Week 34…Savor

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I can’t seem to help myself….I want to grab up each moment that is left in summer and savor it…everything from flowers and vegetables to smiles and giggles! We have had the most wonderful summer filled with fun and hard work and we will soon be moving into fall!!! I’m just not ready for it yet!

September

Well…this isn’t my normal time for writing, but the house is quiet and I’ve got the itch! The real problem is that I’m not sure what I’m trying to process…I’ve been in a ‘funk’ all week and I feel like I’m on the edge of something, but I’m just not sure what it is yet.

Maybe it’s just the fact that we are almost to September again, and I can’t believe that a year ago I sat in a chair…in a building…with a group of people that I thought knew me….and found myself screaming on the inside. Like….I was just waking up to the sound of my own screams that had been going on for an untold length of time and I had just then start to hear.

So I ran away and met up with a friend I love in a town I hate. We had a night (or was it two) away from the daily grind of kids in need, the expectations of others, meal planning, house cleaning, and church meetings….it was NOT enough time. I felt like I was just starting to scratch at a scab…(and so I was)

The time was filled doing a few of my favorite things, with one of my favorite people…one of those people who pushes and challenges…with love and grace….that soul friend who knows your heart so well because she has done the time in the fire with you….yeah…there is never enough time with ‘that friend!’

If that in itself wasn’t enough there were the old friends…people once known….the ones who’s path went another way….but in the deep places, where things really matter, a knowing…like a fire deep and bright…something….some treasure left covered in the woods until the next adventure…and in a moment there they were, with arms flug wide and a mug of good coffee! These dear ones…who spoke salve to a wounded soul…..a balm I didn’t know I needed. These love talkers…these three treasures….I sat with eyes large as they shared…opened wide, their hurt clear and etched and free….the gift of something was offered and excepted…little did I know. Little did I know! Little did I know, how much I would draw on those moments in the months to come.

This year has been pain. I stand in a place marked by time….I have knowledge that days, weeks and months have passed, but I’m not sure of much anymore. The things we hold so tightly to….my fingers have been pried from…oh, Lord…oh, Lord….here comes September once again.

My education in food continues…Lacto-fermented pickles!

I wonder how it is that I haven’t written more on the homesteading page…likely it is due to the fact that we just have so much going on! Sorry this post is so wordy, I’ll add photos when I am able to!

I’ve been making lacto-fermented carrots for some time now….I don’t even remember how I stumbled over them…but I got all excited and had to give them a try. In a word….AMAZING! So good for your gut! Mike loves to bring them to work as a snack, and the twins eat them up with joy!

A few months ago I also tried my hand at fermented feed for the hens. They loved it, but it was a bit of a mess and when we took on growing fodder it sort of got to be a lot. However, the health benefits were clear and I will return to it again when the weather cools and they do not have the chance to free range as much.

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I’ve also tried lacto-fermenting garlic, and it was good, but just not what we wanted. Now I peel our bulk garlic and store it in a mason jar filled with olive oil. Yummy! The garlic keeps and we have wonderful flavored oil to use in cooking…..you can also add herbs to the jar. I have plans to add a few stocks of rosemary……just hasn’t happened yet.

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As the bounty from the garden increases I know it will be time to start ‘putting up’ canned goods soon! This was our test run! Lacto-fermented pickles! The process is easy and only takes a short time. There is no heating so your home stays cool and no fussing with pulling out the canning pot!

I have a tendency to look up a bunch of ideas and combine them and tweak them to work with what we have on hand….and then sort of cross my fingers! Please keep in mind that we have not tasted these yet….so update to come.

Here is what you will need:
*please read ALL directions before you start*
Cucumbers
Quart jar or larger
Fine sea salt
Sprigs of fresh Dill
Garlic
Whole peppercorns
Grape leaf….we didn’t have that….

