Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Apricot Harvest Tips

If you are fortunate enough to live in an area with an abundance of fruit trees, chances are there are an abundance of people who don't want to deal with the fruit of their tree's labors. They may be friends, neighbors, or a stranger living in another part of town. If you notice a fruit tree, full of ripe edible fruit in hoards on the branches and on the ground, it doesn't hurt to ask the owner if they would be willing to let you pick for them and split the harvest.

In my case this year, a couple friends of my friend had apricot trees with fruit they didn't want the trouble of harvesting. With gracious invitations, I had the opportunity to harvest apricots, not only once, but on three separate occasions this Summer. I thought I'd share the most helpful tips for making a pleasant apricot harvest experience with you today!

Tip #1: Bring a couple friends! More people at any harvest means the spoils need to be divided, but the yield you can get by harvesting as a team is a notable advantage. Plus, time on a job passes so much more quickly and pleasantly when you're having fun!

My friend Erin, Me, and my friend Heather.

Tip #2: Bring a small free standing ladder, a long pole/stick, and/or a person who feels comfortable climbing trees. You don't necessarily need all three of these, but you will need at least one of them for a higher quantity and quality harvest as the fruit higher up and closer to the sun, ripens a bit faster than the fruit on the lower branches.

Tip #3: Bring a fitted sheet! You can bring a flat sheet or blanket if that is all you have available, but the fitted is the most effective at capturing large amounts of fruit. Have the most agile and confident climber of your group climb the tree (or ladder if you brought one) and gently shake fruit-laden limbs with their hand, or a stick or pipe, as the rest of the group hold the fitted sheet below the branch being shaken. Don't shake limbs with apricots that aren't ripe. Apricots are much smaller and lighter than most other stone fruits and because of this, they don't bruise as easily as say a peach might upon hitting the ground or a suspended sheet. Because of this fact, I wouldn't recommend the shake and catch method for fruit harvesting with fruit bigger than apricots!

No worries! Capturing fruit in a fitted sheet isn't as difficult as it looks! Haha! ;)
Tip #4: Bring buckets, boxes, or laundry baskets to store the fruit. This blue plastic bucket from the Dollar Store is a really great size for fruit harvesting, and it washes up easy, too. If you want to go a more environmentally-friendly/compost-able route, small cardboard boxes can do the trick as well. Just be careful to not stack the fruit too tall (No more than a foot and a half?) If the holes aren't too large on your laundry basket, that would also a great option for hauling a whole lot of fruit. When headed to the car, all you have to do is wrap it up in the fitted sheet to help keep in any tiny apricots that might slip out during transport. You'll want to transfer batches of fruit to these containers in batches as the sheet gets fuller and heavier.

Tip #5: Enlist the help of your children. (If you have them!) They may not be able to work as efficiently, but by including them in these endeavors now, you insure future harvests will only continue to get easier as they learn to do their part. Also, with their shorter legs, it is a bit easier for them to watch as the apricots fall to the ground and toss them into the sheet if they didn't make it the first time. Bring extra grocery sacks for them to collect fruit throughout the process as well. It gives them something to do and contribute. Also, the great thing about harvesting fruit with kids is that snack time is built right in. If temperatures are very warm, you will definitely want to bring some water to accompany their snacking.

Tip #6: Wear close-toed shoes. All who went bare-foot or flip-flopped, either whined about stepping in apricot muck, slipped, or mentioned they wished they had remembered to wear better foot ware. Fruit harvesting is pretty messy work and keeping your feet covered helps you maintain better grip wherever you stand, and assures the comfort of clean feet throughout at the process (at least on the inside of your shoes.)

Tip #7: Come dressed to work! Wear clothes you don't mind getting messy and you can comfortable move/climb in. You may also consider wearing a baseball cap to protect your head from falling apricots and face from UV rays. Not necessary, but a nice option.

Tip #8: Give back. If you were able to harvest off of someone else's tree for free, make sure to bring some of the fresh picked fruit to the tree owner when you're done picking  (or a jar of the finished, canned product) to say "Thank you!"

There you have it! My top 8 tips for improving your apricot harvest. Now, what to do with all those apricots?

