We just wanted to share a few updates from the wee homestead, on the winter garden and other news.
Dreary weather whiplash here, hard to say if our holidays will be white, green, gray or brown, but thankfully we still eat fresh, easily, every day.
Growin’ on now are: broccoli, lots of lettuces, carrots, cabbage, brussel sprouts, beets, kohlrabi, garlic, onions, kale, our favorite herbs–dill, chervil, cilantro–loads of collards for us and the critters, planted thick as green manure and spring bee food, too, like hairy vetch.
It’s high maintenance, we cover and uncover the boxes as weather requires, and it’s slow growing with shorter days and an abundance of overcast days.
But, the limited harvest results are DELICIOUS!
Triumph for the season:
I was interviewed about natural living on Crow777, a site I’ve mentioned here many times as a cutting edge, paradigm shifting, life affirming podcast I highly recommend.
Some not-so-random quotes and links, interspersed with happy homestead snaps for better digestion.
“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.”
Frederick Douglass, former slave (1818-1895)
Despite a vast body of scientific knowledge, the issue of deliberate climatic manipulations for military use has never been explicitly part of the UN agenda on climate change. Neither the official delegations nor the environmental action groups participating in the Hague Conference on Climate Change (CO6) (November 2000) have raised the broad issue of “weather warfare” or “environmental modification techniques (ENMOD)” as relevant to an understanding of climate change.
The clash between official negotiators, environmentalists and American business lobbies has centered on Washington’s outright refusal to abide by commitments on carbon dioxide reduction targets under the 1997 Kyoto protocol.(1) The impacts of military technologies on the World’s climate are not an object of discussion or concern. Narrowly confined to greenhouse gases, the ongoing debate on climate change serves Washington’s strategic and defense objectives.https://archives.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO201A.html
Our dear Tori is a master forager. She’ll steal unreservedly from the melon and berry patches to the fig and mulberry trees, to even the unripe cucumbers and squashes.
Equally in the forest she is clearly divinely inspired–the perfectly ripe passion fruit she’ll scout, the bones get unearthed as her possessions no matter who has buried them, and she leads me to all the best bramble patches. The forest and our garden are her perpetual oysters–and while to see my melons walk away makes me want to cry, to her happy prance with edible treasure, well there is only to laugh!
And, apparently she’s not the only astute forager.
I love seeing how many foraging sites and blogs are currently flourishing. They inspire me to add on and spread the wealth.
We have a big patch of these amiable volunteers just adjacent to the asparagus patch, natural companions, perhaps? In Scandinavia I met gardeners who insisted on planting their strawberries and asparagus and dill in the same space. I While these taste pretty bland compared to our cultivated varieties, they are still quite pretty, which is enough for me to spend the time to gather and prepare them.
I toss them in a salad with mulberries coming ripe at the same time. Or use them as a garnish with a spring weed pesto, along with the leaves, in moderation. Here’s a variation using chickweed, but it’s fun to get creative with whatever is in abundance.
While it is an invasive species for us in the southern U.S., at least it’s a useful one! While I’ve only made tea with it, some are patient enough to make jam. Maybe this will be the year I give that a try.
In TCM, the honeysuckle flower is commonly used to help ease the flu, colds and sore throat. According to Science Alert,11 this plant has the ability to prevent the influenza virus from replicating. An animal study published in the journal Cell Research supports this, as it found that honeysuckle, when combined with a plant microRNA called MIR2911, was able to suppress swine flu and bird flu viruses effectively.12 Xiao Er Ke Chuan Ling Oral Liquid (KCL), an herbal preparation that uses honeysuckle and nine other plants, was found to help treat acute bronchitis in children. A study in the Chinese Journal of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine said KCL has antiviral, antibacterial and potent pharmacological actions.13 Honeysuckle was also found to have wound-healing properties in rat models, according to the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal.
A quite undermined tree of the South, considering its illustrious origins and conspiratorial fate. It is a tree widely cultivated in Asia-Pacific as an essential ingredient to the popular drug, or versions of it anyway, generally called “ecstasy”.
At first, like cannabis, it was classified among the most harmful of substances by the FDA, though our ancestors had previously been very acquainted and attached to these and so many other suddenly ‘dangerous’ plants. Then while they were deemed “carcinogenic” by our government, simultaneously expanding was its cultivation in foreign countries. This was actually before “Poppy Bush” but perhaps setting that very precedent for the former president?!
While I’ve no idea how to make the popular street drug, I can assure you it makes a deliciously fragrant tea, traditional root beer, and gumbo filé powder.
One of the few things growing strong all winter in the South is one of the classic remedies of the typical seasonable winter ails–upper respiratory infections, cough, sinus, and so on. Go figure, mother nature to the rescue.
