The last thing I budget for is generally people food. First, I pay bills, then I buy feed, then I buy gas for the car, and the last thing is food for people. When times are good, I stock up the freezer and the cupboards so when times aren't so good there is part of a cow or some fish from the guy up the road or soup or spaghetti sauce in the freezer. There is flour to make bread and pasta and cans of beans plus whatever food I put up myself. Food is slow, but it's there.
We've had a long stretch of extra bills and expenses, so those usual fall backs are running low. I only have a few cups of flour left (although there is a 25 lb bag of brown rice) and the cans are running low and the only thing in my garden is a bunch of sweet potato leaves and some bok choy. I do have some chickens who are not laying very well, so I could put a few of those in the freezer, and there is a yearling lamb who is ready for processor, and I am getting creative in the kitchen. I am beginning to understand why the Church positioned Lent where it is in the calendar and liturgical year, as we run out of the abundance of Fall and nothing new is growing, really - although because I live in Hawaii the reason things aren't growing is because 1) I planted late and 2) it rained so much many of my seeds didn't sprout (yet).
Well, in the meantime, I am going to pull all those soup bones out of the freezer and probably that gigantic turkey I bought on sale several months ago, defrost and can them up and boy, did I appreciate having those jars (I used the last of them last week). I think putting up a good stash of beef broth, beef stew, and turkey meat and broth will be a great project this weekend. I guess I need to take the turkey out of the freezer tonight.
Although living like this is often stressful, particularly when I am getting to the back of the cupboard and the bottom of the freezer, I am really appreciating the Lenten reminders to slow down and connect to Christ. Lent is a great reason to explain why we don't have ice cream to the kids, too.
It's also temporary - we have a tax refund coming up and I am nearly done with the tuition thing and, barring the rising prices of gas and the concomitant rise in the staples I do buy at the store, I should be back on budget with a restocked freezer and cupboard soon. I know I feel a sense of satisfaction when I have made the biweekly feed store run and I am all stocked up and also when I am able to look at a full cupboard. I have never had to live so close to the bone as I do now, but the instincts have been there all my life (it must be all the novels I read). I feel more sure of myself, though, that I can handle things. Sometimes, I falter and get a little scared. That's when it is time to pray and center myself.
I think our ancestors who lived more closely to the land the way I am striving to now, understood that need to pray, and that the sacrifices of Lent were not just "giving up chocolate or my favorite tv show" but connected to what was happening in the calendar, in the seasons - a more mindful, perhaps, way of living.