Homestead Happenings: deer, apples and da bubbly
I almost didn’t write about this buck deer who slipped through our butchering table this weekend. It was such a quick and quiet production, unlike the elk, I could almost pretend that when we arrived at a Halloween party Sunday afternoon, our hands hadn’t been busy with knives most of the weekend.
Maybe too, there’s my concern of offending people who don’t want to read about the slicing up of beautiful animals. And I understand. Eighteen years ago I was standing in the college cafeteria line pointing to the vegetarian entree and don’t even ask that city girl her opinion on hunters.
Eating is fraught with sadness and regret. There are the magnificent creatures (and the homelier ones) that lose lives due to our carnivorous ways. There are the multitudes of deer shot while grazing soybeans, or the smaller animals who die beneath the plow blades in a potato field. No one who eats is completely free from perpetrating suffering, be they vegans or omnivores.
I love how Dan’s mom (who did not grow up in a hunting community), listened to Dan’s whole deer hunting story, which included words like “skinning” and “carcass” and then said “Well Daniel, hearing that makes me want to get on a plane and eat some of that deer with you.”
So, that said, there are pictures in this post of a deer who lost his life, whose life is becoming ours, and whose deliciousness we praise.
The first thing Dan tells us about his 5-day hunt is how the deer bladder didn’t come out with the usual sweep of the entrails. “It stayed in the abdominal cavity, and not an unpleasant smell to it at all.” Dan says, pleased.
“And I have something for you kids!” And like a magician pulling the next unthinkable from of his sleeve, out comes the deer bladder. Col and Rose, who’ve held wild snakes in their tiny hands without a squeamish twinge, follow Dan to the bathroom, where he fills the empty bladder sac with water and everyone begs to hold it.
After Dan sawed off the antlers, the chickens got to pick at the deer head. I’m telling you, nothing goes to waste around here.
When I was pregnant with Col, I was pretty sure that the whole trick to motherhood was just involving your kids in your life. You know, like if you’re a gardener you just bring your infant into the scorching July sun, give him a turnip to gum while you go about spreading lettuce seeds while sparrows land on your shoulders singing anthems to your motherly wholesomeness.
Of course, it’s more like my friend Steph, mom of a 1 and 3 year old, describes: you sprint out to the garden when your partner gets home, nursing bra still dangling at your waist. You yank ten weeds, step in dog poop, curse, and then get called back inside because no one but you knows where the baby doll’s umbrella is.
And even though no child is quietly finger-knitting on the sidelines, nor waiting until Dan and I finish a hind leg to ask for ten things, there’s a lot of fending for oneself around here.
It’s like an S. E. Hinton novel: beautiful young people with too much time on their hands roaming around looking for something to do. (I can’t wait until Col’s old enough to read The Outsiders, I think). Sometimes the kids collaborate, sending rotten apples through the spokes of Col’s bicycle to make apple cider. Other times they turn on each other and it’s like a family-themed Rumble Fish.
We’re turning out apple crisps almost daily because they’re delicious, easy and our apples are in danger of getting fed to the bicycle spokes.
Thanks for asking about the writing class. It was cancelled due to “low interest,” which means one person signed up, another called to see if she could sign up but pay in another decade, and one more person I ran into at the coffee shop told me she was ready to sign up, even though the deadline had passed. I’ll try again in the spring.
How are your ferments going?
We picked all our cabbages this weekend, because deer and sauerkraut are a lovely combination.
Someone gave knives to the children,
And we filled our crock with salted cabbage and caraway seeds.
Thirty minutes later it had reduced by half and was all a-juicing.
We also harvested beets, carrots and kale (rasta ferment?).
Which are now bubbling away on the kitchen counter.
These ferments are cheering me up with their roiling applause every time I crack a lid, but I otherwise I’m biting my nails over this election. The numbers are rolling in as I write this.
Hoping your local elections are full of more good news than bad, because that seems like the best outcome at this point.