Wednesday, August 18, 2010

and then the stars align and the dam breaks

it being about movement

So in living on and “managing” a farm one knows, that is one is aware for the longest time before one takes any action at all, that the goat herd sire needs to be traded off, a new one procured, the cows need to be bred, and all the rest. And things accumulate – you get a phone number for someone who owns a Jersey bull locally and post it on your refrigerator, the person who you usually get the new herd sires from has one ready for you, things like that.

Then suddenly something totally unrelated happens. In this case it was the death of a friend. Now, remember, I said this death was totally unrelated, and it was. Totally. This guy was not a part of any of this, but the new herd sire came to his funeral with his old mom and came home with his new dad. At the same time the Jersey guy contacted us. Turns out he has some goats too and is interested in our old herd sire. Old billy exchanged for transportation and exposure to bull for three+ months for old cow. Also updated vaccinations on all bovines since old cow will be visiting that bull and his herd.

At the same time, the peaches are ripe and the very last of the blackberries are fermenting in the back of the fridge (alcoholic jelly is some of the best) and, well, more stuff that I can even think about in the garden that all needs to be eaten first and preserved second.

Which, one of the huge lessons of homesteading is never preserve first and eat second. Always eat first. Always always always. If you do not eat it fresh, it will not be valuable to you preserved. Plus there is that if you grew it, you deserve it at its very best, which is fresh. Eat first.

Another lesson is this: the monoculture agribusiness model is always inferior. The cow guy was amazed at how good our cows look, much better than his he said, and ours are just out there, cowing around. The baby goat (new herd sire) got here in pretty pitiful shape (pot bellied, shaggy coated, bad feet, small). The strongest, most direct evidence, however, is the paddocks of newly planted grass at the work barn. Plowed, disked, fertilized and seeded following exactly the agribusiness model, every speck of that planted grass is now dead and the only things growing there are spiny amaranth and jimson weed. The field next to it, however, is green. It doesn’t have much food value, true, but it does have some, and at least the ground is covered. I know why people plant agribusiness fescue but I pretty much never think it is a good idea. Meanwhile, on this farm, the baby goat is already looking better in less than a week, and he hasn’t even been turned loose yet which is when he will really thrive.

When new cow came here, she came from a small dairy where she had access to plenty of grass and was fed while being milked. And she was skinny. When we picked her up, my boss asked if she wasn’t thin but the truth is, that’s how dairy animals often look. And when she got here, she looked so much smaller than old cow. She doesn’t look smaller anymore. I think it has to do with the fact that here she has a broader choice of what to eat, and a less stressful, more cowful life. In other words, a real homestead, free, life is flat out better for animals, pastures, mankind. We look better, are healthier, happier, last longer.

Now, concerning movement. I follow, for years at a time, people who I find to be good examples as well as horrible warnings. The guy who died, for example, was a horrible warning of how not to turn out to be. The difference between the good examples and the horrible warnings is movement. The horrible warnings do the same things over and over. Oh, most times they think they are doing different things, but when you look at their lives it is like they burn supper on the stove one day and burn it in the oven the next day. It is the same thing with a different color hair. They have the same epiphanies over and over, essentially go around the same circle again and again.

The good examples have a direction. They move not randomly but with purpose. The movement may be somewhat butterfly-ish in that the purposefulness may not be immediately evident but monarchs do wind up on milkweed and cabbage moths do inevitably find some plant in the cole-ish family. People will say of the good examples, they are exactly the same people they were when I met them years ago and yet, a look at their lives reveals that they have moved, have refined, have advanced, are flat out further along. They don’t flounder a whole lot. They build. Good examples don’t hide, don’t bully, don’t perform for the audience.

They do, however, fry fresh peach pies, which is what I’m going off to do right now.


barefoot gardener said...

Great post! I think my greatest fear is being that person who is stuck, and can't learn their lesson and move on....

Kate said...

You blew my mind, right at the end there. Fried peach pies?!?! FRIED? Holy biscuits and gravy!

Please, tell me more. Battered? Deep fried? Pan fried? Tiny pies fried whole? Slices from bigger pies? But then how does it all not splooge out? Frozen before cutting? Help me, please. I'm going to be a mess until this is cleared up...

