Where Are You?

rhode island red

Monday morning I was working in the kitchen and happened to look out the side window to see one of my Rhode Island Reds watching me through the fence; her head was doing the bob almost as if she were trying to see if I was really in there. I can hear her now, “I think I see her but it’s hard to tell through that reflection”.

Laughing, I grabbed a coat and walked out the door. She and another hen took off towards the gate, slipping through a hole in the fencing (that hole is now blocked). It was as if they had been sent to retrieve me. These two hens ran to the others and then they ALL came running to me. I was mobbed by tiny dinosaurs! “Look I found her! I found her!” You can almost hear the two hens arguing over who gets the credit for bringing me out to the yard.

Examining the yard, I couldn’t figure out what they needed – had food, had scratch, had nibbles … then I checked their water and there it was; while fresh and unfrozen in the morning, a healthy crust of ice had formed over the top. I broke up the ice, stepped away and they all came in for a drink. Clucks of gratitude.

Silly little dinosaurs! ❤

In the quiet

We didnt see the sun today as the sky was blanketed in clouds pregnant with snow. The chickens didnt venture far from their coop and a heavy cold holds everything down.

The fine snow began a few hours ago and is predicted to fall all night. They say we will only get a few inches … we question their ability to prognosticate with any accuracy.

Days like today fill me with the desire to nest, cook, and read cards by the cook stove; looking into the stories that are our lives. Some say they’d rather not know what’s coming and there is a certain bliss that comes with that; what’s the saying, ignorance is bliss? I smile everytime.

I believe that our fate is not set and find truth in this quote from the Nicolas Cage movie Next; “Here’s the thing about the future. Every time you look at it, it changes — because you looked at it — and that changes everything else”. If you had the chance to change something about your life, would you?

The Season of Giving

Ashwood Farmhouse

The holidays bring a special kind of stress to families; here, we opt to make the season of giving as stress-free as possible.  I admit that this time of year, even now, instills a sense of… panic? desperation? Overcoming societies expectations of an appropriate Christmas is difficult.

In an attempt to make the holidays less stressful, our family has adopted the following criteria for gift giving:

  • can it be eaten?
  • can it be worn?
  • can it be put in the bank?

The first two are gifts from the heart; those that require thoughtfulness and planning.  Granted, my planning should have begun months ago. . . eh hem.  Money is always appreciated and ever helpful.

Here are some of the ideas I’ve come up with:

  • Natural body butter (cute labels here)
  • altoid tin sewing kit (doesn’t really fit the eaten or worn category, though will help you repair items to be worn).
  • hats/scarves/mittens/socks to keep one warm and toasty through the cold months.
  • cookies and mini loaves to nibble alongside mugs of hot chocolate.  Mmmm

I long for the celebrations that are more family and less stuff oriented.  My Mom and Aunt tell tales of receiving but one gift for Christmas; this one gift held the love and thoughtfulness of a year’s planning.  They also set out a shoe (not a stocking) into which Santa would leave gifts; one year they received coal!  LOL

Be The Change

Our inner and outer worlds reflect each other with every thought, word, and deed.  Sifting through prior drafts of this blog, I am reminded of who I was and the hopes and dreams of a me that has changed, reshaped by the events of the passing days.  It’s amazing how some change happens so silently that one is unaware of the shift until viewing the past.

Kombucha brewing stopped, I became less fastidious with making due (thinking that I needed to be more conventional), and even went so far as to give my hens away to another family.  This last part was the eye-opener.   Members in the community thought I was ill; the peach tree, a sentinel outside the coop, began to die, and all sorts of rodents tried to move in under the then-vacant coop (groundhogs and weasels).

This little venture into a more ‘conventional’ lifestyle was not wasted as this experience taught me how to mitigate skunk spray, how to drive a groundhog from its hole without harming it, and reminded me that my life is too connected to this land and to Spirit to live a more modern or conventional lifestyle.   Hens are back, kombucha is brewing, and making due back on the table.

Do not allow the world to change who you are; be the change you want to see in the world … or in your community …. or in your home.

Just Peachy

Brandied Peaches

We are at the end of peach season and I almost missed it!  Thankfully the orchard we go to for peaches, strawberries, etc. has sunday hours and we were able to snag a bushel.  From these golden orbs I was able to tuck away peach chutney and just flat out canned peaches. No jam cause the basement has plenty, at this point; when our daughters moved out, I lost the majority of my jam and jelly eaters.  And yes, I do mail them jars of jam.

This is one of my go-to recipes when peach season rolls around.  This is not a post about how to can as there are a ton of sites out there that cover that along with the Ball canning guide (booklet version).

Peach chutney.  I’ve had people ask what is a chutney and it is a spicy condiment, made of fruits or veggies and vinegar, spices, and sugar.  In India a chutney is used to help balance the doshas within a meal.  Personally, I eat chutney because the taste goes with EVERYTHING (imho), including french fries.  Husband isn’t a fan and that’s ok – means there is more for me.

This recipe comes from Allrecipes.com <– this is to the recipe itself.  In case you don’t want to wander, I’ve spelled it out below including some of my own commentary.

Spicy Peach Chutney

 Ingredients

  • 4 lbs sliced peeled peaches
  • 1 cup raisins (it doesn’t matter golden or regular, the chutney is dark when done)
  • 2 cloves garlic, mined
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 5 oz chopped preserved ginger
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp mustard seed
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup pickling spice

Method

  1. Place pickling spice in a cheesecloth bag and add, along with all the remaining ingredients, to a large heavy pot.  Stir to combine.  Here, I have a large tea ball and used as much of the 1/4 pickling spice as I could fit into the tea ball.  It all didn’t fit and the chutney is still super yummy!
  2. Bring to a gentle boil and cook over medium heat, uncovered, until the mixture reaches your desired consistency.  It’ll take about 1 1/2 hours to reach a thick sauce. Stir often to prevent scorching on the bottom.  You know your stove and pots so use accordingly.
  3. Remove the spice bag/ball and ladle into hot sterilized jars.  Here the directions get a little vague.  I filled my jars to within 1/2″ of the rim, sealed with lids and rings and processed in a hot water canner for 10 minutes (that part was in the original directions); be sure the jar tops are completely covered by the water.  You can always check with your local extension office for your area to be sure of the time.  This is what works for me.

As the days grow shorter, this is a wonderful reminder of summer, along with the canned peaches (medium syrup) and brandy peaches.  Makes me happy to think about them.  Let me know if you are interested in the other recipes.