I decided to pickle a few carrots and onions with the beets and so when I went out to the garden to pull my beets, I grabbed a few carrots too. Those are the smaller beets, waiting to join their larger cousins in the simmering pan. I've never pickled beets before so I read a bunch of recipes and figured out how it should maybe go and went from there.
I couldn't find my canning kettle at first and so I texted Jessie whom I knew had borrowed it in the past, to ask if she had it. She that no, she didn't think so and I said, "Good! Then it must be here somewhere," and sure enough it was, just in a different closet than where it used to be kept. The kettle, the jar lifter, the canning funnel.
I cooked the beets and carrots until fork-tender and then peeled the beets. The skin came off easily enough after they were cooked and I sliced them up in a bowl along with the carrots I sliced and the onions I cut up too. I made a pickling solution with white and cider vinegar, pickling salt, sugar, a little of the cooking liquid, and a little water. And then, because so many recipes recommended them, a bit of cloves and cinnamon as well as some black pepper. I'm not sure I'm going go like that and in fact, I'm not sure I'm going to like this concoction at all, but I did it, at least, and there is great satisfaction in even a few jars of something preserved or pickled from the garden and not one beet has been wasted.
Here are the jars, filled and ready to be lidded and put into the canning kettle for their boiling-water bath.
And here they are, out of the water and waiting for the beautiful sound of success- the pop of the lid, indicating air tightness.
I'll take some to Gibson's birthday party tomorrow and open a jar and if anyone likes them, they can take a jar home with them. If I kept them all they would never get eaten. Mr. Moon has a deep and profound aversion to both beets and cooked carrots (they taste like dirt) and I can only eat so many.
And after ALL THAT WORK, putting up five entire pints and one half pint of beets and carrots and onions, I laid down on my bed and read for awhile and then, because I could and because no one in the world needed me and because my bed is so comfortable and my pillows so numerous and soft, my down blanket so perfect for the temperature, I put my book down and closed my eyes and slept for an hour. What heaven a nap is! Especially one where you know that you have no real waking-time. No matter how tired I am, if someone suggests I take a nap for oh, say- twenty minutes, I cannot fall asleep. I need to have the sweet knowledge that the world will go on as it will for as long as I need to truly rest, land-line unplugged and cell phone with the sound turned off, and today was that way and when I woke up I had a shot of espresso on ice and then got the laundry off the line and checked and found a Camellia egg in the nest and then I chopped up treats for my babies, the second time today.
I am really determined to make this particular tiny flock a bit more human-friendly so that the grandchildren can enjoy them more and as anyone who has done any sort of animal training knows, food is the key to all.
I chopped the grapes and lettuces and then knelt by the tub and, as I have been doing, made a special whistling call and let them cluster about and eat from my hand.
This is not rocket science and they are already to the point that whenever I go in to talk to them, they run up and look at me with great expectation. I have always said that my chickens consider me to be a breathing food delivery service and that is fine with me.
They get so excited about the exquisite deliciousness of grapes and lettuce that sometimes they jump onto my hand and eat from there. That's Trinky in my hand above. The other yellow one (and I think they will both be white when they mature) is Tronky. These names come from when Hank was a small lad and instead of saying that he was thirsty, he would announce that he was Trinky and Tronky. I have never forgotten this and cherish the memory and so, the yellow (for now, at least) chicks are Trinky and Tronky. The boys have named the all black one "Hawk" because she has amazing feathers when she stretches them out and of course the little orange one with the prominent wings is Nicey and the black one with the yellow cap is Dearie and the orange one without prominent wings is Nora.
Nicey and Nora.
Trinky and Tronky.
Hawk and Dearie.
And Violet is still sitting on her stinky eggs. I just did not have the heart today to go out and take them from her but tomorrow I'm going to have to. There is no alchemy as far as I know to make rotten eggs viable again. I wish there were. I would use it for that sweet and determined little hen. I remember when we got her last year from the Tractor Supply I felt almost certain that she would not live the night through and yet, here she is, the last one of that bunch still living, trying to be a mommy.
All right. I need to stop anthropomorphizing and just do what needs to be done. The flies are already gathering. And right this second, looking out towards the coop, I see that Violet is off the nest and eating from this morning's scratch. Who knows but that she will be relieved and perhaps, after a period of rest and recovery, she may sit on another clutch? If not this year, then maybe next.
This world is filled with so many tiny miracles and everyday marvels and mysteries. Certainly enough to keep me curious and observant and entertained.
To say the least.
And of course there are pickles. The definite and proven alchemy of seed to dirt and water and sun to jars of shining rubies.
It's been a day of all of that.
And I am grateful.