Sunday, August 05, 2007

A Day in the Life

Amy asked if I would do a day in the life. I should first say that we don’t have typical days. We do get into rhythms and those rhythms change with the seasons. And there are things that happen every day no matter what. But we really don’t have average, typical days.

So I’m taking last Thursday since that’s the day after I read her request and I tried to pay attention. I will likely forget some things anyway.

We are not particularly early risers. The first thing I do is milk, and in the summer I can’t do the evening milking much before 8 pm so the morning milking isn’t before 8 am usually. My early rising daughter has made coffee and brings it to me in bed, and when I’ve drunk it, I grab the buckets and go milk. Husband checks the computer and gets breakfast started. When I come back up with the milk, I process it (strain it into the half-gallon jars we use and chill it in sink of cold water before putting it in fridge) and breakfast is ready by the time the milk is in the sink. Toast and eggs today, with blackberry jam of course.

When I’m finished with breakfast I call my septuagenarian neighbor to see what time he wants me to come down. He called me a few days ago to see if I could take care of his dogs and house this weekend while he goes to a dog show. I arrange to see him in about half an hour and in the meantime put the milk in the fridge and do the first round of dishes and straightening up the kitchen. And put in a load of laundry.

I go see him while the family continues with things at the house. Husband is working on an advertisement and finishes up the dishes and the kids do their chores (taking care of animals and some cleaning). I’d asked the girls to hang up the washed clothes but they don’t remember until I come back home after jawing with neighbor for too long (he does not understand why I wouldn’t vote for Hillary if she were the last candidate on earth and he always gets around to asking me about that). Since I walked down there and back (about a half mile, not quite, each way), I’m hot and tired when I get back, and I have brought his newspaper with me (we don’t subscribe) and so I read that under the fan while I cool off.

I start thinking while reading the paper what I might be feed people for supper. I think at first about biscuits but we’ve eaten all the eggs for breakfast. Biscuits and gravy would still be good if I can find any apples for a side dish in the freezer. And if I make biscuits, I’d bake a couple loaves of bread too. When I go look, I find I’m out of apples, so I grab instead a salted pork shoulder roast and bring it in, and start a couple pounds of white beans soaking. I skim some milk and get the process for making ice cream started (2 cups cream, 1 ½ cups milk, 2/3 cup sugar -- mixed and chilled, then put in maker with vanilla). I had already set the cultured cream out to warm up, so when it is 60 degrees, I tell the children to churn it (they each take 5 minute turns cranking the daisy churn until it is done). I finish cleaning the counters, stovetop, sweep floors, put on another load of laundry, and mash the butter (get the whey out, wash it, salt it, put in container in fridge).

I get on the computer sometime in the afternoon and remember that I want to research a law concerning the situation that my mother is in regarding that we, her children, are owed an accounting as to the specifics of that situation. I find it inside of ten minutes looking for it and start to hyperventilate I’m so excited. I print it out and hand it to my husband knowing that I’ll only be able to make sense of it later but also knowing that it is exactly what we need.

When the beans have soaked an hour, I put the roast in, and rosemary, and put the top on the pressure cooker and turn the whole thing back on. At this point I went outside for something, probably to breathe, and notice husband is changing the tire on the van. Younger daughter asks me to come look at a mushroom and goes to get the mushroom book so we can ID it. It turns out to be a rosey rusula (below). This mushroom reminds me that a few days ago I saw a huge one out in the field and I had meant to ID it but had forgotten. So we go there.

rosy rusula
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

The mushroom in the field had been so big I could see it from 100 feet away and it had caught my attention. It had been very white but looked to have a stem so I didn’t think it was a puffball but would turn out to be some form of veiled mushroom. Walking toward it, we could tell it was no longer white but brown. Up close it was almost copper. And had the typical puffball holes in the top. I went back and forth in the book but never could really ID it for sure. None of them described anything that started out white (like a giant puffball) but also had a foot and then aged to this brown color. But it was some kind of puffball, about 6 inches in diameter.

The horse and donkey were up on the knoll so instead of going home we went up there to pet them and breathe horse breath. Horse’s feet were looking really good, and he looks really good, but donkey had a little sore on his chin from us leaving the halter on him. In general it isn’t a good idea to leave halters on animals but I do on donkey (because he can be hard to catch and it has a leather poll strap so will break away) and cow (who I see every day twice a day no matter what -- she also has a bell). Some of the goats also have collars. Anyway, we led him to the gate where I sent the child to go get the lead so I could lead him to my tying tree so I could trim his feet so I could turn him loose without a halter on.

