Bunt To the Whee! The Battle Cry of Food Storers!

Sharon March 26th, 2008

Ok, the title is a little weird, especially for my very last post in this series.

You see, my littlest, Asher is a head first kind of guy – we calling him “the flying squirrel” because he thinks he can fly, as long as an adult is holding his hand (we hold on TIGHT).  He has no fear, merely boundless enthusiasm.  And when he was about 18 months old, he would yell “Bunt to the Whee!” when ever he was about to leap head-first into things. 

Well, it occurred to us that everyone needs a battle cry, and since “Spoon!” was already taken ;-) , “Bunt to the Whee!” would do pretty well.  And just in case you don’t have a battle cry, I wanted to offer to share mine.  Because I think you might need one too. Enthusiasm, and the courage to screw up are what is needed to feed yourself these days.

The thing is, there’s lots of things to write about in terms of food storage and tons to consider.  But it is one of those things that takes time and practice, and gets immediately clearer once you start doing it.

The thing is, starting up any big project – growing food, storing it, preserving it – all of these things are overwhelming at first.  And despite my hubris in teaching this class, we certainly haven’t mastered it.  Every year we mess new things up, and forget old things and make new mistakes.  But every year we get a little closer to our goals – to having a reserve to share with others, and to living off our own homegrown and home preserved, to taking fewer trips to the store and to being able to accomodate guests at any time. 

The thing is, sometimes you just have to dive in even to know what you don’t know.  Sometimes you have to make foolish mistakes so that you can figure out what it is that you are trying to accomplish, or how to adapt an idea from me or someone else to your real life.  To an extent information can help.  And to an extent, it probably can’t – you just have to dive in.

So I offer you my son Asher’s battle cry – Bunt to the Whee!  Now is the time to dive in – to make that first bulk purchase, to save those first seeds, to start cooking one or two meals a week from storage, to try the pressure cooker or canning jam, to experiment with whether you can dry those things in the sun, to build that solar oven and try that new lentil recipe, to ask the farmer at the market about buying bulk peaches or your neighbor whether she wants to come over for a day of canning. 

This has been a lot of fun for me – I’ve organized my own thinking in a host of new ways, I’ve met amazing people and learned as much from others as anyone could have from me.  I’ve had a lot of requests to run this class again, and I think I will run it in August, during peak preserving season, with a greater emphasis on putting up the harvest.  There’s also talk of turning this class into a searchable CD-rom or even another book.  It is all very cool for me, and I hope it has been enjoyable for others.  And I admit, when I first thought of doing this, I thought I was nuts, and that it would be impossible, and that I didn’t know enough and should wait ten years.  I’m glad, instead, I took the flying squirrel approach and just dived in – it was wonderful.  

I also hope that people will keep emailing me and posting in the comments about what they are putting up and storing and buying and seeing in the market - because that was the very best part. 

For those who were registered for the class, there was a yahoogroup on which our discussion took place.  The members of the class overwhelmingly want to keep the food storage discussion group open and continue it, and I agree – it is a great class, with tons of great resources and materials and discussions.  And now that the formal class is over, we’d like to invite anyone interested in discussing this further to join the group.  All you have to do is to register through yahoogroups – you send a message to [email protected].  For those who haven’t ever been a group member before, sometimes all the posts can be overwhelming, but if, after you register, you find yourself getting too many emails, go to the website through www.yahoogroups.com, login, and click at the top on “edit membership” which will allow you to either switch to digest form (one long email a day) or to (my personal preference) read posts at the website only. 

 But most of all, I hope you’ll all jump in, and not be afraid to make a mess of it.  The mistakes are part of the process, and the process is central to the project.  What project?  Well, economic security – saving money so you can either do other things that matter to you or keep your house and meet other needs.  Food security so that you can feed yourself and help out those in need around you.  Political action – so we can stop giving our dollars to industrial agriculture, and start voting with them for something better.  And a little step back towards democracy – the ability to no longer be beholden for the food in our mouths to corporations we abhore.  The chance to depend on and trust in our neighbors and those around us building real and good food systems.  Community.  Better food.  All those good things.

That’s why we need a battle cry.  This isn’t just about the rice or the garden or the canning jars.  This is a small but important step in making a better way of life.  And I admit, it brings me a great deal of joy to know that some people out there are trying new things and making changes.  I sort of think about it (of course, I’m clinically insane, as we all know)  and my own efforts as a whole bunch of us, holding up our seed packets, jar lifters, grain grinders (the not too heavy ones – we don’t want anyone getting hurt) and wooden spoons up above our heads, ready to take on the world and the screwed up food system!  BUNT TO THE WHEE!

