Monday, September 24, 2012

A Day on the Little Farm

Autumn is arriving here on our little farmstead.  We've yet to name it, I think because it's rented and we don't feel permanence, we've not done it.  Might be time to embrace it enough to name it, but just not sure about that yet.

In any case, I thought you might enjoy seeing what the views are around here today.  Maestro had a field trip today, but he's got a cold and wasn't feeling up to it.  Since I was supposed to chaperone, that gave me an unexpected block of time to do a few things today.  I mowed part of the back field, and watched some bad tv with the boy.  It was nice bonding time for us, and we shared PB&J's for lunch.  Sorry he's sick, but not sorry to have some time to hang with him. 

Just wanted to share some snapshots of my day around here.  I also thought it might be fun to just assign one or two words that the photo brings to my mind with it as well, so here goes...

Rosie Gray
 Black eyed blooming
   Watchful & proud
Annoying cacophony
 Unsightly property line
Woodpecker restaurant
 new beginnings
 second cutting
 almost done
poison on fire
deep blue and firelight
Well, that was fun.  Off to pick up Little Red from school are things on your little farm this fine autumn day?
Enjoy your moments, ~Peacemom

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Well, the Sun is surely sinking down...

Today I began dismantling the garden.  This is a pretty big task, there's big roots, lots of huge plants no longer producing much.  Last night I cut the corn stalks to decorate in true Autumn fashion!  My first ever decorating with my own stalks and pumpkins.  The powdery mildew killed the pumpkins off a few weeks ago, and I picked the last of them today, some of them are partly green.  Pumpkins don't ripen off the vine, so I am using the partially green ones to decorate with.  Kind of gives it a neat look, actually.  Rather like a clever water color that I mean to turn out that way. 

I have left the peppers to attempt to get the green ones to get just a tad bigger and ripen up.  The days are still in the high 70's and low 80's so it's not over just yet, and I'm hoping to get enough to pickle a few for Music Man.  Friday I canned 4 more quarts of tomatoes and 4 pints of green beans.  Our larder is looking good compared to where it's ever been before.

I had a conversation with my mother the other day.  When she was a kid, my grandmother used to can all their food for the winter, and there were 6 people in that family.  I have 4 and we wouldn't have enough to go more then 2 months with what I put by.  I find this to be a tremendously time consuming venture, and I wonder how my grandmother did this for all of them every year.  I have the choice, she really didn't, of whether I want to just go to the store and buy it or put it by myself.  I'll admit, it's been an adventure for me, and mostly I've enjoyed it, but truth be told, I've been doing this almost daily for a month now and I'm ready to move on to other things in my life.  I've got sewing piling up, knitting to get to and heck, some fun to have! 

I wanted to take lots of pictures this autumn.  That's a deep passion of mine, trying to capture nature's intricacies on camera.  I'm very appreciative of the camera my mom passed down to me a few years ago, it takes great shots.  But, I very much miss my lenses and being able to focus on just what I want to show.  The camera I have is more of a point and shoot deal.   I was hoping to get that new SLR camera, but it's just not in the budget for us right now.  Oil to order, wood to buy, a stove to get installed, bills to pay.  I do realize that I'm not going to be able to stay unemployed much longer, so I was really hoping to get some wonderful scenery done by my view in my files.  I feel like taking photos is really very personal.  It's a glimpse into what the photographer is seeing and feeling at that moment.  A hundred people could take the same photo and have it come out different every time because it's not the location, but what the person manning the camera sees and wished to convey that is the outcome.  Pretty cool indeed.

This mornings cooler temps brought about the urge to bake something pumpkin, so I made the troop some Cranberry Pumpkin Spice Muffins.  They were quite yummy, and it was all I could do to stop myself at one.  I'm back on reducing the carbs after a summer of not doing that so well.  So, it was a banana for me while the gang all had 2 each.  And they got rave reviews, so they must have been okay...or maybe they were just needing some sustenance after a long night of sleeping in tents in the back field!  Served with hot cocoa, they were a hit.  Perhaps you have some pumpkin you're wanting to turn into a delicious breakfast as well, if so, here's a keeper.

Cranberry Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Makes 12 regular size muffins

3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour (if you don't have white whole wheat, you can use 1 1/2 cup all purpose instead)
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
6 Tbsp butter or canola oil
1/3 c granulated sugar
1/3 c firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
2/3 c mashed or canned pumpkin
1/2 c buttermilk or sour milk
1/2 c dried cranberries

1.  In a medium bowl, sift together flour(s), baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.
2.  Beat butter and sugars in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
3.  Beat in egg and pumpkin.
4.  Add flour mixture alternately with milk, blending well.
5.  Fold in cranberries.
6.  Fill paper lined or greased muffin pans 3/4 full.
7.  Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes depending on your oven.

Enjoy!  Also goes great with Chai spice tea as well!  Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Living an Authentic Life

