Last week I had shared a picture of some guinea fowl feathers and globe amaranth, and it got me thinking about our mindset, come Autumn. I gather feathers throughout the year because I find them to be beautiful and full of vibrancy that can live on in other ways. The same is true for seeds, herbs, flowers, nuts, pine cones, and even branches. Ordinarily, this time of year marks a beginning for colder, shorter days, and in times of yore, it meant you needed to store up food stuffs for the winter. And if you’re trying to live a little more in harmony with nature and Mother Earth, it is true, at this time, and all through the year.
Our family fits the latter scenario: we preserve and harvest all year, in one way or another, and it seems perfectly natural to us. At this very time, Stephen has been working on our pond area, clearing overgrowth and preparing fallen and thinned timber to be used as fencing posts around our barn.
We preserve pumpkins every fall. I use my Instant Pot these days, (15 minutes on high pressure) and stuff in a pie pumpkin, and scrape out the goodies and freeze in 14 ounce portions. If you ever stayed at our Airbnb, you will have had our Hop & Hen Farm pumpkin bread, and this is what it was made with – pumpkin I had preserved! Better yet, those plastic bags get cleaned and reused for other things, even re-freezing some other foods.
If you follow along with me on Facebook or Instagram, you already know I make various goat milk cheeses, but I also make goat milk yogurt and paneer, and Stephen has been making goat milk ice cream. Yes. And it is awesome! This week’s yogurt, for example, I flavored with almond oil, and sweetened with honey from our own beehives. The remaining whey from this process is saved for bread and roll-making, and sometimes we give it to the chickens, so they get that extra probiotic boost. I’ve spent two years finally arriving on my preferred method for making yogurt, and it works perfectly for our home, and is much the same method I use to make soft/spreadable chevrè. Culturing at room temperature overnight, with a bit of vegetable rennet, I get a perfect yogurt with enough body to be drained and prepped with whatever flavors I like, including adding fruit. This goes on all year long, as we’re fortunate to have a dairy goat (awesome Annie) who seems to not want to stop milking!), but you could do this even with store-bought milk.
Doing these little things might not seem like much, and for some, it seems overwhelming. It appears to run counter to all the conveniences we’ve become so accustomed to (or trained to as consumers?), but if anything, I keep finding myself grateful that I can do these things for our family. I like knowing a bit more about what goes into what we use and consume. I like knowing how things are created. And I like discovering my own ways for improving that process a little more each time. Does it take a little more time than just buying something? Of course, and likely initially, as you start learning about it. However, there is some great comfort knowing I can make these things with my own hands and preserve things for later use, any time I want. There is also some great financial savings, being able to produce what you need whenever you need it, in some cases with very little or no money!
Harvesting and preservation need not be just food items, and definitely doesn’t need to be complicated. Mending cloths preserves items that still have life in them. Using a service like Poshmark can get your cloths into the hands of another person happy to have them! Reusing glass jars, or other items that still have usefulness is an easy way to start thinking about how you can harvest all year long.
I hope you start to find joy in some facet of this seasonal pursuit, so much so that it starts appearing easy throughout the year. Sending you goat kisses from our farm to your home. – Deb