The ABC’s of a Homesteading Life

Saturday, December 26, 2015

pples hang low on branches that bend to the ground. Picking time is just around the corner. There’ll be cold crunchy crispness for fresh eating, sliced sweetness in pies and tarts, savory baked apples and “just past prime” apples cooked down and made into an applesauce that is perfect with a succulent roast pork.

Bread rises in the warmth of a kitchen then is pulled hot and fresh from the oven on a holiday morning, smothered in butter or honey or a homemade summer jam. It’s heady aroma filling a quite farmhouse.

Chicks pip and crack, making their way, wet and weak, from the warmth of their eggshell cocoon. They grow plump and fat, peck and scratch the ground, finding bugs and worms while growing into stately layers or succulent roasted dinners.

Daydreams. A cool, late summer evening to celebrate the past and dream of the future; to praise protectors that make it possible for a single mom and a child to live a farm life, at the edge of suburbia with the help of a few good friends, a pen full of lambs and a coop full of chickens.

Eggs hidden in corners and behind bales of hay like small nuggets of buried treasure, waiting to be collected or hatched to replenish an aging flock, or cooked into a hearty breakfast fit for a farm girl.

Fruit trees spread their branches, pushing their blossoms out to become a new year’s crop blushed by the sun and ripened in the heat of summer.

Gardens grow rich and green; tangle and twine through their beds before producing brightly shaped crops perfect for eating fresh, freezing or canning.

Hands dive deep into rich black soil, making way for a fall sowing of seeds. Pulling spent crops, moving manure from coop to compost and from compost to bed.

Imaginations wander, thoughts emerge, ideas form and a town lot slowly transforms into a productive oasis of food and fiber; simplicity and self-reliance.

Jam bubbles and sputters on a red hot stove; releasing its summer juices for a concoction that will remind us of warmer weather on a cloudy winter’s day.

Killing goes hand-in-hand with the raising and growing, providing the family with safe, wholesome food for the year. Prayers go up from grateful hearts for an animal’s good life, which sustains ours.

Lambs jump and frolic, getting strong and fat on good feed. Their fate…to some a cold death, to others a year’s worth of dinners wrapped in paper and stacked in a freezer.

Mason jars line the shelves, gleaming with our brightly colored harvest; enough to feed a family all winter long.

Night time falls silently over our little farm, quietly relinquishing its hard working inhabitants to sleep.

Owls hoot from high in the trees, swooping down to earth anytime a mouse scurries across its path.

Pumpkins gleam in the dusky autumn sun, waiting to transform our farmhouse into a fantasy of fall splendor before being turned into pies and butters and breads and cakes.

Quilts lay out like rainbows over the horizon; pieced together from scraps of fabric or worn out favorites to keep a family warm from the harsh winds of winter.

Rain storms roll through the valley, coming down in sprinkles and showers; downpours and droves, nourishing the parched spoil, renewing life on our little farm.

Season’s change; from the long sunny days of summer filled with fresh eating from the garden to the cool crisp days of fall and harvests put up for winter store to the promise of spring with the turning of soil and the planting of seeds.

Time chases us as we plan and work and move toward a more self-sufficient life, building and planting to live self contained. But, time is also our friend, for life is about the journey and not the destination.

Understanding comes from days working the soil or tending the animals. Old worries, past ambitions, long held desires fade into the distance as new truths take hold and become part of who we are becoming.

Victories abound on our little farm; barns are raised, skills are learned, chicks are hatched, kits are born, lambs grow, gardens produce and animals give their lives to feed a grateful family.

Wash hangs on the line, blowing in the soft breeze, taking in the sweet scent of a contented farm.

X-altation from a life lived simply brings contentment and comfort.

Yarn spun from a harvest of wool; washed and carded and put on a wheel, wraps around clicking needles or flies through the strings of a loom; emerging as hat or scarf or sweater, bringing warmth and comfort to the wearer.

Zucchini’s flourish in compost rich beds; dark green and golden yellow even striped become the base for breads or cookies or muffins; sliced or sautéed or stuffed and baked. They become the center of our meals.

We have come a long way since the first spade plunged deep into the soil; the first animal walked our land. We have much still to learn, but we produce our own crops and raise our own meat. That’s enough.

For now.

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