I sure wish I would have had the opportunity to meet Carla Emery at one of her speaking enagagements or her writing workshops that she set up across the country. But, at least I have met her in her writing. My first major “farm” book that I bought was The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. I remember buying it while living in Texas before planting my first garden out in our backyard. I believe it was around 1998-1999 that I found it at the local Barnes and Nobles bookstore down the road; it was wrapped in plastic and I couldn’t wait to get into it and read…and boy, did I pour through that thing, flitting from one subject to another, finding her books that she recommended at the local used bookstores and garage sales sometimes. Dreaming, that’s what I was doing, dreaming of our land…the possibility of being a producer of our family’s food. It was ironic that I had that dream, as I really wasn’t a great cook, or that interested in cooking (I still am not much of one either). I don’t remember where I had first heard about Carla’s book, maybe a forum or an email group? I can’t remember, maybe it was from a thread at www.gardenweb.com. Whoever introduced me to her, I am forever grateful and changed.
Since moving to our small farm, I haven’t opened the book much; I think I am in mourning (oh, I’ve recommended it to many of my friends and family, loaning it out for long periods of time, but I don’t really want to look at it myself). You see, I miss Carla, she passed away in October 2005, not long after we had moved up here to Indiana. But, I also miss my youthful “dreaming” self too, I think. It sure is easier to dream than to do, you know. When “doing”, it is more obvious to see my character flaws: my impatience, my self anger at my failures and mistakes, my laziness. Wow, I didn’t know that this post was going to become so introspective, but that’s what Carla also taught me…share, let it out. Her writing, although very fact oriented also contains her heart; her journals through her time having her young children, being happily married until her divorce and her singleness (she eventually remarried). She shared it and it somehow changed me. I am a more somber person since reading the other book she wrote, Secret, Don’t Tell. It is a much more sobering book, but as she states in the introduction of the book it is to bring the Light into the darkness of a very scary subject. I guess that through reading that book, I have matured and am not as trusting as I once was; but thankfully, focusing on our land and striving toward being producers, not only consumers, is making me happier and less apt to sulk and brood.
Just looking at The Encyclopedia of Country Living now (I took some pictures of its “well worn-ness”), I see where I could re-read more and take in more details that I didn’t recognize or understand until now. She has a whole section on lard, which is more interesting to me, since I have made my first batch of rendered lard using the crockpot method that I found from this awesome tutorial:
Carla even has fun tests and exams to see what you learned as you read the book, maybe I could see where I measure up to those tests and see where I can improve and use more of our local resources to produce what we might need around here.
Maybe it’s time for me to dream again, knowing that the nightmares of my personal character flaws and the bad stuff that exists in this world might be around the corner to make me jump at times, but choosing to dream despite that real possibility. I think I’m off to flip through my Encyclopedia and think about my little farm and how to improve it.
Thank you Carla.