Why Bother?

  “Then the rush of harvest-time came.
The oats were ripe, standing thick and tall and yellow. The wheat was golden, darker than the oats.
The beans were ripe, and the pumpkins and carrots and turnips and potatoes were ready to gather.

There was no rest of play for anyone now. They all worked from candle light to candle light.
Mother and the girls were making cucumber pickles, green-tomato pickles and watermelon pickles;
they were drying corn and apples, and making preserves.
Everything must be saved, nothing wasted of all the summer’s bounty.
Even the apple cores were saved for making vinegar …”

-Farmer Boy, Early Harvest

Across the counter, a lineup of freshly washed canning jars were lined up like a parade. I was preparing for another canning session … the jars were clean … and the pots were scrubbed and ready for boiling.  Tomorrow, 220 cobs of beautiful golden corn will be ready for pick up – the girls and I will spend the day shucking the husks, cutting the corn of the cob and preserving it for the year. We will work under the shade of the pine trees and pray that God will send a breeze our way to break up the August humidity we are experiencing.

This is not the way many would spend a summer day anymore.

However, if you read books of old fashioned living or are blessed with a friend that likes to live in the old ways, you will  be encouraged to find mothers and daughters working together to preserve what was in season for the fall, winter and even spring months of food supply. Sadly, it seems, overall, this homemaking skill is lost — and what a true loss that is.


Not just canning — but putting away food that is in season, freezing, drying, dehydrating, preserving the fruits and vegetables of season is not a regular housewife duty anymore.


Why did we leave this way of living and eating? When did it become an old fashioned way of living to put up food that is in season?


I have fond memories of my mother canning in our country blue and white kitchen. I remember seeing the steam forcing out of the pressure canner, loaded up with green beans from the garden. Even if we did not have enough property to have a big garden, my parents always found a way – once, we borrowed land from a neighbour and planted our large family garden there. I remember our other gardens in various backyards and even now, as almost-retired adults, my parents still put in a vegetable garden every year.  My sister puts in a garden every year now, too – it must be something our parents taught us because I don’t think either of us would skip a year of vegetable gardening. It just seems wrong to waste the growing season…


Why has society lost the art of gardening and growing food?


Even if you have a small plot of land, you can grow something – anything. Many people say gardening does not work for them – and that is true, sometimes it doesn’t work out – but other times, it just needs a little bit more effort – or compost. 🙂 Sometimes we just need to learn how to do these tasks all over again – we think we know how to plant a garden, but perhaps we only watched our parents and did not actually learn how to do the process ourselves. It takes time and effort, sweat and a natural schedule to follow. Isn’t it time we learned? Isn’t it time we grew our own food – at least, grow what we can handle or what we can manage on our property, big or small?

[our tomato tunnel]

A well-meaning friend recently asked me, “But why bother? You can just go to the store and get canned tomatoes for really cheap. It’s so much easier.”


An interesting question. Truly … why bother?

Tomatoes *are* cheap to buy at the store, that is true.  I am quite sure they are probably not as healthy. When you grow your own tomatoes or buy from a local farmer, there is a better sense of safety in what food you are putting into your family’s bodies.

Recently, another friend’s son was diagnosed with some health issues that drastically changed their eating habits. It was mid winter and she now was  searching around for organic tomatoes – if they were to be found at all. It made me suddenly  realize the value of canning all those home grown tomatoes and tucking them away safely into the Provision Room. While I could offer some jars, it was not enough to supply a second family for their needs. Every year, my husband suggests that we have too many tomato plants – but with 98 plants, we just make it a year with our supplies of tomato products. Perhaps I should plant some extra, just in case?

Right now, the garden is coming to harvest – bright, red juicy tomatoes are starting to pile up on the summer kitchen table. Rows and rows of freshly washed canning jars are constantly being lined up to be filled … sauce, salsa, ketchup, soups … green beans, beets … it is not perfect. I did not get to harvest broccoli as it went to seed to quickly. I am battling squash bugs and am slowly picking them off the plants and praying for a somewhat modest squash harvest. A local garden centre employee suggested I shop vac the bugs off the plants – and so I have dragged out our shop vac and have been sucking up the bugs when I see them. This is the healthy way of gardening – instead of spraying bug killer or a toxic, un-natural chemical that will leach into our food.

