Friday, February 12, 2010

Flashback Friday: The Root Cellar

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about provident living. It might have something to do with this, this, this, or this. Or it could have to do with the employment seminars we had on Tuesday and Wednesday this week at the church. Or it could have something to do with Haiti or this year’s snowpocalypse. Or it could be that we recently borrowed and watched Food, Inc (thanks, Jill). Or it could be a combination of the aforementioned things. Whatever the reason, I’ve been thinking about provident living. A lot.

I’ve mostly been researching products to help us live more providently since we’re in such a state of limbo and acquiring anything isn’t smart right now. I want to learn how to can—that requires equipment. And since I am not confident in my canning skills (since I’ve never done it) I’ve been looking at dehydrators, too, so that I can preserve vegetables, and other things that are more difficult to can, on my own. I’ve been looking into and experimenting with homemade bread. Andrew’s even getting into it and wants to try making our own yeast. I told him that might be taking it a little too far.

He researched it, anyway, and found a few methods to try—I told him we’d hold off until we were back in North America—our favorite tidbit of information was located on Yahoo! Answers.

Q: How do you make your own yeast for bread?

A: yeast is a living organism, unless you're god you can't make it.

That wasn’t the “selected” answer but is now a running joke in our home. Today I rehydrated some dehydrated strawberries (courtesy of Lydia—thanks, Lydia!) to have on our pancakes.

“What are you making?” Andrew asked.

“Strawberries,” I told him.


“No, really. I’m making strawberries.”

“Strawberries are a living organism. Unless you’re a god, you can’t make them.”

He looked in the bowl. “Hey! Those are strawberries! How’d you do that?”

I told him that he’s basically married to a goddess.

He also freaked out when I suggested we try making yogurt after Jill posted a recipe she used. How can someone feel comfortable trying to grow yeast yet cringe at the idea of making yogurt? I mean, I know how yogurt is supposed to turn out but I don’t really know what raw yeast is like.

Anyway, looking at how much food storage we need for our family is kind of exhausting, especially since we’ll be apartment-living for quite some time still. Where am I going to put hundreds of pounds of wheat, let alone everywhere else?

It made me jealous of Grandma Torrie’s root cellar—hers, specifically, since hers is the only root cellar I’ve ever been in.

When I was staying on my cousin’s farm for a few weeks one summer, their grandma, Grandma Torrie, called us over to investigate her root cellar. I hadn’t even known that she had a root cellar, but somehow a little bunny knew about it and ended up getting stuck inside.

We grabbed flashlights, donned rubber boots, and rushed out the backdoor, around the house, past the quonset, through the windbreak, and across Grandma Torrie’s backyard, arriving at her backdoor in under five minutes.

My cousin Eric opened the door to her root cellar and we made our way down a short ladder to a dank room, finding ourselves nearly ankle deep in water, surrounded by vegetables and darkness. How a baby bunny managed to get inside will forever remain a mystery.

We stayed as still and silent as possible as we shone our flashlights around, trying to locate the little rodent lagomorph.* All we could hear were the cave-like echoes of the dripping water and little rabbit feet scampering around as our flashlight beams scanned the room. Finally we caught its eyes in the light and it froze, wild with terror and screeching horribly.

Cornered, the poor rabbit pressed himself against the wall, seeming to wish he had better camouflage skills. We bagged it, though—rather, Eric did since I didn’t want to be the one to do it.

We brought it back up out of the cellar, still bagged, and Uncle LeRon drove us all out to a field of…alfalfa, perhaps, or maybe flax…where we turned it loose. But only after Uncle LeRon had fully persuaded Michelle and me that it could not, under any circumstances, be kept as a pet.

Lucky for him we hadn’t even had time to name it and hadn’t really seen it since it went from cellar to burlap to field. No tears were shed when it bounded out of the sack.

And that’s my one and only experience with root cellars. There were a lot of vegetables down there. There’s no way I could keep that amount anywhere in my apartment, so we’ll have to make do.

* I learned a lot about rabbits today. Like, rabbits aren’t rodents—they’re lagomorphs of the family Leporidae and are more closely related to horses than mice, apparently. Rabbits live in burrows and are born blind and bald whereas hares live in nests and are born seeing and hairy. Like rodents, rabbits teeth constantly grow so they have to gnaw on things to grind them down to size. Rabbits used to be called conies, while ‘rabbit’ specifically referred to young rabbits. Coney sounds like a certain swearword so rabbit is now the general term and baby rabbits are called kits. A group of kits is called a kindle. A pair of rabbits is called a brace. No one seems to be able to agree on what a group of rabbits is called (bury, colony, circle, nest, herd, trace, drove, warren, hop, leash…I propose ‘clutch;’ this guy thinks they should be called a ‘bubble;’ what do you think?), but sometimes, like in parts of Canada, a group of rabbits is called a fluffle, which is possibly the most hilarious word I’ve heard today (I withdraw my proposal of ‘clutch’ in favour of ‘fluffle’).

Also, you should never bathe a rabbit. Ever. In rabbit, bathing =  death.


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  2. That was funny. We had a fluffle of rabbits when we were children. Bruce used to pay Arlene and I 25 cents per rabbit rescued from cats. I have heard rabbits scream when cats were attacking them--mostly rabbits are pretty quiet.

    My parents had a root cellar too. We never had a baby rabbit trapped in it that I know of, but my brother often found salamanders there.

  3. I had to remove the first post because I spelled my own sister's name wrong! How silly is that!