Turkey Hollow Living

By Pamela

Growing and preserving food, as well as living in the Midwest, will be the main focus of Pamela’s blog for GRIT, with secondary focus on “family, cooking, healthy living, pets, and living with more environmental and financial efficiency and awareness.”

Currently at her Taylor Ridge, Illinois, home, Pamela is building a solar food dehydrator.

“This winter I plan to build a solar food dehydrator. At this time it isn’t finished. Actually, I haven’t started yet. But now, with holiday activities behind us, I will be starting very soon. My goal is to have it done before spring because once the gardening starts, I have learned, time is limited with working a fulltime job and taking care of things at home,” she says.

She has a lengthy to-do list, including building a backyard pergola, gardening shed and cold frame; learning more about organic growing methods; creating a water barrel circuit; and organizing photographs and recipes.

Pamela says when asked about moving to the country, “I grew up on a small farm and, although I currently only live on slightly less than an acre, I learned a lot about gardening and preserving food as a child. I love having a little more autonomy in a place where the city ordinances don’t dictate my every move.

“I think there are a lot of ways to define the term ‘homesteader’ based on your own individual situation,” she continues. “For me, I would look at my current circumstances and define it as taking what I already have and making it my own. I’m not starting from scratch. What I have right now is what it is but, as I make changes and as money allows, I can make this a more efficiently run home and a more self-sufficient piece of property. I may never be able to have large livestock such as cattle, pigs or sheep, but I think you can take what you have, and use and nurture it responsibly. I wish for the day I could live solely on what I can do here on my property. However, there is only so much one can do with an acre.”

She remembers two huge gardens during her childhood, so it was only natural that she plant a garden on her own property. “I wanted to get back to my roots, I guess you would say, and eliminate as many chemicals from my diet as possible. Although I’m not fanatical about it, I keep finding little ways to improve on this. I love taking a more active part in creating the food that goes on my table.”

Last year, she planted tomatoes (Roma, grape, and a German heirloom slicing tomato), eight different varieties of peppers (both sweet and hot varieties), zucchini and yellow summer squash, butternut and spaghetti squash, pie pumpkins, green pole beans, cucumbers, potatoes in a potato towers, broccoli, romaine lettuce, spinach, radishes, carrots, garlic and many different herbs. She also grew raspberries, strawberries, onions (red, yellow, and white), shallots, scallions, leeks, egg plant, peas, snow peas, cauliflower (which didn’t do too well), watermelon (didn’t produce fruit), and beets (the rabbits were a problem with those).

“I plan to address the rabbit issue a little more aggressively this year and take the watermelon challenge on again.”

Pamela shares her home with Abbey, a beagle/Australian shepherd mix, and the cat Montoya. “My Tom also has a dog, Maggie, a Labrador/chow and possibly Brittany spaniel mix) and two cats, Sassy and Bowie. Although we do not live in the same household, we have been together for more than 12 years and we consider all these animals to be ours together.

“I have toyed with the idea of having a few chickens and bees but need to check the county rules and would first need to get prepared so they have a proper dwelling.”

She lists her country skills as gardening, canning and freezing food, and “last year I built trellises for growing vegetables upward to grow more in less space. We built compost bins out of wood pallets last year. I recycle, even though I have to take it into the small village near where I live, because they don’t collect recyclable items from our driveways like in more urban areas. I love to cook, and on my personal blog, I like to incorporate the produce from my garden into my recipes.”

And finally, what is Pamela’s philosophy on country life?

“Country life, to me, is feeling confident that I have the tools and resources to be a more self-sufficient person. Being able to go outside at night and look up to see stars instead of city street lights can be so humbling. There is an awareness that there is so much more than my little existence.

“Sleeping with my windows open at night and hearing coyotes instead of city traffic is comforting to me. That said, I wouldn’t necessarily want to run into a pack of them while I’m out hiking in the woods. I don’t live on an acreage like I did when I was growing up so I do have neighbors, but most of us have a background in this rural area. A lot of us grew up in this general vicinity. People here, for the most part, look out for each other.

“Life can be just as hectic in a rural community as the city, but at least I can escape in my vegetable and flower gardens, put the noisy busyness out of my mind, and savor the beauty of what I have been able to create on my little acre of land.”

Visit Pamela at her person blog, My Turkey Hollow Twilight Zone, on Facebook, on TwitterInstagram or Pinterest.