As a tea it rivals the Lipton or Lausanne you are paying good money for, it really does. It does contain caffeine and was used among the native populations regularly and as an alternative to coffee in hard times among new settlers. Drying it for a just a couple of days before roasting makes the process quicker, but roasting isn’t necessary if you like a more mild ‘green tea’ taste. The beauty is, it’s prolific and harvestable all-year-round for humans, and for the bees they have a reliable early forage in spring. Just don’t eat the berries!
Spring weed pesto and/or chimichurra sauce
Of course we love our traditional basil-based pesto with pine nuts, such a classic. But, whatever’s available in our time/space, we use it! Walnuts or pecans can replace the pricey pine version, or skip the nuts altogether. I often leave out the parmesan too (my own homemade of course), and either add that last minute, if appropriate, or make more of a chimichurri-style sauce, so yum!
We both love a combination of wild and cultivated plants and I let them blend altogether in the garden and in the sauce. Chervil, parsley, cilantro, or maybe arugula generously and gorgeously partnered with wild violet, chickweed, wild rose petal, or whatever is out there! Once prepared it’s a delicious condiment for meats, a base for dressing and marinade, or a sauce, stand-alone or blended, an instant topping for eggs or toast. It freezes really well too.
Warning: This post contains images and commentary potentially unsavory or offensive to vegetarians and vegans.
My most used cookbook has a provocative title–Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocratsby Sally Fallon.
I am not a diet pusher; I am a critic of diet pushing. I’ve long had an interest in diet and nutrition and like most Americans, by the age of 30 I’d heard it all said by the slogans of the diet dictocrats. Eat beef. Don’t eat beef. Eat eggs. Don’t eat eggs. Drink milk. Don’t drink milk. Watch your calories. No, watch your fats. Watch your sugar. No, watch your salt. No, make that sugar and salt. Caffeine causes cancer. Caffeine doesn’t cause cancer. Wine is good, or bad. Grains are good, or bad. I could go on for pages here, but I know you know what I’m talking about. Nutrition science is right up there with environmental science as being ever-changing and ever-controversial.
Currently the diet pushers are promoting vegetarianism and veganism. I say currently, though it goes back many decades, because it seems to be hitting a crescendo lately. As a case in point, a sociology professor demonstrates just how political diet can be, arguing in a recent article that eating meat perpetuates ‘hegemonic masculinity’ and ‘gender hegemony’.
“To study the link between masculinity and meat, DeLessio-Parson interviewed 23 vegetarians who live in Argentina to probe how they deal with their country’s “meat-centric” culture, finding that being vegetarian itself is a political act.”
“Refusing meat therefore presents opportunities, in each social interaction, for the [gender] binary to be called into question.”
My immediate thought, after laughing out loud, was: “So if meat represents ‘hegemonic masculinity’ does dairy represent ‘hegemonic femininity’?”
But jokes aside, what I find most interesting about the vegetarian/vegan phenomenon is that it has so deeply penetrated a few sectors of society where it seems to me to be terribly misplaced: libertarianism, anarchism, paganism, and even among homesteading/sustainability advocates.
I have no criticism to direct at these groups and individuals making their choices to enjoy whatever diet and lifestyle they wish. Many vegetarians and vegans choose this diet for valid ethical and health reasons and I applaud this conscious choice on their parts.
My issue is when, and why, and how, diet becomes a tool of politics. And especially, when those politics are propagandizing and peddling false information.
There are many others out there with this same concern besides Sally Fallon. Some other powerful players have also spent considerable time and research adding to the conversation, like Michael Pollan, Wenonah Hauter, Marion Nestle, Nina Teicholz, Joel Salatin, among many more.
The only thing I can add to the wealth of knowledge already out there is my personal experience and opinion living now very close to the land and our own food sources for many years: Veganism is antithetical to sustainable agriculture, permaculture, homesteading, and any other system or worldview where decentralization is a valued goal.
Here is why, in words and pictures.
Growing grains and legumes requires vast expanses of managed land that is kept free from predators and pests. Our fruits and vegetables require keeping out the vast and varied competition from deer, rabbits, squirrels, feral hogs, birds, rodents and insects of all sorts. Eating vegetables and grains does not equate to NOT killing animals. You’re simply killing/trapping/disrupting other wild creatures other than the omnivores do.
If it is not local, it is not sustainable. Pineapples from Hawaii, kiwis from Australia, grapes from Chile, grains from India–these are all great luxuries and it’s a treat to be able to enjoy them thanks to modern technology and transport. But anarchists and voluntaryists, pagans, homesteaders and all those who understand and recoil at the undue influence of Government power in our daily lives surely understand that without local control of sustainable food production the community, family and individual are forever at the mercy of a centralized system.
If it’s not local, if it’s not sustainable, it should be understood as the icing, not the cake. Leave the icing to Big Brother if you must, but certainly let’s get his hands out of the cake!
