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homestead happenings: november lucky

November 2, 2011

It’s November. November! The trees are in all stages of autumnness: from still green to psychedelic to stripped bare. A few honeybees have moved inside (our house). I found an apple core in the washing machine today. Every morning there is frost.

It’s almost too much to take – the way each day the world looks a little different. Mostly I want to soak it in, sit under our cottonwood and watch as each leaf goes up in yellow flames. And yet there’s a small panicky part of me that worries that we didn’t in fact, pick enough apples, or splash around enough in the aspens, or eat enough cherries when they were ripe in July.

It’s funny, Col and I have been reading up on evolution lately and each book remarks on the glory of slinking out of the primordial soup, knitting lung sacs, popping out thumbs and the real prize: our ability to think! Which, admittedly, is cool. But I can’t help but wonder about this over-thinking, the way I can worry my little bundled neurons about the things that are beyond my control, like y’know, cherries in July. Oy

~a gully-washer rain last week~

On the homestead:

:: The arugula and assorted mustard greens are the new stars of the fall garden. Whereas the beets and carrots and chard are holding on, the spicy little mustards are growing as if no one’s actually had the heart to tell them that winter is the next thing coming.

:: The cold frames are all planted with lettuce, spinach, parsley and cilantro and hope.

:: My friend Gabriella and I made fermented apple chutney last week. The kids were so excited to help that when Rose cut herself slicing apples she very bravely asked for a band-aid so she could get back to work. (The recipe is basically: apples, pecans, lemons, raisins, cinnamon and salt covered with water and whey). Everything went smoothly until I accidentally served to vegetarian Gabriella beet greens sauteed in bacon grease. What’s this interesting taste? She asked. Ooof.

:: We are studying the human body in the homeschool co-op right now, and I signed up to teach the kids about blood and the circulatory system. I checked out every relevant book from the children’s section of the library and stayed up late, blowing my mind and whispering insane factoids to Dan. Did you know that if you laid out all your blood vessels, they’d stretch around the world over TWO times? Around the world! 

~the kids determining how long it would take for the blood to flow out of their fingers and make them feel tingly, while eating “blood snack”: lemon jello for plasma, dried cranberries for red blood cells, yogurt covered raisins for white blood cells, peanuts for platelets~

~drawing the circulatory system into their traced bodies. The girls drew sweet faces and lovely hair while the boys drew cuts on their legs spurting blood~

I love this homeschool co-op and these kids so much, I’m like the dorky camp counselor who, every time I see them, says something like, “Hey! Is your blood pumping today? How’s your heart?”

:: And then there was that buck deer. I realize not everyone is comfortable viewing pictures of large, bloody animal haunches (warning: pictures forthcoming). I also realize how desensitized I am to it, because when I took this picture of Dan holding up an animal heart (which we ate sauteed and sliced in nachos) mostly what I see is this super foxy man (and smudged windows).

The kids have grown completely ho-hum about going after deer legs with knives on a makeshift table .

~Rose was interested in wearing a bandana on her head like her mama for a minute. But somehow even my 4-year old realized it wasn’t actually that fashionable. And because Bryan P. (hi, Bryan!) is going to notice, yes, that is an elk hind leg. Our friend Dave Kasper donated HALF of his elk to us, which was a tremendous gift~

~there’s the old boombox before it bit the dust right in the middle of some liberal rant on NPR~ 

Our friends Ben and Julia took Col and Rose for a few hours on Sunday so we could have a butchering date without distractions. We had such a fun time, the mental taxi-meter finally shut off, and I got to hear some of the non-headline stories of the hunting trip. Like how the ravens chased away the golden eagle circling around the carcass. Mostly I love how Dan talks about being “lucky;” the luck of good weather and animals presenting themselves and a hunting spot that the masses don’t know about and strong backs and good friends and Chris’s wall-tent to warm up in in the morning.

:: If it weren’t for the weekly sorting of pictures I might forget how Col and Rose do like to play together. They are friends.

~after Rose buried Col up to his head she planted a sloppy kiss right on his face, which was awesome~

:: Oh, and two for the grandparents:

Sending love and the gift of recognizing your own luckiness, and your beating heart! and your amazing blood! (which, by the way completes a full circuit around your body every minute! Every minute!)


