Monday, November 19, 2012

down at the farm

(*warning, this post is not for the faint of heart or vegetarians. blood and guts ahead.)

We have always joked that because we live on a boat that one day our children would grow up to be farmers. And the way Zach is leaning, it just may be true. For about a year and a half we have been finding ourselves on a regular basis down at Hard Bargain Farm for our homeschool farm class. This is not a cutesy farm outing for soft suburban kids where they feed a goat some kibble and get a hay ride. Last year the emphasis was on conservation and science, focusing more on the environment and human activity that impacts farmland and all land.  This year they are going hard core farm life, right down to the slaughtering of your own dinner.

Our amazing farmer/ teacher Sharon has set up a set of activities that will guide the kids through the seasons of the farm and what it would be like to get by on this farm way back when.

They learned all about preserving meat, root cellars, milking cows, making yogurt and cheese, and canning. And further on in the year they will be doing everything from candle making to wool spinning to hatching their own chicks (no, I don't have any idea where we will keep chicks on a boat but we'll cross that bridge when the time comes.)

But this month, this month was chicken slaughtering month. The two farmers who lead our group, Sharon and Eileen, couldn't have handled the whole thing any better than they did. They were so matter of fact, yet gentle with the kids explaining the how and why of the whole process. Of course there was lots of talk about where meat comes from, why what your food eats when it's alive matters to you, and treating animals humanely right up to the ax blade.
(the chickens are not kept in there normally, just were just put in there for a few minutes while we were doing the deed)

The kids were equally amazing. There was a little wincing as each chicken met his fate, but more than anything there was curiosity.

The kids bled out their chicken in a bucket, and then they dipped them in boiling water for a few minutes.

Once that was finished, the mood shifted gears as they all gathered around the picnic table to pluck off the feathers.

Everyone was sharing experiences with animals, swapping recipes, and making dinner plans and the mood was down right festive and even a little silly.

I was so so so very proud of all of the kids in Zach's group. They did not utter one word of complaint. Bloody fingernails and gooey hands they were so determined and so proud of preparing their own dinners. These kids are not prissy couch potato types, they rocked!

Feet off, guts out, and cleaned in ice water we all got to take a whole bird home. We always buy our eggs, milk when it's available, and pork and beef from this farm when we come. But this was farm food on a whole different level. Zach was so proud that dinner that night was a chicken he butchered, rosemary he grew, cocoa made from the milk he and his friends got from the cows, and applesauce from one of our canning days.

If he becomes a farmer one day, I'll be more than happy with that choice, as long as he lives close enough to a coast for his old mom and dad to sail by and provision.

I flaked out on mentioning earlier this month that the lovely folks over at Rhythm Of The Home invited me to guest blog this month, each Monday all month long. I love ROTH so very much and was thrilled they asked me. Head on over, there should be a fresh post this morning and the past couple of ones are up as well.

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