option.  I love know that the ingredients I need to create healthy meals for my family are easily within my reach.  I know that by having a whole beef, lamb or pork in the freezer that I have a variety of cuts available to cook with.  I am not “stuck” cooking only with ground meat.  Even if we didn’t raise our own animals, I would search out a farmer who raised animals that I would want to eat.   

Pasture Raised Angus Beef

Pasture Raised Angus Beef

When you purchase a quarter, half or whole animal you experience having a variety of cuts that you might not buy at the supermarket.  Sure, you can purchase individual cuts at the supermarket, but you know that ground meat is going to be cheaper than T-bone steaks.  If you are on a limited budget, like most of us you know that you will probably forgo the more expensive cuts.  When you buy in bulk direct from the farmer who has put their heart and soul into raising good food, you receive a variety of cuts in your package.  The cost of each cut is averaged out over the whole animal so tends to be more budget friendly.  This means that beside the cheaper cuts that you may usually only cook, you will have the higher end cuts to choose from also. 

Do you yearn for the return of local food cultures and traditions?  Are you interested in providing the best nutrient dense food available for your family?  Is it important to you to know where your food comes from and how it is raised?  If this appeals to you, then our family is here to serve you in your food needs.  As a small family run farm it is our mission to sustain our family and families just like yours in our local community with nutrient dense foods.  

This is the time of year when we send out an invitation to reserve your grass-fed beef, lamb and forest raised pork so you can fill your “cellar” for the winter.  We only process beef and lamb in the fall.  When all the bundles are reserved, there will be no more until next fall.  This is one of the ways we farm in sync with the seasons.