These skillsets have been lost and need to be reclaimed–it’s how we all got here, after all. Proper handling of a gun, knife, heavy carcass is skilled labor and if it’s men who are more capable and interested in handling these chores, praise be to the heavens, I say. This doesn’t mean every man must want to do these things, but it certainly means we should not be discouraging them with nonsense about meat as synonymous to a brutal patriarchy.
Vegetables, grains, fruits, most things that grow need good soil. Good soil is created with compost, manure and other fertilizing elements which, in the amount required for the large tracts of land required to produce grains efficiently, and in the absence of farm animals’ excrement, must be purchased, most likely from large corporations.
Cui bono, or, for whose benefit?
In the case of a truly sustainable setting there are many benefactors to a family’s pig slaughter: the dogs, the poultry, the vultures, the insects and the soil. Not to mention the human guests, of course.
In the case of a vegan diet? Big Ag benefits most of all. I know many vegans are well-meaning and will bristle at that comment, but this is just the plain truth. No small local farmer can compete with grain and vegetable prices of big ag. While it’s true they can’t compete with the meat prices either, in our case currently, and in most places without an ideal growing climate, pound per pound, meat is cheaper and easier to produce than vegetables or grains.
With the on-going geoengineering assault on the weather, I expect this will become more true in the immediate future. Even worse, I expect in less than a decade we will all be forced to grow vegetables indoors as the weather will become too unpredictable for even hobby and homestead gardeners to have reliable produce.
Not only do we get to enjoy the ribs, and the hams, and the bacon, oh my, but also the lard, the cracklins (aka chicharones or pork rinds), and the happy dogs when they get pork instead of poultry for a change.
Want to challenge the diet dictocrats? Want the politics off your plate? Don’t go vegan, go hyper-local!
About an hour’s drive south over 50 inches of rain has been recorded. Here, we had two inches, barely enough to moisten the parched topsoil, not enough to create even a small puddle for the ducks to romp through. The creek remains low, the pond empty.
Of course Houston is no stranger to floods, or Galveston, or anywhere or anyone who has lived along the Gulf South for any short length of time. While we lived there we were so fortunate as to experience two so-called “100 year hurricanes” in just three years — during Hurricane Katrina we were living in New Orleans, during Hurricane Ike we were living in Galveston.
I refused to live in the Gulf zone, anywhere, after that. The folks that remain must really love it there, or be more resilient than I am, or have lives and jobs and loved ones they can’t bare to do without. I respect their preferences and choices, but I chose that we should get the hell out.
Sometimes a woman has to put her foot down. Or at least, compromise, with pleas and tears. No my dear, we cannot move back to Spain, Hubby concluded, but we can move north of Hurricane Zone and south of Tornado Alley.
OK, it’s a deal! I wonder, maybe more women should be making that sort of deal for the good of their sanity and pocketbooks? I don’t want to give unsolicited advice, but if you choose to remain in the Gulf, it’s only logical and pragmatic and wise in every way that you are emotionally, financially, spiritually capable of living in dangerous regions.
I had long had a respect for self-reliance, having lived in Eastern Europe, where to be Šikovnyý (handy, skillful) was taken to an art form. They didn’t take their Skoda to the mechanic, if they couldn’t fix it, a neighbor could. They cooked from scratch, they mended clothes, they had gardens and grew vegetables in them usually, not grass. There was scarcely any packaging, the waste–I remember that as most impressionable of all–there was hardly any waste.
Of course that changed fast as soon as the Soviets left and the new Big Brother took over. This was progress. Goods filling the shelves, boxes and cans filling the garbage. It was as fascinating to watch as it was hard to watch.
It’s amazing how fast life skills can be lost. Or maybe I should say stolen, because that’s what I really think. The skills that kept cultures thriving and self-reliant and community-driven are being stolen from right under our noses, and our parents’ and grand-parents’ and now even great grand-parents’ noses. For the U.S. at least, this goes way back.
Commodify everything, even the very air we breath and water we need to survive. You are not a good capitalist unless you are willing to drown cities at will in order to profit nicely and have the added benefit of restructuring at will.
See, what ends up happening in these recurrent disasters is those folks who are not self and/or community reliant, are not independent and are most often not the least bit Šikovnyý get in dire circumstances every few years and the government and their communities and extended family and distant friends and loads of complete strangers feel absolutely compelled to help them out. Usually through agencies and funds that are syphoning and squandering these do-gooders’ money. There is not only here what Dr. Phil would surely call “enabling” unhealthy lifestyles, but also in some cases, even a dose of pathological altruism.
I saw after Hurricane Katrina that actually what was happening in New Orleans was a land-grab. I suspect the same and similar is happening with every weather event, and, to go even further, these events, weather and otherwise, are being manufactured.
If you find this preposterous, incredulous, impossible, you need only spend a few hours at these sites to uncover exactly how this is done and has been done for many decades.
