Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Harvest time and food sharing.

This week i am feeling slightly food obsessed. It is harvest time, which means my counters and tables are constantly covered in homegrown organic goodness.
Last week, some neighbors from down the road stopped by with a bag of produce from their garden. They stop every year and drop off whatever excess they have to each of the houses along our road. They are country neighbors, meaning they live several miles down the road, not right next door.

Last year they brought us a huge bag of fresh spinach and a few turnips. So, i sent them home with a dozen eggs from our hens.
This year they dropped off a dozen ear of corn and these beautiful tomatoes and cucumbers. We didn't have any extra eggs in the fridge, or garden produce to offer (other than tomatoes and cucs), but offered them some of our peaches which were still green on the tree. When they inquired about our giant sunflowers, we offered them seeds once the flowers die back.

This past week i visited my friend with the milking doe and practiced milking her goats again. i'd really like to get proficient at it, so that i am completely comfortable milking independently. My friend needs someone who can come over and milk her goats if they are gone for a day or two. This time i not only milked the Alpine, who is a full size dairy goat, but i also tried milking the dwarf Nigerian and found her quite easy to milk. i can see how it would take a long time to milk such a small goat, but i didn't have any trouble with the actual milking...which is very reassuring. i brought my friend a box of peaches, a 5' tall peach tree start and a purple butterfly bush. She sent me home with a quart of goats milk and some Chevre cheese. Yum!! :)

We are just begining to dig potatoes, and Kenan dug over 30 lbs earlier this week. We still have several rows to dig. i've started in on my second box of peaches, working to freeze some and give more away. We still have many peaches left on the trees.

There are apple trees growing everywhere in the area, many wild, and many spread by wildlife. These apples were from a wild apple tree at the edge of a neighbor's yard. The neighbor wasn't planning to do anything with these and was just letting them go to waste on the tree. He told us to pick as much as we wanted. These are large, nice apples and make delicious apple sauce! Kenan came home with almost a bushel, and if i can get these preserved he'll be getting more. There is another wild apple tree just down the road with the best tasting apple i have ever had. We are all eagerly waiting for them to ripen.

So at the beginning of the post i mentioned the neighbors who had dropped off some produce? As soon as our peaches began ripening we took over a bag full and several dried sunflower heads. They blessed us with a huge bag of organic plums and offered us a couple of small plum trees. We in turn offered them a peach tree ( we have several starts growing under our trees). So later this week we'll be planting more fruit trees. These plums are small, about the size of golf balls, but very sweet!

Yesterday morning we got a surprise phone call from the same folks we had received the plums from, asking if we wanted pears. :) So this is my project for next week, once i get through the apples and peaches and plums. i have over 100lbs of organic pears to can, and can pick more if we need them. They have already picked and canned what they wanted. We took them a jar of blackberry jam, and will dig them some red raspberry canes once they are dormant in the fall. i also plan to take over some sweet potatoes once we begin to dig them as well.

This is one of my favorite things about country life, and small communities. People are still willing to help each other out, share food and stories. i am always amazed at how generous country folks are. Many of the folks around us live in unimaginable poverty, yet when they have anything they are so quick to share it. This sharing has become one of my favorite parts of the growing season. Food, is as good as money here. i also no longer feel as if i have to grow everything myself. We can focus on the things that we grow well, and barter for the things that we don't. This sense of 'taking care of each other' is so strong here in the country, that's just what neighbors do.

While the spirit of neighborliness was important on the frontier because neighbors were so few, it is even more important now because our neighbors are so many. ~Lady Bird Johnson


  1. Lovely story, lovely life, Thank you for sharing!

  2. Reading all of this makes me see that I could be doing so much more! I need to learn how to preserve food like this. Any suggestions on how I should start? I have never canned anything!

  3. I have a really yummy recipe for Butterscotch peach jam if you are interested in something different. YUM. and we canned a bunch of apple pie filling w/ apples from my parents trees. If you ever need some new recipes let me know.