I found this recipe for Low Sugar Apricot Strawberry Jam and I modified it by cutting down the sugar even further, doing part honey for the sweetener, and cutting out the pectin. This makes the finished product a bit more fluid than a firm jam. Delicious spread on waffles, or pancakes, or stirred into warm oatmeal. My kids LOVE it, so I dedicated our entire third apricot harvest to this recipe:

3 lbs. apricots, washed, halved
2 lbs. strawberries, whole or halved, (frozen or fresh)
1/2 cup honey
1 cup sugar
2 TBL. lemon juice (or to taste - I like mine a bit tart)

*A double batch of this made 11 pint jars. I just combined all the ingredients and boiled down not quite half until it was all combined, and the mixture felt thicker on stirring. (About 1 hour.) Process hot sterilized jars filled with the preserve and lidded with rings spun finger tight for 10 minutes in a water bath.

Apricot vanilla bean preserves, Apricot Strawberry preserves, Apricot halves in ginger honey with lemon
Have you harvested fruit directly from fruit trees before? 
If so, what are your best tips? 
What are some of your favorite canning recipes?
Talk with me, friends!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

No Buyer’s Remorse, Here; 30+ Kitchen Favorites

Thank you to all of you who responded to my quiz! The top-voted future post idea was:

“10 things that Jami didn’t regret buying, later. (Maybe even by category? Baby stuff. Camping Stuff. Cooking Stuff. Preparedness Stuff, etc.)”

In accordance with your wishes, I am sharing my favorite purchases for the kitchen, today! Friends, there are affiliate links galore in this post, but let it be known not one of them was bought off of me. This is all stuff I already use and love every day. No regrets on any of these purchases! 

SnapWare Glass Ware – These have been our go-to wedding gift for some time. (We usually purchase these sets when they go on coupon at Costco!) They are the best for storing leftovers. The lids snap on providing great insulation for the food. No worries about plastic coming in contact with your food – especially food that needs to be re-heated. You can clearly see what is inside each container through the glass, and you can write on the lid with a dry erase marker to indicate the date the food was stored. They are dishwasher, microwave, oven, and freezer safe!

Fliptite Storage Canisters.

Fliptite Storage Containers – I bought mine from Wal-mart. I got several of these sets and bought a few extras individual containers as well. They are great for storing grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruits etc. I love being able to see what is inside without having to see packaging. They seal beautifully as well, helping to protect the life of the food they contain.

Gamma lids on 5-gallon buckets!
Gamma Lids - for 5-6 gallon buckets for bulk food storage. Easy open bulk food storage lids. I’ll never go back to the plastic wrench bucket opener again. Gamma lids for life! I have seen competitive pricing at Azure Standard, Emergency Essentials, Baytec Containers, and IFA Country Store, and WinCo. Just shop around. Generally speaking, any lid $7 or less is a great deal. Utilize different colors to differentiate what is inside each bucket.

Blossom uCap, Re-usable Silicone lids for mason jars in clear and blue ones for drinking out of your mason jars with a straw - These are a great rust-free option for capping your canned goods after they have been opened, and they’re cute, too!

Some of my spices on my Cop-co organizer shelf.
Cop-Co Non-skid 10 inch 3-tier Cabinet Organizer – The only problem with this spice shelf organizer, is that I only have one. Or maybe I have too many spices . . . No, definitely not that. Really though, super helpful. Highly recommend. It also comes in a 15 inch as well I just discovered! Options for whatever your cabinet space allows. Cop-Co Non-skid 15 inch 3-tier Cabinet Organizer

InterDesign Refrigerator Organizers – I got a mixed pack from Costco. I particularly like these two: This one for storing eggs and this one for storing cheese. It is like adding extra small drawers to a fridge or cabinet space. They are great.

Wire baskets for fruit and veggie storage! Like a little farmer's market in my corner. :)
Wire Fruit Baskets – My fruit baskets were a gift from my mom around the time she came up for Jocelyn’s birth. She was tired of seeing my mammoth piles of produce scattered all over my counter. She bought mine at the HomeGoods store in Tucson. I’m sure you could find similar type baskets at your local HomeGoods, TJ Maxx or Ross-type store. Here are some adorable comparable baskets (albeit more expensive) on Amazon: like this one and this one and this one.

THE BEST lunch box!
PlanetBox Launch Stainless Steel Lunch Box – This is just the best lunch box design of all time. I got this as a gift for Squire. He loves everything about this lunch box, except the fact that it brings attention to him every time he uses it, which he generally tries to avoid. (Everyone wants to know where he got it.) It was pricey for a lunch box, but worth every penny in my opinion. You can check out the PlanetBox website for more designs for every member of your family.

Kitchen Gadgets
KitchenAid hand mixer, Bosch Mixer, Bamix immersion blender, Vidalia Chop Wizard and my Family Grain Mill.

