[Most of this was written on Saturday.]
We were instructed in General Conference today not to make our online lives appear too glossy. I find some counsel is easy to keep right now, such as having a messy house but keeping up with gospel study (“It is OK if the house is a mess and the children are still in their pajamas and some responsibilities are left undone. The only things that really need to be accomplished in the home are daily scripture study and prayer and weekly family home evening.”) or that if the members of the Church knew how important food storage was they would keep it in their living rooms (I FINALLY got the boys to take 16 buckets of various types of food out of the living room today—it tends to migrate in and never leave (and I’m still looking for that reference…if anyone knows what it is, please share!)) and perusing my last couple of posts I can’t believe I could ever be accused of gloss. Messy house, check! Food storage in living room, check! Non-gloss, check! I’m on a roll…
I spoke too soon on the illness thing. Joseph’s congestion and sleeplessness persisted and then Grace caught it on Monday and that night and evening was up screaming with an ear infection. Fortunately, I found a remedy that worked really quickly for her, but I’ve been struggling healthwise all week from so many nights without sleep. Add to that the fact that the washing machine is still broken (that was not the right part after all) and so I’ve been doing some laundry shuttling (to a very kind neighbor who has allowed us to use her washer) and then had peppers, cucumbers, peaches and an extra couple of gallons of milk to deal with on top of the usual stuff…and then I’m just so tired of the couch that it’s hard to rest even when I’m tired and sick. Conference has given me a good reason to rest today and tomorrow is the Sabbath so maybe by Monday I’ll feel better.
Preserving in the kitchen is going fine. I did 3 ½ quarts of dill pickles this week, 2 pints of sweet pickled peppers (leading to an impromptu one-up Peter Piper based tongue-twister competition with the kids, as in “Peter Piper’s papa picked a proper peck of pickled purple peppers” etc) and 5 pints of peach chutney. I’m going to need to buy more vinegar! Pickling is both fun and really odd as the process is not complete until after the jars are sealed and so there is no tasting to decide whether you actually want to go through with it. The cheap part of me is really glad I have lids that I can re-use in case I create things inedible… And speaking of lids, I have actually broken into packages that I have never used before, which means my production is actually ahead of our consumption! Amazing!
My mozzarella sat too long after I added the rennet, “clean break” was a distant memory by the time I got back to it, but as long as it is cheese-ish, my family doesn’t seem to care. We only used half of the last batch in quiche, but it is all gone now. We must have mice…who can open refrigerator doors…
Our neighbor goat-lady came out to check on Ella’s tattoo (registered dairy goats are tattooed in their ears or tail webbing for identification purposes) and it turns out that hers was a duplicate and they’ll need to add a digit to make her distinct and registerable. After she checked up on the boys’ hoof-trimming skills we sent her home with an old sock in a jar to turn into a buck rag. Our abilities to detect goats in heat are pretty awful without this aid, we’ve got to do better. I am still having nightmarish visions of driving these silly goats back and forth in the car.
I am worrying a bit about our fall garden. We do have a few sprouts, but we seem to have far more grass and weeds. I knew it was a risk as old as the seeds were, but it’s still a bit disappointing. I’m kind of inclined just to stick the rest of them in the ground, late or not, and just see what happens. Last year we still had warm-weather crops hanging in till December. It didn’t quite compensate for the lack of rain and chill hours, but it was something, and it would mean we’d start out with a fresher slate seed-wise next year. I also wonder if soil temperatures have anything to do with it—we have been awfully warm for cool-season baby plants. Maybe we’ll need shade cloth even to get the fall garden to work and not just to keep things from going dormant in the summer. I’m hoping to get our peas in ASAP and I’m considering getting some grocery store garlic and planting that as well. We’ll see if we get to any of this additional planting or if we’ll just have a sparse harvest of what we already have in. If I could only make things happen by typing them out.
Regarding the future of the garden, I am reading more on year-round gardening. The author does a lot of succession planting which substantially breaks up the work of planting and harvesting. This appeals to me in the same way that small-batch canning does: the work is in small enough bursts that I can pretend that I’m not actually doing it! Heaven knows I cannot block off an entire day to plant, but I can snag twenty minutes here and there to put in the next small set of whatever needs planting. He says it also helps mitigate disappointment when things don’t take—shrug it off and just put in whatever is next on the list. I am also thinking that maybe we could try just growing on either side of the heat, let the garden rest or grow cover crops and just deal with in-season fruit during the miserable months.
And the time has come for the chickens—the first lucky half dozen have their date with destiny this Tuesday. We need to clear out a fridge to chill them before tucking them into the freezer and get ahold of a killing cone and some well-sharpened knives. It’s amazing how quickly we got here and how much is not yet ready because we never really decided how we were going to approach certain things… At some point we’ll have this all down, but probably not this week. My husband asked yesterday how much we had spent on feed. I told him I wasn’t even really keeping track of that this year. We never got them out to forage and we switched them over to broiler pellets late. I could figure it out but it would probably depress me. This is our introductory year to Raising Chickens for Meat. We’ll improve on our methods and do a thorough cost analysis when we do it next time. For now we’ll just be happy if we can see this thing through to edible chicken meat.
My husband went through and weed-whacked what was left in the future garden area and orchard. We can see better the area where we are hoping to put the grapes and berries in. I am trying to contain my excitement. I am badly missing Oregon berries.
I may have found a place to order little, inexpensive trees. Yes, it’s lovely to start with 6’ or more, but you sure pay for it. If you only want 2 or 3, then that is fine, but as we look at wood lot and shade tree purchases, saving 90% is appealing.