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Food Chores & Daily Routines

Finally home for a good long stretch.  I won’t be going anywhere until July 16th (for a sheepdog trial), and then I’ll just be gone for two days.  I can’t believe that it’s already the end of June, and despite having finished my jobs over two months ago, I am only just this week settling into my summer routine.  I knew I was going to be busy, but I had hoped that things would have slowed down a lot sooner than this!  So much for a relaxing summer of writing!  I am now into a serious crunch to get even a fraction of what I need to get done finished before the school year starts up again.  I had hoped to get a whole draft my dissertation done, but now I’m worried that won’t happen.  I will get a lot done, but I also have to design my courses for the coming year, and pick my text books before the end of this month!  So I’m spending a lot of time with my books and at my desk instead of out in the sun.  This comes as no surprise.  A couple of months ago I wrote that I am pretty much solidly booked for the next 12 months, and that was no joke.  Right now is the slowest, most relaxing time that I’m going to have between now and next May.  I am trying to enjoy it as much as possible.

Today I got up quite late – which I am not happy about – and missed my window for walking the dogs.  No matter, I’ll be training them tonight so they’ll get their exercise.  Two days ago I helped shear the sheep at the farm where I train, and we’re all still a bit tired from that anyway.  We sheared about 130 sheep, and the dogs had to move over 200 through barnyards, into corrals and through shoots.  Most of the sheep were lambs and newly purchased ewes that had very little experience being worked by dogs.  As a result, they didn’t know the barn, didn’t know how to move off a dog, and didn’t want to move.  We got charged and stomped at, and even rammed a few times.  It was really tough work, but an excellent learning experience for all of us.  I was amazed by what my youngest dog – Kess – was able to do.  She worked along side Hannah and more than pulled her weight.  It took about 9 hours to get the job done and we were all pretty sore and tired by the end.  I’m still feeling it…

Yesterday I spent some time reading in the garden, with all my animals napping in the grass around me (which is getting long enough to need cutting again – *sigh*).  It was really lovely and – leaking roof aside – I’m so glad I decided to stay in this house at least for the summer.  I made a lovely pot of fresh herb tea from mint, bergamot and chamomile.  These came from my wonderful CSA (Orchard Hill), along with lots of fresh greens, peas, little turnips, rhubarb, carrots and more fresh strawberries this week.

I am doing a pretty good job of getting through my share every week.  I remember the first year, where much of my produce ended up sadly in the composter.  I didn’t know how to handle the bulk influx of fresh veggies.  The share is really meant for two people, so it’s a lot to get all at once.  But I have developed a system that seems to be working.  The day I get my share (Tuesdays), I spend an hour or so preparing everything I get for eating.  I chop, wash and spin lettuce and then put it in plastic bags ready to make salad.  I cut off carrot tops, clean beets and prep their tops for eating and so on.  I then organize everything into my fridge, with all salad making stuff into one of the crisper bins.  By getting everything into ready-to-eat form and organized by type in the fridge, I can quickly make salads and also see what needs to be eaten.  To make a salad now, I pull out a bag of lettuce, and the crisper bin with all the salad fixings (green onions, baby leeks, pees, fresh herbs, baby carrots etc.) and systematically go through it all.  I need to see it to remember to eat it, and this is working well.

I also daily look through the fridge and see what needs to be processed or eaten, and mark it down on my kitchen chalkboard.  For example, today I must process the remaining rhubarb and get it into the freezer.  I also need to eat the swiss chard and do something with the spinach.  These are my food chores for the day.  In this manner, I keep on top of what’s in my fridge so that  nothing goes to waste.  It also keeps these chores down to small daily tasks so they don’t get overwhelming.  So far anyway.  As the summer progresses and it’s bounty augments, I’ll be spending more and more time in the kitchen.

I am still really missing having a garden and might plant a fall-winter garden in July if I can squeeze in the time.  My former roommate has a small out-building structure still sitting on the property, and when she comes to take it (likely soon), the earth underneath should be free of grass and easy to turn into a vegetable patch.  If it turns over easily, I may very well put in some greens and a few other things to last me into the fall.  We’ll see.  I really must prioritize writing and training the dogs.  These were my goals for the summer and I am going to guard their time jealously.