Something came to me again today, as it often does.  Since the boys have been back in school, I've not stopped processing food.  It's from the time they leave until the time I need to sit in the "commuter" line and pick them up that I don't stop.  And it's a lot of work.  No really.  I think many times that I was born in the wrong time, but perhaps the reason I don't mind doing all this work, that it feels so very familiar to me, is that I identify with it.  It provides me with a very authentic life.
From constructing raised beds, to putting up the fence to keep the critters at bay, to shoveling tons of compost and goat manure to fill the beds (these were Music Man's contributions to the garden), to then leveling the beds, planning where to plant things, tending to the seedlings, watering, weeding, weeding, weeding, keeping pests at bay, to the thrill of seeing food develop from the efforts, to tending them more, to the eventual harvest, to then processing it to save for winter, to eating the fruits of all that is a full time job.  I'm ever amazed at the work that goes into feeding my little family unit, it's a tremendous physical and emotional endeavor.  This is the first year I set about to put up so much food that we produced from our own hands, the sweat on our own backs and the brows.  And it's given me an interesting view of life.  One, that despite the work it takes, I want to keep doing it.  There are days when I'm kinda done with it, feel like I really don't feel like processing one more canner full of tomatoes.  But on those days, I remind myself how great it will taste in the dead of winter when we're not growing things.  And all the work I put in now is the short cut to winter meals ahead. 
And yes, like 98% of the American people,  I could just go to the store and buy it.  Seems like an awful lot of work for something that I could get at the store for $20 or so.  That's about what today's pumpkins that I processed would cost me in prepared cans right off the shelf.  But, see, there's a very important element missing in that purchase.  The authenticity of it.  I know where every stitch of this food has come from, where it started, how it developed and I've lovingly tended it and processed it and will feed it with that dedication to my loved ones.  People who live like I do, and I'm thankful to call some of them friends, understand wholly what I mean by that.  Yes, I do it because it's organic this way and I do believe that it's healthier for the planet to not have the pesticides inflicted on every other living thing just so we can grow apples without spots.  I also do it to save money, because in the end, I do save some money, though not that significant an amount.  I do it to save the environment from trucking all those perishable ingredients on average 1,500 miles to get to our plates.  I do it for all these reasons, but I do believe that the main reason I do it is because it feels authentic to me.  In fact, I don't think it can get a whole lot more authentic then this.
I find it interesting when others come to my home, see the shelves of very hard earned food accumulating for the winter and say, "Wow, look at all those pickles!  Can I have a jar?".  I have often given them a jar because they ask me, and I believe in generosity, but I also wonder do they have any concept of what I just gave them?  They aren't just pickles.  They represent hours and hours of my labor lovingly put in a jar.  It isn't like buying those off the shelf at Walmart where they are mass produced without love or care.  My fingers touched every slice of those pickles, sterilized every jar, in fact grew them in my own soil.  Yes, they are authentic indeed.
We have chickens that we care for so we can have their eggs.  I take pride in having them well cared for and happy (now, if they would just stop pecking each other's feathers out, we'd be all set!). I sew and knit things I could easily buy as well, sometimes so much cheaper then I can make them.  But when I see the hat on my husband's head that I spent hours not only figuring out how to knit, but then actually knitting, it makes me feel as if I'm taking good care of him, his heart and soul. 
I thank all the women before me that sacrificed so much to make careers possible for women in our country, I truly do.  I'm so very thankful to have a choice in that matter...or do I?  But I also know that I do actually like the domestic life, I enjoy seeing my husband and children well fed, well clothed and cared for.  Since stopping working, I'm enjoying it a lot again. I was out of work for 6 years after Maestro was born, then went back for 3 1/2.  I worked since I was 12 years old before his birth, so I know what the difference is and I've lived both sides of that equation.  Working to earn money to pay other people to do what I could do myself, but need to earn the money to pay for seems wholly unauthentic to me.  And in part ridiculous. 
The reality makes me sad, that there does not seem to be a place in our world for a woman like me any longer.  We made great strides in the last 100 years for women, but drove one like me back to the work place to pay others to do what I want to be doing at home. 
Now, we're just expected to do it all.
Authentically yours, ~Peacemom

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Today's Harvest

As I was up long before the sun this morning, I was able to see the beautiful blue moon setting as the sun was rising.  Very cool indeed.  I was in the garden long before the sun hit it and did a lot of harvesting.  I then took my chair and sat in the shade and watched the birds play in the field behind our little farm.  As I sat in the chair, still as a churchmouse (what is a churchmouse and why is he so still anyway?), I saw trotting up through the hay a large coy dog.  This was not the same one I saw previously as this one had more of a gray-brown coat.  The other had a reddish brown coat.  More then one, not boding well for us or them.  YIKES!  He was about 25 yards from me and hadn't noticed me when I stood up suddenly and shouted, GIT! at him and clapped my hands loudly.  He pulled up abruptly and turned tail and ran, just as I would expect him to do.  Good that he's at least displaying appropriate fear of humans.  I was trying to sound like a shot when I clapped my hands, which to my ear, I accomplished.  Next time, I'll sit there with my son's pellet gun and give him something to ponder before we actually need to take him out.  Coy dogs do serve an important function in the wild and it would pain me to have to kill one, but he was headed straight for my chicken coop without bothering with the benefit of cover, so he's brazen.  And I have my kids to worry about.  I was sitting in their baseball field when I saw him, so they are up there playing often.

In my harvest today, I managed to get 33 cucumbers (pictured above) and they just keep on coming!!  I've never had such prolific cukes or tomatoes as this year, and I hear that we aren't the only ones.

I also got a fair number of tomatoes again, and our first real harvest of green beans.  They are not doing as well as the waxed beans, I think because they didn't have enough trellis to climb on, causing it to be much harder for the bees to get to their flowers to pollinate.  But the ones we get are delicious!

I also managed to pick 5 of these huge orange and yellow beauties!  Can you see by the ruler, they are 5" across!  Delicious!  I made a batch of salsa with some others on Thursday and it's so pretty with the different colors, very festive looking.  They are sweet and totally amazing!
I also managed to make a tomato sandwich for lunch...those of you that love them as much as I do will enjoy this picture.  To me, the garden just doesn't get any better then this!
Little salt...little pepper...little mayo...bit of heaven!

Wishing you your own harvest goodness, ~Peacemom