[Another garden predator – the Great Horned Tomato Worm! So ugly, albeit strangely beautiful for a worm, and destructive!
A good snack for chickens!]

Why bother, you may ask, when you can just get a can of tomatoes at the store for around $1? Just buy those squash?! Pickles … who needs pickles?

Well, if cucumbers are growing in season here, there must be a reason God made them!  Pickling is  a great way to preserve them. And yes, pickles are very healthy! There is a reason mothers and housewives of old made jars and jars of pickles for their families 100 years ago. Perhaps they did not understand the science behind pickling, but they knew it was what you did with your lot of cucumbers every summer and that is what their mothers did …. well, there is a reason for pickles, I am happy to report, but not store bought. Homemade.

[And if your cucumbers get a little too big for pickles, just make a cucumber salad for dinner…]

Yes, jams and jellies are very cheap at the stores, I’m sure, and perhaps it’s easier just to grab a bag of frozen strawberries instead of picking them locally when they are in season. Is all this work really worth your time, you may wonder… planting seeds, weeding, watering, more weeding and harvesting … tending and toiling, caring for meat birds and raising the meat we eat … planting garlic and harvesting it months and months later …drying it on big tarps and replanting half of it for the next year’s harvest … thinking ahead …

Why bother?

“The little red seeds that Almonzo had planted had grown into two hundred bushels of carrots.
Mother could cook all she wanted, and the horses and cows could eat raw carrots all winter.”
-Farmer Boy



For our family, it just feels right. It fits into our lifestyle that we are trying to build. It feels like the right way to do things, to make it simple in the long run, to work with our hands, to do the best we can with what we are given. Why not go back to the simple ways of growing your own food, putting it away for the winter and eating from the fruits of your labour? Do you suppose there is a hidden blessing in these tasks and responsibilities?

I wonder sometimes if the faster, smarter ways of this modern world are truly not the better ways at all. Perhaps today’s society has it all wrong … they need to be going back in time [ in some aspects] instead of rushing forward. I know the ‘olden days’ were not perfect … but perhaps today’s world is so much further along, so busy and mind-frazzling hectic that going backwards would indeed be beneficial.


Sometimes I wish I was a part of the older generation so I could back up what I feel and think with facts and stories -but, I have not lived through the Great Depression and I have not had to live without food. God has taken care of me and my family so well.

If my generation has lost most of this skill of growing, storing and providing healthy food for their family, what will happen to the next generation? Will they be so dependent on grocery stores and big food chains that they will no long even know what is in season or what is truly healthy to eat?


Sometimes, when we are picking produce from our garden and someone finds reason to complain of the heat or mundane chore of gardening or kitchen work, I suggest that we pretend it is a time of Great Depression or need – that we would not complain at the amount of food we are blessed with in our garden … I know I would not waste one green bean or drop one clove of garlic on the ground in waste.

We may not own 100 acres, but we can still raise chickens, some small meat, and grow a big vegetable garden. Our beautiful honey bees will provide honey in the fall and over time, Lord willing, our tiny orchard will bring in some fruit. If we do not have it on our little spot of land, we can source it out.  I have picked wild apples along the road to make our apple cider vinegar in the past. Most land owners are quite willing to have you pick up their old apples as it saves them a chore. I have a neighbour who allows me to use his apples for making apple cider vinegar – he has no use for them. It is a wonderful blessing!

So, in a world where baskets full of groceries can be delivered right to your door … what is the point of all of this work? Speaking for myself, I do not want to lose the homemaking skills of preserving food. I would also like to teach it to my daughters for their future families.


And honestly, I do not think the easier way is necessarily the best way.

To me, the hard old fashioned way is no bother.





August 23, 2019 - 11:00 pm

sue Well, its just hubby and I here at home now, the kids are all grown and our youngest grandchild is now 13. So its been a while since I had to think about feeding our children but I still home can various fruits, vegetables and soups every year for hubby and I and I love it! There is such a sense of fulfillment that I cant describe. Not only that, but canning has been a blessing for my family and many friends as home canned goods always make wonderful gifts! Thank you again Gigi for your beautiful blog, it has given me so much inspiration over the years!