At the very least, however, I will plant some garlic.  I only got one clove in last winter, and have a solitary plant growing at my parent’s house.  The vegetables I put into their garden have been completely ignored when I haven’t been around, but they are still producing without anyone’s attention.  There is plenty of lettuce, a few beets and carrots, and a tangled forest of peas.  Oh, how I miss growing peas!  I sure hope my family enjoys them.  And then there’s the solitary garlic plant with it’s curly scape on top.

I will leave you with the following helpful video on how to harvest and cure garlic, which is typically done in early July around here.  I need to send this to my mother so she can care for my lone plant.  Garlic adapts very quickly to it’s environment and I want to save that single bulb and plant all it’s cloves in the fall and develop a strain of garlic for her garden.

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6 Responses

  1. We sheared dewormed, and trimmed feet on 52 adults, all in just under 2 hours. One dog, one shearer, one very busy helper (me) no fancy handling system, just a very quiet calm movement of sheep in and out of a portable pen (two panels hinged together) in a corner of the barn. While the sheep is sitting up the shearer trims feet. Shorn sheep go back in the pen. When all in that lot are shorn/dewormed/feet trimmed they are released as a group out the front of the barn. The next group come in through the rear of the barn. We only bring in 12-14 at a time and let lambs stay mixed with ewes. With lambs there are about 80+ total. I find chutes difficult as the sheep at the front feel no pressure from the dog. Moving sheep in small groups tends to work well in my set-up. The penned sheep are crowded just enough that short of stepping on my foot, they can’t get enough momentum to either jump or charge.

    • Wow! that’s incredible. I can’t even picture how you could shear, vaccinate, trim feet and worm sheep at a rate of just over 2 minutes per animal. That must be some coordination system you have. And a very fast shearer! I’ve only worked with a couple of shearers now, and they took between 2-4 minutes just to get the wool off.

      Last night I went to the farm to train and once done, I put the sheep up for the night. Due to heavy losses to coyotes this past few weeks, they are now putting the whole flock right into the barn and small fenced area just off it’s south face (instead of the larger, fenced barnyard). Getting the sheep into this area took me almost half an hour four days ago as it was the first time the sheep had to do this. But after four days of doing it daily, they went in on their own as soon as they saw the dog coming. The difference was amazing. I gather that if you have your sheep trained to a routine, anything you do with them will be much faster as they will be calmer and more cooperative. Hopefully when we worm and trim feet next week it will go a lot more smoothly! It will hopefully also help to have me better trained too!

  2. I also have mixed success with vegetable gardening due to no time for weeding. This year I purchased a biodegradeable weed barrier from Lee Valley Hardware. So far very impressed with the product-no weeds!! It is great for single plants like Brussels Spouts, tomatos and peppers. I can’t see using it for greens as making a long slash in the material would just allow weeds to proliferate.

    Go to http://www.leevalley.com Click on the heading at the top that says Gardening. Click on the last listing ‘Weeding’ then click on ‘Mulch and Accessories’. The product is pictured under Biodegradeable Weed Barrier. The package says that it is made of cornstarch. If I can prevent weeds from emerging and going to seed then in a year or two I should be able to work a garden without using the barrier.

    • Thanks for this info! I will definitely check this out. I actually need to stop by Lee Valley (well, I probably don’t ‘need’ to, but sure am happy to have yet another excuse to do so) the next time I drive to London. I’m hoping to get at least a small garden bed organized today to potentially take a few herbs and a couple of flowers. Not having to weed would sure increase their chance for survival!

  3. I love your plan for dealing with for managing your food, especially when there’s a lot of it coming in. My influx tends to be my own fault – I get overzealous at the farmer’s market these days – but I’m looking for ways to be better about managing my food and making less waste overall.

    • Oh, I know what you mean! I came home with way more food than I needed to buy today. I really should bring less cash as I always end up spending everything I bring with me. I look at all the lovely food and start dreaming of everything I could do with it! Then I get it home and, well, I never seem to have as much time (or as large an appetite) as I thought I did. Nevertheless, I do the same the following week. I justify it as supporting my local farmers!

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