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Sunday, October 9, 2016

How to Get Everything Done (on the Homestead) and Cope When You Can't - secong round

Previously I wrote about
  • having spares
  • not getting "target fixation"
  • being prepared
and mentioned
  • Flexibility
  • Making do
  • And a nice glass of wine
So I am going to write a bit about those subjects today.

 Flexibility  So, you ask, "do you have a 'to do' list or just wing it?" While I don't write an actual list unless I am heading to town (and I do lists then to help not only remember errands, but to plan the most efficient route, especially if there are stops at some less-frequented locations) I do keep a mental list which often juggles several categories of things. There are the daily (or should be daily, if you know me you know flexibility trumps should every time) things like dishes, as well as the "gotta be" chores -- tending critters tops that category, always. Then there are the other indoor and outdoor things that need doing, that sometimes get sorted into groups like: quick small jobs, REALLY need doing, two person tasks, need to do eventually which are all often associated with weather-related modifiers: good for rainy days, do in cool temps (which may mean early or late in the day or on cooler, cloudier and breezier days), need still air, and so on.

The current version of our double anti-deer fence is not cultivated
between, like it was in 2013, and the inner fence is no longer
multiple electric strands, but a single strand of twine, as a
visual barrier.
I don't really have a formal sorting routine, though, letting my energy level, tolerance-of-chaos level and other factors determine the starting point and likely list. Today, for example, is a cool and wet day. After I finish writing this (which is happening along with my breakfast) I'll tend fowl and put the goats out to pasture for a while. I am being thankful for the damp today, as yesterdays jobs (cleaning grass from around the fruit and nut trees, painting trunks and starting the between the fences mowing) left me with very sore arms and shoulders. There remains about 60% of the mowing yet to do, and had the weather been right for it, I would have felt the need to attempt to push ahead with that task. Instead, the damp weather is allowing me to work on lighter, indoor tasks and rest the arms a bit. That is a key factor in how I work flexibly. 
Wooly Aphids

Working WITH, rather than against, the weather whenever possible, I find, often allows me to actually be more efficient and get more done in the long run. If your workouts are in the gym, your trainer will guide you to work different muscles on subsequent days, I am sure. This is the "farm workout" equivalent! So, while the mowing, and working on the wooly aphid problem I found yesterday on one of our baby apple trees  (some plant pests go immediately to the head of the list!) get shuffled to tomorrow, indoor tasks that have been hanging fire come to the front of the list.
Small fraction of the onion harvest.

It IS harvest time, so I have bushels of onions to deal with, sourkraut that needs canning, as well as the first of the beets. There are apples to juice and that needs canning and of course hex signs to paint. Orders have slowed down to a more reasonable level at http://www.dutchhexsign.com/store.htm but I have a small wooden Mighty Oak sign and an Abundance for indoor display to complete and post on Tuesday, as Monday is a holiday. And a Protection sign that needs to be started.
Protection hex sign

So... I have wandered a bit from my bullet points but I do want to touch base on "making do" with a story from this past week's supper menu. As I do my canning, occasionally a jar fails to seal. It happens to the best of us, and in the recent past, as I was experimenting with pressure canning the basis for tomato soup (my grandmother's recipe calls for thickening the base a bit with a flour and butter roux and then adding a bit of milk, for a creamy tomato bisque, but you cannot can flour-thickened things) I had a jar not seal. Into the fridge it went, for use -- I planned -- on a chilly day. Weather warmed up, soup was not what we were hungry for, so it sat until I was looking for inspirations for supper a few nights ago. I saw the jar, and thinking it was just canned tomatoes, I started the process to make spaghetti sauce. When I dumped the "tomatoes" into the skillet I immediately knew something was wrong: the texture was totally off. I gave a quick taste (yeah I know... not the smartest thing, but I've not died -- or got food poisoning yet!) and it tasted fine. I was seeing unexpeced "stuff" in the mix, though and still confused, I picked up a largish green leaf (still thinking this was canned tomatoes and wondering how the tomato leaf got in there!) and recognized celery! Finally the light dawned... it was SOUP! And would never thicken enough, even with added flour, to become a reasonable texture sauce.

Thinking quickly, I grabbed the pasta from the cupboard and discovered it was angel hair and had a wild idea... why not break up the pasta (which cooks very quickly) and just throw it into the runny sauce, letting the swelling, cooking pasta take up the extra liquid! So in it went, on went the lid and down went the fire (hoping it wouldn't stick and burn.) As I checked it during the 7 min or so it was supposed to cook, I still was not sure if I was making supper -- or treats for dogs and poultry! After the alleged time was up, the pasta still tasted a bit al dente to me, so I turned off the fire and left it a bit longer. It turned out not only edible, but good enough that Tractor Guy said he hoped I could re-create it again! LOL  Once again, making do for the win!

And it wasn't just on account of that nice glass of wine that it ended up tasting good, I can assure you. Tractor Guy doesn't like wine.