Sharon

22 Responses to “Bunt To the Whee! The Battle Cry of Food Storers!”

  1. Robin says:

    Sharon,
    You have informed my thinking so much since I started reading your blog about a year ago. Thank you. Much of what I have learned scares me, but the practical advice you give picks me back up.

    -Robin

    PS: My four-year old super-hero shouts “The Fruit of the Vine!” as he leaps off the couch. Makes me laugh every time.

  2. Louise says:

    Just before I read this last entry to your blog, I finished up setting up my CSA account for biweekly deliveries….I am so excited….and I can buy in bulk from them too, instead of from Costco or Walmart. Thanks for all that you have written since I started reading your blog about last fall….between you and Pat Meadows I’m feeling a little more secure and hopefully more prepared for the future.

  3. Anon. says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Robin.

    Thank you.

  4. Maeve says:

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated this series of posts, Sharon. Thank you for sharing them!

    I have a box of seed packets that arrived last week; and spent yesterday mapping out our property on graph paper so I can graph out my garden. Too early for gardening yet here, but as soon as it’s the ‘right time’, a nice big chunk of weed (aka, lawn) will be dug up and a lovely garden put in. I can hardly wait!

  5. Ailsa Ek says:

    I have two battle cries already: “Excelsior!” and “Can we fix it? YES, WE CAN!” but I can definitely add this one to the rotation.

    This has been a great class, and perfectly timed.

  6. Faye says:

    Sharon,

    This is my first time posting. I agree with Robin. My eyes have been opened since I’ve found your site, in so many ways. I guess I’m seeing the seriousness of all this now. I’ve played around with gardening over the years, but become unmotivated once the weeds and heat come on with a vengeance. This year I’ve got many more goals, with the idea to preserve all I can for the rough times ahead. I just want to say how much I appreciate all the work you put into your site! Thanks so much! ~ Faye

  7. Deb G says:

    Just wanted to say how much I’ve appreciated the posts you’ve done on food storage. No matter what the future brings, I think it’s a very sensible approach. Thank you!

  8. Tina Ughrin says:

    My favorite Battle call is Ms Frizzle’s from Magic School Bus (can you tell I’m a mom?): “Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!”

    Thanks to you Sharon, we are gardening this year, have joined a second CSA (the first is new and the yield is still small), will be canning and storing food this season, are bicycling or walking 80% of the time (except when we have a foot or more of snow…), no longer use our dryer, use homemade feminine pads, and are working at reducing everything else not yet mentioned.

    I want to echo what other readers have said. This is a scary time. You make it seem doable.

    Thank you!

    Tina

  9. Erika says:

    I’m still trying to “digest” everything I’ve been reading lately… but I’m SO thankful for all you share with everyone!

    “Bunt to the whee,” to me, thinking how a small child might say it, almost sounds like “One, Two, Three.” No matter what, it’s still cute!

    –Erika

  10. Matriarchy says:

    I confess to having an obstacle I have not resolved. It’s the summer heat. When it’s time to can, it’s so hot, and I feel unwell. Yes, I hydrate and do a number of other things, like garden in the early morning and late evening hours.

    We don’t have air conditioning – which is OK, since I will already be accustomed to it if electricity becomes scarce. We use ceiling fans to great advantage. But canning in mid-summer makes the house unbearably hot for everyone. They used to build separate “summer kitchens” for a reason! It took the canning and laundry boiling out of the house you sleep in during the summer.

    We are slowly making changes to our eating and buying habits, storing more, growing more, thinking more about where we want to be after an upcoming move.

    But I don’t know what we will do if we all need to start relying on me to can, let alone with a wood stove. Maybe we need to plan a summer kitchen building, with special attention to air flow. Goat-powered treadmills turning ceiling fans?

  11. M.Squirrel says:

    I had no idea you liked “The Tick!” Ah, that little blue menace and his “Spoon” are faves around here. Kindred spirits. No wonder we like you so much.

  12. Amy says:

    I have attempted to solve one problem of canning in August and September by getting a Turkey Fryer. A little bit of propane and I’m good to go, outside. Now canning outside may be only a nominal change but at least I’m not heating up the house. I imagine a canopy or awning of some sort would also help.

    I did not go out and buy a turkey fryer at a big box store, or any store for that matter. I waited until I found one at a garage sale. I knew the luster of deep fried turkeys would wear off eventually and I’d find one. It did take a couple of years though.

    Sharon, I think a food storage book would be a wonderful idea.

  13. Sharon says:

    Matriarchy, I know just what you mean about it being too hot to can. Amy’s turkey fryer idea is brilliant – I never would have thought of that – add it to the yard sale list.

    The other thing I do is to try and put a lot of the canning off until September, when things start to cool down – that isn’t possible with strawberries or peaches, but I have tomatoes and green beans and cucumbers coming until mid-October – and I’ve pushed my start date for some of these crops back a wee bit, so that the plants are at their best when I want to do my canning.

