There aren’t enough hours in the day.
Two weeks on this farm has found me enthralled in all the things that I can do here-all the ways that I get to exercise my creativity and personal relationships. There are islands to explore and bread to make and yarn to spin. To think about writing all about it is to feel as though I have been here far longer than just two weeks.
And as it always seems for me-the one who finds everything fascinating and wants to have her hands in every possible hobby-I’m finding that there really aren’t enough hours in a day. With all these to-be-mastered skills surrounding me, I find it difficult to sit down and tell you about my adventures.
But now my little bum is glued to my bed to give you at least a brief synopsis.
What is great about being here is that there are so many resources around me to get deeper into my interests of self-sufficiency and general natural homemaking. Take Irish Grandma for instance. Thanks to Irish Grandma (and the training of Rosie-and access to her yeast) I made my first milk based tea “cake.”
Granted, it wasn’t really a cake-more of a bread-even still, my skills for domesticity have just been expanded by one. With the Sally Lunn
tea cake, no less. Apparently she used to sell it in the streets of Bath (a town in southern England) in the 1700s. I did add a little cinnamon and vanilla to it, and cinnamon and sugar to the top to spice it up a bit because I was wanting something a bit more sweet. But other than that I did follow the recipe to t. (Hope tweaking your recipe didn’t make you roll over, Sally.)
Learning to make bread was something I was very excited about and glad to have the basics down for. I have been reading about how bread is currently made in mass quantities in the food industry by skipping over the rising process in which the gluten is transformed into something more digestible. Instead of letting the bread sit for a few hours to allow the yeast to do its thing and make the bread rise, they artificially add in air and water using enhancers-simultaneously reducing the cost of the bread (in time if nothing else.) Reading this made me even more eager to learn to make my own bread. So flour, milk, yeast and a few hours there was bread made from my own two hands. Quite gratifying.
Last year my bestie and I, Savannah, tried our hand at canning and preserving. I wish I could share with you all what it’s like for the two of us to be in the kitchen together-because nothing but sheer amusement and chaos ensued. Neither of us are particularly inclined toward organization and step following, and neither of us had canned before. So it was a bit of an amusing adventure. A good chance for me to learn the basics of canning and get a little experience under my belt, and a few laughs. But you can imagine how when the other day I got the chance to make chutney and jam with Rosie I was ready and willing to observe someone else’s approach. We made a strawberry raspberry rhubarb jam and a double squash chutney. We didn’t add any pectin to the jam, I learned, because raspberries are high in pectin on their own. It ended up solidifying fairly well. The chutney also took several hours of simmering to be ready to can, just to let the squash cook down and the flavors seep out but was a success. Delish.
So what else? I’ve gotten the chance to watch Rosie run her shop and see what her approach is. As I mentioned in my last blog, she’s pretty laid back. And I think she likes it that way. She says that she tries to live with the attitude of, “This is just how it is,” meaning-this is what’s grown, this is what hasn’t, and this is just what we have to eat. So there’s no huge pressure on her (especially because it’s more of a side project to their income,) although there are those little things, like displaying recipes for unique produce, that are ever important to encourage the public that they can in fact use what she has to provide. She also sells what she buys in for her house in bulk. Because we’re on an island, getting food and groceries in can be a little bit of a pain. There aren’t always a lot of options at the general store, so this leaves Rosie a door open for her to provide the community with a little more diversity with what she personally wants to buy in for her house. Watching this all pan out has been interesting because when and if I ever have any kind of smallholding or hobby farm I might be interested in selling some of the produce on a small-scale, and I like her relaxed, down to earth approach to this.
And what else have I been excited to learn? Well, let me tell you, friend. The spinning wheel. There’s so much wool over here in Scotland but this is the first time I’ve had a chance to spin wool using a wheel. I was excited because, well, A) we all know I’m a crocheting fiend and a grandma in training and B) I’ve already asked my dad to making me a spinning wheel for Christmas. Yes. I did. My dad is the perfect mixture of carpenter and engineer, so if anyone can tackle that project, it’s him. So I’m crossing my fingers over here it happens.
But I digress.
A woman named Sue brought the spinning wheel over after giving it a good clean and oil. She sat down with both Rosie and I to teach us the basics. Rosie and I did well, although she got a panicked look on her face because she couldn’t make the wheel go slowly and I got an annoyed look on my face because I couldn’t make it go faster. I’ve had a little more practice since then (it does get quite addictive) and feel like I’m getting the hang of it. I’m looking forward to (hopefully) crocheting with my finished product. 🙂
So you can see how I’ve been a little busy, learning and playing and making. It’s a little Mary Alice heaven over here, and I do feel that domestic goddess in me is thriving. And maybe, MAYBE, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to try some of my homemade bread, jams, or check out some of my hand spun yarn when I get home. Maybe. (I mean probably.)