A few weeks ago, we finally got up with the man that we met at the mill back in January. You remember him? We’ve been in touch all this time, but had to wait until he was coming into the area again before we could get together. He lives a couple of hours from here. His name is Jim.
At first, Jim invited us to his home. But my husband was a little reluctant, seeing as we don’t know him very well yet. Instead, we decided to meet at a local park so that the kids could play and us adults could talk. It actually worked out very nicely.
We pulled up next to his truck in the parking lot, and unpiled the kiddos. Ty and Jada ran to play on the playground while we found a nice picnic table under a shelter to sit at and chat. Jim brought several books with him, some of them were for us to keep. They were books about old fashioned recipes and cooking from your food storage. He had also photocopied and hand written several of his favorite cast iron, wood cook stove recipes.
(For those who are wondering, the books he gave us were: Take Two & Butter ‘Em While They’re Hot: Heirloom Recipes & Kitchen Wisdom and Sweet n slow: Apple butter, cane molasses, and sorghum syrup recipes by Patricia B. Mitchel.)
We didn’t really know much about the man. Just that he’s been building a food storage for about ten years. He is shy, and reserved, but very kind. He also brought four dozen of his fresh chicken eggs for us, and a few duck eggs as well. We thanked him graciously, and gave him a fresh loaf of pumpkin spice bread I’d baked for him that morning.
As we sat and talked, Jerry and I were full of questions. The man lives by himself in an old run down house in the middle of the woods. He said the woman he bought the property from was going to have the house torn down, but he asked her to keep it there. He has slowly been renovating it himself, room by room. He has it nice and livable again. He never did have electricity hooked up to the old home. He’s been living completely off-grid for a few years. He cooks on a woodcook stove, and runs everything else off of solar panels.
Ahhh, he’s living our dream!!
He has no driveway to his house, just a dirt path through the trees. I teased him, saying that his neighbors probably think there’s a crazy man who lives back there. He smiled bashfully. He’s a very smart man, and very humble.
Off of his solar panels he runs a fridge, two deep freezers, a washing machine, and a little radio. I believe he runs his well off of it too, as he does have running water. He hang dries all of his clothes, heats with the wood stove, and has no air conditioner. My husband asked him a ton of questions having to do with alternative energy sources.
He gardens, and has chickens, but he travels a lot for work so he isn’t able to do much else. He said he’s been wanting to begin canning his own food, but just hasn’t gotten around to it yet. When I asked him how much food he has stored up, like how many years worth, he just smiled and kinda laughed. He doesn’t even know. He just knows that it is a LOT.
We sat at that park for almost three hours, talking and learning from each other. It was a wonderful visit. I kinda felt like we’d met a male version of my friend Ms. Addy. He invited us to come and see his home sometime. After our talk, my husband and I were much more comfortable with him, and would love to see how he has everything around his home setup. So, we are keeping in touch until we get a chance to meet up again.
I am so excited to have made friends with Jim. We have a lot in common, and think along the same lines. It’s hard to find people like that in our society today. I can’t wait to see what else will come from this new friendship.