The Little Red Hen

Have you heard the story of The Little Red Hen? As a child, my parents and grandparents read that book to me often.  As with most any books they read, they basically taught it to me as a parable.  I never remember my parents or my grandparents asking for anything.  They worked hard.  My grandparents had a huge garden.  My dad raised quilt quail, pheasant, rabbits . . all in our backyard and then they ended up on our dinner table.  My grandparents traded for things they didn’t grow but they never expected anything from anyone else.  They knew they were on their own as far as taking care of themselves and feeding their family.  As a kid, we lived through hurricanes and I never heard mention of FEMA.  We never waited for trucks to come by and bring food or water.  My parents stocked up on whatever we might need — toilet paper, vienna sausage, sardines, crackers.  I can tell you that as a child, I feared hurricanes . . not because of the damage they would do but because of the food I knew we would have to eat when the power went off.

So much of what happens in our early years shapes the adult we grow to be.  I am so thankful that my parents and their parents taught me to work hard and be responsible for my own self, to help others when they need help but to never expect a handout.  There was never any doubt in my mind growing up . . I would go to college, get a job and be able to support myself.  We live in a bit different world today.  If there are no jobs, then getting a job is not easy and may be downright impossible for some.  I’m glad I’m not a young college graduate looking for work these days.

But the one thing I will always believe is that everyone has the power to become a better person, if they want to do so.  Not to get political but I believe the government has done a terrible disservice to our society by allowing so many to depend upon a government check for money, for food, for cell phone . . for whatever the government provides.  I’m not talking about folks who truly are in need of a helping hand . . I’m talking of folks who know from about the time that they’re 16 years old that they can be supported by the government.  If you don’t believe those folks exist, you simply need to get out of your bubble.  There are teens who know that the more babies they have, the more money they get.  I’ve seen it!  I’ve talked to folks.  I’ll never forget when we lived in Kentucky, there was a kid who would come visit Chad from time to time.  He always wore name brand clothing, had good stuff.  We were chatting one day and he was telling me something his dad had done that day which led me to believe his dad was off during the day.  I asked him where his dad worked.  The kid told me that his dad just got a check.  Stayed home and got a check from the government.  He told me that during the summer, his dad cut grass for people but they couldn’t tell anyone or he wouldn’t get his government check.  The kid learned dishonesty from his parents.

In my mind, preparing for whatever I can imagine happening, growing my own food, canning my own food comes down to taking care of myself.  By growing and canning what I’ve grown, I know what goes into the food.  I know the chemicals used (or not) on my plants.  I know the preservatives used (or not) in the foods I can.  There’s no harm in not doing what I do.  Most people don’t!  The harm is in wishing and wanting to do it and not doing it.  I hear people say:

  • I don’t know how to can – Neither did I.  My grandma did but my mom didn’t til after I left home.  I learned on my own.  I asked questions, I tried it, I read about it . . if there’s something I want to do bad enough, I’m going to do it.  I haven’t blown my head off yet from the pressure canner and as far as I know, no one has gotten seriously ill or died from the foods I canned.
  • I have a glasstop stove – I canned for 9 years in Kentucky on a glass top stove, for 4-1/2 years living in Missouri on a glass top stove.  I’m not telling you to do it because if you ruin yours, you’re on your own.  I’m telling you I did it successfully for 13-1/2 years.
  • I don’t have the room – If you want the room, make the room.  We bought a 1675 square foot house and with as little room as we have after coming out of a 3800 square foot house, I could find room to store a year’s worth of food if I wanted to do it.  We built the sewing room and put in a closet that’s part of the air conditioned area and that’s where I store my food supply.

Even if you don’t do your own canning, you can still prepare your family by buying canned goods.  Don’t make excuses — make a plan and do it.  This doesn’t apply only to canning and prepping . . this applies to every area of your life.  Not one of you is getting a day younger . . if there’s something you truly want to do, figure out how to get started and do it!