What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Monday, August 15, 2016

All in a Week

Blueberries were all dried up this year due to the drought at the 'cheap' u-pick place.  This meant we had to forage for wild huckleberries, which were pretty crummy too.  Wild huckleberries are already smaller and take much more time to pick- but we picked them at the tail end of the season, when there was only picking one or two berries at a time.  These berries were hard won.  
I asked the children to harvest from the garden.  Everyone gathered bowls.

Can you guess who gathered this bowl?


It has her signature all over it.  ;-)

And then the boys organized it all on the porch.  That has their signatures all over it.

Due to the drought, many things aren't doing great in the garden.  We have no melons, a measley pumpkin patch, hardly any cucumbers, zero fruit anywhere and the tomatoes got the nasty lateblight that kills the blossom end of the tomato and not just the foliage.  But- we have peppers!  Loads of amazing peppers!

I did buy some local u-pick berries, out of fruit desperation since we have no baby apples, cherries, peaches, nectarines or blueberries from our own bushes/trees in our future this year.  The blueberries were cheaper than the grocery store but they weren't cheap by any means.    

The blackberries were free though!

I bought a bushel of peaches too.  I can't wait for the day I won't need to buy fruit.

I have to get all last years' leftover canned goods into one area before adding the new canned things in.  It helps me rotate food out better.  Until I get a chance to do that, though, the picnic table is getting pretty full!

My brother in law, who happens to be the big bossman of a hotel restaurant and happens to be awesome like that, let me in on a meat deal last week.  40 pounds of restaurant-quality boneless/skinless chicken breast, 60 pounds of pork loin and 80 pounds of 80/20 ground beef for $235.00.  That's about $1.30 a pound!  I couldn't pass that deal up- even though it would take sorting through freezers and making room for 180 pounds of meat.  I got rid of lots of frozen shredded zucchini (who needs it when compared to carnivorous things?!?  But the chickens loved it.) and canned other things that didn't need to stay frozen (like frozen bone broth and peaches) then divided the meat, freezer packed and labelled it all and squeezed it all in somehow.  It was a big job.  But wow- was it worth it!

 I canned up:

~ 12 qts of bone broth (chicken, ham and turkey)
~ 7 quarts of peaches
~ 15 qts of tomatoes (whole in their own juices)
~ 21 jars of peach jam
~ 7 jars of marinara sauce

I flash froze and bagged:

~ 180 pounds of chicken, pork and beef
~ several gallons of blueberries and foraged huckleberries
~ several cookie sheets worth of foraged blackberries
~ 2 gallons of peach slices
~ 6 quarts of corn, sliced from the cob
~ a cookie sheet of diced green peppers

Oh.  And I was in charge of making 4 gallons of homemade ice cream for a reunion on Sunday afternoon.

It was a busy week in the kitchen, and I was a hot, sticky, sweaty mess canning up a storm during those sweltering 90 degrees 98% humidity days (why can't I can up some of this heat for winter storage?!?) Between the drips of sweat running down the back of my knees and vacuum sealing bag after bag (after bag), it couldn't have been more apparent how much abundance surrounds us.  

If you ever wonder how I can feed everyone, this is it. When other people are vacationing or sitting by the pool/ocean/air conditioner, I am in the kitchen sweating like a pig.  Chopping, dicing, canning, freezing, mashing, mushing, stirring, sealing.  One little bag of cheap meat, one little bag of hard-earned huckleberries plucked off bare brances at the end of the season, one green pepper chopped up at a time...all bits to feed and sustain this group of hungry bellies that I love so dearly.  It's all work.  It's all abundance.  It's all gratitude.  

Lest you get the wrong idea after reading thus far, I should tell you that among all that above productivity there was also:

~ loads of clean laundry accumulating throughout the entire week on the living room floor without being folded.  By Saturday it was probably six loads and by then, of course, scattered.

~ I found  two bags of shredded zucchini from 2009 in the freezer.  2009.  Seven-year-old freezer-burnt zucchini anyone?  Anyone?!?

~ A less than lovely Mamabear who did more growling than she cares to admit

~ take out one night for dinner

~ a whole bowl full of cherry tomatoes that didn't get into the dehydrator in time and wound up needing to go to the chickens instead

~ copious amounts of child slave labor forced upon the young'uns

And guess what?  

The table on the porch is full of things yet to be put into jars... 

the 'busy season' is upon us country Mama's.  

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