Sustainability

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December has a funny way about it, here in Texas. A cold front has swept in, on the heels of several warm days, so we’ve shifted from opening all of the windows to carrying in firewood by the arm full. The children are always excited at the mere prospect of wintry weather and I can’t say this Minnesota girl could blame them.

Another funny thing about December is that the chickens don’t lay much. About a month ago they abruptly went from an abundance to a near-on strike but I suspect the shortness of the days has something to do with that.

Broth and dairy have been consistent fare along with the salads and greens we are still gratefully harvesting. We will have to cover the garden for a string of nights, though, so we will see how the more tender lettuces survive the brief onslaught of fall we are getting.

And then there is pie. I don’t know how it came to be – perhaps it is universal, do you think? – but pie has become the queen of all desserts in our home. This apple pie sat alongside pumpkin pies for our Thanksgiving and I think we have a new favorite gluten-free pie crust. But Stewart suggested testing it a few more times, you know, just to be sure it is right. I think the consensus on that was unanimous.

With a cellar full of pumpkins and the daily milk and eggs, perhaps this cold streak is just the time to test just a few more pies…

are things frozen under in your neck of the woods?

One of the greatest gifts we have been given through this agrarian pursuit is that, though the days may often be overflowing and quite long, they are nearly all spent together. When Daddy is working he is sometimes in his office, often out on the land, or a very short walk down our dirt road. But save the trips for groceries, laundry, and supplies, the seven us are usually all on the land.

So while we wait for supper to finish cooking, the three littlest ones and I hitch up the “tractor” (an old hose reel) and stroll down to see how the work is coming along. Another blessing is that the boys are now old enough to help and so oftentimes one or both of them is down working on our neighbor’s fence or earth bag root cellar alongside Stewart.

When we got to the work site we said our hellos and I found the boys pounding rebar while I tried not to worry about them walking across these planks. Stewart was laying planks, drilling holes, and cutting rebar. They work seamlessly, these three, and it hurts my heart a little to see these boys standing beside their father; growing into young men, even if just a little bit.

But then I remember the pot of lentils simmering on the stove and the little man and his sisters who are still very much little. So we tell them it will be about thirty minutes until supper and we head back down that dirt road. The girls pick grass for Mabel and we head in and set the table and quick pick a salad from the garden.

Like most nights, I break up a few squabbles, wipe up a lot of spilled milk, and try to stay awake long enough to finish the dishes, knowing that tomorrow might be exactly like today… and wouldn’t that be a privilege.