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Author Archive: "Dolly Freed"

Some Possum Skills

I just watched a show where the narrator was trying to demonstrate people's complete dependency on technology. "If civilization fell," he asked in a dramatic and scary voice, "do know how to raise your own food? Could you even tell the difference between a cucumber seed and corn seed?" I had to smile, because, yes, I do and, yes, I can. You, too, can smile when you hear such scary things if you have a few possum skills. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Know how to grow vegetables. Gardening has to be learned, but, hey, it's not rocket science, and I ought to know. If you are really new, start with something easy, say, basil or lettuce in a pot, and get a soil-moisture meter*. (Staff at a nursery will be glad to get you started.) Once you are ready to do more, look up organic gardening for your area or join a community garden. If you end up hating gardening, well then, you'll know. But if you like it, you will experience the joy of making your own food magically appear from the ground.

Eating with a Conscience

After reading Possum Living, people sometimes ask me, "How could you be so mean as to raise a bunny then kill it and eat it?" I tell them that our rabbits had the best little bunny lives they possibly could — lots of space, no predators, good and varied food, other bunnies for company, plenty of clean water, and a quick death. That's as good as it gets for most animals.

We could ask if it would have been better for the bunnies to have never been born than to be born and die. We can't answer that because we aren't bunnies. But we can consider it for people — it's a question that's been debated at least since the ancient Greeks. Most people are in favor of existence. You are reading this now, so you must exist. (I read, therefore I am?)

A Dove in Austin

We just got back from visiting friends in Austin, Texas. While we were there, a white-winged dove flew into the window and died instantly.

I picked it up, gently turned it over, and took it inside.

I decided it would be a shame to waste a perfectly good, fresh dove. I thought I would revive an old possum recipe and fry it up.

Lazy Living

When people read in Possum Living that my Dad and I raised, foraged, or caught most of our food, heated it with a wood stove, and lived without a car, they assume that we worked hard all the time. They don't believe me when I say we were pretty lazy.

It is true that sometimes it was hard work. Paying off and fixing up a house, putting in a large vegetable garden, and setting up housing for rabbits and chickens is hard work. But once everything is set up? Phht! If you are the least bit self-motivated and like gardening and hands-on projects, it's fairly easy.

Possum Living

In 1978, as a cocky 18-year-old, I wrote a book about how my dad and I lived a rich and happy life in a middle-class neighborhood with only an occasional part-time job. We gardened, raised rabbits and chickens in the basement, and bought bulk food at a feed and grain store. The book was chock full of ideas for frugal living that worked so well, we lived on the equivalent of $5,800 a year in current dollars. We joked that if possums could live without a job, so could we, hence the title.

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