Sunday, April 26, 2020

How could I lose an entire month .........

So much for posting every two weeks!  But then it's Spring and there is so much happening, the push is on!  Sometimes........ been kind of hit and miss in the weather department.

We are now deep into quarantine here at happy acres and I'm still pretty happy about being sequestered with a dog, 6 chickens and a husband who still goes to his "essential" job every Monday morning (grateful & terrified).  Last week I looked in the mirror and scared myself, thank god the dog is blind or he would have runaway and I don't look much better than the molting baby chicks.  Last week around 2 pm I came in to make coffee and brushed the hair back from ear.  Realized something was in my ear, like a giant spider or something.  I jumped up and down in a panic and an earbud cushion fell on the floor, terrified and grateful, (this seems to be the theme of the month).  I now fall asleep listening to an audiobook for 30 minutes each night to shut my brain down.  And that is how quarantine is going.

My days are gobbled up with food prep and a wee bit of storage but not too much.

It's starting to hit home that I am without income.  The garden has become a job and I can't make stuff grow any faster.  The minute I can start harvesting lettuce, kale and spinach will the minute I can stop going to the grocery store!  We had an above normal temperatures in early Spring then we hit a the cold snap and everything just stopped growing.  Stuff that was up and had a few leaves wondered why it had emerged at all.   Time to do other things.....

canned 16 pints of bean soup

haven't bought bread in a year......

made granola, haven't made it in years

I also have a bit of rant only because I am now without income and squeezing every damn penny out of my food budget I can manage.  And if someone can please help me with my mind muddled-ness on this please enlighten me.  I know big agriculture is subsidized, I really do know so many of the issues and what it takes to feed the planet.  I know this is part of the great transition I guess I am choosing not play this part of the game.  My major in college in the 70's was agriculture, I get it! 


During this time I decided to spend my money locally.  See this little pile of meat?  Two ham hocks, a slice of ham and a small ribeye steak, bone in (took Butch on the meat pick up) and 3 smokies (meat sticks). Total paid $86. WTF  I started putting stuff back, except the ham hocks, I was canning up bean soup.  Yes, it's grass fed, yes it's a happy pig or cow but beans are looking mighty tasty right about now.  I asked the farmer how her business was fairing.  GREAT!  We are so busy we had to hire someone to help out.  And true of the other "meat" farmer one town over.  Who pays $22 or $40  a pound for a piece of meat?  Seriously, you're just gonna flush it way tomorrow anyway.   And then my brain went to the "haves and have nots" in this country and then there was me who is just pissed off!  What have we done to farming? 

Butch and I drove home talking about this issue for 45 minutes and said somebody else was just going to need to support our local farmers and we were digging in to find other protein sources.  
Oh and he cooked his steak last night and wasn't that happy with it, lots of fat but tasty but with the bone and fat not very much meat.  This goes back to the $100 mug dilemma..... or WTF is going on and have we lost our minds? 

Last week I had to go back to school and close up the ceramics lab for the year.  I pulled onto campus and was struck by the silence.  All the kids were gone, only the secretary and head maintenance guy were there.  Robin was sweeping the porch and Adam was cleaning out the shop.  The goats, chickens and horses had all been sold off, barns shuttered.  No one knew if school would resume in the Fall as we have so many international students.  It was gut punch.  I gathered my tools and molds, shrouded the new kiln in a plastic tarp and said my farewells, knowing there is good chance I will not be back.

Decided to drive home the back roads.  We live in Amish country and they seem clueless to the pandemic, the buggies were flying into town, everything was open and I had to wonder; how long until it hits here because it will hit.  Dave, an amish butcher, who also raps to beat music, was open; I stopped in to see what he had and check out prices. This pile of food was $34. 
Goat cheese (several kinds), bacon, pork chops, smokies, italian sausage, and bacon ends for bean recipes, eggs ($2 a doz.) and I can see the chickens.  The pigs live down the road in an open pasture. 

and look at this bacon! 

and the eggs! 

I also stopped at the bulk food place tucked on a back road.  Again same story.  Yes, there are loads of white stuff and a wall of candy but you can sift your way through and find what suits your needs!  We are all at different place on the food spectrum so find what fits your special diet or needs. 

These places are an hour from my driveway and once a month it's worth the drive.  I can call ahead and they have the order ready when I get there, they can even load it.  They do not take credit cards and I am OK with that.  
I also discovered a produce auction.  Once the season starts rolling I can go down and bid on a pallet of tomatoes or whatever.  I am not sure even an Amish family needs a pallet of cabbage but I would love to find another family or two to split a pallet of tomatoes, corn, green beans etc.  Sometimes the pallets have a mix of vegetables and fruits too.  

I found a self serve maple syrup stand.  Put your money in a small cash box bolted to the floor of the road side stand and take what you need.  Yup, I bought a half gallon of maple syrup for $25. 

I can't seem to pass a seed stand without buying a couple packs of seeds.  I read about the seed company shortages and wondered if one could ever have enough seeds? 

We are forging ahead in these days and we are finding new ways to live and survive.  
Making new friends too.
Kirby is really trying to make friends but those chickens are not having it! 

The studio is now the chicken nursery and seed starting bench.   Booth lights work great as grow lights. 

As for throwing pots and filling shelves?  I managed to squeak out 14 mugs last week.  I still have boxes of inventory.  I am not sure what the future holds.  I look at the work stashed in an upstairs bedroom and wonder if it will be slated for the landfill.  I for one am seeing much prettier things outside at the moment and very unmotivated to make anything in the studio.  It might change but for now I am content to grow things and sit in the dirt watching for signs of life. 

Blowing the dust off my foraging skills too.  Not quite Ina Garten of the foraging world but not too bad. :) 

Wild garlic pesto, sautèed hosta shoots and polenta. Butch had no idea what he was eating and said it was good.  I told him it was foraged and he said he'd let me know if he was still breathing in an hour.  Insert eye roll from the cook and chief forager.  

So what am I learning?  Get up every day and get busy.  Oh and people are getting testy.  Ok I get it, we have been cooped up a bit longer than normal.  What is right for me might not be right for you.  Good grief if I post something, simply amend anything to fit your lifestyle or delete me.  I like doing my morning live facebook check in and I love the people who check in!  I've gotten some pretty interesting messages in the last month and I just figure something I said or did hit one of their magic WTF buttons; not my problem, carry on.  I do the best I can.  I like my garden to look like a garden and not a farm or forest, I like my basement to look like an an old cellar with it's dirt floor. I do it because I CAN (get it? LOL) 

  I am now looking at my life as one big game show.  Can I find it, do I need it, how much is it, can I grow it, can I preserve it and toilet paper is the bonus round!  I still don't get the toilet paper.......  these small wins make me wildly happy.  I am excited to be in this age of transition.  I don't think the way we were going was sustainable to the planet or mankind.  I don't think this will be the last transition either.  How much money can the government print?  Is it even worth anything.  And even worse, the debt is left to the next generation, if there is a next generation.  I have friends who are rocking this thing and friends who are on the floor in fetal position. You call to check in and sometimes it's the best phone call ever and sometime I hang up crying as it's not the person I have known.   When history looks back on this thing called Covid 19,  I think it will look at how we went into this and more important, how came out of it.  What will be left behind.  

Be kind, be safe and be well......  learn new stuff, you have time :)