Thursday, September 20, 2012

Harvesting, mourning and celebrating

 A lesson in chicken anatomy, my son knows a chicken liver, lungs, heart and gizzard. He insisted in pulling out all the organs from each chicken we butchered - just twelve in all, averaging eight and half pounds each. (Not intentionally, just pure procrastination.)

We had about three days where the Birch trees were full and completely golden. A night of wind and now the woods are bare and empty with only the occasional fully gowned tree bringing us to stop and ponder why it still has all it's leaves  I am a frantic squirrel gathering and stowing away, scrambling this way and that. My gathering and survival instincts are strong. I cannot go for a walk or just stand around and enjoy the beauty. Instead every walk is accompanied by a basket on my arm, gloves and my pocket knife or clippers, with me wondering what should be harvested next, Usnea or rose hips? Raspberry leaves or Dandelions? The past two weeks I gave up on carrying or hauling produce or herbs down from the garden and instead I drove the car up and down the hill, filled one day with cabbages, then comfrey tied in bundels, the next day; buckets of beets and carrots.

Dustin is on his sixteenth day straight of twelve hour shifts with an hour commute in each direction. I'm feeling like I've been a single mom for the last five months. The kids and I have had a challenging few weeks with me trying to do too much and they've been letting me know they need more attention.
I'm trying not to panic at everything that still needs to be done before the snow falls - we should have a few more weeks of bare ground, I hope.

 My winter squash, gourd and pumpkin harvest. Not impressive by most standards, but to see me gaze adoringly at my squash pile, you'd think I was gazing on a child I'd just birthed :)

Now for some sad news. We said goodbye to our faithful family dog of nine and a half years. Chana was an intuitive, gentle and hard working dog until the day she died. She was our first child. We think she had lymphoma or some sort of intestinal or stomach cancer. She went down hill quickly over the last couple months. The day we had her put down, I drove her up to the garden to sit in the sun, and took this picture. The kids spent the day writing and singing her songs. We buried her in a deep hole that Dustin spent a night digging, and we covered her with sweat peas and garden flowers. The kids and I have been visiting her and telling her about our days and what she has been missing. The house is strange and empty without her. It has been very sad to say goodbye.

We just celebrated Avery's fourth birthday. She had a fabulous day. We celebrated at the park with friends and family.

And that has been our September news. Harvesting, mourning death, celebrating life. Our days should be growing less eventful and we turn indoors and begin to relax and enjoy the fruits of our labors. We are just beginning lessons. I'm looking forward to have more time for crafts; knitting and felting, elaborate meals, learning with and from my children, reading and writing. What are you busy with and looking forward to?


Anonymous said...

You made me cry with your words about your lovely dog. Our Border Collie, Rock, died in very similar circumstances just a few months ago and we still miss him terribly. We are waiting on a pup at the moment but we'll never forget Rock. I really enjoy reading your blog - you live in such a different part of the world and so everything you write about is interesting to me!
Anne (Tasmania, Australia)l

Buttons said...

Dgreeti 45Oh Emily I am so sorry to hear about Chana I am sure he will be missed.
Happy Birthday to Avery the party looks like fun.
I remember those feelings of 12 hour shift or more working husbands and trying to get everything done before the winter. Sometimes, very rarely, I do miss those days not for the work but for the things I learned about myself about how strong I could be mentally and physically and have carried with me to this day.
Take care Emily and happy harvest B

Jamie Woodside said...

I'm waiting for this rain to let up for a few minutes so that I can go harvest the rest of the carrots and pull the other spent plants. Just curious, when do you start your seeds for the pumpkin and winter squash? I want them in my garden next year, but I haven't tried them before, and Alaska's short growing season throws me for a loop sometimes...

Tara said...

Hi Emily,

I'm so sorry about your dog. It is heartbreaking to lose a pet, but it sounds like you gave Chana a wonderful life and a beautiful final day.

I just wanted to say that I'm so glad to have found your blog. I'm just beginning to realize my homesteading dreams here in the Yukon, and it's nice to read about someone in a similar climate!

We are scrambling to get ready for winter; lots of wood cutting happening around here these days!

Jennifer McGovern said...

Hi! I'm Jennifer McGovern, and I'm working with Laurie Constantino on a contact list of Alaskan Food bloggers. I enjoy your blog, and we'd love to include you! We have the intention of creating a Alaskan community of food lovers. Would you be willing to be a part of our database? I'd just need your email and/or phone number. We'd like to eventually have a food party and get everyone together. Thank you so much!! Your site is listed on Laurie's website under Alaska Blogs ( If you're interetested, please email me or message me back. My email is Thanks for your time!