ringing it in with the good and the bad.

it always comes this way doesn't it? farming seems to elicit feelings of failure right alongside the joy and serenity our farm creatures give us. we've been 'learning lessons' ever since we started in this particular Line of Work. but some weeks you feel more like a petulant school child than others. never getting the lesson. always being punished in the corner of the room...dunce cap askew. 

this week's Lessons were with canning and foxes. nick and i spent the better part of the last two weeks preparing for winter. our main focus being quarts of vegetable soup. they are the perfect for meals of two. and we have been rich in veggies. especially squash and carrots. so we peeled and diced and roasted many pounds of both and came alive with two dozen quarts of soup. half carrot/ginger. half butternut squash....AND THEN...

...we read, according to the venerable ball book of preserving that you never can puréed soup. which is of course exactly what we had done. and had already consumed several quarts. apparently the purée makes the soup too thick and even with pressure canning you cannot be sure that you have heated it all the way through. but google botulism one too many times after a glass of whiskey and you will soon be convinced that you have poisoned yourself. that yes, your lower legs are feeling numb....most likely the beginnings of the paralysis they warn you about. so we tossed the soup. in a bout of fear, shyly applauding ourselves for being practical. we figured. the veggies were free. our time was not. but our lives were important to us and we didn't want to die from rancid soup. canners go back and forth about this puréed business. and i'm not advocating for either. BUT i do want to be safe with our preserved foods. i think being unsafe and potentially reckless about it is what can lend such living a reputation of bad. 

the second lesson in the Book of Nick and Kate and All Mistakes Farming was with foxes. just yesterday we had a fox come in through the poultry netting and kill three of our chickens. all too big for her to take. but calm, and slow, enough for her to kill. so we have learned that winter is a serious time for predators. that they will not let up so long as they are hungry and that we need to respect the unrelenting power of this hunger and better protect our flock.  this is going to be hard. we are not permitted to have dogs on this farm and of course, dogs are the first and best defense we can think of....short of keeping them indoors. but there is nothing like a good puzzle to make winter on the farm more challenging so this is what nick will be spending his week doing. 

the good came in eggs. came in cake. came in snuggles with the pigs and bella. the fabric of this life that nourishes our bodies and our souls. we're getting 4-6 eggs a day. a nice christmas bonus. the cake is the beginning of my new year resolution to bake a cake a week. ahh the anti-work-out-eat-well resolution. the snuggles....well that is me, spending new years day which was a bluebird of one....lying in the freshly-layed hay with my fat happy animals. thankful for a year past and another year begun.


  1. i've been reading your blog for a few months now and love it! love all the photos- you do a nice job capturing farm life. I live in portland oregon now, but grew up in the boston area (just over the border in nh).
    anyways- i have struggled with not being able to can many soups. i don't remember reading about not being able to can pureed soups (thanks for the heads up!), but i do remember reading that you can't can anything with a pasta in it- which is a bummer because i make this great veggie soup that has little whole wheat alphabet pasta's in the mix of beans i use. Plus, i don't have a pressure cooker and can't justify making room for it in my TINY kitchen!
    stay warm- i am sure winter (*snow*) is going to show up in new england soon!

  2. thanks for sharing your mistakes and triumphs. it sounds like your life is quite nice on that little farm.

    why no dogs?

  3. There's a scene in Breakfast at Tiffany's where Holly Golightly is throwing a party, and there's some drunk woman who's looking into a mirror and laughing manically one minute, and then sobbing hysterically the next....

    That's me on whiskey.

  4. in the midst of your mistakes and learning from them, your little farm life is so beautiful...so happy you were able to eat some cake :-)

  5. Canning mishaps suck. I know exactly how you feel. And yes, paranoia does set in under those circumstances!

    I would really love to can soup (properly) as well. I think what I'm gonna do this year is just can the vegetables separately to put into chicken-feet stock. Chopped carrots in one, potatoes in another (though after canning those last year I read they're also risky). I don't know, there's gotta be a way to can soup!


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