Alecto said...

I'm with Kate. What?! What have I been missing? I can get peaches here. I can make pies. Please please please!

Eleutheros said...

It's a Southern thing. It is a high art and one of the surest ways to a Southern man's soul.

A fried pie is a biscuit, raw dough, unbaked, which is rolled out flat to a 6" or so disk, then plied with fruit filling (peach, apple, pear, blackberry, blueberry, gooseberry, etc.). The disk is folded over to make a crescent and the edge is crimped together. Then the pie is fried on both sides in oil or lard in a skillet (1/4" or so of oil) until it is brown. Then (and this is where the high art comes in), the hot pie is dredged in a plate of sugar and cinnamon and allowed to cool just enough to be able to eat it without burning your tongue. They're good later too, but that first bite is a sacrament.

That's a fried pie. No, it's not a 'turnover'. That's Yankee food and one had best keep such talk to one's self when a misty-eyed Southern man bits into a fried pie.

Wendy said...

Fried pies. Um .... Now, that's something to miss about living in the south :).

I think the key difference between fried pies and turnovers is the crust, and a turnover is a pastry crust (flour, lard/shortening, and water) and a fried pie crust is a dough. They're very different things.

Eleutheros said...

Essentially that's that difference but a Southern biscuit isn't dough in the usual sense of the word. It too is made of four, lard, and water (in that order) just like pastry. And like the best pastry, the best biscuits flake when they are done. Biscuit flour like pastry flour is high starch and low protein, both unlike the best bread or pasta flour.

I'd say one of the main differences is that biscuit dough (fried pies) contain a good amount of levening and pastries (turnovers)contain little or none. The levening, usually bicarbonate of soda, reacts to the high heat of frying while most turnover type pastries are baked at temperatures much lower than frying temperatures.

I cannot believe that this moron spelling checker is trying to force me to spell the word 'leavening' rather than correctly as 'levening'.

CG said...

one correction to Eleu -- biscuits are properly made with buttermilk, not water.

And Alecto, shall we plan to make fried pies during girls' weekend?

FriedPieGuy said...

Doesn't McDonalds have fried apple pies?

Wendy said...

Yes, biscuits are made with milk, not water, and baking soda, which pastry dough does not have.

Anyway, that's the way I do it ;), and like my grandma, who made biscuits every day, I use "all purpose" flour for my bicuits.

CG said...

well, Wendy, I use freshly ground soft wheat flour, whole wheat. But that's me being holier than thou. Best for fried pies is cheap canned biscuits.

Fried pie guy, you just go on to McD's and pretend! LOL!

Eleutheros said...

I was thinking in terms of 'liquid' when I said water. Of course one uses buttermilk.

And one can make any product, from hard pasta to light pancakes, out of any kind of flour, from hard red durum wheat to soft white wheat. But the best results come from using the flour best suited for what one is making.

Several Southern millers, understanding this, used to offer special biscuit flour. Notable among these was White Lily Flour and Southern Biscuit Co. The Martha White Co used to offer a special biscuit flour made only from soft red winter wheat, but I haven't seen it for sale in a long time.

CG said...

So, someone got her panties in a wad. I did not speak anything that wasn't the truth and I spoke without enmity. It was not mean (except in the Klingon sense of confronting what is instead of what one wishes it to be) and I am not sorry.

Alecto said...

I missed the panty wadding business, did you delete a comment?

Yes! Can we even use that dough that comes in a cardboard tube you have to pop open with a spoon?

I think I'm throwing Waddles in the trunk, by the way. He won't fit in the cat carrier but maybe a piece of luggage? Anyway, maybe Little Girl won't think to blame me when he suddenly vanishes from the coop.

CG said...

you didn't miss anything Alecto, and I didn't delete anything. It's just panties and they weren't here.

I was thinking I'd bring a couple properly aged but I guess not! Husband makes a wicked rellenos that the chicken pickings (or a second chicken) might be great for. I think I know the procedure.

Oh, and I don't use the spoon method but the ancient hillbilly technique of hitting the tube on the corner of the counter!

friedpieguy said...

Avoid the Doughboy. He's dangerous.