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It was late the Friday before Thanksgiving; the sun was setting, the milking crew heading out the door. We had planned to practice the offerings we’d be bringing on Thursday, but oh the rush of Friday. Supper hadn’t exactly been decided on yet, our usual kefir smoothies were low on ingredients, and, of course, everyone was hungry.

Can I hewp you make pie, Mama?” little Annie asks.

Unless we are surrounded by fire or blood or a screaming baby, I simply do not know how to say no to this. Take a deep breath and forget the chaos; pie it is.

I throw some gluten-free flours into a bowl and get out the fat. I mix the flours, she cuts in the fat, and we add a few tablespoons of water. It’s all a guessing game at this point but really, when you cut fat into flour and fill it with something sweet and rich and spicy, you can’t get too far off course.

I quick wipe out the 12″ cast-iron skillet and plop the dough in the pan. This is where it starts – where big grins and little dresses and double braids park a chair next to Mama and I say go for it. She pats the crust down “Wit aww my might!” just after she gives me a kiss and flashes her gap-toothed grin.

She is fun, through and through, her presence in the kitchen like a collision of sunshine and chaos and rainbows.

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Ruthie is taking everything out of the cabinets and licking random spoons, leaving her trail of destruction as she goes. I am pouring a pot of hot water into the sink, trying to find one foot of counter space so that I can chuck anything plus kefir and egg yolks into the blender, and asking Elijah if he could please check for the fourth time to find the cans of pumpkin. What would I do without this boy?

The sink and blender are both filled. The (case of!) pumpkin is found and taking up way too much table space. Annie is showing the pie crust who is boss and Ruthie is… wait, where’s Ruthie?! We look around, check that she hasn’t run out the front door, and then begin the search. I finally find her where the clean bowl I had been searching for presents itself. She yells “Hide!”, throws her head back, and exudes maniacal laughter. Oh, this one is trouble.

We frantically leave the last of the fingerprints in the pie crust and throw it in the oven. And then everything goes into the bowl – maple syrup, coconut shortening, pumpkin, coconut cream, egg yolks, salt, spices. Uh, raw pumpkin pie filling tonight, folks. Homegrown egg yolks are good for you, right? This has nothing to do with the fact that I’m completely running out of time and there’s no way that pie will be done in time for supper. Ahem.

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Annie whisks it together like a mad woman and the blender heads out the door to find some solar power. The milk pail is back now, waiting to be strained, and Ruthie is sitting in the high chair in the middle of the kitchen because there are no things to rip from their place there. Also, that thing has seat belts.

Tomorrow is the Sabbath, I tell myself, as I survey the counter tops full of dishes. We clear the table of debris, plunk down smoothies and (completely store-bought) rice cakes, dates, and peanut butter. The pie crust is just out of the oven but everyone has already filled up. And then we realize the greatest outcome possible is upon us…

We will be eating Annie’s pie for breakfast on Sabbath morning.

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When she was born – the first girl to join her big brothers – becoming a pie-maker seemed a foregone conclusion. She’d help with animals, dig holes for blackberry bushes, and run barefoot down the dirt road with her brothers. And when all of that is done, she washes the dirt from her hands before standing beside me in the kitchen, slapping pie crust into a cast-iron skillet.

As beautiful as it is for me to watch (and then tell), I can’t convey how good her pies are… or how sweet it is to see the look between her and Daddy when he lets her take the first bite and waits for her reaction. And then she waits for his.

And now, I tell myself, when at all possible – and most especially when in a hurry – say yes to pie.

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Coffee. Morning and ni-night (and as many as I can get/give in-between) squeezes. Three meals and a snack. Chickens out and back up again. Falls, fights, and wiped-away tears. Goat tending. Someone in mismatched socks. Checking for eggs.

These are some of the things you are most likely to see here on a daily basis.

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Chickens – besides a little kitchen garden – were one of the first homestead endeavors us greenhorns took on when we moved to the land. Our very first chickens were gifted to us, as so many things here have been. The first coop Stewart put up was made from reclaimed pallets with a couple of drawers from the camper acting as nesting boxes. I think screws may have been the only cost involved.

Since then we’ve built a bigger coop twice as we tried to build the flock. We’ve had broody hens and freshly hatched chicks, homegrown laying hens and many, many lost birds. We’ve purchased dozens of new chicks only to see a handful make it through. There have been periods where no eggs come in the door and others when we can make a meal after two or three days of saving them up.

IMG_9993And then, just the other day, a full dozen eggs came through the door. Little Annie brought half of them from what we call the “chick coops” which are small nests where we’ve kept broody hens in the past. The other half came from the chicken coop and a stray hay pile – all of the nests we are currently aware of.

I thought it might have been a fluke – one of those days someone forgot to collect from a nesting spot the day prior. And then yesterday eleven more came in when Abram brought a bowlful through the door and then went back for more. This is happy news for the big egg-eaters among us – Ruthie easily knocking back two at breakfast time all by her little self.

I’ve been sticking plenty of egg yolks in our smoothies recently and eggs are on the menu most mornings. Fried, scrambled, and homegrown – all favorites in this house. And we are so thankful to the Lord to be able to serve these nourishing provisions up to our little ones.

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