Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Harvest Has Begun

Hello All!  A little update from Grace Note.  This is the haul from the garden today.  I will be harvesting my sweet onions pretty soon as well and my potato plants have begun the die off that will signal their readiness to harvest.  I've especially enjoyed the waxed beans and though I didn't get to plant many this year, they are abundant for what I do have and we've been enjoying them.  And, I managed to make a tomato convert out of Little Red.  That child doesn't like tomatoes, but when I told him to try one of the gold ones with the assurance that he would like them indeed, he scowled at me and reluctantly put it in his mouth.  His grimace turned to a smile and a pleasantly surprised "Hunh!".  He said, "Yah, those are okay".  Score one for Mom!  Nature's candy those little orbs, so sweet and juicy, there's no way you just can't love them.  I will for sure be doubling my efforts with those next year as they are great dried as well. 

One of the other things we discovered was zucchini chips.  Sliced thin with a little salt and dehydrated for a few hours and they are so yummy.  When you first put them in your mouth, well, you're just not sure.  Then the flavor grows on you quickly and you just can't stop eating them.  Not bad for a kid snack!  I'm glad we discovered them as the zucchini has been very abundant from the 4 plants I put in.  This year the garden is almost miniature compared to where I hope to have it next year, but we had to start somewhere with it and for what we did this year, we've gotten a nice crop so far.  We tried some sweet potatoes as well for the first time, and I'm anxious to see how they do.  I'm too nervous to pick any out yet, just want to wait and see what we get when the harvest is ready.

This past weekend, we also killed our meat chickens.  We left one egg layer that we weren't sure if it was a roo or not, and the day after we got them all processed, the little bugger started crowing.  He's a beautiful bird, but we just don't need another roo so he'll be joining his frozen brethren soon.  This was the first time we actually killed, plucked and eviscerated our own birds.  It was a difficult day for us and we did not enjoy any of the process.  Except when the freezer was full and we were all cleaned up and didn't have to fret over it any more.  Each bird's life that we took was as hard at the one before it.  Having to hold the chicken while it's life left it's body was a very hard task, knowing that you are the reason it lived and died.  Music Man did the actual killing while I held and it was a sick in the stomach feeling the whole time.  We did the roosters the first day and the hens the second. 

I will admit, I cried over the first hen.  For some reason, it hit me harder for the hens.  Maybe because I am female and I relate to them more, or maybe because we have pet laying hens and I could see them in these birds.  It was definitely a very solemn task for us.  I said a prayer of thanks over each bird, fully recognizing that their lives had ended so that we could eat.  Having been a vegetarian in my early 20's, that provided an even deeper understanding of what we were doing.  We are unsure of whether we will do this again next year.

It is hard to eat the meat and then not be willing to do the work to get it here in our little world.  We understand what horrible lives factory farmed chickens live and the terrible ways that they die.  It's really hard to reconcile that when you're eating the meat.  So, we gave that up years ago and had a local farmer and friend raising them for us.  That was acceptable, the meat was delicious, the chickens lived good lives and were humanely processed, but it still felt like a bit of a cop out somehow.  We do have a pig being raised by those same farmers this year, and we've discussed whether we will raise our own pigs next year.  This is also tough as they are very smart and social animals, so we would have to work hard not to bond to them.  We made a point of not bonding with the chickens and it was still difficult for us this year, so not sure about the pig.

Maestro is at the age where he is curious about a lot of things.  He wanted to be there with us helping out with the chickens, and he was a big help with the plucking process.  He helped Music Man eviscerate and me to pluck.  He was curious about how the chicken insides were put together and stretched them out and we examined the organs to see how they all fit together.  Morbid, maybe but it felt more like a science lesson then anything else.  Little Red, who is a big animal lover stayed on the outskirts of the scene, playing cars in the dirt and shooting us with Nerf gun darts.  He was not very happy with the whole idea of it, but understands that this is where chicken comes from.  And he likes to eat chicken, so he gets it.  He didn't want any part of it, though, and that's okay with us.  I was like him when I was 9 and couldn't have imagined being forced to take part in that.  So, we let him decide what level he was comfortable with and he did come closer from time to time to see what was happening, but on the whole remained a very distant observer.

So, we're producing food here.  That first roast chicken dinner was out of this world delicious. Next year will be on a bigger scale we hope and maybe even have a little to sell if we get the garden a bit bigger then it is now.  It's been a learning process for us as well and fulfilling in a way we've never experienced before.  We are truly learning the skills to become as self sufficient as possible.

That's about as fulfilling as life was meant to be, we believe.

Food harvesting with good faith,