Life in August

My absence here has been largely an issue that stems from the lack of internet in my house. I hadn’t mentioned it here before, mostly because I don’t have a lot to say about it just yet. It was a decision that Jeff and I made when they were putting in our electric, since that’s generally the time they run cable too. We determined that we didn’t mind the idea of going without internet on our farm, and that actually we’d like the challenge of not having it tugging our attention out of what’s in front of us there. We liked the idea of focusing on the physical space, just in this one spot. Plus, it’s not like we don’t have internet wherever we go- we still have our smart phones, so things like emails and quick internet searches are still very much a part of our lives. Anyway, I had planned to do a whole essay about life without the internet, but not today. I bring it up, though, to say that despite my feeling that people are largely overreacting to the idea of us living without it (I mean, really, it’s not that crazy… what the heck did we all do before the turn of the century?! C’mon, we’re just fine. It’s like living in the 90’s!), it’s not without its challenges. I think I’ve really seen how much the train of human consciousness is headed in that direction, for better or worse, and even if I want to opt out I really can’t do that fully without some consequences. So mostly, I just have to come up with systems and ways to get that time in. I like sitting peacefully in the library/coffee shop and writing, I just haven’t figured out where that fits yet. I’ll get there. 

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The past month has gone so fast. So much has happened and yet it’s felt like a blip in time. We managed to go on a small vacation with family and visit Lake Huron. The summer doesn’t feel complete to me unless we take one good trip to that lake specifically. We hung out with my parents in a cabin and rested. It was very needed. And then we came back into it all. The things that have happened over the past 6 weeks that I wanted to mention here are as follows:

  • On the evening of August 16th, Maya passed away. It was a peaceful passing, and one that she chose. I’m grateful to her for so much. She was one of my dearest friends, one with whom I’d spent the better part of 11 years with. I feel a very visceral space that’s left in my heart and home that she had filled with her sweet easy energy. I curl up on the couch and look down at the nook my legs create that was her favorite snuggle spot, with her head resting on my knees. I can tell that I’ll miss her forever, I’ll just have to get used to it. The past week has been filled with waves of this grief for me, even though I know it was okay for her to leave us in this way. I’m trying to feel it all, and I know that my sadness is just evidence of our good love, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Below is the last picture I took of her, a few weeks ago at the creek. Oh, my Maya pup. <3

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I don’t want to forget to mention how amazing everyone has been about her death. So many people “get it” and have been really loving about it all. Flynn is oblivious and crazy-making, which has caught me off guard with feelings of resentment towards him this past week. He’s just such a puppy. I’ve made a point to look him in his sweet golden eyes and tell him that it’s not his fault, I’m just sad and I do love him.

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We buried her that night under that red cedar tree we saved during the house build. The next day I was torn up, but I managed to make her a couple bricks to lay on her grave. I asked Jeff to build a simple bench to place at her grave, and of course he made a beautiful one in like an hour. Love that guy.

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The chickens perch up on the bench in the morning. I feel like Maya would like that- chicken poop and all.  🙂

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  • We butchered our first duck. We have an unfortunately high drake to hen ratio- so high that we definitely have to harvest the males. Out of our 16 ducklings, 12 turned out to be male. Ratios like that will cause a lot of dysfunctional behavior like fighting between drakes and mating stress on the hens that can get unmanageable. So, we’ve determined that we will keep 2 drakes, maybe 3, and all 4 hens. One day I noticed that one duck in particular was relentlessly violent with another. I tried to just reserve judgement for the day, but by the following day I felt like that one duck either had to go or the one he was picking on would. So we rolled up our sleeves and got to it.

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During the event the kids were in various stages of intrigue (Eli and Asa) and grief (Vera), but all wanted to be present for the event. Pictured below is a very serious Jeff talking to the kids about what’s about to happen.

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It’s never easy for us, but I’m glad we’ve made a point to do it. Eating meat and taking part in the whole process is a part of our life. I feel very grateful for the opportunity to be this connected to this element of life. I think about all the work and unpleasantness that comes with that connection, but I just can’t see any other path for me. Further in we go, because it just feels right.

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2.62# after processing, but we butchered this one a bit earlier than we’d planned. They’ll be a good size! I roasted it simply and we made it into tacos to stretch the one bird.

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It was completely and utterly delicious. My favorite bites were the ones I issued us all right out of the oven. I do think next time I’d prefer to eat it outside of a taco, since its flavor got a bit lost. But the tacos were great too.

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I stretched it into yet another meal when I used the rest for a simple poutine.

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I continue to be enlivened by food, and I think I realized that feeling out that side of me- the “creative cook” side- is important to my personal well-being. It’s a perfect blend of creativity, service, relevancy, and just plain sensory satisfaction… you know, just working with my hands and tasting and feeling hungry and then fed… I just dig it. It’s part of me. I very much believe that this practice with food, for me, is a very spiritual connected dance and I need it. I’m leaning in.

