Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving is 6 months in the making

Hello to all of you, I hope you had a pleasant Thanksgiving. Our day was relaxing and enjoyable, as well it should be after the months of preparation that go into it! Plans begin in May when we plant the garden and decide which varieties of squash and pumpkins to plant, the very ones that will grace our table come the holiday season. We had Delicata squash this year, and oh! what a delicious tasty variety it turned out to be! This is a variety that dates from the 1880's or 90's and will definitely be something that we will plant next year. The pumpkins were a variety called Connecticut Field Pumpkin, a very old variety that dates back a few hundred years. They make the best pies, a process that begins the day before Thanksgiving when the pumpkin is quartered and baked. The cooked pulp is then scooped out, seasoned, mixed with fresh cream and baked to perfect doneness. A real homemade pumpkin pie beats any other kind! Whilst Katie and I were in the kitchen on Wednesday, the men and littler girls were outside butchering the Thanksgiving turkey. It was one that had been raised on our farm, outside in the fresh air and sunshine. We raise Narragansett turkeys, another old, heritage breed that is no longer commercially grown due to their slow growth. Your typical store bought turkey was a confinement raised "broad breasted white" hybrid monstrosity. They reach market weight in less than 6 months, whereas Narragansetts take a year or more. Slow is good. :-) The whole butchering business goes quickly, so quickly that I didn't get pictures and I really did mean to. The ambiance of country life, eh Ken? :-) However, I will describe how we go about it. A lot of folks have a killing cone but we don't, so we use the good, old fashioned chopping block. A piece of twine is tied loosely around the turkey's neck to keep its head stretched out so that it can be killed in one quick chop, I abhor the thought of torturing anything. Aleks sights the spot where he wants the ax to fall and thwack! its head is off. I've only ever seen a bird *run* after its head was cut off once, usually they just flop around which is what this one did. They also butchered 3 chickens that day and one of them flopped around so wildly that it ended up in the corn field, much to the amusement of the children. Then the bird is hung by its feet to bleed out, after that it is dunked in the cast iron cauldron of boiling water to loosen the feathers which are then pulled out. After the bird is plucked then it is gutted and immediately thereafter put in a tub of ice water to cool down. And that's it! About 12 hours later it was in the oven to slowly bake to perfect yumminess!

Later that evening we played tableaux vivants. This is an old form of entertainment where people in costume, with or without props, put on a scene. They don't move (so it's unlike charades) or speak and then we guessed what it was they were. For example our first tableaux of the night featured Asa, Abigail and Elisabethe sitting in the cast iron baby tub. Elisabethe held a knife, Abby had a rolling pin and Asa held a pewter candle stick. Can you guess what they were? Rub a dub dub, three men in a tub, and who do you think they be? A butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker, throw them out, knaves all three! Other children did scenes from fairy tales, the pilgrims landing, a scene from Of Mice and Men, a scene from Fiddler on the Roof , and even one scene from Bugs Bunny, lol. We had such a good time and already everybody is planning what they will do for New Years. We finished off the evening by listening to records on the phonograph player. I have a treasure trove of 78's that we play, including a lot of Bing Crosby Christmas carols. There are waltzes that we love and even some FDR speeches if the mood strikes us. The younger set like to wind the handle before placing the needle on the record and they like to discover a new favorite from the box of records that we haven't yet listened to. It was a wonderful end to a wonderful day!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Asa update

I'm shamefully overdue with getting the baby's measurements posted. Anyway, we took him for a check up at 6 weeks where he weighed 13 lbs 5 oz. That's a 4.5 lb gain in 6 weeks, the doctor said he was indeed obese. :-) He was off the growth chart that she showed us, however I found the WHO's growth chart specifically for boys and height and weight wise he was in the 85-95% both at birth and at 6 weeks. His infant chemises fit him until 7 weeks (barely) and then they were *tight* on his tummy and arms and so we put them away. Another milestone passed, that's bittersweet, isn't it?
This week he is 9 weeks old and though I don't have a weight for him he now has a 19.5" waist and is 25" long with a head circumference of 16". His blue homespun gown and his 1870's gown still fit, along with his 3 nightgowns, but that's all that he currently has. :-/ I have several of Sarah Jane's baby gowns and I tried a precious little wool one on him for Thanksgiving. It looked so sweet on him but I couldn't hook and eye it up most of the way down the back. He needs another few gowns but so do several of the girls, so I'll have to sew what I can, when I can.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A New Barn

Our current barn where the cows are kept and milked is really little more than a tumble-down shack, it features holes in the roof and a rotted out floor. It is the epitome of the "rustic and informal look" as Micah likes to say. :-) There is no way it will make it through another winter and so Mr. G has endeavored to build a new shelter before the snow flies. The new barn will be large enough to store some hay in, as well as put the fanning mill and plow etc. in.

Someday I would like to live in a house with post and beam construction, whether we'll buy an old house or build one that way is still uncertain, but there's no teacher like experience! Mr. G is framing the barn using mortise and tenon construction, so although it's not "post and beam", it's a close cousin. Things are still occasionally built this way, but not very often. Because it's time intensive it has fallen out of common usage in favor of faster methods.
In the pictures he is using a mallet and chisel to square up the hole that he previously drilled out using a bit and brace. We will all be glad to see the cows in a snug barn, no one more so than the men who do the early morning chores, at times it's so gusty out there that the lantern doesn't want to stay lit. Milking in the pitch dark quickly loses its charm I'm told.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Family Portrait at Zoar

In other family news, we went to Zoar on Saturday to take advantage of the 70+ degree weather where we enjoyed spending some time together hiking on the towpath trail. Zoar is so beautiful, it's one place where I'd actually consider living in town. The above picture was taken on the trail of the 8 oldest: Aleks, Katie, Levi, Micah, Tabitha, Rebekah, Elisabethe, and Abigail. A certain small person, who shall remain nameless, wouldn't behave for the picture. :-)

However, Katie took this picture of Asa the day before. It really shows how cute his lopsided grin is. I love that face! :-)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Heart's Desire

Katie has been diligently laboring over her new gown and finally completed it last evening! It is the Past Patterns darted bodice pattern, but she made it with a gathered bodice instead as cottons weren't generally darted in the 1860's. Since this is an "every day" dress and because we don't wear hoops around the house, she models it over petticoats as that's how it will actually be worn. Her next project is sewing a few more petticoats, both plain and tucked, which will give the skirt more loft. I can't begin to say how impressed I am with her sewing ability, she has really come into her own over the past year! She has such a positive attitude about sewing and takes correction so patiently with a willingness to rip things out and redo them until they're just right. I couldn't be more pleased or proud!

The collar is one of mine and the cuffs she made herself, they are basted in so that they can easily be removed and laundered. The blue silk ribbon is more of a young person's style, it wouldn't be something that I would wear, for instance.

I wanted her to get my bonnet out and try it on, it gets so little use. I think it frames her face just beautifully. Bonnets really need to come back in fashion, don't you think? They are just so lovely and feminine.

If you remember a couple of posts ago how I was mentioning about the bad attitudes of people toward their children and especially teenage girls, you will understand the title of this post. My heart's desire is that my children will listen to their inner light and follow what God would have them to do, I pray that they will be diligent, hard working, humble, practice self denial, and strive for holiness. I have 2 teenagers that have exceeded my expectations and make me so proud as well as set a wonderful example for the younger 7 to follow