Immersion Blender, Bamix, but we bought a vintage one (ESGE Bamix Magic Wand) on eBay – a fraction of the cost of a new one. Bamix as a company has a great reputation. It’s solid stainless steel construction will certainly last longer than the KitchenAid immersion blender, and will prevent you from having to go this redneck with your kitchen utensils. ;)

Bosch Universal Plus Mixer – Oh, how I love my Bosch. It was a gift from a family member to us several years ago. You can not beat the Bosch for bread mixing. After 5 years of kneading my own bread dough regularly by hand, I’m not being melodramatic when I say that owning this changed my life in the kitchen for the better. The motor is powerful (and also loud, honestly. Perhaps the only downside, but power brings a strong voice!) The suctions on the Universal Plus model keep the machine from “walking” off the counter. The open top makes it easy to add flour to bread while it mixes so it is just the right consistency. Just. The. Best.

Messerschmidt Family Grain Mill with Bosch adapter – This grain mill is the best of both worlds (hand and electric grinding) and for a really affordable price. (You can probably find a used one on eBay for cheaper, by the way! And you can find replacement parts at www.pleasanthillgrain.com) The adapter allows you to connect it to your Bosch for easy grain milling with the benefit of electric power. But if the power goes out, know that you can still grind grain by hand – this mill is easy enough to turn that even your three year old could do it!

All-American 921 Pressure Cooker/Canner – This is a wonderful canning tool. Holds 18 pint size jars, or 7 quart jars. It allows you to can not only jams and fruits, but also meat, veggies and other low acid foods from the comfort of your own home. The quality is such that it’ll be passed down long after you're buried in the ground. Highly recommend.

KHM512TG 5-Speed Ultra Power KitchenAid Hand Mixer – I love my Bosch for bread mixing, but I love my hand mixer for everything else. I feel like I can control the mixing (including getting the junk off the sides of the bowl) with a hand mixer better. This mixer is simple, well-made and will last a decade or more with proper care. To be honest, I just discovered that my same beloved hand-mixer also comes in a variety of colors now. Maybe someday my mixer will wear out and I'll be able to pick up another in one of these colors:

Green Apple

Not holding my breath, though!
Salad Spinner, Juicer, Y-Peeler, Wooden Bowl, EZ Sprouter, and Highwin French Press.
EZ Sprouter – Want to start sprouting your own grains or seeds? How about some Mung sprouts for your next Thai meal? Or some sprouts for your next sandwich or smoothie? Sprouting is an important element to the healthy eater’s diet and/or to the serious Prepper’s food storage. It allows you to create nutrient dense fresh greens from within the walls of your own home. This is a great all-around tool for that. Check out www.sproutpeople.org for more info.

Vidalia Chop Wizard – This is one of Squire’s favorite tools in the kitchen. He uses it to cube up potatoes for hash browns, or fries with this. He also enjoys making apple hash with pork chops, and this gadget allows him to get even cubes much more quickly than he could get by hand cutting alone.

OXO Salad Spinner – Salad spinners are the best way to prepare lettuce for salads. No sogginess. Just crisp, clean bites. Love the no-slip bottom that keeps it in place. Our kids love to “help” with salad-making because of this tool, especially. I have also heard it can make a great off-grid washing machine if necessary! Who-da-thunk.

Highwin Stainless Steel French Press – This is the least expensive completely stainless steel French Press I could find, and the quality is still great. I use it to steep Tisanes and occasionally Crio BrĂ¼ (a healthier hot chocolate alternative!)

Berkey Water Filtration System with sight glass spigot – We use this water filter/purifier every single day. It purifies all the water we drink and cook with. It is the best bang for your buck for water purification in emergency preparedness situations as well. I enjoyed this video review. I purchased our system from www.bigberkeywaterfilters.com. The sight glass spigot is a very helpful addition. They also have Flouride filters available.

Kitchen Utensils

Kitchenaid Y Peeler – Great peeler for veggies, or for slices of cheese. Easy to use, especially for the kids.

Danish Dough Whisk – Helpful tool for sourdough cooking. I also like it for mixing up freshly ground multi-grain flours.

Chef’n Juicer – I have the lime juicer. It works great for all small citrus. Sturdy, reliable, seeds and juices the rinds really efficiently.

Garlic Press – Forget peeling or mincing your fresh garlic. Just send the cloves through this press!

