December 30th, 2019– After Christmas

After Christmas

The gift wrapping bags are all folded and stored for next year, the stockings have been emptied and I’ve packed all the food goodies away in a basket where I can’t see them so I can make them last and the pounds not gather on my hips.

This morning I cleaned the chicken meat off the bones and started a pot of bone broth simmering, that’s tomorrow night’s dinner.  Tonight is the chicken in a casserole. There’s also a pot of navy beans soaking for bean soup made with the ham bone. That ham is the first one we’ve cooked from our first batch of pigs and it was the best ham I’ve ever had.  You didn’t need a knife to cut it, it was moist and flavorful. If I had room in our own freezer I’d be grabbing another quarter of pork just so I can have another ham.

The house is so warm we didn’t bother to start a fire in the woodstove this morning.  But the warm weather can’t last so this morning we’ll load a batch of rocks to fill in the low spots in the lane and take them out on our way to cut up downed trees for the woodshed.  That’s after we haul hay to the cows. The shop is open this afternoon (I’m writing this Friday) so after lunch I’ll stick close to the shop.

Winter gets awfully dull after Christmas, we’re pretty much just hauling hay and cutting firewood.  But that’s fine with me, any excitement on a farm in the winter means something like sick animals, howling blizzards, power outages or all of the above at the same time.  I can live with the tedium of hay and firewood just fine.

But to lighten the days there are bright spots like seed catalogs in the mailbox for garden planning.  I want to plant more colorful vegetables, the more color the higher the nutrition. So I’ll be looking for purple carrots and cauliflower, dark green and purple lettuce varieties.  Purple potatoes, dark green spinach and maybe some vegetables I didn’t know came in colors other than what you see in the grocery store.  

And when I do shop in the grocery for fruit and vegetables I’ll take my produce bags we made.  More and more European countries are banning the use of plastic for packaging. I saw a picture of the produce in I think New Zealand and it was beautiful with all the colors not covered by plastic.  And you can really see the quality of the produce you’re buying if it isn’t stuffed in a sack.

After I place my orders for seeds and potato starts I can look forward to planning on what to get for chickens.  Our laying hens have been working for going on 3 years now which is pretty ancient for a chicken. Commercial laying hens are only kept for one laying season, after that their production drops below profitability.  But ours supplement their food bill with the bugs, seeds, grasses and weeds they walk away from their feeder to forage. And this time of year they hang out under the bird feeder and glean seeds the birds drop. So their upkeep is pretty minimal and we can let them hang out on the farm.  But we will need more laying hens and meat birds this year so lots of new chicks for us.

I’m also getting ready for Christmas 2020.  My mother-in-law, Betty, started the day after Christmas looking for just the right gift at her price.  She shopped all year long, sometimes for gifts that wouldn’t be gifted for a year or two. Then come Christmas she’d have forgotten just what all she had to wrap and would run out of wrapping paper.  So she’d use the newspaper comics. And she’d still run out. After all the gifts had been unwrapped and the stockings unstuffed she’d think for a minute and remember that one last gift that hadn’t been wrapped and run down the hall to her stash.  Back she’d come with a crumpled paper bag holding a thoughtful present, with the tags still on. After a few years of this it became a cherished tradition for me and she’d always hold one of my gifts back so I could receive it in it’s paper sack. She’s been gone for a few Christmases now and it’s not the same without a paper sack gift.  But I thought of her yesterday when I bought a gift and something to put in a stocking on the day after Christmas.

What will you be doing until spring?  Candy

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