Today is day eight of the Farm Challenge.
I'd originally envisioned doing this until June 1, as a chance to really just cut spending until we figure out where Mark is with the job situation. I hadn't planned this, so I couldn't "cheat" by stocking up or making sure that I had the basics -- the whole point of this is to live off of the excess and waste in our society, and to see how much of what we actually "need" is just a "want."
But because I hadn't stocked up beforehand, there were some staples that were going to become scare. Quickly.
Last night I wrote that I needed olive oil - hard to cook without it.
And sugar. Hard to bake almost anything without it.
And vinegar -- I have all sorts of things that I can can and pickle, but you can't do any of that without vinegar. I was thinking about trading for vinegar, and maybe trying lard for fat (I'm not farmer-y enough yet to be skilled with lard.)
But I'm in this for the long haul, and while I can still afford to go out and buy a couple of big jugs of vinegar for pickling, that would sort of take away the whole point of the challenge, you know?
So I decided to just wait a few days, see what I was going to be really low on, and try trading.
But today was the first hard day.
Mark is home today. And he's not supposed to be. And as much as I adore him and his company, it's very weird to have him home at 11 a.m. on a Wednesday.
I'm trying to sort out classes and supervise kids and get math squared away, and here's this man in the middle of things, looking for something to do.
So Mark started on an outdoor project, and I started back to my normal day, but there was a just a big, fat "everything's going to be different, deal with it," sort of vibe to it all.
And then, one of my kids came in to ask me about the delivery downstairs. Was it a co-op order, or was it a trade for something?
"What co-op order?" says I. "What's in it?"
Two Costco-sized bottles of olive oil. Organic sugar. Vast amounts of vinegar for pickling.
And, just for me, a little bit of dark chocolate.
A neighbor, who said it's "our little secret," dropped it off.
This is why I can't leave this place, or these wonderful people.
I am NOT in need. I am NOT hungry. I am, to use a word that I don't like much, blessed. We have so much, and have such an abundance, that I can feed my family for weeks without any income.
And yet people see that I attempting a challenge and rise to help.
People I don't know well. People to whom I'm not related. People that only know me through Facebook.
The only word I can use it is bounty. It feels almost obscene, the abundance and much-ness of it all.
How, how, HOW can I even have any doubt, or fear, or worry about the future, when I have friends that drop off vinegar and chocolate?
How can I have anything except faith and cheery optimism when I have people who believe I can feed my kids with nothing but an idea?
So, I think I'll go further, because, well, people believe I can do this, dammit.
I'm going to July 1. No money spent. Only the excess that American's grocery stores throw away, what I've stockpiled, what I can trade, and what I have.
And by July 1, I guarantee I'll be out of meat and sugar and coffee, and I will be a big grump. And by then, there's a good chance that Mark will be working again and this will be just an exercise to see if I can.
But the goodness and good nature of this place that I love so much has just astonished me.
Tonight is pasta with jarred tomato sauce (I didn't feel like cooking.) Tomorrow is pork tenderloin with green beans. We're still eating incredibly well.