This isn't how I envisioned the finale of this journey for Natalie and I. I am sitting home, listening to Jack Spirko, sipping a coffee, alone. Natalie has been invited on some cool adventures with her mom, and who am I to step in the way of that. I really wanted to finish this writing project in 2012, and she will not be back with me until the new year. In this regard we are out of time to participate in one last grand adventure for this year. I know over the years we will be undertaking many great trips, and see any number of wonderful things around Vancouver Island and beyond.
Going back through my mind as I recalled other adventures that were not recorded in this blog, and the one that has stood out since it took place, happened right here in my kitchen. Or as I call it Scruggs Chop Shop and Smoke House. My kitchen has become the focus of my life, finding great comfort in fresh meal ideas and learning processes for interesting sauces and preserves. As I wrote about in 730, my diet and passion for local food has increased incredibly, with canning and preserving high on the list for keeping these products out of season. Natalie has begun her interest in cooking as well. She has been making her own oatmeal for breakfast for months now. She is no longer scared of the stove, and is learning to us a knife. For Christmas I gifted to her a cutting board and two knives, one a Santuko and the other a pairing knife. I hope her to help me with prepping meals and canning, teaching her the importance of being prepared and the skills involved in with storing food.
I had a fantastic deer hunting season, luckily harvesting three deer. I take pride in looking after all my own processing, the only thing that I am not able to do at home is the hanging, and that is fine to leave somewhere it can be hung in a proper environment. My last deer I took on a rainy, windy early December morning, on a farm property that I was very fortunate to be allowed access to hunt the 100 acre property. The deer was not a wall hanger, but a fantastic eating animal that I was very grateful to be able to take for the deep freeze. I field dressed the animal, loaded it in the truck, and brought it to my uncles home to hang in his shop. I usually hang an animal for at least a week, but because of the circumstances, I just left it over night. Being a young deer, the worry of gamey venison was not a concern, so I broke it down and readied it for transport home in a couple of coolers. Next season I hope to do a more detailed blog post about how to take a deer apart, into primary cuts. I can do so in about 45 minutes and is really quite easy, just don't wreck the backstrap!
I prepared the kitchen table by washing and wiping with vinegar to sanitize it, and sharpened my boning knife. Natalie showed up just as I was getting ready, so I invited her to help me. Her eyes lit and she grinned "Sure Dad!" I reached a cutting board from the shelf, popped a pairing knife from the magnet and slid it along the steel. I was about to trim out the backstrap, so I gave her the tenderloins, and explained how to cut off the fat and trim off the little bits for the burger bowl. She went to task and had the "sweet meat" done in record time. I was de-boning a shoulder, so I pulled the rib cage from the cooler and tossed it on her board. Giant eyes again. I explained how to strip the meat from the bones, cutting out from between the ribs, and neck. I don't think that I have seen her have that much fun in a long time. She worked on that the whole time it took me to finish up the shoulders and hams, as well as wrap it all up. She would poke around, finding blood vessels, coagulated blood, investigate how the bones were attached to the others. This is a biology lesson, your text book in front of you, in 3D.
Natalie did so good at stripping that carcass. I ended up helping her to get the last bits from between the ribs. There was no complaining, not gross outs, no boredom. It was interesting for her the whole time. I am thrilled to pass on skills that I did not have the opportunity to gain at her age. I saw a very few deer cut up as a youth, so for her to learn this stuff at 9 will carry through her life. I hope to bring her hunting with me more next season, so I can show her how to field dress and skin. She did help me make sausages during my first attempt doing so in October, and I can't wait to get her plucking ducks. I did learn this at a young age, with my uncle, who would take me along with him on lots of duck hunting trips.
Most of all, it is about learning traditional skills, self sufficiency, and common sense. To be able to provide for yourself, even if she never hunts, she will know what good food looks like, and what food looks like before it is wrapped in plastic and styrofoam at the grocery store(I hope she has better choices than that) We learn a greater appreciation for what is offered to us as food when we have a hand in taking care of it, not wasting and honouring our food. I am so proud that she has shown interest in butchery, and hope she follows in my footsteps with this great skill!
I guess that wraps it up. 52 weeks, 52 adventures. There were peaks and valleys this year, much frustration, much laughter, many firsts and changes for both of us. I am excited for the base this year has laid down for our relationship, our working together, planning, trying to cope with adversity, and giving us something to focus on each week. I am also looking forward to not having the task of writing every week, and hope to writing more about building self sufficiency, gardening, playing in Scruggs Chop Shop and Smokehouse, prepping and building 13 skills. 2013 will be another great year in my house, and I hope to share more of that with you all. Find Adventure!