For every house is built by someone,

but the builder of all things is God.

Hebrews 3:4

Friday, August 7, 2009

Home Schooling and Self-Sufficiency

Last Friday, my kids and I drove an hour or so to an Amish community south of us. My friend Cathy invited us to tag along to scope out the Amish farms that sell the produce we need for canning. Due to some crop failures in our garden this year, I needed to seek out other options for canning.
...She Brings Her Food from Afar...
Proverbs 31

Why go through all this trouble and gas to drive the distance just to find fruits and vegetables to can/preserve? Why go through all the trouble of growing our own fruits and vegetables when the farmer's market or Costco has everything we need?
A couple years ago I watched a DVD called Inherit the Land by Franklin Springs Family Media. One of the women featured on that film, made a statement that stuck with me. She said,
"As a home manager I had become so dependant on that 24 hour store, the grocery store being open and having whatever I needed at whatever time I needed it, and I became convicted about how dependant I was and how I was putting a lot of faith in the grocery store, and I began thinking, what if something happened, something national or economy wise, where would my family be in regards to food?"
Her conviction became mine. I realized that I had become dependant on the local grocery stores to provide my every need as far as food goes. I was beginning to wonder, how would I provide food for my family if something happened and the stores were not able to keep the shelves stocked? Am I ready to feed my family during a local, national or economic disaster? As the keeper of my home, these were serious questions.
Furthermore, how am I preparing my daughters to be keepers of their future homes in regards to this issue? Surely I can teach them how to make weekly/monthly menus and grocery lists or teach them how to find the best deals through coupons or weekly sales. Those skills are very important when if the grocery stores are overflowing with food, but what if that was to change some day? Perhaps this would not happen in my lifetime, but what about my children and grandchildren? What kind of skills can I pass down to the next generation that will be of great value during a difficult time?
Considering all these things, my husband and I decided that gardening, canning and eventually raising our own animals for food needs to be a part of preparing our children for life. What a great way for them to experience God's goodness when He blesses us with the fruits of our labor. We really begin to trust the Lord for our food and not the local market. Does this mean we will never set foot in a grocery store? Not really. It means I can use the super market but the idea is not to be dependent on it.
Maybe some of you are already practicing these skills and have been for years. Some of you are thinking this is too complicated, where would I start? My advice is to start out small and take your time learning one or two skills at a time. Grow some lettuce seeds in a container this Fall or find someone who can teach you how to can some peaches, apple sauce or jellies. I learned everything I know from friends, books and a newsletter that I receive online once every two months called The New Harvest Homestead. This is a wonderful newsletter that is filled with great information on homesteading skills. Women from all over the country, either living on many acres to living in an apartment with a balcony share their knowledge and experience in gardening, animal husbandry, cooking, raising children, homeschooling, soap making...the list goes on and on.
How Does All This Fit into Our Home School?

If you home school your children, consider taking a year without a formal Science text book and use this time to study organic gardening and include canning the veggies that you harvest and other self-sufficiency skills. Use library books to study all aspects of the subject ... soil, weather, nutrition, Botany... A few of the subjects that will be learned naturally by studying this way are critical thinking skills, Writing, Reading, Arithmetic, organizational skills, Biology, Chemistry, Theology (yes, Theology)... In California, a study in organic gardening at home is considered an AP Science class at the High School level. Your children will learn and retain much more than studying through a traditional science book and will gain skills that they will use for a lifetime.
Here are some resources that were helpful for our family
The Encyclopedia of Country Living (Book), Carla Emery
The New Harvest Homestead (Newsletter)
Square Foot Garden (Book), Mel Bartholomew
Carrots Love Tomatoes (Book), Louise Riotte
The Garden Primer (Book), Barbara Damrosch
Inherit the Land (DVD), Franklin Springs Family Media
Homestead Blessings Collection (DVDs) Franklin Springs Family Media
Ball Blue Book of Preserving
The Polyface Farm (DVD), Joel Salatin (For the serious family farm)
~ Christa ~

Photos taken by Luke Smith


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the interesting post on self-sufficiency. This is good information with good ideas for school. We have many of the same resources you mentioned. I would love to get the homesteading DVD collection. I am also learning to can this year and have enjoyed doing it. How is your experience going? I really enjoy your blog and your thoughts on family and home.

Amy in AL

Christa Smith said...

Hi Amy,
Thank you for your comment. It helps me to know what to write about and if people learning something.
We canned green beans for the first time this last week and it went well. We plan on canning chicken broth, peaches, pears and apples in the next week or so. My garden is overflowing with green tomatoes and I'm hoping they will all turn red in big bunches so I can make tomato sauce. I will try to put some of these things on the blog.
Thanks again, it was good to hear from you again.