September 30, 2011

musings on the system

Right now I've got a chicken on the stove. I'm waiting for it to pressurize so I can turn the heat down to prevent the lid from exploding. Not that I've done it before, but that would be something I'd do. Jamie says I burn things too much... There's that need for instant satisfaction poking through...

In the car today, I was thinking about how I've been molded since birth, mainly about my role as a consumer. As a living being, of course I can't escape "consuming," but I can try to escape being a consumer. I don't have to be a person locked into a pre-designed, corrupted, morally-flawed system of wants and desires.

Yeah, there are some benefits that capitalism has provided me (and you)... elastic, magnets, antibiotics, cheesy poofs, sewing machine needles, vanilla extract... Here's a fun question: If you could pick your top ten favorite things that without the system would be terribly difficult to acquire, what would they be? Try it. It's not that you even use those things constantly, just that without being able to buy them at some store, you'd run into problems that otherwise could be easily solved- with money. (Ha, such an understatement!)

Take Nic's visit from the vet- without antibiotics, syringes, and iodine, that poor lamb would have suffered greatly and may even have died. Or here's another example- say it's just one of those nights when you crave butter brickle ice cream. You could obviously live without it, but your tastebuds were nursed on Cinnamon Toast Crunch, pre-packaged American cheese slices, Gushers, and fountain soda concoctions. (Joey, do you remember Sprite-Coke-Rootbeer? You're cringing now, I bet, but back then our little consumer-brains were rigged to go nuts and whine until we got some!)

Even though I can say I make health conscious decisions and buy primarily local, healthy food, I still get flashbacks at times... sudden cravings for homemade rice crispy treats or "cheese"-filled hot dogs. Oh, and Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese? Don't even get me started. The mind of the child-consumer is the most valuable. You're nurtured to find a brand and stick with it, befriend it, protect it, glutton it. In turn it haunts you for life, even if you've shunned it years ago.

I sometimes wonder whether or not my children and my children's children will ever be totally free from these constraints. If I raise them in a less material-reliant manner than I was, if I don't allow them to be hooked on rainbow-colored cereal and the nectar of corn syrup, will there be less that they're addicted to? Of course I'll probably slip up and introduce them to the hot, marshmallowy goodness of rice crispies because, lord knows, my cravings will never completely go away. But undoubtedly they will be hooked on less than I am, right? Or is this all idealistic? (Partly it is... I just finished reading Island by Aldous Huxley!) 

Still, my favorite ideals are the idealistic ones! My favorite people tend to be bold! I was talking to some farmers about diving headfirst into this lifestyle. There's not much of a chance for hesitation. Suddenly you're a sheep farmer and you wake up with manure under your nails and your future uncertain. The thing is, it was always uncertain- to you. One day it just dawns on you, it smacks you straight in the face like a sack of bricks, that you are this particular person, doing these particular things that you want  to do and it all makes sense and is baffling at once since you can't quite remember how you got there. But you exist right now, and you're trying at life and maybe it won't save humanity, but every soul and impression of the heart is everlasting, so what the heck? Why not?

Dinner's ready. House (and lid) structurally intact. Chicken unburned.
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September 29, 2011

the equinox

We had many good friends over this weekend for a good ol' fashioned farm party. We wanted to celebrate the autumn equinox and, of course, food played a huge role in doing that. We feasted on:

apple-peach pie
butternut squash
garlic roasted green beans
purple cabbage
tumeric rice
flapjacks with wineberries
scrambled eggs (of course)
pumpkin-cornmeal bread
almond cake
honey pretzels
spinach salad 
spaghetti squash
chicken drumsticks with peach chutney
Mabon apples (stuffed with raisins and walnuts)

I'm so thankful that we have such an abundance of food in our pantry. Sometimes it feels like we don't, but that's only because everything we have to eat requires lots of preparation and actual cooking. (Whoa! Who'dathunk that food requires making?!) 
This was such a beautiful weekend. Brice and Rowan made candles, Jamie and I did some beekeeping (more on that later), Regina kept herself busy baking delicious sweets... Rowan kept us entertained by his witty four-year-old remarks. Just before he left he got all nervous and wanted to ask Jamie a question. He faltered for about two minutes before he finally spurted out, "can I jump from one of your couches to the next?" Uhhh... yeah?! That's what craigslist couches are for! So he jumped back and forth for about 30 minutes straight, squealing the whole time. Children are ridiculous.
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September 27, 2011

one bouquet

I have a little fantasy of growing an abundance of sweet-smelling flowers and beginning a very care-free florist's business. (No weddings, except for friends...) This fall bouquet was gathered on the way back from the beehives, and is made entirely of wild flowers. Even the grasses look pretty mixed in. Have you spotted the chrysalis yet? And how about those pink-centered daisy-like flowers? They're so sweet! I can't wait to see this land through the seasons. Spring is bound to be incredible.
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September 25, 2011


 Met a real farmer the other day... the kind that has to work a day job just to make ends meet. His name was Willie and this is his land. It's been in his stepfather's family for many, many years. He still helps out even though he's in his 80's. Willie has four steer, four goats, and 60 acres of hay. He helped me pick out a good variety for our sheep since I had no clue what kind to get. We chose the one that smelled sweet. I think it was mainly timothy with a tiny bit of alfalfa (maybe) mixed in.

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September 23, 2011


To distract myself from the reality of being covered in dust, sheep crap, iodine, and lanolin... and to forget about the bales of hay in the back of the truck... I drove to the library to return some books and catch up on some interwebbing.

ps. There's a romance brewing between Mini Jen and Bill Murray. It's true luuurve I think. ;)
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September 22, 2011

a circle

Do you remember those baby chicks we hatched this spring? Well, they're pretty much full grown now, and many of them turned out to be roosters. We decided to say goodbye to Ol' Blue, our mature (evil, roostery rooster) at home and replace him with one at the school that the children named Rainbow. He's a beautiful guy... greens, coppers, blues, and reds adorn his feathers. 

Ol' Blue turned out to be a delicious dinner and we still have plenty of stock and soup left over. I saved the bones after making a light soup and will add them to a more hearty one this winter. 

We also butchered seven more birds and added eight hens to our flock. Our neighbor Harold was getting desperate with so many chickens in his backyard coop and decided to give them to us. We'll give you some chicken the next time we see you, Harold. They're tasty.

The process of murdering a living creature is difficult to describe. We spent the day in a haze, transforming beings with personalities into "things" that we would kill and eat. At one point Jamie remarked that it felt like he was absorbing their souls each time he slit one's throat. Still, we are thankful that we are capable of doing this ourselves. I once said that I'd stop eating meat if I couldn't kill a chicken and be okay with it afterward. I'm not happy to take someone's life, but if I'm going to eat meat (which I am) I'm glad I'm going to be the one to do it. It makes me understand where mealtime prayers come from and now I'm grateful to say a prayer that has a significant amount of meaning attached to it.
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