Friday, June 06, 2014

food sources

Since I was young, I've cared about my food sources. My grandparents cared, too and I suppose they passed this on to us. My whole family -- mother, sister, nephews, daughters -- they all care. Sure, with different emphases and sensitivities, but we all pay attention to how food is cultivated and consumed. You know that line about kids these days not knowing that the supermarket cellophane covered drumsticks actually come from a chicken that once had feathers and a personality? It doesn't apply to me. My grandma axed live chickens for Sunday lunch and I helped pluck feathers out of the barely dead animal. I know what's what.

But I have my lapses. Sometimes, when I'm not thinking, I can do something that shows just how removed we really are from having an ingrained understanding of where food comes from.

Take this morning, for instance. Oh, I'm fully aware of chickens alright! Up at 5:30 and even that is late for them. Clean coop, make sure there's water and only then do I stumble back to the farmhouse, just as the sun breaks through the clouds at the horizon.


Breakfast. A little rushed, but still good, on the porch, on a sunny and warm Friday morning.



Ed goes off for his round of techie meetings and I'm about to go off to pick up groceries for the week and as I take stock of what's in the fridge, I shout out to him -- you know, there's not enough left over kohlrabi soup for even a small lunch portion. I should give it to the chickens.  

I throw down the last bit of soup into a plastic container and watch them enjoy a rather tasty mid-morning snack.


And then I go off to do my shopping and in ticking off in my mind things that I need to restock the pantry, I remember something: at the last minute, I had decided to use chicken stock for the kohlrabi soup. Damn! Yes, it had plenty of vegetables, but it wasn't really vegetarian. Oh, sure, it was greatly diluted and boiled and the whole thing was not much different than giving a piece of cake (made with eggs!) to a hen, but still, I feel duped by my own absentmindedness, rooted in that same kind of thinking that leads you to forget that a box of beef or chicken broth actually has a source.

In other news -- it is plenty warm today. Still, garden work is pleasant and no longer rushed. The basics are in place (and will remain in place if only the hens would quit digging up dirt around my flowers).


And I even have enough time to do a tornado clean up job at the farmhouse (my little one and her soon to be husband -- in two weeks! -- are coming to town for the weekend) and to take a walk with my older girl all around one of Madison's lesser lakes.

Toward evening one of our many secret sources of free wood chips came by with a truckload of freshly chipped pines and cedars and so after supper we were out again, throwing pitchforkful after pitchforkful of chips around one of the old raspberry islands until I could throw no more.

We end the day on the porch.


There is no better ending than this -- whether we are reading or writing or doing absolutely nothing at all except watching the bats swoop down. It's quiet now. Around midnight the coyotes will howl and at four, Oreo will begin his daylong song. But in the hours just after dusk, sounds are muted. As if far away. Receding as the day recedes, colors blending into one shadow of lushness, until tomorrow, when each individual sweet plant will impress me all over again.