A Brined Christmas

Merry Christmas friends! Or should I say Happy New Year now? The days are flying by so fast.

I had great intentions of putting up Christmas decorations way back in November, but it didn’t quite happen. The Little Fulla got excited every time a new Christmas decoration slowly appeared. And you’ve probably seen how much fun he had with the advent calendar house. We eventually brought the Christmas tree in a week before Christmas and fully decorated it a few days before Christmas. It is the potted sitka spruce that I bought last year and it has done well to get to its second Christmas, despite the fact that I think I only fed it once during the year after putting it in a bigger pot. The Little Fulla helped me to decorate the Christmas tree and did a pretty good job, with a few exceptions. This is his explanation for these two birds: “These birds are mating. And then they’re going to have babies.”

He insisted on keeping two birds together so they could be a family. But they got moved to the middle of the tree instead of upside-down, in-your-face.

I even managed to get up some other lights: some seed lights around the ornaments on top of my desk and some solar string lights lining the top of the Veggie Garden/Citrus Pen fence. It brings me joy when I look out there at night and when I go out to put the chickens away.

We had a busy few days of Christmas with family and friends. I wasn’t feeling great, or particularly sparkly, but I am thankful that we got to spend time with our loved ones. That is not something we can take for granted. I did really enjoy having Christmas Day at home though. Since both our families were doing our Christmas gatherings on different days we had some friends around for a lovely Christmas brunch. It wasn’t very much work, it was yummy and we had a long day of relaxing afterwards.

Later in the afternoon, our family was relaxing in the lounge in various ways. I sat in an armchair, perusing a book called Cabin in The Woods. I have a thing for cabins in the woods. Especially log cabins. It is nice to dream about being in a cabin in the woods, but as I looked up and took in the view of my homely house and my family happily doing their own things, toys all over the floor and all, I thought, “These are my people, this is my home, this is all I need.” I felt content.

It is easy to get bogged down by the broken toilet, the weed-smothered garden, the pile of dishes, the unfinished or unstarted projects or the mass of chickens waiting to be butchered. But it is important to take time to sit back, rest, enjoy and give thanks for the home, the garden, the homestead that God has helped me to create here. It may be far from the big dreams that I have, but it is enough for now.

Now we are having some downtime around home. My mind would like to be working on some projects or getting more done in the garden, but my body has other, less exciting plans. I must continually remind myself that my worth is not based on how much I am or am not achieving. My worth is based on what God thinks of me: precious, loved, special, useful, worth being rescued, blessed to be growing a little child inside of me.

Knitting

I finished knitting my big, chunky scarf recently. The pattern is called weekend scarf, by LondoLeo on Ravelry. It is all black and is very thick and snuggly. Obviously, I will not be testing it out until autumn. Somehow in my evening knitting I accidentally added two stitches to the width. It is knitted by alternating rows with yarn overs and dropped stitches and I put a couple of yarn overs in a dropped stitch row while I wasn’t looking. Oops. I didn’t realise until I had gone too far to want to rip everything back again. Ah well. It won’t be noticeable. It just meant that I used more yarn and more time. Then I knitted another baby, or small child, hat for one of The Little Sister’s kids for Christmas, dabbling around with fair isle again.

Now, I am pleased to report that I have returned to knitting the Log Cabin Rug. You may not have heard of it if you haven’t been around in these parts for a while because I haven’t worked on it for a while. I can tell you, in a quiet voice, that I actually started it in September 2014. Oh dear. It’s just such a big project that I keep taking on smaller, more useful projects and then not getting back to it. But I’m back now and I intend to finish the thing! One day. Maybe in 2021. The seven-year-rug has a good ring to it, doesn’t it?

Back in the summer of 2015, I had knitted this much of the Log Cabin Rug.
Chickens

I will do a bigger chicken update soon, but for now, just know that we’ve had some 50 million chickens running around the place. I didn’t know I was going to be pregnant when we had the most chickens we’ve ever had.

When we had an over-abundance of eggs, the chickens got a scrambled egg treat.

Butchering of some of the youngsters is well underway. The undesirable young cockerels moved into the Henley Hut and I put more in there as I scan the rest of the flock and weed out the least desirable ones. I process two at a time when I can. Except one day, when I did three, which wasn’t the best idea for a pregnant woman. To take my mind off my tiredness I made up a Christmas song. It is sung to the tune of White Christmas.

I’m dreaming of a brined turkey

Just like the ones I used to know.

Where the meat is juicy

And skin is tasty

And it, makes everyone aglow.

I’m dreaming of a brined turkey

With every feather I excise.

May your days be merry and bright

And may all your Christmas birds be brined.

Copyright Twiglet Homestead 2020 (In case it becomes famous. Or infamous.)

Naturally, after getting that song stuck in my head and having trouble not thinking about juicy, brined meat birds, some of the cockerels became beautiful brined roast chickens for Christmas meals. We used this yummy citrus brine recipe, which is very handy because we have all the ingredients growing here or on hand in the kitchen, substituting a tangerine for an orange. I want to brine more chickens now.

The chickens got a present on Christmas Day of being moved into the other pen, where there were a bunch of green things growing for them to eat.

Merry Christmas, chickens.
Garden

The outdoors and I have not been very good friends lately. Every time I go outside my hayfever and sinus symptoms crank up and there isn’t as much I can do about it while I’m pregnant. But the veggies are doing well even without much input from me now. I am thankful that I planned and started everything before I went downhill. There are a lot of great crops growing out there. It’s mostly the tomatoes that are suffering a bit from neglect.

The tomato plants have been going bonkers and I got behind on tying them or winding them up the strings on the tomato structures. The Husband helped me to get the ones in the Veggie Garden done and there were some large amputations as I got all the plants back to one main stem. They grow better that way in our humid climate. Now we have to tame the ones in the Front Plot. There are 63 tomato plants all up because an extra one popped up in the Herb Garden from discarded seed trays. The Little Fulla also has one tomato plant in his garden. The Front Plot is starting to look a little wild, but the crops are growing well in there.

My lime tree was looking very sad in its planter after winter and I decided to plant it in the chicken pen, the Citrus Pen. I hope it will get enough shelter from the feijoa tree and others beside it to last through next winter. Surely it has to do better out there than it was doing in its pot. I planted it beside where we buried Simba. This freed up some space for an extra potential ‘Wee Bee Little’ pumpkin to go into the planter. The cayenne peppers were also planted in a big planter on the deck.

Basically all the vegetable crops have been planted now. We are eating our own cucumbers, which is fantastic. We are also eating raspberries and the plums, which have just started to ripen. The strawberry plants are doing poorly because I haven’t gotten to feed them yet. The beans are gunning for it and green tomatoes promise another harvest to come. I have even finally grown some sunflowers that survived the slug and snail forces! I have three in the Veggie Garden. You can see one in the photo of the tomatoes wound on strings above. The recipe for success is 1) Sow them into cell trays and 2) plant them in the raised beds, where I have more control of the habitat around them. They do not survive in the ornamental gardens. They get swiftly, ruthlessly eaten.

When the oregano was looking lush and just on the brink of forming flowerheads I trimmed it and hung bunches up to dry. I’m getting in early this time. We will have dried oregano! We generally use it fresh until winter but there is dried oregano in the taco seasoning mix I’ve been making to store in a jar, so it is useful to have.

Amidst the terrible weediness in most of the rest of the garden, I am finding little joys popping up, including my first rose flower from the first rose I have planted in my garden. It was gorgeous and smelt beautiful too. Take that, weeds! There is still beauty arising from my garden. You just have to look a bit harder to find it. Or pull out some weeds first…


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