OXO Silicone brush – Love this brush for egg washes and butter brushing on baked goods. Also helpful for spreading sauce on pizza crusts. Cleans up easy, dishwasher safe.

Silicone baking Sheets – Don’t need to use aerosol sprays or any oils for baked products with these! They are a reusable alternative to expensive parchment paper.

King Arthur Pizza Stone and Pizza Peel – My favorite pizza-making tools! Great for rustic breads, too. Although my pizza peel is all wood, the one on King Arthur’s site now looks even better! The secret to being able to transfer the dough to the stone is a little cornmeal sprinkled underneath the crust.


I had gone through two sets of non-stick pots in just 6 years. Seeing the flaking of the Teflon coating in our food for the second time was what motivated me to research cookware options. I wanted pieces that we could keep for the rest of our lives and without fear of toxic metal or chemicals leaching into our food. These two Vollrath pots help fill my tall order for lifetime quality cookware. The only thing missing from our stash is perhaps a 1-2 quart size sauce pan, but other than that, I haven’t missed my cookware sets with more quantity. These pots (and a vintage ceramic coated indoor dutch oven) meet our family’s cooking needs well. Check out www.webstaurant.com for competitive pricing.

My awesome Vollrath Pots!
Vollrath Centurion 11-1/2 Qt. Sauce Pot 3203 – The volume of a stock pot, with less height to contend with. Cooks evenly, holds the heat with the lid on top so it is energy efficient as well. Cleans up easy, too. Tougher food bits are easily scrubbed off with a quick white vinegar soak.

Vollrath Centurion 4-1/4 Qt. Sauce Pan 3704 - A great sauce pan. Looking forward to using it for a lifetime!

A few cast-iron pieces in our collection.
15 inch L14SK3 Cast Iron Skillet, Lodge with this lid – I chose this skillet because it was the largest cast iron piece I could find that also had a glass lid to match. It has served our family and assisted me in cooking many large meals for friends as well.

Cast Iron Utility Grill 1148, Wagner Ware Sydney, Vintage – Excellent vintage cast iron griddle on the stove top.

Cast Iron Skillet 1058M, Wagner Ware Sydney, Vintage – Perfect skillet size for sides, sauces, eggs, and many other cooking needs. The vintage cast iron has a much smoother finish than Lodge pieces, making them a bit easier to clean and re-oil.

Tips for purchasing Cast Iron Cookware and Dutch Ovens:

  • Make sure that it isn't warped, and sits flat (as you see in ads or in person)
  • Vintage have a smoother surface than Lodge cast iron, easier to clean. Already stood the test of time.
  • Wagner or Wagnerware, Pre-1960 (Griswold quality, but much cheaper)
  • Website for being able to know the year of the vintage cast iron you are looking at:

  • If you need a lid for your cast iron, bring your piece to a thrift store and buy a glass lid that fits for just a couple dollars.
  • Check out www.webstaurant.com for purchasing Lodge pieces. The prices are good there.

Useful and Beautiful

Blue Ball Pint Jars, Heritage collection, set of 6 – These jars bring me joy! We mostly drink out of them as cups around here, but I also mix up salad dressing and store them in these jars sometimes, too. You might be able to pick up some legit vintage blue Ball jars if you hit up the right Estate sale or antique/thrift store near you. Their pricing is comparable or even a tad bit more expensive than the pricing on Amazon, here, generally speaking.

Lipper Wooden Salad Bowl – As you can see from the photo above, my wooden bowl is not the exact same as the one I listed, here. The company that made my bowl is the same, though. Mine was purchased at TJ Maxx. I get compliments on my wooden bowl at every event I bring it to, filled with green or fruit salad, or rolls to share. It is my favorite bowl for entertaining company.

My Polish Pottery Collection. Love each piece!


Here are a few places I have purchased polish pottery:

      Blue Rose Pottery

         Love these patterns:

           Aztec Flower

           Red Daisy

           Mozaic Flower

      TJ Maxx – Find out what day shipments come in to get first dibs on the great finds.



      Costco Roadshows – You can look up what roadshows will be coming through your area and when.

*Tip: I have a butter dish with a lid which I really enjoy. Butter crocks are also a great way to go. I have used my mom’s when I visit, and it is great!

Aaaaand there you have it! A whole lot of kitchen favorites! Thanks for reading!

Now it’s your turn! Please, tell me, what are some of your favorite Kitchen tools or accessories? I’d love to hear about them in the comments. Share with affiliate links if you like, too!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Stumped at the branches - A Poll for My Readers!

