Mid-Summer Swinging

O will you lay with me
Beneath a shady tree,
On a ship we’ll set a sail
Row out to meet a whale,
Under the clear bright skies
We’ll swing and shut our eyes,
O will you come with me
Out to the apple tree.

summer days . . . rains washed out the patchwork shovel mending of the driveway, re-rutted and grooved them anew, similarly in the garden . . . the bales of straw we so cleverly laid out on pathways have kept the weeds down, however, they have also sprouted! What a chortle!

the beds are giving chard and peas,
hairy motherwort, nuzzling bees,
the ‘new’ garden flower
blooms magenta hour after hour,
ladybirds spotted inside the fold
sit dark red on yellow quietly bold

the old mulberry tree fallen over long ago has rejuvenated and sprouted shoots, with a bit of pruning and clearing of thorny thicket we climb around and upon the gnarled intertwined trunk . . . in crevices where bark has decayed there’s plants sprouting and down low from out of cracks, mushrooms climbing; what a tree, majestic is she!! . . . we enjoy fruit and shade at her side where she does abide with a bramble left behind her where rabbits reside . . .

this solstice we gathered and celebrated mulberry, hummingbird, hollyhocks, and daily lilies, simple pleasures with daylong arms and firefly nights.

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Workdays

Sixty bales of straw.  Half went around our fruit trees::  they needed heavy mulch, and with chickens and a dog scratching, shredding, and scattering mulch all over the place, I’m trusting these bound bales, squared and trined around the base will do the trick of killing the grass and simultaneously mulching, so with time there will be a clear dirty skirt down below.  Let’s see, we pulled back the grass at the bottom and then baled the trunks without touching them.

The other half went into the garden, where we’ve begun working once more, laying straw over the pathways that have tamped down sawdust from last year smashed in and trodden, setting up string for peas to climb and twine around. Chickweed’s up, dead nettle, garlic mustard, dock, catnip, anise hyssop, and daffydills; sparrows are singing once more and the morning slopes are covered with robins hopping about.  Lively and next week we’ll sow seeds for peace.

Began cauliflower, chard, broccoli, kale, cabbage, tomato, zinnia, and lettuce seeds under lights, and mice have helped themselves to all but the zinnias and chard, going so far as to wiggle under the lids on the trays and feast and scratch!  After the new moon in a few days, will restart seeds, am going to seed heavily so any remaining mice nibbling will simply be ‘thinning’ . . . Ahmad has been setting mice traps with cheddar and so far he’s caught a couple, which may make all the difference too.  In the meantime, we’re having fun moving straw and building huts and gates 🙂

Amazing Hatching

It was three weeks ago when I went out to feed our hens. We currently have 12 hens and 3 roosters. I emerged from the coop and heard a most suspicious peeping sound. Looking to investigate, I entered the run and, there in the highest nesting box, was a hen with three chicks!

I got them some food and water and put it up on the flat, wooded perches outside the nesting box and stood back to watch. This is a funny time for hatching chicks, but it has not been that cold lately.

As I watched, one of the chicks hopped out of the nest and fell right through the slats of the wood! It peeped feebly on the ground and I moved forward to pick it up. Just as I reached it, the mother hen clucked angrily from above. She jumped out of the nest and landed furiously on my head! She pecked and clawed until U shook her off and backed away from her. The mother hen then picked up her chick using her beak and claws and flew back up into the nest with it.

There are two brown ones and one black one. The next morning when I went out to feed the chickens, the mother hen had transported all her chicks to the ground (I personally think she just pushes them out of the nest. They can obviously survive the drop). I blocked off the hole leading from the coop into the run and shut the run door so she could not get out. Our dog would eat the chicks if she saw them.

I feed her in the run now, and she stays in there. The chicks have lost most of their fuzz and have wing and tail feathers. They can fly and hop short distances and, at this time of year I feed the hens cracked corn; the chicks could eat it right from the day they hatched. We still have all three and they still peep. When they sound like hens and they are bigger, then I will let them out of the run and we all hope they are hens, not roosters!

