When I woke up this morning I had the faint memory of a marathon of sorts happening in my kitchen yesterday, though through my sleep-clouded eyes I couldn't remember any details. All I knew was that it was morning and time to get up yet I was still exhausted and had a strong feeling there was lots more to do.
I headed into the kitchen and stopped in my tracks. Dishes. Everywhere. A culinary disaster.
Yes, we cleaned up after dinner. Dishes washed, food put away. Then we took a quick bike ride to the coop (for spices for canning) before bed. After the kids were snuggled in I had work to do. (I was home alone with the kids last night while Pete went to do some "product testing" of our reformulated natural bug spray in the local spring creeks with his fly rod. Really. He was working. I swear.)
And so was I.
You may recall that Tuesday is my farm day. The kids and I had made our regular visit to some farmer friends yesterday and came home with gallons of milk and cream (for making butter, cheese, and yogurt) and pails and bags of fresh organic produce – green beans and wild blackberries in particular were begging to be put by at their peak. And let's not forget the garden harvest of zucchini that was taking over the kitchen from the day before. (There is something mildly manic about this time of year.)
Last night between the kids bedtime and my own I made two gallons of yogurt, a ruby-colored batch of blackberry jam, a half-dozen quarts of spicy zucchini-cumin pickles, a batch of chicken stock, and an enormous mess.
Today? Will be busy. We have homeschool group down by the creek, a playdate with friends, and then my weekly evening out – just me and my serger at a girlfriend's house. But somehow between here and there I have to manage putting by a 1/2 bushel of green beans, making a few more quarts of kraut, folding two loads of laundry, and washing a kitchen's worth of dirty dishes. Arrrrrggg!
Really. Why torture myself?
I can buy sauerkraut and blackberry jam any day of the year at the coop. Organic even. Heck, where I live there are two live, organic sauerkraut producers so I can even align with my ethics of supporting the local economy and foodshed. I would guess there is local jam too.
But then, I would miss the whole point of self-sufficiency. When winter comes and its dinner time I want to go – not to the coop or the grocery store – but to my basement or my pantry to choose what to serve with our dinner. There are still months left to put food by and already our options are: canned spicy zukes, garlic cucumbers, dilly beans (spicy or tame); live fermented sauerkraut, pickles, and dilly beans; and lots of jam – blueberry, strawberry, or blackberry so far. Plus the freezer is brimming with greens and fruits for anything we might want to make in the winter when all the veggies at the coop are from California.
I've never put food by on this scale before. It is still arguably a baby step towards self-reliance, but it's more than I've ever done. And there really aren't words for how happy those shelves make me. Sometimes when I walk down the stairs I open the cabinet doors just to gaze at the jars, smiling.
As I type this Sage is stacking last night's jars in the pantry and saying, " We're putting a lot of food by for winter! Even just putting them in the cabinet is satisfying."
My heart swells.