So after you have cleaned your jars and cut your cucumbers (either in spears or rounds or if you have a larger jar you could try to keep them whole. I have a friend who makes her pickles whole with great success.) you will want to add all the goodies to the jar…

About 2-3 garlic wedges, a few sprigs of dill and peppercorn. Our directions called for 1 Tablespoon….I thought that was a lot and cut that in half. Next, pack your jars with the cucumbers. We found that wedges packed nicer then the rounds. The idea in packing your jars is to keep everything tight so that you don’t end up with cucumbers that float up to the top. That will ruin your yummy pickles. They need to stay below the water line.

After you have packed your jars and left about 1-1 1/2″ head space (you may need to cut down the wedges a bit) you will be adding the brine. To make the brine we added 2 Tablespoons salt to about 3 cups of water. Here is were some of the substitution took place for us. We did not have whey. A lot of directions call for whey, however, I know that if you add more salt and no whey the process still works! Fingers crossed! We upped the amount of salt from 1 Tablespoon to 2.

Then just pour the brine over the packed jars, ensuring that all cucumbers are submerged (you may get a few other items that float…not a problem). The directions we were following called for a grape leaf to be packed over the top. This helps in a number of ways. The leaf holds down the cucumbers and keeps them submerged. There is also something in the grape leaf that helps to keep the pickles crunchy. We didn’t have grape leaves….we used kale! ha! We will see if that is an adequate substitute. We only used them on the jars with rounds to help keep everything submerged.

Final step…place the lid on the jar and place it on the counter. Be sure to ‘burp’ your jar every 6-12 hours or so. At the end of 3-5 days you can move the jars to cold storage (below 65 degrees) or keep them refrigerated (no longer need to ‘burp’ at that point) You will want to date them…we don’t keep out lacto-fermented items around for longer then about 6 months. Heck, they don’t typically last that long in house anyway! Enjoy!

I will update this post at some point with more photos and a review of how things turned out and what I will change for the future! Enjoy and have fun!

Week 31….Explore

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Our garden has become a real and true wonder to me. Mike and I try to walk it together in the mornings before he goes to work and I am always amazed by what we find.

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I’ve gotten into the habit of bringing my phone with me simple because I never know what there will be to find…and I just don’t want to miss it!

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Mayhem discovered my comfrey plants and returns to them regularly when she is in the garden with me….they must have some nutrient in them that her little body needs! I don’t know how she gets past those leaves! They are the kind of fuzzy that wouldn’t be real pleasant in your mouth!

We have a nesting pair of some sort of finches that have made their home in an old bird house. I was convinced it was empty but when Mike went over to it one of them dive bombed him. They are small, but man they make a racket every time we head into the garden. I like having them there, and in the years to come we hope to add a few more bird houses and comfortable shaded places for them to hang out.

It is always a treasure to find our honey bees hard at work!

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I No longer deal in wisdom….

It was a nice evening….we had just spent the day doing the usual things we do as a family, nothing special…I had just sat down on the couch and put my feet up….

*ping*……..*ping*
(The unmistakable sound of a text)

Mike was reading….studying for work. He looked up at me like, ‘aren’t you going to get that?’

A friend in need of a good chat. We sat on the couch for an hour or two and talked about the real and the hard. We talked about grace and it’s lack in our world. At one point she looked over at me and asked if I had any wisdom for her….did I grasp some bit of truth that she had missed? In what feels like cruelty now, I laughed.

You see, if I’ve learned anything in the past year it’s that I understand grace and wisdom far less then I thought I did. I live with the law on my heart and it blinds me. Wisdom is informed by grace and with out grace we can not hope to see the heart of God. So I laughed….a bitter laugh, and I realized, yet again, just how far I’ve ‘fallen.’ How far away I live from the heart of God. I pray with clenched jaw and bound fists….that something will be made right in this world. That broken things will be made whole again…for even a glimpse of reasoning behind the sifting and shaping…things that are not mine to ask for….but in my humanity I plead for understanding, and search for hope.

Searching for a glimpse of ‘The goodness of The Lord in the Land of the Living.’ Somehow, somewhere, written deep within me I understand that grace is the key…