I could get into a political discussion, or complain about the irresponsible ways in which our Western society raises food, about population growth and the effect it has on the environment, but while all these reasons played a role in the decision to raise our own food, what really inspired us to take the first step was simple: we fell in love with an old farmhouse and we love good food.
When we moved in, we virtually had no idea what some of the structures of the farm were used for. Take the smokehouse, for instance: a few years after we moved in, we discovered thanks to an old septic map of the property that the charming little stone house (that at this point in time housed a dirty hot tub) was built for smoking and storing meats.
Since both Tim and I have a great affinity for smoked meats, we were immediately intrigued by the idea to bring it back to its original purpose. We posted the hot tub on Craigslist and had the smokehouse cleaned out in no time. Unfortunately, Tim discovered after extensively researching smoking and curing meats, that we’d have to wait until the fall to actually smoke anything in the smokehouse. The risk of spoilage in the hot summer weather was too great. So we waited until after Thanksgiving. The first salmon, that Tim smoked, was unlike any I had ever tasted; it was a deep, red color,the texture was juicy and succulent and it smelled like, well, actual smoked fish. We couldn’t wait to try smoking other kinds of foods; from paté to cheese, from nuts to beef jerky – everything turned out amazing.
We now use the smokehouse all throughout the winter. We even started a little tradition with our friends, who bring their meats and fish over to be smoked the day after Thanksgiving – the “Smokefest”. And since we love this little building so much, it only felt natural that we named the farm in its honor: Smokehaus Farm. The German spelling of the word house is a reference to my German heritage.
But the smokehouse was not the only thing that we managed to re-awake from its 100-year sleep. We also spruced up the old chicken coop and got laying hens, we started a kitchen garden, we learned how to cook dinner over a hearth, how to forage for berries and herbs, how to preserve our harvests and began raising our own lamb, turkeys, ducks, geese and broiler chickens.
Through this journey, we discovered a whole new way of life, one that this farm was meant for. Today I can proudly call myself a homesteader. I have never felt so alive, so in touch with nature as I have in the past six years, I can truly say that this farmhouse has changed us. It has shaped the way we live, the way we eat, the way we raise our children, and the way we look at the world today.
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