No, I’m not trying to take over the world. Instead, I’m thinking about some of the “upgrades” I want to do around the homestead this year, once the old place sells and frees up some income to be “disposable.”
We’ve been tearing down the old smokehouse. It’s been going far too slowly, for a number of reasons. The weather still isn’t cooperating–it’s not supposed to leave the 30’s today. I pulled something in my back hauling off some debris on Tuesday. And the thing was apparently built to withstand a simultaneous tornado and massive earthquake. For what it was, it was put together decently; lined on the inside with metal roofing, sheathed with rough-cut 1″ x 16″ wood (actual 4/4 thickness, too; fortunately not oak, like the outhouse); then at some point re-sheathed with beadboard left over from trimming the interior of the house. It all came down easily enough, once we had most of the sheathing removed. (They followed a version of my “Rule for Knots”: “If you can’t tie good knots, tie lots of them”–except their version involved nails…)
A smokehouse is, in fact, in the plans for the homestead at a later date, but this one had some serious issues. First and foremost, it wasn’t designed for cold smoke–particularly not in its present configuration, and probably not ever. (Hot-smoking is fine, but it somewhat limits the repertoire.) Second, it was only about ten feet from the “back” entrance to the house (the one that everyone uses)–just as good for fumigating the house as for smoking foods. The new one will be a good bit further from the house–probably closer to the back barn, a good 200 feet or more away.
Also in the planning is a wood-fired brick oven. My wife and I are still debating where exactly to place it; I’m certain a compromise of some sort will eventually be reached. The more I’ve thought about the oven, the more I like the idea: I love making home-baked bread, and Pizza Night is a weekly event around the house. It can also be used (on the same firing!) for other cooking tasks (roasts, etc.), as well as to dry spent grains (I’m a brewer, among other things) for use in bread and/or dog treats; I’ve even seen instructions for home-roasting coffee in one (luxury!).
What, one may ask, does all this have to do with prepping? Well, smoking is an excellent (and tasty) way of preserving meats. I plan on eventually planting about 1/4 acre of wheat, the better to home-source flour. (Yes, barley too, for the beer…) Anything to lessen the household’s reliance on outside sources; again, trying to bring things back to the household economy.
As to the community/local economy, various neighbors raise livestock (cows, sheep, and goats, depending on which direction one goes; I haven’t found pigs yet, but I’m certain they’re nearby). I’ll be able to provide “treat” feed for them, once I begin brewing again (the grains are sweet, and the animals love them!), in exchange for the occasional hunk of meat. I may be able to trade something smoked (or baked) for eggs from another neighbor, until we get a coop built and our own small flock of chickens. There are other swaps and trades available, as well–too many, really, to go into. Field plowing/disking, tree cutting, veggies, etc.
This is what allows me to sleep nights, as I warily eye the happenings in Europe (bank runs, riots), and track the continued slow decline here in the States. Sooner back to the local economy, sooner back to stability, at least on a local level.