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in my kitchen, around the farm
Leaving the farm at this time of year, albeit for the most wonderful reason of a daughter’s wedding, was tricky. Mostly, it was exhausting over “tricky”, but we are back and back at it. A friend of my husband’s took care of our house and the farm and did it all with style and dedication. We left him with all sorts of riddles to figure out. Yes, we gave directions on the how and what, but as any farmer knows, there’s a lot of art in there, too. That’s the harder stuff to explain. Things like how to get all of the ducklings in the house at night without running around trying to herd them. And what to watch for to make sure the predators aren’t sniffing about. That sort of thing. All was well and we’re grateful.
We left with a milk cow giving milk. That’s not a great situation, but yet another one where keeping the calf on the mom brings flexibility. If it had been earlier in her lactation, we would have had to figure something else out, but as it was, we opted to go to every second day milking a couple of weeks before we left. That slows down production. Our calves stay with their moms, always, so they’re continuously nursing, but a Jersey (or any milk cow) produces too much milk for just a calf when the calf is wee. Unlike a beef cow, which has just enough for the calf (and hence why we don’t milk beef cows). When we got home, we brought our cow into milk. Instead of her regular seven gallons or so of milk, we got three. Much better, no issues, couldn’t have gone better.
Things are starting to bloom with great gusto around here. I plucked a bunch of peony heads and put them in the solar dehydrator yesterday along with some curly dock seed heads. I could have waited for the dock to dry on its own, but a certain someone was cutting the fields and I didn’t want to lose them. I use those seeds for flour. I make a wonderful cookie with them that I will share a little later, when I get around to making them.
Vinegar making is in full swing. Right now I have some chive flower and sage flower vinegar brewing. I’m watching the thistles to make some vinegar from them. They’ll pop around the same time that the black-cap berries do. As I’ve explained a few times here, vinegars, from scratch (not infused, premade vinegars) are a staple in our house. Among many other things, we like to use them to add to our water to make a quick switchel. Switchels can be any version of any sort of drink with some salt, vinegar, and a bit of sweetener added. We usually make our switchels using herbal infusions.
And that brings me to herbal infusions. Every night before I go to bed, I make an infusion of a blend of whatever tonifying herbs I might feel I need. Sometimes there’s adaptogenic mushrooms and herbs in my infusions, sometimes there are more specific building type herbs, sometimes cleansing, sometimes specific plants for nourishing or clearing eliminatory pathways. That sort of thing.
It’s important to build the habits that allow you to regularly bring healing and nourishing practices into your life so the effects are tangible. It doesn’t do much to sip on a cup of herbal tea once a week. There needs to be consistency. For that, I prefer to build in the regular evening practice of selecting my herbs, putting them in a beautiful glass jar (with a glass lid - you don’t want that collected steam to be forming on the chemical plastic lining of a metal lid), and admiring them while they dance around for awhile. In the morning, I sip on my infusion (I’m doing it right now, in fact). That infusion can also be the base of any electrolyte or switchel drink you make throughout the day.
Herbs can be consumed as an acute medicine, think echinacea as an example here, but they can also be brought into your everyday life. To get to know the difference between plants, start reading or take a course or two. We used herbs and homeopathics when our children were growing up. They didn’t go to doctors. I’m glad for that now. And now my kids teach me things about health and healing.
My favourite herbs are ones that grow in our area. I learned about them, and continue to learn about them, over many years - my whole adult life in fact. I love foraging. It’s probably my favourite thing to do. Not just the act of gathering, but coming into my kitchen and working with the plant makes me feel connected and my heart full. Other than infusions, my favourite way to prepare plants is by making oxymels. To do this, I’m filling a jar with whatever plant I’m using and then filling half of that jar with one of my homemade vinegars and the other half of the jar with raw honey. It creates a beautiful, luscious, saturated medicine that the whole body just opens up to. I also do tinctures, but that requires alcohol and so, oxymels remain a favourite.
This week was my husband, Troy’s, birthday. It’s on the summer solstice which is quite fitting for a man built of sunbeams. We went to the sand dune beaches on his birthday and then came home and feasted on homemade ice cream sandwiches as per his request. Ice cream has been front and centre this week as I continue to build my stores. I bought a new ice cream maker. I’ve gone through many iterations of ice cream makers. When starting out I had the small Cuisinart. It worked well, but as I made more and more ice cream, it caused issues with the need to pre-freeze the bowl. From there I went to the Breville Smart Scoops which comes with a built in condenser so you don’t need to pre-freeze the bowl. It was lacklustre. I had to figure out a whole sequence of things to do to get it cold enough and the final ice cream not so soupy. Now I’m onto a maker that is made in Italy. I’ve made ice cream in it five or six times this week. I will share a review next week, once I hear back from the company on an issue I think I’m having. But, thus far, it makes really fabulous ice cream!
The geese only had two goslings this year. It’s the lowest number ever and we’ve had them for about eight or nine years now. I take blame for that. We moved them out of their winter housing too late. Mama had started laying her eggs in the winter housing and that’s not what we want. When that happens, once she’s moved, she stops laying for a time. The stress of moving, the new surroundings, the different sleeping quarters, has her all not feeling like conditions are stable so she stops. So when she did start laying again, it was too late in the season and she only had two eggs before sitting. I’m glad we still have a couple of frozen geese from last year. I will add those to this year’s two and we should have enough to cover us off for Christmas and Easter. That’s another benefit in wrapping in butcher freezer paper. I can get two years out of our meat instead of it getting freezer burnt in a year as they would wrapped in plastic.
Today is another day of freeing our garlic from bindweed. I also have some rhubarb that is nearing the end of its lifespan that I need to turn into some more chutneys, syrups, and sauces. I will share some of those in the chat. Take some pictures of what you’re preserving this week so you can share right back.
Have a beautiful weekend everyone!
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