20 Comments leave one →
  1. November 2, 2011 7:07 am

    Wow. Deer heart nachos, huh? You guys have all the fun. Did you plan on studying blood to coincide with chopping up deer? Brilliant! Our garden is pretty much done, except some scraggly chard leaves. And no, it’s not possible to eat enough cherries in July, but there’s always next July. What evolution books have you been reading? I checked out a bunch, but they were a little complicated for 6-y-olds.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      November 2, 2011 2:16 pm

      Andrea, we just brought them back to the library today. Not sure I can remember the names. They were all childrens books. One was called Life on Earth and had gorgeous illustrations. Another great one is by Joanna Cole and called something like The Human Body (but it’s really about the evolution of humans) and starts with primates and goes through all the diff human species up until now with helpful pictures. We also checked out some books on Darwin, like “One beetle too many,” which is biographical and tells about his long voyage to South America. I’d recommend sticking with the kids books. xo

  2. Nana Judy permalink
    November 2, 2011 7:16 am

    Love the biology lessons on all levels. Sweet witch & leopard!

  3. November 2, 2011 7:44 am

    We’re in the midst of ancient civilization and vertebrates here. Getting ready to pull together a birding book this week. I’ve got chard, spinach, cabbage, beets & mixed salad greens coming up. Peas & cukes too. Everything is so pretty and deep green and furthering my belief that I would make a better gardener in a cooler climate. Totally jealous of the deer & elk. Joe & I were just reminiscing about fresh sitka black tail steaks on the grill. It’s been years…. years! But I just pulled red salmon out of the freezer for dinner (a gift from my mom) so really, I can’t complain one peep.

  4. November 2, 2011 8:49 am

    Awesome lesson! I love your homeschool co-op

  5. November 2, 2011 11:16 am

    I am so excited to have at least a couple of years of reading about your homeschool co-op before I have to start thinking and planning such things on my own. I love the blood snack idea, and the body outlines! The things parents can come up with when we put our heads together!

    I’m loving the gorgeous autumn photos, even if only through photos, and wishing you plenty of time to soak it all in.

  6. Melissa permalink
    November 2, 2011 11:55 am

    Oh Rachel. I tried to serve kale baked in my non-kosher oven to some of Avi’s preschool friends who, as it turns out, keep kosher. And are also gluten free so I was SOL in the snack department until I realized we had fruit! Which is my long way of saying I can so relate to the greens in bacon grease (: And I am all about relating and over-thinking so there you go.

    Happy November! I am feeling it’s fleeting-ness, too, but mostly because we leave for Israel next Tuesday (can I get an oy vey?) for two weeks. Fingers crossed!

  7. Melissa permalink
    November 2, 2011 11:57 am

    Oh, and grammar police–I hate when i put an apostrophe in “its” where there shouldn’t be one. Maybe if I’d had some elk-heart nachos I would be more clear-headed (:

  8. November 2, 2011 1:40 pm

    Love hearing about your days. I can relate to living (too often!) in my head so it’s neat that your post brought me right back with gratitude and a smile. Your writing and pics are a gift to us.

  9. Anonymous permalink
    November 2, 2011 3:22 pm

    Those vegetarians are going to be seeking out that taste for the rest of their days!

    Glad Kasper got an elk! Thanks for the good read. Say hello to Durango from North Dakota.


  10. November 2, 2011 4:05 pm

    Dear-heart nachos. A specialty for Valentine’s Day perhaps??

  11. November 2, 2011 5:23 pm

    What a wonderful life you all are living…the kids take the deer meat quite in stride..that’s just great…wish I had had “home schooling” at your house :o) it looked like a lot of fun and easy learning..

  12. ike permalink
    November 2, 2011 9:16 pm

    Baba and Nana Ellen are very grateful for the Halloween pictures not to mention the rest of the blog. Wish we were there to collect some candy

  13. November 3, 2011 4:30 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog in awe of you for some months now. How is that you seem to know everything from fermented foods to vegetable gardening magic, all sorts of food preservation and child rearing on top of all that. I think whenever you worry that you’ve not done enough savoring of life, just read back through your blog and you’d be amazed. I am.

  14. November 3, 2011 6:53 pm

    Dude, that heart is HUGE. That creature must have been massive. Oy vey! Now I’m hungry. Haven’t had deer since I moved to the concrete jungle. They call it “venison” out here and charge about $8 a pound, if you can find it. Worlds away from visiting my sister to find a deer hanging from a tree in the yard. I will sob now. No, wait! Rose’s costume is too fabulous for tears. :)

  15. November 4, 2011 9:48 am

    mmmm blood snack.

  16. Maggie permalink
    November 4, 2011 1:05 pm

    I, too am amazed at your creativity and patience with your home schooling! It makes me tired just thinking about thinking about it… Love you, Maggie

  17. Jessica permalink
    November 4, 2011 3:49 pm

    Awesome that Dan got a buck AND you were gifted some (a lot) of Elk! It must be comforting to know that your meat needs have been met for the season.

    You guys lead such a full life.

  18. November 7, 2011 3:00 pm

    All kids should be blase around animal parts. That’s what I think anyway. What a great post. I’m full of smiles (and tidbits about blood) now, thanks to you.


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