Sustainability

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We are slated to have our first real frost and so we are running around gathering blankets and sheets for covering plants, harvesting the last of the summer plants, and getting the wood stove and warm clothes ready. While these things often come and go and we’ll probably be rolling up our shirt sleeves just next week, it’s fun to cozy in at this time of year.

This week I have a weird hodge-podge of mostly unrelated photos from around the homestead, so here we go…

The older the children get, the more they weave themselves into the fabric of the homestead everyday. Whether it is dishes, feeding and milking animals, or working on various projects, someone’s usually helping with something. Last week, after chores and school were done for the day the boys asked if they could go have their free time. Sure, I said, thinking they’d be running up and down the dirt road or playing or working on their usual projects. Thirty minutes later I found them in the pasture chopping firewood. Then again, when it’s time to wash the dishes, the old “like pulling teeth” adage sure seems to ring true. You win some, you lose some?

We have been taking cuttings from some trees and blackberry bushes around the property. And by we I mean Stewart. But I am excited at the prospect of free future trees and bushes.

And, in preparation for winter, Stewart put in these buried cold frames for growing greens. We’ll be covering the kale, turnips, radishes, and lettuce on frosty nights but hopefully these guys will extend our already long growing season even further.

Are you all staying cozy… or just barely leaving summer behind?

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Until the goats freshened and we began milking again this past summer, I had a niggling feeling about the children’s nutrition. Sure, they were getting all of the usual traditional foods but the goats had been dry for several months and I was just starting to wonder. It probably had something to do with the little comments here and there about how good a glass of milk sounded or how much they liked yogurt.

And now, this.

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Twice a day I can’t quite believe my eyes when I strain the milk… and skim the cream. I really, firmly believe that raw dairy products provide nourishment in ways that most other foods simply cannot. When you have milk, you have a meal, I sometimes say as I put whatever vegetables, beans, eggs, or meat we might have onto the table. And everyone gets a huge glass of milk.

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And now, with that cream, has come raw butter and raw sour cream (and maybe raw cream cheese soon). While some of us can eat store-bought grass-fed butter and cheese from time to time when the dairy animals are dry, Stewart and Elijah cannot. Pasteurized dairy almost immediately makes Stewart feel unwell. So to bring these foods that are not only tolerable, but down right medicinal, to their bodies… and to watch them liberally eat of such nourishment has been a really fulfilling and almost overwhelming experience.

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When I see that milk pail, it is a twice-daily reminder that we don’t deserve any of it, and yet God in His mercy created this animal to produce such nourishment and placed her right in our own backyard by His providential hand. And she has been such an easy cow – no kicking, no fighting, and even though we have messed up along the way, the Lord has allowed her to stay with us and nourish our family and with such delicious foods at that.

Such mercy it all is. Such mercy.

I don’t know how long Mabel is destined to be a part of our homestead but I am so very grateful for what she has, quite literally, brought to the table.