Sustainability

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Our morning began as many Mondays often do; with heaps of dishes, dirty floors, and laundry scattered everywhere. A cow and goats to milk, breakfast to make, and chickens anxiously awaiting their freedom. As usual, Stewart heads out the door with the milk pail while I begin breakfast and coax the rest of the chore crew out of bed.

After millet, cream, and kefir it is time for the morning’s work. Stewart and the boys are working down the road on an earth bag root cellar and those of us slated for the clean team get to work.

Ruthie finds a pair of knee pads that were gifted to us so she decides today is the day she’d like to scrub the floor. I am happy to comply. Annabelle works at cleaning off the stove and helps Mama with the sea of dishes that seems to multiply as we go. Our aprons are soon filthy and Joshie is getting anxious so we head out to the garden to pick the lunch salad.

It feels more like May than November, the warm sun greeting us as we head around the cabin and past the rainwater catchment tanks. I notice how odd the clothesline looks empty but it won’t be filled today; the water tanks are getting low so it’s the laundromat for us this week.

Everything is dry in the garden but thankfully there is plenty to pick from. I fill our bowl with baby turnips, kale, and tatsoi. There are rosettes beginning to form in the middle of what I thought were radishes and now I wonder if that is where we planted the cauliflower. There is a fresh spreading of hay and manure on vacant beds and the one bed left empty I earmark for the chicken coop clean out that needs to be done later this week.

We return with a bowlful of goods and start on the kombucha and lunch. I had made raw cottage cheese the day prior (I can’t believe how easy this is) and put half into a makeshift cheese press for something akin to a raw queso fresco. That plus salad, beans, and a bit of canned longhorn we will call lunch, along with big glasses of milk, of course.

Just before everyone arrives home for lunch I cut one of our pumpkins in half to roast for the evening meal. Pumpkin soup is on the menu again and with entirely homegrown ingredients, we are finding it on our table more and more. I am tweaking the recipe for pickier eaters and hoping it goes down better. Maybe I’ll fry up some of our collard greens to go with it again.

The dish pile looks like we never lifted a finger and the laundry pile awaits a trip to the laundromat. But the stove and the floor are looking much better. And Joshie, well, he sure enjoyed himself on this oh-so-typical Monday morning. But then again, he’s not one of the older children who will be hitting the books this afternoon.

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?