Sunday, November 17, 2013

To live life one must make sacrifices

Waking up this morning was a rude awakening...I realized much too early, that today was a chore day.  Now don't get me wrong, I like to work, it's honest and humbling, but some chores, while necessary are neither fun, but more of a reminder that to live is to take.  Yes, giving is part of it, but this blog is not about giving, nor recieving, it is simply about taking.

You see, I raise chickens, dual purpose birds.  This is a working homestead, with pets; but the chickens are not pets.  For the past 2 1/2 years, I have raised the chickens and gotten eggs for a good 1 3/4 years, reliably.  But the eggs have slowed off, even in the late summer when we had plenty of light.  Research shows that Chickens give eggs reliably for about 2 years, then they slow down. Natural.  My plan has always been to give my chickens a good life and one bad day.  Today was that day.

I had 3 chickens this morning.  I believe in and practice humane methods of killing the chickens, and processing them myslef.  I need to know that between the time they are taking from their coop, to the time  they die is minimal and the last thing they hear is my soothing hysterics, no load noises.  I try to stress the chickens as little as possible.

Is the prayer I say for their benefit or mine....I try not to think about that.

Is it better for me to be here, doing this; or blindly purchasing chicken from the store?  I wrestle with this constantly.  Yes my conscience could be clear (if I don't think to long about confined chicken breeding practices, or they mechanized way birds are processed,) but I wouldn't know what type of hormones, chemicals, and feed the chickens recieved.  Raising my own is a trust.  I trust myslef to feed them as naturally as I can, let them roam as free as I can, keep their coop clean, make sure they have water and security.  For this I take their eggs, and in the end their life.

My grandparents had no struggles with this.  You farmed, and Harvested the produce, raised livestock and butchered it; all so you could eat and live.  In a nutshell, to live is to take.

Yes I will miss the chickens clucking in the morning, running back and forth in search of who knows what in the grass.  But in March/April, I will start again, with new chicks.  Why?  Because this is a working homestead.  And while I wasn't born on a farm, I am a city kid, who wants more control of my food.  And sometimes, we must do things we are not comfortable with.  But I have a trust.  A trust to treat my animals, pets, family with respect and love.  I try always to do that.  But my livestock are not my family.  They raised to feed my family.

I have come to grips that to live, I must either kill or condone killing in my name.  I will miss the chickens, but I knew when they came into my life, that they were destined to end up on my table.

I can not pass this chore off to someone else.  I know that bringing home the chickens when they are a day old, that one day, I will have to take their life, so that I may live.  It is sobering, Humbling, and opens my eyes to the reality of life.  In this the season for giving thanks, and giving gifts; I give thanks that I have the courage to face my convictions, for the gifts my chickens gave to me and my family.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Still plenty to do indoors

So even though the weather is turning to Winter here.  And working outdoors, though it's necessary isn't as fun as it was a few months ago.  And to be honest, it was baking time again.  We were running out of bread, so I took an afternoon to make up some more.

I figured out that 4 loaves last us about a month.  So I decided to make up two loaves of Basic white bread, and two of Honey, Nut Oatmeal Wheat.  The process is pretty basic, mix up the ingredients, knead 8 minutes or so, and allow to rise for about an hour.  Punch down, divide in half, form into loaves, plop them into a greased loaf pan and allow to rise for about 45 minutes or so.  Heat up ovens, pop them in for 35 - 40 minutes or until Golden Brown and Delicious (GBD hereafter).  Pull from pans, and allow to cool completely.  Slice and eat…repeat: here are some photos:
Basic supplies, Flour, Yeast, Salt, Water, Sugar for the Basic White

Everything mixed up and kneading is about half done, looking to make this fairly elastic.

Proofing in the oven with just the light on for a bit of warmth.

Start of the Honey, Nut Oatmeal Wheat.  Wheat bread flour with Pumpkin seeds and Sunflower seeds

Egg and Yeast…

Oatmeal….1 cup of old fashioned oats, with 2 cups boiling H2O, allow to sit 15 minutes for Oats to soften.

Mixed and kneaded Honey, Nut Oatmeal Wheatbread

1 hour rise time, yep I think she doubled in size!

Honey, Nut, Oatmeal Wheat on the left, Basic white on the Right.  I always butter up the loaf pans for easy de-panning upon baking completion.

Basic White on final 45 minute rise…again in the oven with the light on for minimal warmth.

Honey, Nut, Oatmeal Wheat final 45 minute rise.

Basic white, baked, de-panned, GBD cooling 

Honey, Nut, Oatmeal Wheat, baked, de-panned, GBD and cooling as well

And while the loafs cool, and the ovens are hot, Peanut Butter cookies were baked!  Great with Tea on an Overcast Day!

With the Garden tasks coming to a close, and the weather turning cold and dreary, nothing makes a house smell like home quite like baking bread.  It beats anything you can buy in stores.  Try it sometime.