Sunday, July 22, 2012

Adventure 29- Homesteading skills

Number 1 helper
This week we did a little bit of a different adventure. The previous day Natalie and I went for a long bike ride and a hike up Bradley Creek in Union Bay. Our goal was a wonderful waterfall on the aforementioned stream. With limited time to make it to my Grandma's house for a celebration for her birthday we had to cut the hike short. We will return and visit a place that meant so much to me as a child. A late night left us a bit tired and I had purchased twenty pounds of fresh, crimson canning tomatoes from Bates Beach Farm, on Saturday that needed to be processed.
The weather was forecast for showers and cooler temperatures, a perfect summers day to spend in the kitchen canning and playing with different things. We started the day with our first visit with Marshall to the new dog park in Cumberland. We all had a blast in the cool moist morning air, a nice respite from the heat that has been around that past few weeks. With Marshall sufficiently exercised we came home for breakfast. I made the best Paleo pancakes yet. Whipping the heck out of some egg whites really added to the fluff factor of the cakes when using ground almonds, plus no sugar. I did us plenty of maple syrup though. Natalie decided to make herself a smoothie because for some reason she dislikes pancakes? Weird kid. Maybe it is because I forgot to buy bacon this weekend.
Proud stitcher
After breakfast it was time to start on the tomatoes. I boiled a pot of water to scald the fruit as to assist in the removal of the skins. A tedious process, skinning and cleaning, but it makes for a much better product. Natalie helped me for a while but she was grossed out by the seeds and watery mess. I let her run the blender and put away some dishes. Soon the pot was full of cleaned fruit and simmering. I added a bunch of herbs from the little garden on my deck for seasoning and kept it simple. I will add other vegetables when it gets used for cooking later on.
Finished product
Natalie saw all the cherries out on the neighbors tree. It's branches spill into our backyard and she went out to sample them. I can not remember a year where this giant tree has had so much fruit on it, and she could reach some with a little booster step. They tasted good. Sour cherries. Out came the ladder and we soon had picked two pounds. That was fun. I have since pitted half of them and they will make glorious dried cherries. I am dreaming about pemmican with them. Natalie prepared some yam for the dehydrator for storage and to take on camping trips. Dehydrated vegetables and beef jerky make a great camping soup for us caveman eaters.
Zucchini chips
Natalie had learned to sew at daycare, her and Shawna made a few things and Natalie has been bugging me about doing more. I thought that I had a sewing machine in the crawlspace. Unfortunately it was not there when we went to look. A bit disappointed I said that she could sew with a needle and thread. I know how to do that! So she found an old tee shirt and I showed her how to tie a knot and start working the needle back and forth. I worked on some other stuff, and low and behold, she made herself a pillow! That was so cool. It is amazing how a young child can teach themselves things. I think the traditional skills are in all of us, and all it takes is a little help from an adult with half a clue, me being the guy with barely half a clue about sewing. I finished off a wooden spoon that had been waiting for some more whittling for sometime now. It turned out well too.
My spoon

We managed to dry a big batch of vegetables, prep beef jerky for drying overnight tonight, build an ingenious  cherry pit tool, pressure can our sauce, sew, and do some house work. It was a very productive day capped with a mouth watering dinner including wild mallard duck, local organic new potatoes and cauliflower and one of the left over tomatoes. The duck was a gift from my Uncle Gerry. Natalie loved it. I am super happy as duck hunting is a favorite past time of mine and I hope to put some in the freezer this winter.

I would like to see more adults introducing their children to the traditional skills of our grandparents. Either it be food preservation, baking, gardening, wild harvesting, or old time crafts, there is a lot to learn and to keep those skills alive with the next generation so there are not lost forever. Plus it is a really cool way to learn stuff with your children and spend quality time with a nice end product. Find Adventure.

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