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I realized I have gone through periods of being too busy and sacrificing elements of it, and to my detriment. I’m getting back into it in the way that feeds me (pun intended), and I’m already feeling better. I made lacto-fermented veggies, started brewing kombucha again. I canned corn with some friends, and we were like old pros. This week I’m making yogurt and starting a sourdough culture.

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Fermented veggies: tomato corn relish, carrots with fennel, radish/turnip/kolrahbi

I’m in love with these things. It’s art to life and life to art.

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I’m tapping back into the easy simple way I like to cook (aka “food pile”), and it’s delivering. Below is a quick meal made by steaming cauliflower with ham and garlic and beet greens, finished with salt, pepper, cream, parmesan, and a smidge of hot sauce. Topped with micros.

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One of my favorite meals. Sourdough toast, pimento cheese, thick slice of heirloom tomato, duck egg, micros.

If you’re ever “too late” to plant something, I say just plant it anyway and smile. Two of my favorite quotes come to mind: “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly”, and “Anything you do is 100% more than not at all.” Cheesy, but helpful to me. My tomatoes are finally coming on, a mere 6ish weeks “late” due to recovering from a crazy year, poor planning, terrible weather, weeds, and lack of water. Gratitude for the juicy fruit that makes me swoon every summer. <3

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  • Chickens. Oh my. They delight and frustrate me. They relentlessly break into my greenhouse, no matter how “chicken-proof” I think I’ve made it. They find their way into the basement when Asa leaves the door open a crack and they poop all over. They’ve been causing me a fair amount of microgreen loss and I’ve had to cancel markets recently. Which is why we’ll be building a chicken run for them in the rain tonight. I can’t take any more! But I love them. I really do!

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Our two roosters fascinate me. Pictured above, “Fred” is on the right, and “Rogers” on the left. Rogers is very special. I watch him crow and call the hens. He even scolds them when they get into something… it’s nothing I’ve seen before. They have a pretty serious language that I’m only just getting acquainted with. I regularly see him in the yard, just doing his roostery thing, and I can’t help but tell him how glorious he is. I seriously say that. “Rogers, you’re glorious.”

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They aren’t even 5 months, so a few weeks ago we were surprised to find a clutch of eggs under a wheelbarrow. We hadn’t finished their roost boxes so they had just found a spot and started laying! 

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We’re already getting at least half a dozen eggs a day from our 11 hens. They are small (because the chickens themselves are still small), but they are *delicious* and the yolks are bright orange and super healthy looking. So happy to have chickens again. <3

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  • I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but I think it’s just a thing I need to revisit from time to time. This land? So wonderful. There are a million details I’ve yet to notice, I’m sure, but what I have noticed is so refreshing. Pictured below are wild gooseberries that Milton found.

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It’s bright and green everywhere, and it smells good. Like earth and greens. It’s always slightly floral but in different ways as the days pass.

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I had an incredible encounter with a tree frog who hung out on my hand for a while. Those who know me well know that I instantly took this as a good omen. 

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I put her gently in a tree and she obliged while I took her picture for a few minutes.

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It’s just all this stuff that happens in these woods (this aliveness that just isn’t present in the city) that makes me pause and say “Oh, hello!” 

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  • Farm-wise, things are stable. I’m gearing up to build a better greenhouse for the microgreens, build the garden for next year so I can get back into more reliable veggie production, etc. It’s all happening, one thing at a time. But one thing we are pretty excited about is the inclusion of our infused vinegars. We’re making them with a variety of local and/or foraged things, and they are really nice and interesting and *shelf stable*, which is something I don’t have with the microgreens and will really appreciate with these. Anyway, we tested a few at market and it went very well, so we are expanding our production and moving forward on this! 

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  • My beautiful children. Asa turned 6 on July 24th, and he’s delightful. I’m loving spending the summer with them. We read, we play, we work, we snuggle. 

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They are always surprising me with their creativity and energy. Below is Vera, making “cupcakes” with some drywall mud leftover from our house projects. 

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They also have been doing this adorable thing they call “Our Daily Snake”. Essentially, they hide this stuffed red snake somewhere in the house, and then Jeff and I find it at some point during the day. Repeat. “Mama, have you found ‘Our Daily Snake’ yet?” It’s adorable and I hope they never stop.

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Gracie
Gracie

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Comments (2)

  1. Aunt Lindsay

    I believe your heart is warmer than most. You do you so well, so perfectly, that happy follows you like a constant rainbow. Hugs and repetitive kisses to all of you. So enjoyed the update.

    Reply
  2. Eleanor

    Just love your blog so much x

    Reply

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