With three roosters, a fight is guaranteed soon and two someones are going to end up in the stew pot.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

~Layla

 

Take up the thread . . .

Once there was a girl. She did neat and tidy things like sewing, reading and drawing all day. She wore neat and tidy clothes and wore her hair in neat and tidy braids. She wore pink ribbons to keep them from unraveling.

On her way to the market with her neat basket and dainty steps, she always passed the pond first and then the mud pits. They were always filled with boys and girls swimming and wrestling and getting dirty in the mud and water.

To the girl it seemed like such fun. How she longed to get dirty! But she did not dare to get her lace petticoats wet and muddy.

One day she dreamed of mud and water and dirt.

Her mother asked what she was thinking about and she replied, “I am thinking of dirt and mud, mother dear.’’

And her mother frowned and went to talk to her father, saying she must be ill or something.

And while she was gone, the girl slipped out of the house and ran as fast as she could down to the pond, her braids streaming in the wind.

When she got there, she pulled off her pretty petticoats and jumped in with joyful screams. She did not care what happened to her.

She covered herself in mud and water and then she climbed out.

She found her clothes gone and then the next thing she knew was that ………

.. .picked up by farseems . . . .

she could hear was the chirping of birds, not one or two, but many. It seemed they were singing to her,

“come here, pretty girl, come oh come, see what we have for you, see what we have for youuuuuu, for you, oh come see what we have for you”

that’s what they sounded like, so she followed their song and there they were, beautiful colorful birds, in all the colors of the rainbow. They seemed to be dancing and singing around a pile of colors where . ….

. . . .Liam continues . .. .

The girl meets a big giant the size of her house. She was happy to see him. He said, “My name is Lock. Let’s be friends.” . . . .

. .. continued by Ahmad . . .

Okay we can be friends, do you live here lock, asked the girl?

Yes, said lock, I live Down the rode ,

how far?

about a mile,

were are you going to take me?

Home of course,

which home yours or mine asked the girl,

mine of course

where am I? Y she asked

you are in the land sithongth . . . …

. .Flamingo Gypsy joins in . . .

…the land sithongth is a mystical magical place that sits atop a turquoise and brown slab of stone. At night in the moonlight the turquoise part of the stone turns to river water that has stars twinkling inside of it and you can ride in a moonboat to go to….

continued by Ahmad . . . . .

all kinds of places. There is a man whose name used to be Grutch and he was a foul tempered old man who was always grumpy. We’d hear him shouting in the trees and throwing rocks about the place. He’d looked everywhere he could think of for joy . … he ate cherries and spat the seeds out, held his breath underwater and made bubbles, chased after butterflies and looked at clouds, climbed trees and swung from branches, he looked under rocks and stones, and in his pockets too, he searched in books and drew pictures, he sang and danced with other people, he cleaned garbage from the streets and cooked for the hungry, he sat in the river, swam, planted flowers, fished, lay in hammocks, he’d even looked for joy in his neighbours shed!
he couldn’t find anything that made him smile or laugh and he’d tried all the things he saw other people doing but he just got grumpier . . . until he went for a ride in the moonboat and saw a staircase on the banks, glowing in the moonlight.
He thought he’d like to go up and eat his peaches on a step, so he parked the boat and climbed up and ate his peaches. Then he noticed a door and opening it he stepped into a land where the sky was green and the grass was pink and this was so unexpected and surprising that he burst out laughing. He couldn’t stop laughing, he laughed so hard he fell backward and laughed all the way back down the staircase! Then he got in the moonboat and came back, and said his name had changed to Zhoys.
Other people took the moonboat to find the staircase but one woman went up and said Zhoys was a trickster for she ended up in a land that was burning red hot with dragons and lava and coals and another fellow went up and said there was nothing but chickens in aprons dusting trees together while their rooster king sat on the top branches of a tree and drank tea and ate cornbread all day long.

Have you ever taken the stairs up Lock? Asked the girl.

Just once and I found . . . . . to be continued by whoever wants to . . . .

