1. tell us what's going into your garden boxes at the moment? and how many people receive them per week?
This week we had loads of cucumbers (both English and mini ones), swiss chard, Italian squash, zucchini, baby bell peppers and tomatillos! We are doing the boxes for four families. There is another family that's been helping us with the garden and the two of us eat our fill and put up plenty for the off season too. This is the first year we have tried our mini CSA. It's been a great learning experience and a lot of fun. We actually have a waiting list of interested people for next year!
2. are the chickens really worth it, despite being utterly brainless?
Hmmm utterly brainless to take care of or they're utterly brainless (editorial note: chickens not that smart) ? Either way the answer is Yes! We've loved having them and Sidney is very attached. It is fascinating to watch them in their interactions with each other and us. We have two that are two years old and they'll come right up and hop on your lap. Then this year we got 15 babies. One of the hens grew up to be a rooster so we get to listen to him crow, which does seem to add further to the ambiance here :) One of the young ones laid her first egg yesterday! Come fall we'll be adding eggs to our weekly farm boxes for everyone!
3. what's the most essential utensil in your kitchen?
I love my Kitchenaid mixer. I use it all of the time!
4. which garden goodness that you've put up do you most enjoy in the dead of winter?
That's a tough one. I'd have to say the butternut squash, it's so sweet, warm and comforting and takes the whole season to grow. A close second would be the loads of fresh pesto I've made and frozen.
5. if you were going to run away and escape from it all, where would you go?
I grew up in Southern California, right near the ocean. I love the water. I think my best escape would be to a lake where I can just relax and listen to the water gently lapping on the shore.
6. can you give me some canning advice? or a good pickle recipe?
Something I've just learned, you don't need the bread and butter pickle spice mix. Do the whole shebang from scratch. It makes amazing pickles, I think I just might enter a jar of these in the fair next year :)
12 large cucumbers
12 large onions
1 Pt. white vinegar
1 C. brown sugar
1 tsp. mustard seed
1 tsp, celery seed
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Peel the onions. Wash and thinly slice onions and cucumbers. Place in a solution of 1 qt. water mixed with 1/4 C. canning salt. Cover with ice and allow to stand in brine for 3 hours.
Combine vinegar, brown sugar, mustard and celery seed and bring to boil. Add ginger, turmeric, salt and pepper.
Drain cucumber & onion mixture (do not rinse). Pack into clean hot jars and cover with hot liquid mixture. Place on 2 part lids to seal and process in a boiling water bath. 15 minutes for quarts or 10 minutes for pints.
7. how's your fabric stash coming along?
Ohhh it's growing quite nicely, thank you (Sid's is too)! Now I just need my own 'blue room.' I can see I'm quickly going to outgrow my dining room. In fact, I'm hosting a dinner party outside (in some crazy humidity) this weekend, just to keep my craft room intact ;)
8. what prompted your decision to move to the countryside to try to live a simpler life?
I've always been drawn to the country. B grew up on a farm in Kansas, and though he didn't want to farm per se, we wanted our own type of farming experience. It began to come together just before we had our daughter, Sidney. We had a business opportunity that would move us closer to the small town experience that we wanted for our kids. When we first moved to Wisconsin, there wasn't that perfect property available and we soon got sucked into the day to day of owning and running a business, and our son came along too. Just when we weren't looking, we came across the perfect property just over 3 years ago. Now our kids are growing up with plenty of space to run and an intimate understanding of our environment and how to take care of it. For us, we're beginning to realize our dreams of sustainability.
9. has it been as you expected it to be?
Everything and more. It's a lot of hard work, but at the end of the day, it's ours. We take ownership of it, nurture it and will pass it down.
10. how have your ideas of living a simpler life evolved since you began?
I think that once you immerse yourself in this lifestyle, you begin to find that the simpler life isn't always simple to attain. It's a series of trials and errors, dreams and visions, and time (sometimes frustrating when you're the type of person who sees the vision and wants to enact the whole thing right now)! It is an amazing experience and like B always says: It's a marathon, not a sprint. A good mantra for me, to calm my impatience as we continue on the journey.
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thank you, amy, for sharing some your thoughts on the journey towards simplicity. every little bit helps! and for someone who wanted to simplify and spend this year not buying anything, i've not done so well: so far in 2010, we've bought a house, a car and a horse. and an iPad. and iPhones for everyone in the family. so you can see, i need all the help i can get!