    I’m also relying more on root cellaring and dehydrating – and the best time to dehydrate is when the sun is hot. So that helps.

    That said, I’ve not yet managed to skip having some days on which one would much rather not have to be in front of a stove – but I can minimize it.

    Erika – We’ve thought of that, except he used to also say VuntooFree! But could be ;-) .

    And I’m glad someone caught the The Tick reference!

    Sharon

  14. Greenpa says:

    I would be fascinated to know the origin of the phrase. Sometimes, the little people can tell you, though snaking it out of them is tricky. It’s a good one.

    I also like the “flying” squirrel. We already tell Smidgen that SOMETIMES her head is FULL of squirrels, all chasing each other around. And could we please, now, actually speak to HER, instead of the squirrels?

    Sometimes it works.

  15. Mike Lorenz says:

    Great series of posts. I’ve printed off hardcopies of most of them. My garden is expanding to two locations this year – my house and my sister’s. I finally have the chance to move beyond just a few tomatoes and peas and actually grow a decent variety of fruits and veggies. It’s a little bit overwhelming at times. I hope to dehydrate and can as much as I can. Good luck to everyone who’s jumping in this year.

    My 4 year old twin boys yell “Eins, Zwei, Drei, Sproenge!” before they jump out of the bath tub.
    – Mike Lorenz

  16. Mike Lorenz says:

    Correction: it’s “Spruenge” not “Sproenge”. Mein Deutsch ist immer nicht so gut.
    – Mike Lorenz

  17. homebrewlibrarian says:

    Oh, I caught the Tick reference. Someone gave me a talking Tick doll as a gift years ago and one of the things it would say was “SPOOOOOOON!” (My personal favorite was “Naughty spawn! You face the Tick!)

    The food storage class information is getting shared with others. Occasionally, some bit of it will come up in office conversation but it’s dicey whether it will be a conversation starter or killer. Making lactofermented sauerkraut? Thumbs up! Converting a chest freezer into a refrigerator? Um, will ya look at the time? But I keep at it.

    The elder in the building feels the need to fortify the place against invaders should we reach TEOTWAWKI. My thought is that we want to know everyone around us because if we know and interact with each other, we’re more likely to keep an eye out for each other. With all the gardening and planting we’ve got planned for this year, I suspect we’ll meet the neighbors, no problem. Perhaps we’ll attract people to growing their own gardens. I sure hope so!

    Kerri

  18. Sarah says:

    SPOOON!

    Here, the most common battle cries are “Meep me meep me mooo!” and “Wejjable!” The second is what it sounds like. The first one is something I said once while sleep deprived, and it was highly amusing and stuck around.

    I’ll definitely sign up for the second round of the food-storage class if I can — this time around I was too busy with library classes, but I get a brief reprieve from those in August.

  19. Rebecca says:

    For some reason, this post makes me want kids even more. :)

  20. Kate says:

    Hi, I’ve been reading this blog for a few months now and I think it’s great. I tried to subscribe to the food preservation yahoogroup, but the confirmation link they sent was incomplete, so I can’t confirm my subscription. I sent 2 subscription requests, but got the same result both times. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  21. Michelle P says:

    Great site here.
    This post was just what I needed to keep me going in my dirt digging/ planting projects. I have been putting as much time into gardening as I can these days, almost to the exclusion of other
    things (except taking care of chickens).

    This year we are growing beans for drying (black turtle & hidatsu shield figure) & saving the seed for next year. Also many types of winter squash & soybeans.
    .Pumpkins, green beans, onions & garlic all to store, can or freeze. Lots of different herbs, a few flowers too.

    Mammoth sunflowers, amaranth & kale are grown for the chickens. Blueberries, raspberries & rhubarb are all new. So are the fences around the garden to keep the chickens out! They do have their own greens garden which will become their straw mulched winter yard.
    6 hens for eggs, 3 go broody… out of 5 chicks…3 are roosters.Son in law is going to learn how to butcher the young roosters. Previously, they were given away.
    I try to share as many perennial plants of all kinds & get many in return. Having other homesteading type friends is essential.

    A solar food dehydrator is our immediate project.
    I have high hopes for abundant produce & being able to store up some food by canning, freezing & drying. I’ve put a lot of $ & time into expanding the gardens, it is sometimes overwhelming the amount of work it is but is my passion & focus. There is so much to learn about food preservation …so many possibilities.

    I found this great site by googling ‘backyard permaculture’

    Thanks, I look forward to reading & learning from your site Sharon!

  22. I’m looking to start a food blog and i would like for my friends to be able to log on and comment through their facebook accounts so they don’t need to make an account on the chosen blogging site to comment. What are some FREE blogging sites that allow you to use your facebook to comment?.

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