Archive for September, 2012

It Takes A Village

They say it takes a village to raise a child.  Even with Baby M being only three months, I can see how this is true.

We’ve been traveling for the last couple of weeks, up to Alaska to go to my sister’s wedding.  Travel with a baby would be challenging enough, but trying to eat at restaurants while working around Baby M’s allergies was pure frustration.  We were not as successful as we hoped we would be, and there were several nights where M was back to inconsolable screaming and general misery.  Surrounded by family, however, there were always willing hands to pass him off to, so that we could take naps or just get a break.  We even got to eat entire meals, while they were still hot, using both hands, without interruption!  It was nice to have so much help.


We have such wonderful families and friends, and lots of support, but now we’re realizing how unfortunate it is that everyone is so spread out.  I wish we could gather everyone in one place nearby, but it’s just not going to happen.  Aah, well, at least we’re lucky enough to have such amazing people in our lives.


I will get back to regular posting once we’ve unpacked and gotten the house and barn back in order…

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I was recently accused, via a post on facebook, of Food Insanity.  Oh, the poster did not call it that, but I don’t think it’s a stretch.  This happened by way of a link to a blog post at Northwest Edible Life:  The Terrible Tragedy of the Healthy Eater.  While it’s a funny post, and parts of it hit rather close to home, I don’t think we’re quite that far gone yet.


I could try to argue that we’re saving money by growing our own, but any savings from the garden are more than offset by the price of the goats and chickens and their hay and grain.  Forget the $64 tomato; we’re somewhere in the range of the $140 pound of (fresh, artisan, organic) ricotta and the $20 (fresh, free-range, organic) egg.   I’m sure we could buy groceries, even organic ones, for less.


The truth is, we do this because we love it.  Hubby has never been happier with his ‘job’, and I am happy with my low-stress husband.  We get to play in the dirt, keep cool pets like goats and alpacas, and hang out in the sunshine without having our view spoiled by fences or neighbours.  Rather than going to the gym, we get our workouts digging in the garden, pruning trees, picking berries, hauling water, and pitching bales.  At the end of all of that, we actually have something to show for it, too, which is a nice benefit.  We are both happier, and more relaxed, since we moved to the country; this is a lifestyle that suits us well, and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that we got pregnant just six months after moving here, despite all the issues we’d had before.


For instance, a couple of days ago, we spent a lovely sunny afternoon picking chokecherries along a neighbour’s lane.   Last year, we picked mostly here at the acreage, but the storm in June took out quite a few of our chokecherry trees, and blocked our access to many more with fallen trees and debris.  The neighbours have tons of bushes that are easily accessible, and had no plans to pick them; we spent a relaxing couple of hours gathering a few gallons of berries.  They were happy to let us at them, for the promise of a pint or two of chokecherry syrup later, once it cools down enough to do the processing.


(This is where I wax poetic about homestead food.  You can’t get chokecherry syrup in the store, and I have never seen chokecherries for sale…)



Recipe:  Chokecherry Syrup


For this recipe, you need chokecherry juice.  If you are lucky like me and inherited a steam juicer, this is not a problem.  For the rest of the poor folks in the world, though, you have to do a little bit of extra work.  Boil the berries for a few minutes in just a little bit of water, and crush them up as best you can with a potato masher to release the juice.   Put the whole mess in a strainer lined with a couple layers of cheesecloth, positioned over a bowl or bucket to catch the juice, and let drain overnight.


For the syrup, mix 3 cups of chokecherry juice with 6 1/2 cups of sugar.  Bring to a boil stirring constantly.  Boil hard for one minute, then ladle into jars.  Process in a water bath for 20 minutes.


We serve warmed chokecherry syrup over pancakes.  It’s a great Saturday morning treat on a cold winter day!


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