I know it sounds odd, but those two hurricanes were perfect impetuses for positive change in our lives. Hubby never wanted to live in New Orleans. I never wanted to live in Galveston. We both fancied the idea of having chickens.
And chickens, being the gateway livestock, led to ducks and turkeys, pigs and sheep, goats and . . .
I no longer send money or volunteer, as I had long done, to anyone affected by a disaster through any organization, especially the government. The weather modification programs, and therefore the weather chaos, is a problem they are creating, which they want the public to bare the brunt of on the front end through taxes and the back through disaster relief. It’s a con.
Yes, folks suffer. I get that and I am feeling for them and sending them prayers. Mostly my prayers are saying, “If you can’t handle living in an area that is repeatedly a disaster zone, do like me, and put your foot down, and get the hell out of the Gulf for good.”
It’s just not worth it. It’s not going to get better.
Cheeses currently in our aging fridge, which is nothing more than a cheap beverage model sadly impersonating a cave in Switzerland: Swiss (of course), Tomme (another Alpine cheese), Munster, Camembert (wrapped in fig leaves), Pepper Jack, Farmhouse Cheddar (cloth-wrapped), Gouda, Dill Havarti, Mozzarella (the old-fashioned way), Ricotta. Plus, in the kitchen fridge: yogurt, kefir, Mexican queso, and chocolate ice cream–all homemade with the freshest Grade A, raw milk from small farm, grass-fed cows available for purchase in East Texas.
Some of these are cheeses the way our ancestors made them–even using fig sap as rennet and kefir as starter culture. Others of them have been made possible only with the help of modern science–freeze-dried cultures in order to create the holes and flavor of Swiss, for example, or the orange-rinded stinky varieties like Munster or Limburger, or the blue veins of the pungent Roquefort, the reliable white mold of a Camembert–which make it possible to imitate, with a reasonable degree of success, the most famous of region-specific cheeses we’ve come to know and love over the generations.
The first time I tasted cheese that did not come wrapped in plastic I was a teenager in France. It was also the first time I tasted milk straight from the cow. I was stunned to realize these products, considered the same from my own home to my host family’s home, had almost nothing in common. To the eye they appeared congruent, but to the other senses they were not even distant cousins.
But it’s one thing to harness an appreciation for the depth and subtitles of a finely- crafted cheese, it’s quite another to think you can make one. In Texas. In an ‘aging fridge’ from Wal-mart. With $7/gallon milk you drive 3 hours to acquire and sometimes using cultures manufactured in a lab.
Is it just for the love of cheese? It’s true, while doubtless they can’t compete with their cave-aged predecessors, still available in their natural state to only a precious few, I’ve made some of the best cheeses I’ve tasted available in this neck of the Piney Woods.
Handy Hubby appreciates my rather expensive and quite time-consuming hobby, but that’s just a bonus. I think these old skills and crafts are crucial to maintain and pass along to future generations, that’s for sure. But none of these good reasons would be enough, even all together, if it weren’t for the pleasure of the process.
The sensuality of cheese-making cannot be over-stated and to describe it would take poetry far superior than is my capacity to create. This is a hobby that touches, demands, cultivates every one of our senses and a fair amount of intellect as well. A whole-minded approach is crucial for success, because process alone will only get you so far.
You may scoff and think a cheese is a cheese, it’s a matter of taste alone, and they mostly taste the same. If so, you poor, poor dear.
“Those . . . from whom nature has withheld the legacy of taste, have long faces, and long eyes and noses, whatever their height there is something elongated in their proportions. Their hair is dark and unglossy, and they are never plump, it was they who invented trousers.”
Anthelme Brillat-Savarin The Physiology of Tastequoted in A Natural History of the Sensesby Diane Ackerman
You may laugh and say . . . “sound?” If cheese-making requires a subtle practice of every sense than that includes sound . . . how silly.
Someday I will make the case for sound in good cheese-making, because I think there’s a case to be made. In addition to my own experimentation, I suspect I need search no further than the many monasteries made famous for their cheeses for more supporting evidence.
Cheese is still more pleasure than exudes the senses in the thrill of retrieving and treasuring a fading art, and in marrying the inevitable couple of progress and tradition.
“We are all served more and more by factory machines, maybe inevitably, and by schedules, even our own, and in time, as has often been pointed out, we come to serve them. Some of us are becoming chafed by it all. We seek to reaffirm ourselves, to do and make for ourselves, to find new ways to do so–many of them admittedly old ways, but new and revitalizing ones to us and our friends. We want to find out how the basic components of our lives are made and come to us to use. We seek to become part once more of the processes, and possessors once more of the details of our own existence.”
The Cheeses and Wines of England and France, with Notes on Irish Whiskey by John Ehle
A few favorite references and a favorite resource: