Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Great Thanks

Once more, I arrive to this day of reflection on giving thanks. I find every year, I have a much longer list than I thought possible. There are certainly things one could focus on that I feel less than thankful for, but more and more, I find that it is important to remove the spotlight from those things, and to focus instead on all that we want and love. Spending time dwelling on the parts we don't like only seems to attract more of what we don't like.

So an abridged list of what I am grateful for:

Drew and Ella, and all the rest of our family
Our good fortune at being given the opportunity to buy our land
Our unbelievable ability to manifest our amazing house.
The plethora of food we grew this year, and will eat throughout the winter.
A community of helpful, loving, and supportive neighbors and friends, close to home and far and wide, who contribute in more ways than they can imagine.
Good health.
Physical ability to pursue the things we love.
Good music.

It's good to be alive...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On Our Way to Indoor Toilets

Last week, our neighbor-friend-backhoe operator Cedar dug the hole for our septic tank, and we had the tank delivered the next day. The pit seemed quite large, until it was filled with an equally voluminous concrete box. It arrived on a truck, with an intrepid driver who expertly operated the fancy hydraulic arm with great precision, to ease it into the space.

Now this tank can hold a lot of poop. You may ask why we chose such a large tank, especially considering that most of the wastewater from our home will go into a graywater system. The septic will basically handle the three toilets, and the kitchen sink. The answer is not so spectacular. Only that another system was recently installed nearby, and it is the same sized house. Evidently, the tank sizing goes by the number of bedrooms, which stands to reason that it would effect the amount of effluent a household would generate.

At some point, Cedar will return to connect the plumbing, backfill the hole, and dig the leach line trenches so he can install the infiltrator. We are genuinely on the path to becoming a civilized household! Soon, I can invite you over to "do your business" in my flushing toilet. Ahhh, what a day that will be. It's not that I mind the outhouse so much. Well, maybe our roof-less, frigid-seated, insect-infested bucket pooper is kind of a bummer. Outhouses need not be as skanky as ours, but when I consider that I haven't had indoor plumbing to call my own since I moved to the Mattole almost eight years ago, well, let's just say I'm looking forward to not needing to don a polar fleece suit and a headlamp and walk 30 yards if I've got to shit in the middle of the night. It doesn't happen often, but the times it does are enough to remind of the advantages to come.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Larder

I seem to be having difficulty regularly posting here. It's largely due to the new habits of my three-year-old. She no longer naps in the afternoons, leaving me without my mid-day space out, web-surfing moment, in which I have written a lot of my posts. I also used to write a lot after she went to bed, or even in the evening while she was playing with her dad, but the computer is now occupied with her nightly obsession with Angelina Ballerina, or one of her other DVD's, until we are all dead tired at about 9 PM. That pesky time change leads us all to the barn earlier these days.

Anyhow, back on topic, the subject of my post today is the larder, particularly how excited I am to take stock of the wares I've canned, accumulated, dried, grown or otherwise stashed for our family's consumption between now and April and beyond. The weather of winter has fully and completely arrived, meaning very short days, regular cold, cloudy, and rainy days, and cold nights. I've noted over the years here that all growth of plants basically stops, or progresses painfully slowly, during these months. Even though many of our local plants don't die back as in places where it snows, many do, while others simply pause as if mid-sentence, and wait for longer days and warmer nights to begin to stretch again. Even the grass tends to pause.

While the garden and native plants are stuck in winter limbo, we still have plenty to eat, though not as great a quantity of fresh produce as in the summer. Here is a list of what I've canned up to line our (forthcoming) pantry shelves:
2 cases of tomato
6 tomato paste
10 zucchini relish
35 or so jars of jam (apple ginger jelly, blueberry, strawberry, peach, and blackberry)
16 quarts of apple juice
1.5 cases of red tomato salsa
2 cases green tomatillo salsa
~12 tubs of pesto (frozen)
about 30 winter squash
6-8 cups of dried white beans
dried herbs
two frozen chickens whole
a several month supply of cured garlic
about 8 cups of home grown wheat berries
frozen strawberries
locally-grown frozen beef

I still have yet to can/put up:
green tomato chutney

Even though it's winter outside, we're still eating:
fresh cabbage
fresh carrots
fresh broccoli
fresh greens
fresh beets
the dregs of the tomato, eggplant, and peppers

I don't think our garden produce will last through like I always try to manifest, but it will only be a few months where we won't have anything.

Days left until the first spring planting: About 90.