Head Cheese

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Making Head Cheese:

We, me and mom, started out when a friend of ours had a pig head for sale. We bought it because ever since I had told mom about headcheese, I had wanted to make it and mom had heard that it was good. And so dad picked up Henry, the pig head, and brought him home where he stayed over night in a cooler with ice.

I took it upon myself to do all the gland removal and butchering process, I like doing that kind of stuff for some reason!

The next morning, we brought Henry up stairs and put him in the sink. He had the brains, glands, eyes, ears, and snout . . . . . . . everything.

I washed him off while mom watched and gave me instructions. Then I cut off his ears and snout with the kitchen shears. Apparently you can fry and eat them!

Then I turned Henry over and started to cut off all the glands that look like bubble wrap or something similar with a sharp knife combined with the kitchen shears. I took out all the glands from the inside of the cheeks so that the inside was completely hollow. I had a big pile of strips of glands next to me when I was done. I gave them to our dog. The funny thing was she did not eat them at first. She sniffed them and then waited for a bit to see what the stuff in her bowl would do. She ate it in the end though. Then I came back to the sink and washed Henry off.

I turned Henry over and started to cut out his tongue. It would not come out the mouth because his jaw was locked in place. So instead I cut it out from behind, on the severed part of the head. I had to dig the knife deep into his throat and pull and pull to get the tongue out. But it came out and I put it with the ears and snout. Then I washed Henry off again so that he would be clean when we put him in the pot. Mom stood and watched most of the time.

Then I tried to take off his hair with a razor blade. It refused to come off so I used the scissors and knife to scrape and cut it off from around his jaw and bone of a snout and from around his eyes and his floppy, fat cheeksjowls.

When I was done with that, I cut out his ear bones. Then I washed him off again. Then I tried to get to his brains but I could not get through his skull. So we decided that it would be okay to roast him with his brains and eyeballs in since they were encased in skull 🙂 I put him in a roasting pan with seasonings [carrots, onions, celery, garlic and spices] mom had prepared. Then Henry went into the oven for just about an hour.

Mom took him out and we tried to put Henry into the pot so we could simmer him. He was to fatty to go in so mom cut off some of his fat and then I popped him in. He fit nicely.

We filled the pot with the pan juices and all of the vegetables and spices and 3 gallons of water. I moved the pot to the stove and we cooked him on high until the water boiled. Then we reduced it to a simmer and let him cook for 3-4 hours. When he is done, the meat should peel away from the bone.

We took Henry from the pot 4 hours later. During the time he was cooking, I baked cookies.

The meat came right off the bone. Mom cut off most of it. I finished the rest of it. Then I separated the fat from the meat. Henry had more fat on him then meat! That really surprised me! I shredded the meat into tiny, tiny pieces and put it in a mixing bowl and mom added salt, cinnamon, fennel, chili flakes and pepper. I mixed it up.

Mom cooked the fat in a pot on the stove to make it into lard. She put the skeleton into a pot with vegetables and water to make it into stock. The gelatin is in the stock. When it cooled after it was strained, the lard floated to the top, the soup underneath it. The gelatin is in the top layer of the soup part.

Then mom assembled it. She made sure the gelatin set properly by putting some in a bowl in the fridge. When she was satisfied, she put Glad wrap in the bottom of two loaf pans and put the head meat mixture on the bottom. Then she poured the gelatin/stock over it. Then meat mixture, then a layer of gelatin again. She did the same with both loaf pans and then she put the loaf pans in the fridge.

All that remained of Henry was a skeleton of the head in two sections: The lower jaw and the top part.

The brains had cooked into the meat but that is all right: They are completely edible and not in the least bit harmless unless you are allergic 🙂

And that is the story of the first making of headcheese by our family from my view.

If you are wondering who wrote this . . . . . . . . . .

Author:

Written and edited by;

Layla

A Collaborative Tale

Amari's Artwork
Amari’s Artwork
In a small and boring village up a small and boring hill lived small and bored girl and her small boring sheep.
Every day she would get up at the same boring time eat the same boring breakfast get dressed in the same boring clothes , and walk up the same boring hill and feed her same boring sheep .
 