August 22, 2019 - 4:11 pm

Gigi Kelsey, so good to hear from you. Thank you for taking the time to introduce yourself. 🙂 Yes, I agree with the Biblical lessons!
That’s such a great reminder — thank you.

August 22, 2019 - 8:58 am

Kelsey Dear Gigi,
I have been enjoying your blog for some time now, but this is my first time commenting. Thank you for such a wonderful article. It is just the encouragement I needed, as I get asked the question “why bother?” quite often. There is just something more special about growing and putting up your own food. So much love goes into it. I also think it’s a great opportunity for teaching Bible and life lessons, such as reaping and sowing, good seed/ground, stewardship, bringing forth fruit, and so much more.
Thank you for all the work you put into your blog. When another old-fashioned friend (the one who taught me to garden!) and I get together, we will often say, “Have you seen Gigi’s latest post?”
With love to you and your family,

August 21, 2019 - 3:58 pm

TERESA @ SF Gigi, I would love to share them with you! Yes, there were many tales and wisdom they lived and shared. I often think do we have many generations of these type of ladies left?

August 21, 2019 - 3:21 pm

Gigi Rebecca, that is so funny because I always say the same thing about working out and how our lifestyle creates a natural “gymn” for us. Climbing, carrying, lifting, and yes, even running (after animals!) …. it’s a great way to stay healthy, I agree!

August 21, 2019 - 3:21 pm

Gigi Monica, you are amazing. I hope you get some rest today after being up so late last night canning. I know you had a busy day! I love the sound of your grape jelly. Yummmm!

August 21, 2019 - 3:18 pm

Gigi Teresa, wow, what a family you have come from! Fourteen children – amazing! Yes, saving money is another aspect in putting up food. We have just finished our corn for the year – it cost $80 for the year’s worth of corn– Organic and local from a family farm. I feel that is a great option for our family and I will never need to go to the store for corn for a year!
I would love to hear stories from your mother and grandmother. What tales and wisdom they could share!
Yes, I would love to do a Provision Room post again. The garlic is hanging and hopefully we will be planting again in late October. I still need to do a good garlic count to see how it went this year. Thank you for your encouragement.

August 21, 2019 - 2:53 pm

TERESA @ SF What memories this brought back to me of my mother of nine children and grandmother of fourteen children canning each summer. Canning happened in those days for different reasons; one was because families were larger than they are today. This was the only way they could afford to feed their families. My grandmother raised her children during the depression…she canned everything she could get her hands on. I truly loved this post; when all your canning is finished, I hope you will do a provision room post and a post on the hanging garlic. Hugs to you!

August 21, 2019 - 12:02 am

Monica Funny, I am up canning grape jelly, reading this as the grapes boil and the juice seeps out. I have two garbage bags full of pears to my right, an overflow of a hamper full of winter squash as I keep turning around and on the counter is a freshly picked basket full of tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, gathered this afternoon. Right in front of me is my grocery circular in which I have circled the chicken sale at 49 cents per pound. I will pick up 40 pounds and pressure can it this week. I’m also one of the strange, old fashioned birds. 🙂 I just love the satisfaction of doing it myself, from start to finish, from seed to can. It’s an amazing feeling. When I am old I may have to buy those $1 cans of tomatoes but as I am able, I plan to raise mine and continue our family in the old fashioned way. I smiled at the excerpts from Farmer Boy. Our all-time favorite book.

Which reminded me, time to get our carrot seeds in the ground for late fall!

August 20, 2019 - 11:19 pm

Rebecca Yes! It’s totally worth it! The other thing is, having a garden and animals to care for, keeps you healthy because you have to work up a sweat and get out daily, no matter the weather. I chuckle to myself when I’m daily hauling 5 gallon buckets of hot water to my ducks and chickens in the winter, that some people pay money to go to a gym and do things like flip tires or lift weights. People ask me all the time why I want to “have chores” and I tell them it keeps me healthy, it makes me get out and get fresh air and sunlight in the cold dark winter, it provides my family with quality organic food, it teaches my kids where their food comes from, it teaches them hard work and how to care for animals — it has so much value beyond the cost of homegrown tomatoes verses store bought tomatoes.