It’s no wonder…
people feel a disconnect when it comes to food. The “food” in the stores bears no resemblance to food as I know it. I realized today how intimate our life is with our food, and our basic needs. I take that for granted sometimes, because we have food everywhere you look. It is a herculean task to grow a variety of food and preserve and store it. People are now relearning how to take care of themselves, some by choice, and some by economics, and it is hard. It’s hard for us, and we live it everyday. We are responsible for our water, firewood, and most of our food. I earned my degree right here, I have no idea what label to put on my last 50 years of learning, but maybe that’s where the difference lies. I have lots of friends who went to college. Some are working in their chosen profession and others are doing something entirely different. But what they all have in common is that they put an expiration date on their learning. “When I earn my degree, I’m done schooling!” Shelf life for learning. Done. I haven’t quit learning. Each day, and each season brings something new for me to ponder. I now am helping friends learn how to garden, can, and sew. Most of these things were things we were doing in high school. But, I’ve kept doing it, and now I’m fairly good at it.
I lose my patience when people tell me they couldn’t possibly eat Fluffy or Buttercup. And, if you don’t eat meat that’s fine, but if you do, you should be able to look that animal in the eye at every stage of its life. We all live and die. When I have animals here I raise strictly for meat, I take my job very seriously. They are treated well, no matter what their lifespan or planned use will be. Our animals aren’t some faceless chunk of meat or a jug of milk. It’s no wonder when a new homesteader is confronted with the actual deed, it is daunting. My milk cow bears no resemblance to a row of milk jugs in the store. She’s a living, breathing thing, that thinks and reasons and depends on me for her survival. She pees, craps and eats (a lot of all those) but she always gives and gives.
The milk is in there baby, come and get it!
The simple life isn’t always so easy. Della lost her calves this year, and her daughter, Jetta lost her calf too. Then I butchered Jetta. I won’t go into it here, if you’re new to the blog you will have to check the archives, it’s all there.
On the subject of bad, you may be wondering why I haven’t posted about the turkeys, since they have been here since the end of July. I have enjoyed every day they have been here, because I love my turkeys. They are smart, bright, and fun to be around. They always come to you, and they look you in the eye. I love to talk to them, and hear all the different things they have to say. Are they pets, no, do I enjoy them, yes.
Are you looking at me?
I had a bad feeling when the turkeys came. Several were dead in the box already. Our procedure when we receive them, is to dip their beaks in water, and then in the food, and then place them under the heat lamps. So many felt too light, and looked weak. In the back of my mind, I could hear my friend telling me that the hatchery I used was no good anymore, and everybody who purchased from them was having bad luck. He is more negative than me, (if you can believe that) so I always listen with a grain of salt, but this time he was right.
This deformed turkey never should have been sent out. I had to put him out of his misery.
He has no legs – this is the problem with industrial breeds, and even some heritage breeds because the gene pool is so limited. These birds have to be artificially inseminated because by the time they are old enough to breed they are so large they can’t do the job. But, this is what people have demanded for so long, more meat, more milk, more uniform fruit, more reliable vegetables. It’s all the same. It’s also a sign of the times, when the worker at the hatchery, just mindlessly sends out a poult that should have been put down right away and notes taken as to why and how often. Humans are getting more and more self-centered, and less and less conscientious.
I know it sounds easy to raise heritage breeds, but I need to make a profit. This isn’t a hobby for me. If I raised a bird with a slower grow out time, I would be volunteering my time for someone else to have a nice feel good Thanksgiving. Vegetarians buy our turkeys. Why is it OK to eat turkey then, and not the rest of the year? This is what I mean, about being intimate with your food, maybe it has to be baby steps, and I’m naive in thinking people will ever try to grow a good share of their food. And, if it gets sick or diseased, take the loss. People are too babied and insulated. Buying your food at the farmers market, or even from me, you are insulated. You will eat beef, and turkey and pork, but you didn’t have to see my heart wrenching at the sight of Della fall to her knees while the vet pulled her calves. Or watch me kill that baby turkey in front on my daughter and explain why that cull should not have left the hatchery, and now that we have to call them and tell them to deduct the price of that bird. I know by growing these Broad Breasted White turkeys, I’m feeding the machine. But, sometimes, I feel like I stepped off the merry-go-round, only to look back and see everybody else is still on there having a good time. It’s OK to complain about industrial farming practices, but when it comes down to it, my customers are usually particular. They need a certain size turkey for a holiday feast. Or it has to be a hen or tom, well after the eggs and testicles are out, and they have been in ice water for a while, they all look alike. I can pretty much guarantee you I won’t have a 25# hen, but I will have a bunch of 18#ers. So maybe I need new customers, but you know what, I like my customers, and they want a consistent product from me. They want to know that their turkey had a good life, no matter what color his feathers are. The prettiest turkey I have ever seen, was a Sweet Grass turkey, and it is a heritage breed from Oregon. But to find them and breed them, and keep them safe would be a labor of love. But, for now I will love these whities while they are here. Their feathers rustle like satin, and if you have ever made a formal out of satin, you know what I mean. We try to sneak up on them and they are like a pack of watch dogs, chirping hello. If a stranger comes near, they sound the alarm. They are smart, and funny and we visit them often outside of chore time. But they bear no likeness to the shrink wrapped, basted turkey available year-round in the store. They are the same breed, but I would like to think I have enriched my turkeys quality of life as much as they have enriched mine.
I go to the store, I see the food there, it is all neat and tidy and convenient. It is not dirty, mean or bloody. And it takes no time at all for the consumer to pick it up and pay for it. And what I see at the store, is people too impatient to even realize they are buying food. We need it everyday, we love it, (or so we say) but we are perturbed when it takes awhile in line to get it. Fast food isn’t just at the drive-up, it’s everywhere except where people are taking an active part in producing slow food. I didn’t mean this to be a rant, but oh well…on a lighter note here is my day in food, and at the end, for Chris and Jamay, my proof I have OCD (obsessive canning disorder) :)
So that’s what those pileated applewoodpeckers have been eating. They will be fine in applesauce for breakfast. Just cut out the damaged parts and the rest is fine.
This is close to a two year supply. When I’m finally done preserving for the year, I will make a pantry page, with tallies, homegrown or purchased, etc.