I have been invited by Laura, curator of The Modern Victory Garden to participate in a "meme" called A Day In The Slow Life created by Tony over at Backyard Feast. That said, I carefully attempted to record the events of Monday October 18th, a day both my wife and I would be home and able to devote the day to working in our gardens trying to finish up our harvest. As Mrs. H had just returned from a trip to Nevada we wanted to spend a relaxing day working together and enjoying the sunny weather.
As a brief introduction to us and our lifestyle, I first met my wife, a true kindred spirit, while we worked for a now defunct Italian telecommunications company many years ago. Long story short we are now happily married and have over the years slowly and deliberately entrenched our lifestyle into one that revolves around growing and gathering our own foods, truly attempting to live the "slow" life. We have chosen to live this way as it symbolizes our freedom from so many of the things of man that we no longer wish to be part of, choosing instead to live simply and reap the whirlwind of benefits fresh air and healthy foods deliver to us.
The vast majority of the foods we eat come from our gardens where we plant, grow, tend, and harvest on a continuous basis 12 months a year. It is what we enjoy, what drives us to keep moving forward each and every day. To us, it is most empowering endeavour to grow, gather, and consume one's own food. Below is a fairly typical day in our slow but active lives.
5:00 AM, on the dot, Mrs. H's mental alarm goes off and she gets up, starts the coffee, feeds the cats, turns on our oh so slow dinosaur of a computer and then returns to bed for another hour or so of sleep.
5:15 AM I wake up and open our porch door to let the cats and dog outside. We have been keeping this closed as our porch is currently full of tomatoes that we have slowly been bringing inside to ripen and I do not wish either raccoons, skunks, or the cold to damage our produce. During the summer months I leave the door open so the cats can come and go as they wish. With eyes still half shut I manage to find the coffee, stagger over to the computer, and wake up while reading different blogs, articles, and news from the Internet.
6:30 AM finds me bright eyed and bushy tailed after reading all of your fine blogs and drinking a large cup of strong black caffeinated coffee, I holler at Mrs. H to rise and shine as it is another glorious day in Idaho. She hates it when I am all cheery so early in the morning, especially on rainy days...but what can I say, I'm pretty much full of it all of the time.:) Mrs. H, the true highlight of my day, eventually wanders out with coffee in hand and sits down next to me. She squints her eyes and says good morning.
7:00 AM, I leave Mrs. H to finish waking up and head out to with a few scraps from a squash we cooked the other day to feed and release our ravenous flock of red headed chickens with Rowdy the wonder dog glued to my side. Rowdy is supposed to comb the perimeter of the entire chicken run and make sure it is safe from varmints but seems to have once again forgotten his duties preferring to say hi to the girls and join them at breakfast. While the animals are eating I flip the straw and dirt under the chicken roost with a pitchfork and head back in for a shower and more coffee.
It's 8:00 AM, we are dressed and headed outside with cups now full of home brewed tea...time to walk the dog. Mrs. H opens the large outside door to our basement and starts a load of laundry. As our basement/root cellar is also our laundry room we try to run the wash machine in the early mornings this time of year to help keep the temperature at around 40°. It was 46° this morning but 29° outside. When we returned from our walk it was 43°. Our goal is to get it under 40 °and keep it there until spring so that our produce won't start sprouting.
8:10 AM, I grab my daily apple to munch on and we walk Rowdy in the park. He almost always gets to run free and often has the opportunity to play with other dogs during this time..but not today as we were the only ones there. We walked and played frisbee with him for almost an hour before heading home.
9:ish, back from our walk Mrs. H pulls the towels out of the washer and I shut the basement door to keep the cold air in and we proceed to hang the wash on the outside line to dry. As temperatures drop we often have to leave the clothes out overnight, barring any rain in the forecast. Later in the year they will be dried on racks in front of our living room fireplace.
9:30 AM finds us back in the house. Mrs. H feeds the dog while I turn the runner beans that are drying by the fireplace. We were only able to harvest a partial crop this year before the frosts hit. They will dry by the pellet stove for a few days before being shelled and then stored away in gallon jars. We are fortunate to still have an abundance of beans left over from last year and this year's fava bean crop did very well. I hope that next season is a better one for dry beans.
I also take this time to put a few of the potato and Giant Cape Gooseberry seeds that have finished drying into envelopes for future use. If you ever want to save the seed off tomatillos, ground cherries/cape gooseberries, or potato seed just toss a few really ripe ones into your blender (or mash them) with a little water. Give them a whirl and then dump the contents into a small bowl. The good seeds will sink to the bottom and the rest of the pulp can be carefully poured off leaving the seeds.
