Sustainability

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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.


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.