Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Too good to be true

Glorious fall is here. We are bustling around like bears getting ready for hibernation, or squirrels frantically stashing away food for winter. We are harvesting, putting food by, canning like mad. There is the beautiful garlic and onion harvest to be cured. The Sauerkraut is done fermenting and has to be put in jars. Plums and apples need to be picked from the trees. Grapes and kiwis are ripening. Winter squashes are almost ready. The kids stroll in the garden to investigate what food can be snacked on. And I'm making Steve's favorite: Caraway Gouda.  (By the way, I have two more spots left in my Gouda cheese making class this Saturday, Sept 20.)

And then, as every fall, there is the dreaded chicken slaughtering.  I say dreaded because it's not fun.  It's gnarly and sad and messy.  But the reward for eating our own chickens that we raised ourselves are immense.  (I wrote about it here and here.)  This year we set a record in terms of time and efficiency: It took us only three and a half hours to process 45 chickens from start to finish.  The team: Steve, neighbor Rich, friend Greg, our sons Kai and Luke, and me.  Go team!  We rent equipment (a chicken plucker and cooling tank) six months ahead of time, so the day is set in stone.  It's a miracle that every single year at chicken slaughter time, the weather is gorgeous.  
I took lots of great pictures, but they are tiny bit gory and bloody and stuff, so I'll spare you the sight.  Here's one of neighbor Rich refreshing Kai's memory on how to cut open a chicken and deal with the guts.  And below is Rich's dog, who is very excited to help when slaughter time comes around.  Don't worry, she doesn't kill the chickens, but she does like lapping up any blood that happens to drip.

When everything is over, I grab the chicken livers and make liver pate.  It is marvelous, and I am heartbroken that I am the only member of my family to adore it.  How could you not like something that involves sauteed onions, garlic, a whole stick of butter, thyme from the garden, a splash of Brandy, and chicken livers soaked in milk?

Talking of food: our family has gotten obsessed with juicing.  With all that wonderful produce in the garden, what else is there to do?  After milking the goats in the morning, I wander into the garden to pick beets, carrots, kale, swiss chard and collards.  Then I come back inside and juice the heck out of everything.  It makes the most colorfulful, nutritious juice you can imagine.  The kids love to help with juicing and drinking it!

Even with all this activity going on, Steve and I managed to get a way for a day long bike ride this week.  We rode over 30 miles along the Skagit and Sauk rivers, blissing out on each other's company, the sunshine, and the gorgeous views of Mount Baker.  Our friend, who took care of the kids, welcomed us back with home made pizza.  Sometimes I think our lives are too good to be true.

I will leave you with images of two of our kids.  Luke on his way to his first solo-overnight camp out in the woods (which will be a separate blog entry one of these days), and Eva playing with flowers in the vegetable garden.  Have a wonderful week!

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