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Friday, Aug. 1, 2014

Back to basics

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Hi neighbors. As usual there is as much debate after the various elections as before the votes were cast. As far as I'm concerned the die is cast, and what will be, will be. We all just need to figure out how to survive whatever future awaits us.

As usual, I look for insights into contending with future problems from my ancestors who faced hard times with more grit than I feel I have.

My great-great-grandparents bought a farm in the worst winter on record to date in 1835. Cows froze to death in the pasture, snow piled sky high and fields were mucky messes far past planting time. They didn't throw in the towel and head back to Tennessee then, and 177 years later a cousin still owns the land and makes a comfortable living from it.

A more distant ancestor came from England as an indentured servant at the age of 9. He grew to manhood and became a prosperous landowner as well.

These people didn't win any lotteries. They didn't marry any rich patron nor did they have any rich relatives die and leave them a fortune. They worked at a trade or job until they had enough money to buy their own land.

There is a difference in a person who owns land and a person who just moves on when times get tough. If you own your land, you stick with it until there's not a rock left to cling to or a crop left to eat.

I think the difference in farming today and in the past is that old-timers grew their food, what crops they needed for their own animals and a bumper to sell. Now, farmers just grow to sell -- at least big farms operate that way.

Having your own pigs, your own milking cows, chickens and eggs, a vegetable garden, an orchard and a pasture with wild berries, grapes and nuts made a person feel more independent.

We talk about the global economy, but what about local self-sufficiency?

What do we import that we can't live without? What do we buy from someone else that we can't produce here at home?

My parents always assured me that economic security came only if one was dedicated to working hard, staying out of debt, not spending more than you make, being diligent when looking for bargains, only playing poker one night a month and saving a little back whenever possible.

Instead of waiting for Washington to cure our troubles, why don't we each look closely at our own earning capacities, our own spending patterns and our own savings accounts?

What can each individual or family do to make their own futures more independent?

How often do you eat out each week? If your fast food spending outweighs your grocery shopping tickets, then you might want to watch more cooking shows on television.

Is it less expensive and tastier to brown bag your lunch? Sometimes you might be surprised. Although eating from a concession machine isn't usually the best choice, some employers offer healthy meals in a cafeteria that might be cheaper than bringing your own lunch.

Don't forget the added incentive of eating healthier! Fewer health problems mean fewer doctor bills and believe me those can add up quickly.

Is growing your own food a cost effective solution? That depends on where you live, how much time you have to devote to caring for a crop and how you plan on storing your excess.

There is nothing more satisfying than a freezer full of meat, a cellar full of canned goods, apples, pears, jellies, potatoes and carrots and other stockpiled foods, and a little cash in the cookie jar.

Sounds like the American dream can be revived if we all pull together. We need to get back to basics and take stock of what is truly important to us and vital to our survival.

Until the next time friends, remember, we don't all have to grow our own potatoes, but we all need to have something we can trade for potatoes if we want to eat.

Nancy Malcom
The Third Cup