How I Shop for Groceries – I Don’t Go to Town!


(I wrote this article years ago – it’s the number 1 post on this site during these Winter days and worth another repost)

How often do you go food shopping for your family? Once a week? Do you stop by the store a few times a week?

Here’s how we get our groceries for the week (or two or three) here in our Valley. Come on along with me for a shopping trip.

I have to remember to grab the green reusable bags.

And I can’t forget to bring back the recyclable glass containers from the kitchen pantry.


Instead of taking the car and driving to the grocery store, I’ll go down the stairs to the cold room.

OK, we’ll definitely need some veggies so let’s get some beans for starters.

And some carrots, we love carrots!

We keep them in a pail of dirt and we trim the greens off low. Every now and then, we mist the dirt to keep it a bit moist. We could also use sand.


Look how nice they still look. They are firm and they taste fresh and very sweet.


We definitely need a bucket of potatoes and also a bunch of onions.

When I pulled the potatoes out of the garden,  I sorted them right there in the field.

All our potatoes to be used as seed in 2010 are sitting in separate bags on shelves in the cold room.

Keep your onions in a different room – they don’t get along too well with some other veggies in storage.

Now that my bags are full, it’s time to head back upstairs and put the groceries away.

 But first, check out what I’ve gathered.

 See the nice large chicken on the left? I pulled him out of the freezer.

4 pints green beans

1 pint canned carrots to use in stew or soup

2 pints canned beets

about 5 lbs potatoes


We’ve got some fruit:

2 quarts applesauce

2 pints Saskatoon berries

1 small jar Zuccini Butter (for on toast)

To have some goodies when company comes over for beers or a glass of wine:

2 jars red salsa and 1 jar green salsa

1 jar pickled garlic scapes and 1 pint pickled beets

More food for meals for us:

2 pints tomato sauce

1 pint pizza sauce

1 jar smoked trout

1 jar salmon

1 dozen eggs

1 quart pea soup

1 more dozen eggs

a good whack of garlic

a bunch of onions


Add to the above the fresh goat milk that we get from one of our Valley friends and that should do us for at least a week. There is no need to go to town.

 And if I need to get more groceries, I’ll just go back downstairs to our cold room.

The bonus for us is that, by Growing what we Eat, we Know what we Eat!

Healthy, Nutritious, Organic and Very Inexpensive!

(By the way, I took these pictures the last week in December.)

How to Grow Your Own Animal Feed


It would be almost impossible for us to grow 100% of the feed we need for our animals. We lack heavy machinery that would make it possible to rejuvenate our hay pastures. That will come in time. For right now, we do grow what we can. They have their own garden here in the Valley and they even do some of the work in there for us. Here’s our Animal Garden: 

The Animal Garden has about 3000 sq feet of veggies grown mostly for our pigs and chickens. (I say mostly because I’m not above going down there and forking up a nice bunch of carrots or beets to sell, if I’m running out of those in the Main Garden.)

I plant my seeds and seedlings very close together to help keep down the weeds. As the plants grow we can thin them out and feed the thinnings to the animals.

In the beginning the thinnings don’t add up to much. But we do it anyway, as it allows the remaining veggies to grow bigger. When we pick feed, we just pull the largest veggies, leaving room for the neighbour to get bigger.



We have a woodstove down at the barn. Every day now for the last month or so, we have been lighting the stove with canners on top full of veggies.



Just some of the veggies picked for a meal including beet, a sugar beet, rutabagas, turnips and over on the far right are some mangels.



We try to fill one wheelbarrow a day – this will fill two canners to the top and then some.


We chop the leaves off to give to our the hens.


The roots and stalks go off to the pigs. They will eat them raw, but if you feed potatoes those should be cooked.

One canner will get fed to the pigs in late afternoon along with their grain. The other will be fed the following morning with their breakfast grain.


Pigs really enjoy garden vegetables. It’s good for them and we think it gives their pork a wonderful flavour.

There is your time and labour involved in growing an Animal Garden, there is no way around that. However for putting in the time you can grow quite a bit of your Animal Feed for the cost of the seeds.

Come late Fall just prior to butchering, let your pigs into the Animal Garden. They will clean up whatever you have left for them. They’ll root up the soil again tilling it with their noses. They’ll fertilize it too for the following year.

Chickens can be let in after your garden is well established. When seedlings are young, they are a temptation to chickens and they will masacre your garden in a very short time.   By mid-summer, you should be able to let your chickens in there to gather some of their own food.

If you are concerned about them doing too much damage, you could put them in your garden about 2 hours before dusk. When dusk rolls around, the chickens will most likely already be back in their coop.