At 9:45 AM we eat breakfast. We often eat late this time of year skipping any type of lunch altogether, preferring to work outside when it is warm. This morning's entree consisted of leftover squash and cooked kale greens that I made into a stir fry and served with pear sauce & sauerkraut. We always eat breakfast at the computer allowing us to read a few blogs together and discuss the days schedule. We really love it when you post videos so that I don't have to type and eat at the same time. See Laura, we share the same habits as you when it comes to breakfast.:)
10:30 AM, breakfast is over, dishes are washed and put away and I have shut the pellet stove off for the afternoon. I pull out our containers of sauerkraut to check on them. We like to clean the lid/weight and stir everything up every third day in order to prevent any scummy mold from developing...it must work as I have never had any issues with that. While I do this Mrs. H works on putting another mix of tea together for the week. Her tea consists of 15-20 different ingredients many of which we have collected from the wild during the summer months...strange things like gum weed and prunella. I don't question her about these things and simply do as I am told and drink up.
10:45 AM, the sun has almost reached the gardens and I am giving the chickens clean water under their favorite tree for the day. I brought an empty bucket along and having watered the birds headed straight to the salad garden to collect some parsley seed that I keep forgetting about. Speaking of parsley, I also dug up some Hamburg root parsley and put it in pots that will eventually end up in the root cellar. This is the first year I have grown root parsley and I think I might just like it...we shall see how well it overwinters both in storage and the ground outside.
11:15 ish found me uncovering our covered rows so the greens within do not overheat in the sun. I also opened the greenhouse that still houses some of our pepper and tomato plants. Some of our hot peppers are starting to change color...yay!
11:30 AM, Mrs. H and I work in the sun, so nice to have it on our backs this time of year. We dig up, clip the greens off and pack into pots our Belgian endive that will be forced during the winter months to provide us with another source of nutritious greens. While working on the endive roots we hatched plans for harvesting soap wort, we need to do this before the ground freezes...which will be pretty soon. Rowdy assisted by digging up the old potato row next to us in search of voles.
It's around 2:30 PM and we are hauling our filled pots to the root cellar. Keeping track of the time like this is hard...I keep forgetting.:)
3:00 PM For tonight's supper we picked celery, rutabaga, carrot, a small forgotten delicata squash, onion, chicory root, parsley, sorrel, and kale to create a homemade veggie broth. Rows were covered back up and the greenhouse was shut to keep the warmth inside for as long as possible. We only get about 4 hours of sun in the garden this time of year as it sits so low in the sky hiding behind the trees that surround us.
3:45 PM Mrs. H has cleaned up the veggies and started a broth cooking on the stove while I snack on some homemade cabbage salsa that I made the previous night and chatter in her ear about the day's events while re-starting the pellet stove.
4:15 ish, with broth simmering we head out for another walk (spoiled dog). We often let him play in the water but our lake is full of poisonous blue green algae this time of year so Mrs. H and Rowdy checked out the construction going on near the docks and then we played frisbee on the way home. We take our time as it is a relaxing day and we are not in a hurry for a change.
5:00 PM (I'm rounding off all these times by the way, we are not this prompt) We both worked on cleaning and then roasting parsnips, onions, and garlic for tonight's dinner of parsnip and pear soup...hence the vegetable broth we have been working on. Oh, and we fed the dog again. He gets a serving of homemade dog food twice a day and we always keep his dry food bowl full.
5:30 PM Mrs. H made a fabulous apple crisp while I worked on an orange tomato sauce to be canned in the morning. The other day I made lovely black and orange salsa so I thought why not an orange tomato sauce too? The orange and black tomatoes are so sweet and flavorful that I hate to mix them up with the reds. It seems we have worked on a canning project of some sort almost every day for the past two weeks and our pantry is quickly filling up.
6:30 PM and we added the roasted vegetables along with a few pears to the broth, eventually turning into a nice soup. Mrs. H drew a bath and relaxed while I watched the news and worked on bruschetta that will accompany our soup. After a drizzle of olive oil I topped the homemade bread with garlic, onions, pepper, tomato, and cheese. The soup might not look like much but it sure tasted good.
At 7:30 PM we cleaned up the kitchen and while Mrs. H set the table Rowdy and I headed out to count and lock up the chickens. I also gathered the eggs at this time, all three of them. Rowdy confirmed that everyone was in for the night while I scolded the girls and told them a horror story about chicken soup before leaving. I can see stars in the night sky and the moon is starting to fill out again helping to light my way.
8:00 PM found us finally sitting down to eat. We watched "Dancing With the Stars" on one of the two channels that we get since being forced to hook up to government TV. Mrs. H likes this show...I endure it.
9:45 PM and we are too tired to stay up any later, we clean up the table, prepare coffee for the morning, brush teeth, tuck in the dog....good night everyone!
I would like to invite, without any obligation, my friend Heiko all the way from Italy via Path to Self Sufficiency and homemaker/animal husbandry expert extraordinaire Ohiofarmgirl from Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures In The Good Land to consider participating in this meme when time permits...but only if you wish to.
For those of you, like me, who do not know about such things as memes here is a very good explanation given to me by Laura -
"A meme is a way to get a broad group participating in posting about a particular topic - each adding their own take and information to the main topic point - part of the protocol is to do a courtesy link back to the one that invited you to the party and then invite a few more people to participate who you think would be interesting to read their posts about the subject providing a link to their blogs at the time."
You can see Heiko's Day "Day in the Slow Life" here and the Ohiofarmgirl's here. Thanks for participating.:)