I’m an ambivalent blogger.
I tend to post in short spurts.
And then take very long breaks away from this website.
Stepping back from the noise and distraction of the internet is something I do quite regularly.
Granny Miller is the name of this website.
It’s not my name.
Although many of my readers do call me Granny.
My name is Katherine Grossman.
I first started Granny Miller in October of 2006.
At the time it seemed a nice way to keep a journal of my thoughts and day-to-day life.
But I also wanted to share with others what I had learned about farming, self-reliance, homesteading and living deliberately.
Even back then I knew hard times lay ahead, and it occurred to me that I might have knowledge and experience that would be of value to others.
I took the idea and concept for “Granny Miller” from Mother Jones and Carrie Nation. I wanted to convey the sense of an older and mature agrarian social activist, so I choose “Granny” as my feminine description. I picked the name “Miller” because I’ve been known to get carried away on a rant, and I free-associated “ax to grind” and “grist mill”.
Granny Miller has been through a couple of different incarnations and I have stopped and started Granny more times than I care to mention and for various reasons.
This latest version of Granny Miller was begun on October 31, 2012.
I haven’t always lived in rural Pennsylvania.
I was born and raised in the greater metropolitan Washington, D.C. area.
I have lived in Beirut, Boston, Baltimore, Nashville, New Haven and several other places.
The most unusual place I ever lived was when I was a young child.
I lived on a boat at Buzzard Point in Washington, D.C.
The boat was actually a salvaged coast guard cutter from World War 2 named “The Knot Guilty”.
My parents bought it from a couple of lawyers.
From living on a boat I knew how to climb a ladder before I could climb stairs and I could swim before I could tie my shoelaces or bush my teeth.
In fact some of my earliest memories are of wearing an orange life jacket and floating on my back.
Everyone knows that small children and water can be a dangerous combination.
Since we didn’t have a yard to play in, my mother’s solution to the ever-present worry of her children falling overboard and drowning was novel.
First thing in the morning, she would put me and my younger sister each into a life jacket.
Next she’d attach about 25 feet of clothesline to the ring on the back of the jacket; then tie the other end of the clothesline to the railing of the boat.
After checking to make sure that all knots were secure she would throw us over board into the Potomac River.
It was her version of “Go outside and play.”
I have memories of small minnows nibbling at my fingers and toes while floating on my back - blue sky – birds – a gentle wind and watching clouds go by.
When it was time for lunch she would haul us back up to feed us. And when lunch was over – it was back overboard. My sister and I spent hours every day in the water except when it was raining or too cold.
Parts of my childhood were anything but ordinary.
Up until the age of 35 I lived my entire life in large metropolitan areas.
Back in those days I wanted the life that I have now but didn’t know how to get it.
Truth be told, I’m a city transplant that grew into a country person.
What I discovered about self-reliance, rural life and homesteading has only been within the last 30 years or so.
My country education was helped a great deal by marriage.
Much of what I have learned was passed on to me by my husband’s family and by the local people I have met here in rural Pennsylvania.
Many of the skills and some of the knowledge that today I take for granted I had to learn on my own. Back in those days there was no internet. Practical life experience supplemented by the local public library was often invaluable to me.
Many things about country life I had to learn the hard way.
30 years ago I knew nothing about cows, water witching, wood stoves, guns or so many of the other things that I know about today.
I get a lot of questions from people who live in the suburbs or in large cities and want a more self-reliant life but don’t know where to begin.
Sometimes they express doubts as to whether or not they can learn the skills they’ll need.
I share this information about myself because readers often assume that I have always lived a rural life and was born knowing how to render lard or milk a goat.
My agrarian outlook and life has been acquired and cultivated.
I think it’s reassuring for some people to know that it is possible to make the transition from city life to country life: from total food and energy dependence to a life of relative independence.
If you really make up your mind to do it, a more self-determined and self-reliant existence is possible no matter what the future may bring.
In fact it’s more than possible.
The passage to a more sustainable and self-reliant life isn’t dependent upon geographical location, education or financial resources.
In the suburbs, on a tiny town lot or even in the big city, you can become more responsible for your own basic needs.
Whether you are young or old – a man or a woman – rich or poor – it doesn’t matter.
Sustainability and self-reliance is really about choices that we make every day wherever we are – whoever we may be.
It’s my hope that GRANNY MILLER will provide a small measure of encouragement and direction for your crossing.
Enjoy the trip.