To any and all who take the time to read my blog, thank you! To those who take the time to read and comment, triple thanks!

I’m stumped right now, friends. 

Photo Credit: National Library of Ireland on The Commons, on Flickr
I have blog post ideas but the words aren’t flowing to the page, and they haven’t been for weeks, either. That's all fine as I generally just blog once a month these days. That said, I’ve been feeling the itch to write something and I believe getting some feedback from you lovely readers would give me just the spark I need to get something to really burn up this blog space. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section and on this poll. Which of these posts if any would be of interest or help to you in the near future? Don’t see something you’d like me to write about on the list? Please, tell me about it in the comments section! 

Cast your vote at this link. THANK YOU!!!!

Monday, June 6, 2016

When Your Pullets Turn Out to Be Roosters: Coming to Terms with Eating My Home-Grown Animals

Food has been a topic of my deeper pondering for years now. The more I learn, the more the way we eat in our home has become a matter of spiritual importance to me. I have come to the conclusion that the necessary, consistent, and routine matter of eating presents a wonderful opportunity to practice spiritual awareness. That we have been instructed through scripture to pray before we eat, is confirmation of that to me. Also relevant, is the command from God that we fast (prayerfully abstaining for food or drink) from time to time as a means of drawing closer to Him.

I have thought a lot about the instruction given in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 89, called, “The Word of Wisdom.” Anyone who knows even a hint about members of The Church of JesusChrist of Latter-Day Saints are aware that we don’t take recreational drugs, smoke, or drink alcoholic beverages, coffee, or any tea containing black or green tea leaves - the reason being the counsel offered in both this section of our scripture, and further clarifying statements from later prophets and church leaders. The Word of Wisdom, doesn’t however, just offer counsel on what we abstain from, but also gives insight into the dietary code we should follow.

Here is a portion of it (vs.10-17), with emphasis added on the scriptures I will be discussing more today:

And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.
Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.
All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;
And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.
All grain is good for the food of man; as also the fruit of the vine; that which yieldeth fruit, whether in the ground or above the ground—Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.

In return for following this code, we are promised increased health, and spiritual wisdom. 

As we have studied this and other counsel offered on the subject, we have decided to drastically cut down our meat intake as a family. We are not vegetarian, but we are conscious and careful - often using one pound or a half a pound to feed our entire family a meal that can feed us 2-3 times, about once a week, and we are working to cut out more. 

One way I have helped us cut back on our meat intake, is to only buy meat that was raised humanely on excellent natural non-GMO, usually organic, feed or grass. We choose beef that is grass-fed and finished during it’s life, pastured pork, and organic chicken. I try to buy our birds whole when possible so I can stew them for broth so that not even their bones are wasted.  Buying meat that is substantially more expensive makes it so that we really can't afford to eat much meat!

Part of our attempt at healthier and more ethical eating has also included purchasing eggs from a local. The birds only eat organic feed, but mostly they forage around the fantastically wild yard in which they live. The eggs have the darkest orange yolk I have ever seen, and they are by far the best tasting eggs I have ever eaten. Purchasing eggs this way is expensive – as you might imagine. $3 a dozen to be precise, which is actually a really fair deal. But with our ever growing family with ever growing appetites, we need to be producing our own eggs. 

In an attempt to cut our egg bill, as well as increase our self-sufficiency and animal husbandry skills, we purchased chicks from our local C-A-L Ranch back in April. My first choice was to purchase from a small-scale local breeder. Large poultry operations hire professionals who can sex the birds at hatching. They have 90% accuracy. They do however, throw any chicks they believe to be roosters into a grinder to be killed immediately. I hated the idea of supporting such waste, but the breeder I selected was too popular and I hadn’t planned my breed purchases early enough. Additionally, the cost was substantially higher for each bird purchased, with no guarantee at all as to the sex of the chickens. I justified, that if I did end up with a rooster in my bunch, they certainly would not be wasted, and that any chicken under my stewardship would be offered a really, really good life. Not perhaps as free-wheeling as a life in the jungle, but a good life – complete with fresh grass and bug and worm forage galore. (Side note: Strictly vegetarian feed for chickens?! THAT is poultry abuse IMO!) 
So we got some chicks, and we got them in three installments. 
First two Buff Orpingtons (Penny and Opal), and a Silver-laced Wyndotte (Betty).
Next two Rhode Island Reds (Wilma and Lily) and an Araucana (Joan).
Finally, a Black Austrolorp (Nellie) and a Barred Rock (Dot).

