Saturday, July 31, 2010
My Dad is visiting from Tucson. He's been helping me today (read: sitting in the kitchen and offering advice while I) make pickles and cheese. It's been a while since Dad has been up to the farm, and a lot of things have changed. Unfortunately, I can't really show Dad around much, because he is several years post-major-stroke and hemiplegic. He is more or less confined to a wheelchair, and my property isn't very wheelchair-friendly. The house is ok, the grounds, not so much.
Dad has always been one of my major inspirations for wanting to be a homesteader. When I was a child - before the divorce - we lived on a small "hobby" farm and had dairy goats and chickens, and Dad put in a fairly serious garden every year. After I bought my first house and my Dad came to live with me, he helped me plan and execute a pretty serious garden every year. He occasionally brewed beer and mead, and even today he continues to grow a decent garden (better than mine) and do some preserving every year down in that hellhole he calls home. But the main thing my Dad did which made me want to homestead is play a game with me. We called it the Self-Sufficiency Game ( The self-sufficiency game (love you, Dad)).
While I have nowhere near achieved self-sufficiency, nor do I expect I ever will, it's still a fun game, and even more fun now that I have an ACTUAL five acres to play it on instead of a theoretical five acres. In essence, the self-sufficiency game has morphed into my real-world full time job. And it's just totally peachy to have my Dad here for a few weeks, playing the game with me again, just like we used to do sitting around the kitchen table in my house on a Seattle city lot years ago.
Today, I went to the farmer's market and made a trade with my usual trade partner, Veggie/Oil Man. I traded 3 dozen eggs and a half-pound of cheese for nine ripe peaches, a bunch of onions, some chives, seven heads of garlic, and several dozen pickling cucumbers. The peaches we are eating out of hand; the onions and chives are just general groceries; some of the garlic is being saved to plant; but the cukes and the rest of the garlic have been turned into pickles.
We adore pickles around here. I pretty much can't make enough pickles. The cukes today made three quarts of garlic dills and two quarts of bread and butter pickles. Way back in April I pickled some asparagus, and later on I'll pickle beets and green beans, too. All in all, I expect to pickle some fifteen quarts. We'll eat them all by October or November.