Monday, 28 December 2015

It all must go on

As is customary at this time of year we've been reflecting on the last 12 months.  High times and low times... we've felt them all in 2015!   We're making plans and crafting changes for the coming year in every possible way with one caveat - it could all change in a moment.   Turns out that an out of province move that we have zero control over when it happens translates into a bizarre, suspended reality.   It's little tough to take at times but lessons for the children must go on, wholesome meals must be made, the laundry must be done and our home must be cared for.  The multitude of daily tasks don't stop just because we are waiting on a move oh no.      

At this time of year, I should be planning my garden and ordering seed to fill gaps in my stash, but with no move date and a long list of soil building and water harvesting activities to do first (at the new house), it's utterly pointless.  All my usual seasonal planning activities aren't happening which has me spinning like a compass on the Bermuda Triangle.   In place of those activities, I'm now planning a second semester of home schooling because we thought we'd have relocated by now and the kids would be settled in school.  

With all the "not knowing" floating around our home, Solstice was a milestone we could count on with certainty.   I in particular, clung to the date as if it were a life ring.   Knowing that our days are now lengthening somehow gives me strength to face the continuing uncertainty.   I'm thankful for this gift...

Speaking of gifts, after much consideration we decided to adopt a kitten.  We've had enough time to heal from losing our youngest feline and we were ready to love another little one.   Meet "Elsa".  She's already proven that she'll be an excellent mouser and our older cat is thriving with a new playmate in the house.  Elsa is a wonderfully happy distraction from all the uncertainty and is a playful tonic for us all.  

In spite of all the uncertainty, we have much to be thankful for.  Each other, our health, an opportunity to grow and change in the coming year and the freedom to do so.  None of those things is small and insignificant - each one is huge and wonderful.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

The Christmas Turkey

 Over the last few years we've completely changed how we eat.  We grow a great deal of our own food now and we source the rest locally.   This is a far cry from years ago when everything we ate came from the grocery store without a thought about where it was from, how it was produced or what was in it.   

Our friends farm organic grains a few miles from us and each year they raise a small amount of meat (a few pigs, chickens and turkeys).  We were fortunate enough to be offered a Christmas turkey from their farm and today was butchering day.

I've wanted to learn how to butcher a bird for some time but all the YouTube videos and books in the world just can't take the place of learning from someone who has experience.  I have no living relatives to teach me this skill so I jumped at the chance to learn how to humanely dispatch a bird and prepare it for the table. 

The scalding pot sprung a leak but in the end it was for the best because we ended up dry plucking (which was much easier than anticipated).  I felt just how much easier it is to pluck when you get the angle right.  You just can't learn that from a book, you have to be shown and you have to feel it.   The gutting was quick and I was quite surprised how uncomplicated it all was (and that I could do it with ease).   The entire process was much faster than I expected which really surprised me.  I had it made out in my mind that it would be a much more complex and long winded affair.

In the end, I left the farm with our turkey and a huge sense of accomplishment.  I've been pondering the feeling all afternoon and I think it can be summed up as a sense of satisfied connection.  There's a certain level of detachment when we buy meat butchered and wrapped.  Even though we know the farmers we buy from (and most importantly, know their farming practices), we are not truly involved in the process of "putting meat on the table" when we buy food in this way.  

I'm not saying that everyone needs to butcher all their own meat, but I do think that if we choose to eat meat, we should be a whole lot more involved in the process of how that meat gets to the table.  After today's experience, I feel deeply committed to involving ourselves much more intimately in the process of putting meat on our family table.  There's nothing quite like the act of butchering an animal to put it all so clearly into perspective.  With that in mind, we'll enjoy our traditional Christmas meal with a great appreciation for the life that was taken in order for us to eat it.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Let the festivities begin

We've been busy merrymaking here and are packaging up homemade gifts of all kinds.  Honey from our hives, soap, herb vinegars, Worcestershire sauce and vanilla that's been aging for a few years (and tastes divine!).   This sweet little snowman (with homemade hot chocolate fixings) is my daughter's creation and is a gift for her best friend.  Isn't he sweet?   So simple and very reusable as canning jars can be repurposed for absolutely anything.  A scarf cut from wool felt would eliminate the ribbon quite nicely but I'm out (must order more!).

Reducing waste at Christmas is a huge issue in our home.  We are trying to get away from excess packaging and disposable wrapping, instead focussing on materials easily recycled or repurposed.  Fabric bags, cut yardage, brown paper, canning jars and wicker baskets all work well to festively wrap gifts without creating waste but I'm looking for more ideas, so please share :)