I was chatting with a friend the other day about the price of food and the busyness of canning season. She confessed that she has been wasting a lot of money on take-out food as she has kids in several sports and spends a lot of time on the road. She said that, while she applauded my dedication to food preservation she could not see herself as ever having the time. That’s so interesting to me because I see food preservation as the biggest time and money saver in my life. Continue reading
When you raise your own animals for meat you develop a special relationship. We provide the best forage and food, abundant fresh water, shelter from the elements and respect. We know the butcher and participate in the processing of the meat and we use every bit of the animal possible. What doesn’t feed people feeds other animals or our soil. We use everything but the squeal. Continue reading
The snow lies deep in the back pasture. The wind whines sharply between the branches of the pine trees and the days remain painfully short. But still, something is happening. I can see it in the changed slant of sun’s rays at 4:00. The chicks I hatched last spring are laying pullet eggs and the year-old Buff Orpingtons are gifting us with huge, double yolkers. Wood piles are shrinking and there is tubing snaking through the maple bush waiting for the first run of sap that will be boiled into syrup.
This is a busy time of year for us, outdone only by harvest but a lot of this work is done in the dreaming. What should I plant and when and where? I will confess that I am always too early. My impatience for something crisp and green outweighs my good sense.
I read recently that, in spite of a plethora of “time-saving” appliances and gadgets, we actually spend more time on household chores than people did 100 years ago. Vacuum cleaners are certainly easier than beating carpets but a century ago, carpets were only cleaned once a year rather than every day. Families had far fewer dishes and washed up after every meal. Now we have dishwashers but we have so many dishes, pots and pans and we snack so much that running a full load twice a day is not unusual in large families. By the time you scrape, rinse, load, and unload, it may take less time to just wash your dishes by hand. Continue reading
We had a crazy weekend recently. My nephew and his bandmates are in the midst of a US tour and, as they were performing locally, they all spent two days with us at Barefoot Farm. These 20-something kids (or young adults) used to bright lights and big cities were plopped right down in the middle of a New England village, a place without a traffic light and where the sidewalks are rolled up by 9 pm. What would their reactions be? Continue reading
The days are still warm but the nights hold a chill, just a hint that fall is around the corner.
In the heat of summer, breakfast is often just fruit and yogurt or a cool smoothie. But fall calls for more substantial fare. Kids are heading off to school and time is at a premium too, so having meals both quick and hearty is a boon to busy homemakers. Back when I was seeing 8 kids out the door each morning I got in the habit of preparing breakfast the night before. It’s become a habit that still makes good sense, even though I now have only one child at home. Continue reading
For a country family, preparedness is baked into the cake of living. Most of us already have a woodstove, a full pantry and perhaps even a well or creek in the back yard. Our power goes out on a pretty regular basis and those of us living way out are used to being the last ones brought back on line. For people in the city or even in the suburbs however, preparedness is something that takes more thought, especially as adverse weather events are no longer the exception but rather the norm. Continue reading
In 2007 we decided to grow more of our own food. We already had a large garden but we wanted fruit trees and berry bushes as well. There was only one drawback. We knew that trees would likely not bear fruit for a number of years. As I was in my late 50’s and Bruce already in his early 60’s, we wondered if the investment in time, energy and money was really going to be worth it. However, as we truly believe that the highest form of stewardship of the land is to plant trees we did it anyway. I turned 63 yesterday and had a blueberry cheesecake topped with the berries we planted way back then. And for his 70th birthday, Bruce has requested peach cobbler made from our very own peaches. Continue reading
There are many lovely things about living in my small New England Village. For me, one of the loveliest is hosting the longest running agricultural fair in the country. It’s very much an old-fashioned fair. There is standing room only when the 4-H sheep and cows are judged. An antique car parade honors all the couples married more than 50 years. Hay is judged as are mountains of vegetables, shelves of jewel-toned canned fruits and piles of quilts. But the stiffest completion of all is the pie contest. Continue reading
We are drowning in zucchini. I find them hiding under leaves I would have sworn I checked the day before but here they sit, as big as baseball bats and crying out to be used. Some is sautéed with diced tomatoes and onions and served over rice or pasta. Some is gently steamed and served as a side dish. Still more is shredded and bagged in two cup measures to be turned into fall breads and winter pancakes. Still, I’m left with a lot of huge green squash.
The solution to this bonanza of squash for me is zucchini relish. It has much to recommend it. First and foremost, it uses a lot of zucchini. I make double batches and the recipe I use calls for 10 cups to start, so I can get rid of a lot of squash with Continue reading