So I trimmed his feet up nicely. While I was doing this, husband took the van on a shakedown cruise to make sure we’d fixed it this time, and see if there were more blackberries at the knob. The van was good but there were not many blackberries. Also during this time, the roast came up to pressure, cooked, and was turned off, mostly taken care of by older daughter (who just asked me what to do then did it herself).

When I came in, I remembered the ice cream chilling in the freezer and got it out, put it in the maker, let it make then put it up. I’d decided against baking (bread, corn bread, anything else) because it was just too hot to make that much heat. So I ground corn, flax, a little wheat, salt and rising for making corn cakes, and put the griddle on the stove. I told husband my plan for supper was just to cut up some of the veggies that were on the counter from the garden (summer squash, turnips, onions, cucumbers) and have them with the roast, beans and grilled corn bread. He signed off on the plan and said he’d take care of it while I went to the neighbor’s to do the evening dog chores. It took me about an hour, and I was back and we ate supper. (I will take care of the dogs morning and night until Sunday, and Sunday I will also clean his house in a manner of speaking. In return I get nearly enough money to meet my indecently modest cash needs for the month.)

pork and beans, two
Originally uploaded by Contrary Goddess.

After supper I read magazines the neighbor had given me until it was time to milk (about 30 minutes). Then milked, processed milk, did a dish drainer load of dishes, put the fresh blackberries in two freezer bags (enough in each bag for a large cobbler sometime in the winter), started to get ready to go to bed, and realized the second load of clothes had not been hung out. Told daughter she had forgotten to do this and that she had to do it or they’d mildew in this heat. She balked. I insisted. She’s afraid of the dark. I don’t get it. I love the dark. But I went out with her and helped her hang them up in the very pleasant night air, and only scared her once while we were at it. I don’t know why my family puts up with me sometimes.

I notice my boys aren’t mentioned in this much. They are, in general, less demanding than the girls. Oldest boy just does what he’s supposed to do, generally, and goes about what else he wants to do himself. This day I think he put a new inner tube in his bike tire but didn’t get it blown back up again. Younger son has things we do every day together, like he helps process the milk (“help” being a euphemism right now but not forever).

It is hard telling what other things went on but that’s the outline of one of my days.


Danielle said...

Glad to have you back. ;) And I enjoyed hearing about the mundanities of your day, although now I want a Jersey more than ever!

patsy said...

you had a full day, do you home school?

CG said...

Our children do not attend institutionalized schooling, if that's what you mean by homeschooling. And I don't attempt to recreate the institution of schooling at home.

Alecto said...

What a cool looking mushroom! We had some really strange red mushrooms growing in the courtyard outside my office last summer. They appeared for five days in the middle of summer when it was particularly damp and hot. They looked sort of like very red (think boiled lobster) asparagus spears sticking right out of the ground in the middle of the cut grass. Took a picture with my cell phone but drowned the phone before I got the picture off and have never been able to ID them.

CG said...

Wow on the mushroom. We had some blood red shelf types that I ID'd as beefsteaks (they may be on the blog somewhere). The coolest ones were Jackolantern mushrooms, bright orange, and they glow faintly in the dark. I get on mushroom IDing jags and have a lot of fun and waste a lot of time!

Ren said...

I've got a few fungus pics we took last week. I really should ID them and post them on the blog. They were really cool!

It's somehow very encouraging to know that if we get a cow someday I don't have to learn how to get up at 5 or 6am.:)

CG said...

I've even read about milking only once a day and it not affecting milk supply all that much. Not sure if I believe it but I've read it.

Alecto said...

Once a day would worry me and probably only because of my own experiences producing milk. It's the supply and demand thing, right? When I went down to only twice a day and stopped pumping at work I produced only what I needed for those two nursings. But when I went down to once a day my supply dried up almost completely.

thingfish23 said...

I meant to say before that I enjoyed reading this post immensely. It made me think of my own "typical" days and how atypical they would be to so many others...

They do start out by taking care of chickens and rabbits, always.

They probably always will, 'til I stop drawing breath.

Chickens keep one healthy. Life isn't life without a heaping helping of chickensh*t.

Never thought I'd say that.

CG said...

Anyone in touch with chickensh*t is in touch with life. I mean, really, there is something grounding about manure.

There was this kid, well, 17 at least, who was up here and appalled to find out that food was grown in manure.

Another one, younger, who stayed for several days, drank milk willingly until he went out with me to the field to meet the cow. "What is that under her?" he asked. "That's where the milk comes from," I answered. He didn't drink another drop.

Etc. But it is more than that too. Like you being in touch with death is a really graphic way. That has to be, on some levels, really very helpful.

Manure. The stuff oflife.