Saturday, September 22, 2012

Willing to work for food

There are many nice things about living in Oregon and one of them begins to happen this time of the year and is welcomed for those who work for food.  It's what brings us the long winter and the short growing season: rain.

The end of the growing season prompts a fire drill every year as summer turns into fall.  Hours spent harvesting, cleaning, preserving and storing for the winter months leaves us with a lot less energy than we started with. 

Four cords of wood sit waiting to be stacked and everywhere we look, we see work.  The three hours we spent coring, peeling and cutting up apples for drying this past week will be a nice snack this winter while sitting in front of a warm fire with a cup of tea.

All the effort we put forth to secure what sustains us helps to make life easier especially in the winter when the power goes out and food is just a jar away.  Most items we grow cost the same amount of work for us year after year as long as we're both healthy enough to work for it.  Compared to the prices at the grocery store, our costs are little for the wholesome food we get. 

We even made a little money to add to our coffer this harvest when an ad on Craigslist solicited a phone call within 30 minutes of posting our surplus garlic.  We were hoping to barter for storage onions and/or potatoes but selling it paid for our seeds this season and hopefully next year we won’t have to buy as many as I’ve been saving what I can. 

One of the tables we normally eat at is covered with bowls of seeds and beautifully colored drying beans as well as bright orange Calendula blossoms that will be infused in oil when they dry.

Tiger Eye Beans
You’ll always find gallon size jugs of Kombucha brewing on the kitchen counters but now they keep company with other glass jars appearing as science experiments gone bad. 

Lovely jars with red colored floating masses in them are labeled with the names Hillbilly Potato, Hungarian Heart and Brandywine, (stayed tune as next week the names will change). 

Anyone that knows us and ventures to visit this time of the year will walk from room to room smelling a six course dinner ranging from kraut and tomato sauce to dried apples and strawberries while the sourdough bread is baking in the oven.
Three Brandywine of the same vine

The smells never let us forget the amount of work we’ve done or the rewards of growing most of what we eat and being able to go to the window to see where it comes from.

Filderkraut Cabbage
Looking down at the main garden below I watch as our Ancona ducks pace back and forth with babies in tow waiting for the day they’ll be free to roam beyond the fenced area where we contain them for the growing season. 

I’m sure they can feel the slime of snails go down as they dream of banana slugs that they eat bit by bit, though I haven’t seen many of these creatures yet this year in the garden.

The babies were born the end of August and are suited up in their uniforms of yellow, black and brown; even their feet are striped. 
Mama with her babies
Early on they managed to escape through the field fencing with mama following, squeezing through.  They quickly found the low hanging fruit.  We scurried down to the garden and discovered mama with a red chest thinking she had cut herself on the fence, but instead she was enjoying the medicinal qualities of the elderberries.  They have to be the healthiest ducks as we supplement their foraging with shredded zucchini, tomato pulp from the juicer and apple peels.

The chickens too have been caught in the compost like dumpster divers digging for treats.  They are so fussy this time of year and can afford to turn their beaks up to anything that isn't sweet.

Sweet to me will be the sound of rain falling outside as I'm curled up inside with a good book on a soft sofa or a nice chair behind a spinning wheel where the feel of fleece will pass through my fingers before I get the pleasure of feeling it’s warmth as it covers me.

Before then the oak leaves need to be raked, as they will serve as blankets to the blueberries that were picked so long ago.  I remember the enthusiasm I started with at the beginning of the season compared to the way I feel now and it serves as a measure of how willing I am to work for food.