Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Entering the dark days

 The days are growing dim. It grew dark yesterday before I'd started dinner. I usually start dinner around 4:30 or so. I must have been late yesterday. We are fighting our third cold in six weeks maybe five. The good news is that none have settled in, but we still lose a few days each time fighting them off. Thankfully we haven't had any concrete symptoms other than low energy and light headedness. I wake up feeling fine but by mid afternoon I'm done for. As a result I've been indulging in more hours spent reading and less hours spent crafting or cooking. I've discovered a new series that I love called A Discovery of Witches. It is a well written romance triology that weaves together witchcraft, vampires and time travel. I think that even if you are turned off by the thought of witches and vampires, you might still enjoy it.The main characters and their relationship seem very real to me despite the supernatural complications.

 Noah has been working with the multiplication chart a lot. I was planning on writing this big one out so it would look nice, but he asked to do it and I'm glad I let him. He discovered more patterns than he'd previously been aware of.

 This years Martinmas lanterns. This is our third year doing water color paper lanterns as I think they are the easiest for small children to do. But I am looking forward to making wool ones, maybe next year. I'd also like to try making one out of Birch bark even though I've never seen it done yet.

We've been hitting the lessons pretty hard, Monday through Wednesday 9:30 to 2ish not much but back to back lessons are going on around here. Thursday's are cut short a bit and Fridays are make up days. We still aren't getting as much crafting done as I'd like to be doing for this time of year, partially due to a warm spell these past couple weeks which I'm not complaining about. We've been making it out to ice skate with friends once to twice weekly. Today the kids painted. We made new lanterns for Martinmas. The kids got out all the lanterns from the past two years and arranged them in order:

Avery took it upon herself to make her numbers and the alphabet one day while Noah and I were working together. She is almost at the next stage where we start putting sounds together and learning word families and some of the simplest sight words. Exciting times! She can't wait until she can read.

I rendered some goat lard in anticipation of making some soap. Now I just have to get my energy back and fit in a batch before the next cold. I was hoping to make the soap in time that it could cure long enough for Holiday giving, but I'm pushing it close. This Saturday we are butchering three Heritage Bourbon Red turkeys and two extra roosters. We will have fresh and never frozen turkey for Thanksgiving!

Last year we ice skated at a playground nearby. This year we are driving a little farther to go to the peat bogs. It is lots of fun being on a real pond among the cattails.

I was starting to feel the winter doldrums this week. Feeling like there was a lot to do but I wasn't motivated to do any of it. I think it is just that I am low energy from fighting off a cold. I remind myself to be thankful for my health and that it could be much worse. But I really don't like feeling out of it and not having my normal enthusiasm for my daily tasks.

I am trying to enjoy all the beauty around me, our lanterns and winter decorations, all the treasures Avery brings in from outside daily; feathers and dried bits of leaves. I'm planning Advent in my head, whether to do a chalkboard drawing for each week or not, how to introduce the new books I've splurged on for the kids and where we are going to set up our new nativity scene. I'm looking forward. Forward to roasting some winter squash and making a pumpkin pie with the kids one of these days when we have more energy. I'm already looking past Thanksgiving to hopefully at least three days of leftovers. I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving too. I haven't decided what our school schedule will look like next week but I think we might just drop everything and spend three mornings readying about the Pilgrims and the Indian tribes etc. Then spend our afternoons baking. I think we'll save some of the turkey tail feathers for cutting into quills and we'll have a messy afternoon with ink.

And on to resting up while I dream, plan and look ahead.


Aimee said...

I'm very curious about the goat lard. Have you made soap with it before? Does it have a very strong smell? It's been m,y experience that most of the "goaty" smell and taste is in the fat, so I wonder about using that fat for soap. Also, is it very brittle?

k strickland said...

I have some goat fat that i want to render. How do you do it? Always look forward to an update of your family!

Jane Le Galloudec said...

I love to read your blog, you live in such a different place/timezone/climate to us but we try to live along similar principles to you... of course all my children are grown up and flown the nest but your posts remind me of all the things I did with them when they were small. I love it.

Emily said...

Karen, you've probably figured it out by now, but you can render on the stove top which is what I do, or in the oven. But just chop up your lard into inch by inch or so cubes and heat it over low for a couple hours. Stirring slowly and occasionally. At some point pour off most of the fat through a fine mesh sieve or cloth into bread pans or whatever and once they chill you can wrap them and freeze them. You can cook the fat chunks down all the way until you have "cracklings" golden brown crispy fat chunks that you can eat chopped small on salads or whatever, or feed to the chickens if too rich for you. Best wishes!

Emily said...

Aimee, I have made two batches of exclusive goat milk goat fat soap now, after making soap for a few years with storebought ingredients, palm oil and other oils and fats. I have not been able to detect any goatiness to the soap, and I am pretty attune to any hint of goatiness in anything. I feel like I have a little less control over the outcome when making a soap with my own lard and milk, but both times we've had a firm mild bar. It always turns a tan color for me, and has been a little more crumbly to cut than other bars I've made. We have also noticed that the strong goaty taste usually comes in the fat. This past year though we've butchered a couple female goats that had wonderful tasting fat, it was like eating ribeye beef steak. So age, gender and body condition do seem to affect the taste of the fat. best wishes.