It’s been a Sargeant Schulz, John Worthing kind of a week. And while Lady Bracknell might not approve of anything which tampers with natural ignorance, I am ready to have mine tampered with! I guess that’s why we continue on…
Ella was acting up on Thursday, kicking over milk buckets and the like, and we suspected that she was in heat. My husband ran over to our neighbor to get the buck rag, finally, and she responded by following the blasted thing all over the place. So we took her over to an actual buck. Nope. Apparently, she just likes old smelly socks. Perhaps if we can’t get her bred for next year’s milk production, we can just have her do our laundry to earn her keep.
Secondly, I am wondering if the non-appearing seeds issue is not a hot/dry/old thing but yet another vermin issue. I went out Monday and noticed a ripening tomato. On Wednesday there was just a tatter of skin left. Elijah insisted that they are just not ripening, but a week of sunny 90s makes that seem unlikely. Jackrabbits? Gophers? Mice? Birds? I neglected to consider the unbearable draw of a patch of green during the dead-tan of October and I would not be surprised if our seedlings were being gobbled as soon as they dared peek above-ground. Time to try netting. We’ll see if the peas, garlic and additional beets and chard we put in this week have already been eaten. Gardening occasionally feels like a dance with a rather malicious partner who is constantly trying to step on your toes. Sigh.
Thirdly, we discovered that the chickens are all feathers. On Monday we went out to select our first batch, grabbed a big one, stuck it in a box on our kitchen scale and….a whopping three and a half pounds. This translates into a little over two and a half pounds dressed weight. Standard rotisserie birds are about four pounds. I would really like to get them all out foraging for bugs, etc but it is still beyond me to strap Joseph to my back and do anything as vigorous and involved as setting up an electric fence. Trying to raise meat birds while disabled leaves much to be desired. I guess we’ll just continue to buy food and hope it will go quickly onto them as meat. We really need to be done with this project by month’s end.
We finally moved the washer out onto the back deck and just started washing clothes out there. The replacement water pump was being held hostage by the post office somewhere mid-country and hand-washing the laundry had ceased to be a novelty. The washer only leaks about a quart of water per spin cycle, but that’s too much to take care of with a towel on the floor. Seeing the washwater draining over the side of the deck makes me want to figure out some way to use our greywater, but I worry about soaps and detergents further alkalinizing our soil. Maybe I need another book.
I made Indian Butter Chicken this week and we opened a jar of peach chutney to accompany it. We decided that chutney is a great way to use up fruit that is threatening to go boozy and that we need to make it in quarts rather than pints. I remember the days of canning half-pints of things….off in the rosy mists… Anyhow, we liked it enough that we may even go to the hassle of peeling pears to make chutney from them.
I did another batch of dill pickles. I seem to be a chronic over-estimator of weight these days and didn’t really even have enough for half a batch–and I can’t even blame it on feathers in this case. I’m also getting confused over the brining. They are a two-day dill and the first day (12-18 hours) you are to soak them in brine–dissolve a certain amount of salt in four cups of water, pour it over the cukes and then add enough water to cover. The first time I dissolved half the salt in half the water and added water to cover and the second I dissolved all the salt in all the water and added water to cover. I need to break open a jar from the salty batch, see if they are salvageable and then take the time to write out the recipe for about 4 lbs of cukes as that seems to be our weekly yield.
I also put a couple batches of pears into the dehydrator. The Bartletts have been pretty bland this year, but they are fine dried (chutneyed too, I hope) and I really need to finish them up before they start getting mushy. We are awaiting the appearance of El Dorado pears. They are a little better suited to the type of weather we had this year, but they have to spend time after harvest in cold storage. Hopefully, they’ll make for nicer fresh eating.
With the mid-week pear cores I started a small-ish batch of fruit scrap vinegar. The recipe said I could add to it later on and I did so today. It is already good and smelly. I started a batch of vinegar last year a couple weeks before I found out I was pregnant. My hyper-sensitive nose and stomach decided I could not handle the continuation of that experiment. I often wonder how exactly people decided to try eating certain foods. I think the threat of starvation was behind much of it.
I also just ground some spelt flour and started a new batch of sourdough. We had great success with this last Spring and Summer and hope that we can get there again. Once you’ve had really good sourdough, it tends to call your name. I am trying not to spend too much time thinking about eating homemade sourdough with homemade butter… currently failing…
And it is the time of year for clothing evaluation and purchases. I find this one of my least favorite activities–the money, the low-quality clothing available, the decisions, bringing all the clothing out, packing it all away again, the enormousness and never-endingness of it all and so I have decided to make Bethel my right-hand gal in this. I am hoping that her fresh brain and eyes will help me to get it in order. I find that sometimes when I look at the kids’ clothes, I see what they were and not what they currently are–fading, wear and even small stains go unnoticed…typically until we go out in public and I realize that they look like this…or maybe not even that good. I am looking forward to the help, hoping a grown-up project to work on together will be a good thing and I am intending to train her a bit in budgeting.
I was lying in bed nursing Joseph this morning with a blanket pulled up over my top shoulder (I like to pretend that it is Autumn by leaving the evaporative cooler on all night…mmmm, chilly), keeping me warm, but leaving his face clear so he could breathe easily. My aunt made the blanket for me when my husband and I were married. I got pregnant five weeks into our marriage and was utterly blind-sided by morning sickness and exhaustion. I drove him to work those early months and on the days that I didn’t have to work, I’d come home, lie down on the couch, pull that blanket up over me and sleep for as long as I could, as sleeping was the only time I didn’t have to deal with that horrible nausea. When Elijah was born I wrapped him up in it, as I have each and every one of my babies, and I used it to keep my top shoulder warm while nursing in bed with each of them, just as I did this morning. After nearly sixteen years of accompanying me on my mothering journey, it’s a little worse for the wear, but it still serves its purpose.