"What a lot of work these goats are!" say visitors. "I'd hate to have to be in the barn to milk them twice a day, every day."
"Yes, it's a committment," I reply. "But we would have goat cheese even if trucks stopped coming to the grocery store."
My flippant answer suddenly seems serious during the 2020 coronavirus outbreak. People rush to stock up on supplies as if they were under siege.
"It was like Thanksgiving in here," said one grocery store employee. Two of his colleagues were stocking shelves, and told me the canned goods were disappearing twice as fast as usual.
This flurry of preparation is a small glimpse into the fragility of our food system. Trucks full of beef and shipping containers of coconut milk are not flowing to the stores because those producers care deeply about our health and survival. Or at least, it's possible to imagine a scenario where those calories would stop flowing. Even if we wanted them. Even if we needed them.
The goats don't give a rap about shipping containers or global economy. They know me, they follow me to green pastures, and they yell their heads off if I'm late for milking. I cry with gratitude to have such a direct source of real nutrition. I rely on their health, and consequently, the health of the land they eat from. I can feed myself and my neighborhood without relying on a grocery store. This does a lot to keep me from the frenzied fears I read about.
Despite the sweat and responsibility of running a diversified homestead, it seems more worth it than ever. This crisis highlights the need for more resilience in how we tend our basic needs. Now, I'll get up from my computer, take my pail out into the frosty dawn, and come back with a warm jar of fresh-squeezed milk, made from yesterday's sunlight on the green grass.
Good food, within walking distance, for everybody. What do you think?