That was pretty much all she ever did .
She was very bored as you can tell
 
one day wails she sat on the hill feeding the same boring sheep  she saw  an eagle, she followed it until she came to the edge of a cliff she wished the eagle had gone in the opposite direction so she could follow it until she got to the ocean. She sat on the edge of the cliff wondering if it would ever come back. She lay down and fell asleep.
 
When she opened her eyes she saw her mum her dad and her sheep surrounded around her , she sat up and looked around she was in her bedroom “what happened” she said we heard the sheep bleating like crazy so we went to see what was the matter only to find you hanging of the edge of the cliff they said.
So me and your mum pulled you up and carried you back.
 
All of a sudden she remembered her dream it was that: under the bush with the pink flowers in the forest was a secret treasure “I have to go” she said as she got out of bed and ran out the door. She run up the hill past the tree and towards the edge of the forest, she stopped in front of a big bush , then she crawled in.
 
it was hollow inside .  she went over to a little twig stuck in the ground she pulled it out and started to dig where it had been. She had been digging for about an minute when suddenly she saw a plastic bag she picked it up and wiped of the dirt   inside it was a little silver bead she picked it up and starred at it hoping something would happen nothing did . she walked home sadly.
she really had thought something amazing was in there something like a ticket to Hawaii or a treasure box .    
she sat down by the tree on the top of the hill and chucked the bead in to the field by this time the sheep had caught up all of a sudden the sheep started flashing multi colors  then the front of the tree slid away and the next thin she knew was :::
This is where Amari’s story ends and Layla’s begins::
 
that she was falling down, down, down. . . . . . . .Where she landed on a bouncy bed. 
A white rabbit in a red vest stared at her, a chocolate heart frozen inches from his mouth.
The girl sat up, finding the bed very, very bouncy indeed. She stared at the rabbit and thought how nice it would be if he talked. Her boring sheep never did. Laughing to herself, she decided never to  return home! What fun to go on an adventure finally!
She tried to get off the bouncy bed and realized that she was stuck! She could not get off the bouncy bed. She tried and tried and tried but with no prevail. She began to think that adventures were rather horrid after all and she much preferred boring life to being stuck on a bouncy bed. She frowned at the rabbit crossly.
“I say, rabbit,” She began, “Do you think you could get me off, please?”
“No,” Said the rabbit, munching his chocolate and staring at her, “You need to have a silver bead ticket to get off and you haven’t any.”
How she wished she had not thrown the bead away!
“Alright, rabbit,” She said mournfully, “I will have to stay here then!”
Then she brightened, “Hey! I know where my ticket is! I threw it into the field with my sheep! Will you fetch it for me, please rabbit?”
“Tickets are poisonous to sheep,” Said the rabbit earnestly.
“Oh no! What a rotten adventure!”
“I  never said i would not fetch it for you,” Said the rabbit crossly.
He disappeared in a flash.
The girl waited and waited.
The rabbit finally returned.
He gave her the bead.
The next thing she knew. . . . . . . . . (this is where 10 year old Jamie picks up the story)

She saw a wide open door. She passed through the door and found herself inside a giant castle. Inside the castle she discovered lots of other kids who had also found magic beads. Each kid had either a dog or a cat. Suddenly there was a big, jolly woman wearing a red cape and a grey fedora who said,

“come change your clothers children. You have worn the same boring clothes for too long. Everybody switch!”

Once they changed clothes, a huge bell rang and the rabbit with the red vest said, “it’s time to eat”.

All the kids were happy because they each got to eat something different and the girl felt happier than she ever had in her life. She discovered that the magic bead gave her a way to have a better life because everything was different than her old boring life. Every morning there was a different breakfast, a different animal to feed and a new friend to play with.

When you find treasure and it doesn’t work right away, be patient. There’s always something magic right around the corner.

“Everything will be alright in the end. And if it’s not alright, it’s not the end.” *

 
BY LAYLA AND AMARI (an unschooler in Italy, read more about her world here 🙂 and Jamie . . .  TO BE CONTINUED BY WHO EVER WISHES TO!!!!!!
If you want to finish the story write the rest in the comments and we will attach it to this story

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