Just Do Better

Happy Holidays, y’all!  The passing of this year is quite welcomed for us.  It’s been our toughest year on the wee homestead by far.  There were even a few times we discussed giving in and packing up.

We moved here in 2009, after Hurricane Ike, having purchased raw land in 2006, after Hurricane Katrina.  It’s the new normal, I guess, that our memory is set by weather disasters.  Now 2019 will be marked as the year of the manufactured storm bombs: crazy tornado and giant hail.

Judging from the amped-up geoengineering agendas, who knows what next spring will bring—floods, fires, more ‘tornados’, unprecedented lightening storms, maybe a land cyclone or two—certainly continued weather whiplash will remain on the menu.

I don’t imagine it’s possible to prepare for every potential catastrophe, but still, we’re staying put.  It’s not that we’re gluttons for punishment, or like to live dangerously, or are too stubborn to see the writing on the wall.  It’s not even that we’ve come too far to turn back now, having learned so many of the essential homesteading skills, having devoted so much blood, sweat and tears, not to mention $$, into this lifetime project.

55A3C5C3-4CD4-47E0-A362-B1D999FAC142
We bought the neighboring property that had a nearly abandoned cottage, hauled off the old junk and then the real work began—paint, windows, doors, siding, deck, etc. And after the tornado, a new roof.

It’s for love.  Love of the land, the nature, the work, the critters, the learning, the lifestyle, and of course, love for each other.  Where else would two such misfits fit except in the woods, I wonder?

When there’s no turning back, and as we’re too young yet to sit still, but too old to start over, the best option left is to up-skill.  So, that’s what we’re doing.

Handy Hubby has transformed his butchering talents from mediocre to practically professional with the help of the Scott Rea Project.  It is truly impressive, especially considering  what big jobs he makes work in our very small space.

I’m following his lead by upgrading my own culinary crafts to include more traditional fare, like offal, which really isn’t so awful at all!  This’ll be my last bad pun in this post, I promise, even though I find them offally hilarious.

I don’t really follow recipes, but I’ve been finding guidance and inspiration from Of Goats and Greens and Weston A. Price.  I recently made a rather delicious Lamb Liver Loaf and an offal salad of heart and tongue. (FYI, it does not taste like chicken.)

E6ADCA4F-0ECC-47D2-BA9D-AB120BA6AEE5
The upturned oaks have become the perfect microclimate for Jack-O-Lanterns (Omphalotus olearius), not edible, but an appreciated gift for a friend who dyes her own yarn.
93C5AD3D-517F-49A9-994F-CE1DC3749640
The hedgehog baked and the pulcherrimum as centerpiece
1C8BD3E2-C997-4537-A351-90281D4EF150
An edible favorite: the hedgehog (Hericium erinaceus). And a ‘steccherinum pulcherrimum’ which means ‘appearing beautiful’

I’ll also be doing more foraging with the help of The Forager Chef  and a bookshelf full of expertise on mushroom hunting, wild plants and herbs, traditional cooking and healing.  I’m more committed than ever in holding space for, and gaining knowledge of, the ancestral arts and crafts that were missing from my childhood, and indeed for most of us for many generations in this country.

I’m not going to share any lame platitudes about silver linings and growth opportunities, because that’s slave-speak socially engineered by the faux-authorities to assure the rabble don’t complain about their lot in life.  I intend to continue my fair share of complaining, and then some.

But, I will offer this cliché instead—It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings!  And this lady’s got no plans to plump up any further, or join the choir.

May all your storms be weathered, and all that’s good get better.  Here’s to life, here’s to love, here’s to you . . .”

 

Hunt-Harvest Happiness

There is a special kind of euphoria that comes from harvesting my own food that I have not felt in any other productive endeavor. I read somewhere that the worst day working in cooperation with the land is better than the best day in the office, and I must wholeheartedly concur.

If only I’d learned that sooner, I would not have such steep learning curves to navigate in middle age!

Mushroom hunting is certainly on the top of that steep learning curve list, not to mention a potentially deadly hobby. While there are actually only a few truly deadly mushrooms, there are many that will make you sick and quite a few choice species that are so similar to poisonous species that even experts are occasionally fooled.

For the novice mushroom hunter there are only a handful of no-brainer finds, and as the dogs and I walked our trails this morning, I spotted one of the choicest of these, the Hedgehog. Actually there were three, and I took the biggest, a whopping one pound ten ounces. Interestingly, the season of these mushrooms is winter, which makes me wonder, when it’s still an unseasonal 85 degrees Fahrenheit here and hasn’t rained in many weeks, how do they judge winter exactly?

hedgehog2

In the garden it’s the summer crops that are thriving—to accompany my Hedgehog mushroom I harvested some cucumbers, radishes, basil and Napa cabbage. The second crop of tomatoes this year are nearly ready too. If Handy Hubby were home I’d add to that some thinly sliced duck breast. Then I’d look at our plates and think wow, I can’t believe how often now our meals come from our own land, our own hands. What amazing peace of mind this is considering how unhealthful and/or expensive food in the grocery stores has become, with the distinct impression it’s only getting worse.

If I turn on the TV or read a newspaper I’m reminded I once considered the daily grind and the endless mindless consumption ‘reality’.  Now I often watch and read the various panic porn channels online and sometimes they get me pretty riled up.

Then I walk out to our garden or through our woods and I remember what is really reality. Civilization is not realty. And what we are currently calling civilization is about as far from reality as it gets.

Y’all can keep it! My happiness is in the hunt and the harvest and of course, Handy Hubby. All the rest of it is worth less than a hill of beans.

pttrail

Our faithful and exuberant foraging, hunting, harvesting companions. 🙂