I believe that farm wives will save the world.
That may seem ridiculous, but there you have it. Farm wives — doughty women who work long, hard, and often anonymous hours — will save the world. Farm wives are self reliant, resourceful, and thrifty. They think ahead — years ahead — and they make sure that the next crop gets planted, that the workers have food, that the ill have surcease, that there’s a fire on the hearth and a pot on the fire.
Give a good farm wife some time and some land and the right crops and animals and she can do any damned thing. They created civilization, I think, and have passed it down, mother-to-daughter, standing in hot kitchens, sitting in front of looms, waiting by a sickbed, kneeling in a garden. Don’t think I’m romanticizing here — I know that that work was often back-breaking, brutal, and miserable. But the hard-won accumulated wisdom of these women defines civilization, despite doing it anonymously, quietly, transparently. I think they are civilization, certainly much more so than any other body of knowledge, with apologies to any philosopher that might be reading. (Philosophy is all well and good, but you need breakfast on the table if you’re to think properly.)
We should all be like these women. I want to be like these women. But I’m not. I’m a city/suburban girl and have no trove of wisdom handed down from my foremothers. At least, not wisdom about running a household, a farm, or a kitchen. So, as any good geek girl will do, I went out and got a book. A lot of books.
I’m trying. Trying to cook locally, seasonally, organically, from sustainable farmers, from raw materials. But there are whole swathes of skills I just don’t have. I feel like I can do some of the things — roast a chicken, make stock, bake my own bread, pickle vegetables — but I’m not sure how to put it all together.
So I’m trying recreate the wheel here, from books rather than real-life experieince. It’s slow and tedious and I’m fighting against a culture where “cooking from scratch” means buying stock in a box, bread from a factory in NJ, and cheese from a “dairy” in Wisconsin. But I’m not alone…
If there’s one thing that I did learn from my mother (and her mother), it’s that women have always gotten through life with the help of their friends. Hence, this blog.
Okay, enough with the kitchen table philosophy.