Skills and lessons learned this weekend:
*Turning a pig leg into a ham isn't that hard. It just takes a sharp knife and some patience, and a lot of googling. Sites like pigwomanknife make it easier.
*Americans throw out a TON of food. I took home 120 bananas from the gleaner's pantry tonight. Plus chicken, salads, green beans and produce.
And there were at least 100 loaves of bread and bagels that were going to get fed to pigs and chickens. We're talking artisan, organic ciabatta, loaves of sourdough, whole wheat sandwich loaves. It's very sad.
I feel like I'm stealing food from the mouths of hungry people, but the food banks here are overflowing with food. And if I don't take the food, it's going to someone's pigs.
*A dehydrator is totally worth the money, if you'll eat dehydrated veggies and fruit leather. I don't know about the veggies yet, but my kids will totally eat fruit leather. Dehydrated green beans and squash? Will I use it? The jury is out.
*I went to go visit my new pigs tonight. We're getting two weaner pigs next week. They're very cute, absolutely adorable, and I will have no problem eating them. We went to go see a neighbor named Alan, who's the local pig/cow/chicken expert. He has a farm around the corner from us with chickens, one-eyed turkeys, pigs and cows and a pumpkin patch, and stray ducks and cats with half a tail. Sander is in love and wants to visit every day. He was enthralled with every story and soaked up every drop of information. Alan's like an encylopedia on why you want sows vs. boars, why you want short-horned cattle for beef (they're the heirloom tomatoes of cows -- totally underappreciated and making a comeback because of taste,) and what happens if your pig gets out (you buy your neighbors flowers to replace the ones they eat!)
*I love my husband and I hate when he's gone. He's the only thing that keeps this crazy train on its rails and headed down the track. Can't even imagine life without him.
*I am really, really ready for harvest season to be over. Because while I'm loving all this food and I recognize how lucky I am to have all of this bounty, I'm ready for easy nights where I can throw lentils and carrots into the crockpot and call dinner done and not have to think about preserving even one damned thing. I'm ready for knitting, TV shows and hot chocolate. But I still have more apples and green beans and squash and tomatoes to deal with. They'll be delicious in January. Right now, I don't even want to look at food.
*I'm happy. We're more poor than we've been in a long time. All of our money went into moving, buying this house, renovating it, and then there was a stupid $2,000 cat bill. We're broke, like until Sawyer goes to college. But I wouldn't change a second of any of it. We spent the weekend putting netting on the chicken coop, picking blackberries and apples, and setting up for pigs. My kids are happy, I'm happy, and Mark is ... Well, Mark is slowly getting used to the idea that he's in not in downtown Austin anymore. The more good food I keep feeding him, the happier he gets. So I'm going to keep feeding him, and I think that in a year, while he might not be ready to be a farmer, he's going to be a happy guy.