Saturday, November 26, 2011

Lessons About Life and Death

We've been butchering roosters the last week or so. Well, just two roosters so far. One last week, which ended up being a sort of gory, tedious affair due to our own ineptitude. Today we butchered a second rooster and it went much smoother, and much less, ahem, goriness. The first time, we kept Robbie inside, didn't let him see anything. This time we decided to let him stay outside while we butchered the bird. He helps with the chickens, he knows they lay eggs for us. He didn't see the head get chopped off, and I kept him on the swings while the blood drained. But he got extremely curious when we were plucking the feathers and I couldn't keep him away. I was nervous about him seeing the bucket with the head and blood, but he looked anyway. He had a hard time articulating what he was feeling. He seemed to want the chicken to go back "home" with the other chickens. For it's head to go back on. He asked what happened to that chicken. He seemed sort of upset at first, although he never cried. So I sat him on my lap with me and told him that this chicken's life was over. Mommy and daddy butchered it, and it wasn't a chicken anymore, it was meat, and feathers, and bones. That it had lived a very good life, and it had been a nice chicken, but that it's life was over, and we would use his body for other things now. We went through this spiel several times, each time he was a little less upset. Eventually he wanted to help pluck a feather or two, and I let him touch the plucked body, and we talked about how the skin felt, and the meat and bones underneath the skin. He had fun gathering piles of feathers off the ground and tossing them around the yard. In the end, I don't think he was traumatized, and I hope he is on the way to learning something very important about the food chain, and where food comes from.

It seems that so much of the last generation or two has sort of lost touch with the life cycle of food. Example: J's old boss didn't know eggs came from chickens. This was a grown man, in his 30's, with kids of his own. Or people who think eggs are a dairy product. We'd like to try to break that pattern here in our family. I'll admit I had some reservations myself at first. I didn't grown up on a farm, and had no experience with livestock before we started our chicken ventures a few years ago. I thought maybe I'd be too squeamish to help butcher a rooster, or later to cook it. But I bucked up and J and I did it together. The second one was a lot easier too. I have people lined up for rooster feathers, I'm thinking I might even be able to sell them. And now we have some more meat in the freezer. Meat that didn't come from a factory.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Some new work, hot off the needles:

I've felt like working in some neutral colors lately, which is sort of a change for me. Sometimes I like to challenge myself to work outside of my personal favorite color schemes. Cause ya know, not everyone likes the same styles and colors that I like (hard to believe, but there it is!). I must admit though, I really dig that deep cranberry color I used for the first tam. It's 100% wool, Paton Classic, which always knits up really nicely. My goal is to have a package of items ready to mail to Up and Dyed by Monday. I want to make one more button scarf, and at least one, maybe two more baby elf hats. They are selling well. I want this stuff on the shelf by Black Friday.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Second Hand Christmas

Like so many folks, I've started my Christmas shopping this month. I'm doing it a little early this year because money is tight and I need to budget it in. I've made myself a goal this year, in shopping for the kids. Everything I get them will be second hand, or homemade. Two reasons: buying second hand is cheaper, and it's greener. So far in B's box are 5 cloth books, and a cabbage patch baby. I actually got 4 cabbage patch babies in a lot, for $15, free shipping. I cleaned them up, put some of B's newborn clothes on them, and will put 3 of them away for other gifting occasions. For R, he's got 4 VHS tapes and 8 books, all Richard Scarry. Also, an abacus by Melissa and Doug. Several of the books and tapes focus on letter and number and word learning. All of these things will be a good addition to our home school learning supplies. I'm still bidding (ebay) on some wooden train track, and a set of Mr. Potato Head toys. If I can get those two items, I think I will be done shopping for them, except for stocking treats. If they fall through, I'll keep looking, probably for books. Can never have too many books. I'd also like to knit the kids each a sweater. I've got the yarn for them both, it's just a matter of finding the time. I've been focusing all my knitting energy on retail, since is my biggest time of year for sales.

Knitting aside, this isn't the first time I've done second hand gifts, I think I've done them for just about every gift giving occasion since I started having kids. But this is the first year I'm aiming for 100%. I wonder how long I can keep it up before they notice? I wonder, will they resent it as they get older? We don't have commercial tv, it cuts down on a lot of the begging. There seems to be this sense of deserving and entitlement surrounding holidays, especially when it comes to our kids. I fall into the trap myself, even when I'm trying to be wary of it. "Oh, they deserve to have something nice and new at Christmas." Or I'll let guilt creep in, thoughts like: "That poor family can't afford anything new for their kids." Which isn't necessarily the case. It is part of my strategy for making ends meet, being frugal, stretching my resources as far as they'll go. I could buy everything new, but I wouldn't be able to afford to buy as much. Or buy the things I really want for the kids. I hope when they are older they'll understand, or at least not complain too much.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Long days

The last week and a half has been full of long days. J has been gone, out of state for work. So it's just been me and the kids. I've traveled alone with them before, but this is the first time I've had the kids alone at home for more than one night. It's actually gone better than I had hoped, but it does make for some long days, doing it all myself. Not gonna lie, several nights have ended with a beer in hand after the kids go down. The kids have done ok with his absence. Robbie has been acting out a bit more, wetting the bed a few nights. B doesn't seem to notice.

In almost every spare moment I haven't spent taking care of children, I have been feverishly knitting more baby elf hats. I finished 5, plus a button scarf, and they arrived at Up and Dyed today.

I was really pleased with how they turned out. Hopefully they sell well, they were actually really easy to make, and dont take much time or materials.

One thing I've noticed is that when J and I are apart, we communicate a lot more. We've had some amazingly productive conversations via IM while he's been away. I'm really looking forward to him coming home tomorrow so we can move forward with some of the things we've discussed!