We have loved growing our chicks. First inside a Rubbermaid tote in our basement. Then in a large kiddie pool in our basement and then the garage, and finally in a home-built, moveable coop. 

  Out of our 8 beautiful birds, it turns out we have two roosters.



Lincoln and Atley are feeding Dot rollie pollies and grit.
Our kids have spent time lovingly holding each one of our birds this way.

As it turns out . . .

Opal is really an Olaf.
Lily is really a Lucas.

For weeks I have struggled about this internally. I hoped the striking red comb was just a figment of my imagination. Maybe there weren’t really roosters?! There’s variation even amongst hens, right?  

Some have suggested that I give my roosters to someone else to raise or cull them. But that didn’t feel right. Part of why I am homesteading is that I want to be more connected to my food. And if I give my birds to someone else to kill because it bothers me that much – should I even be eating meat at all? I would posit, that there is an ethical disconnect there. 

I don’t think you can get much more ethically-raised meat than by the means of home-grown animals with organic and natural forage and a whole lot of love and daily care – and a name. (Or two names, in the case of our roosters.) 
Some like to boast of the meat they take in from hunting or that they eat with great abandon. My feelings have always and especially more recently match the feelings expressed by Gary Paulsen in his novel, Dogsong, a coming-of-age story of an Eskimo boy, which contains many beautiful reflections on life, death and our connection to nature:

They took meat from the bear, as much as Russel thought they could carry, but had to leave the hide, the beautiful hide, because it was too heavy. He took the skin from the front legs to make pants, but the rest had to stay.

She brightened when they reached the dead bear. “You did this,” she whispered. “With a spear you did this?”

He looked away. “And with the dogs. A man does not kill a bear alone. The dogs helped.”

“Still. It is a huge thing, is it not?”

And now he chose not to answer. The dead bear made him sad, doubly so because they had to leave so much behind. It seemed wrong to talk of it as being a big thing – killing the bear with the lance. He did not wish to speak cheaply of it, or brag of it. (pg. 168-169)

I don’t wish to speak cheaply of eating my roosters, or brag of their future culling - or of any meat that I choose to eat. I do not wish to waste any animal, nor do I want any animal under my stewardship to go out of the world without all the sincerity of heart and appreciation they deserve, either. This post is part of that expression of my love for them. Look at them! Aren’t they beautiful birds?

This is Olaf, formerly Opal.
This is Lucas, formerly Lily.

I had felt there was a kernel of spiritual wisdom for me to find that would help me make sense of all of this, but I didn't find it until this weekend. On Saturday, Squire had a rare day off, and we spent the morning at the Farmer’s Market getting a few more plant starts for our garden, and then at a Wild Hare Estate Sale, where everything was 50% off. I found a copy of Kalil Gibran’s, The Prophet - a fantastic book of poetry - for $1! That book coincidentally (are there any coincidences?) contains a poem that helped me process another encounter with death several years ago. This time though, it contained wisdom on the death of my food. It was exactly the message I needed to find comfort in it all:

Then an old man, a keeper of an inn, said,

Speak to us of Eating and Drinking.

And he said:

Would that you could live on the fragrance of the earth, and like an air plant be sustained by the light.

But since you must kill to eat, and rob the newly born of its mother’s milk to quench your thirst, let it then be an act of worship.

And let your board stand an altar on which the pure and the innocent of forest and plain are sacrificed for that which is purer and still more innocent in man.

When you kill a beast say to him in your heart,

“By the same power that slays you, I too am slain; and I too shall be consumed.

For the law that delivered you into my hand shall deliver me into a mightier hand.

Your blood and my blood is naught but the sap that feeds the tree of heaven.”

And when you crush an apple with your

teeth, say to it in your heart,

“Your seeds shall live in my body,

And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart,

And your fragrance shall be my breath,

And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons.”

And in the autumn, when you gather

the grapes of your vineyards for the winepress, say in your heart,

“I too am a vineyard, and my fruit shall be gathered for the winepress,

And like new wine I shall be kept in eternal vessels.”

And in winter, when you draw the wine,

let there be in your heart a song for each cup;

And let there be in the song a remembrance for the autumn days, and for the vineyard, and for the winepress.

(pg.23-24 in Kahlil Gibran’s, The Prophet)

What more can I add? Perhaps only Deuteronomy 15:14:

Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the Lord thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him.

Have you had to process eating animals up close and personal before? What did you learn? 
Did it influence your relationship with your food and with God?


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