What's my world looking like in this crazy year called 2020?
If some random person checked out these pictures, they'd probably say it's been a "homesteader" kind of week. Or hashtag the latest term I hear the cool kids kids are using these days, "cottagecore". Both have that whiff of something I don't care for, if you ask me (the first one hearkens back to the Homesteaders Act and our government's stealing of Native lands, as appropriately described here, the second one ends in '-core' which we know is another one of those creepy references to porn, like how some say 'food porn'. Um...ewww.) Several years ago, in seeking to find a better description of what we do on the land that doesn't reek of connotations to "pioneers" (a term which is as annoying as someone saying they "discovered" or "settled" the West, which we all know is totally bogus), I adopted the term "farmstead", following a local blogger friend's lead.
Anyhow, it's September and while my business is at a snail's pace at best and my husband continues to hold up the fiscal side of our world in pandemic-land, I've definitely not slowed down all that much out here on the coast, to be honest. The garden is still going nuts as you can see from the harvest snapshot (fortunately that was the last of the green beans and potatoes though as we have some angry chooks that are ready to return to free-ranging in the garden after being in the enclosed run for the past 2 1/2 months! that's what happens when their demon claws go after the roots of raised bed veg though...), and we continue to keep busy in the kitchen, including:
Charcuterie - a small batch of our pork belly turned into bacon (pictured), and a lomo in our curing chamber in the garage. We've also made the 'executive decision' to cut into our prosciutto that we made from our first piggy this holiday season, as it's now at the holy grail of 24 months.
Preserving - dehydrating sliced garlic (pictured) from our massive haul this year to grind into garlic powder in the food processor (I think 90 heads of garlic might have been about double what we need for the year, haha...) for the first time; roasting more of said garlic to make a new recipe I found for garlic jelly; canning marinara from the tomatoes, onions, bay and garlic we grew; and freezing lots more pesto from this year's surprisingly good basil harvest (my favorite recipe is in The Silver Spoon, which is like an Italian version of the Joy of Cooking...but with more recipes I dig). We're also curing a bunch of the potatoes we harvested in hopes that we can store them in the garage over winter. While many just leave them in the ground til it's time to eat, the fact that our chooks are going to start free ranging in a couple weeks did not mesh with that, so we're using one side of our charcuterie curing chamber to let the skins harden off.
Green - while it wasn't in our budget, after the front of the house was sided, we'd moved our tiny 60 gallon rain barrel to the herb garden in back, as we knew we needed something MUCH bigger for the front. A wild goose chase for free or low-cost IBC totes earlier in the month led us to some skeezy folks in the big smoke doing bait & switch and folks flaking out on us locally, so we bit the bullet and bought this 550 gallon rain tank (pictured) and MacGyver'd a bunch of hardware store fittings to connect it to our gutter securely (we have serious winds here in the winter, y'all). I love that it's short and squatty, so that the window above it (that's my office) isn't obstructed...and little birds have already been hopping around checking it out! It's going to be painted to match the house, and eventually I'll jazz it up with something artsy, but until then, it's collecting rain and I couldn't be happier.
Baking - I've given the sourdough a rest to just once a month and started experimenting with various yeast breads, including pita bread (fail! they looked like hamburger buns...) and more, but my happiest moment I must say was when I decided to try a different German pancake (aka Dutch Baby) recipe than the one I'd always used. It asked for whole milk (we drink flax milk at home), so I subbed goat milk and hot damn was it ever good...and it still puffed up gorgeously as you can see in the photo!
Beekeeping - And finally, in preparation for the rainy season, I shared with my husband a plan I found online for a moisture quilt to use on our hive to help absorb the humidity inside the hive during the rainy season. As we've lost 5 colonies in 2 years, we are hellbent on ensuring at least one of our two hives makes it through the winter. (It's no help that one of our neighbors, in prep for putting their house on the market, sprayed pesticides along our entire shared fenceline where many pollinators go...ugh...). It's literally just a frame with hardware cloth and pine shavings (all stuff we had on hand) for the absorption. So...we shall see! As with the pandemic shrinking our budget considerably so we cannot afford to invest in new nucs in the spring, we are doing everything in our power we can, from treating the hives with Thymol to help prevent mites, sacrificing all but a quart of honey so they can use it for stores, to this new blanket.
Oh yeah...and I started my second-to-last class for my Health Studies Focus Award that I've been working on for oh, like 7 years. It's on "stress management". Ha! How utterly timely...
What's your week been like?