Category Archives: Bread & Baking

Things to do when not farming…

The seed catalogs are piling up and it’s a constant reminder of how in flux we’ll be as of

photo 5
Identifying cool mushrooms…

June. It’s been a long time since I’ve not put in a large seed order, and frankly, I’m feeling a bit antsy about it this season. So, to take my mind off of what I won’t be doing, I’m thinking ahead to the things this extra time will provide in terms of opportunities for learning. An ever-growing, ever-bearing, zone 1-10 list of things to learn while not farming:

  • Tend to the travelling orchard
  • Improve spinning technique
  • Improve fiber processing set-up and technique
  • Experiment with natural dyes
  • Learn about medicinal herbs
  • Practice grafting techniques
  • Volunteer at school or public garden
  • Help a fellow farmer with farm chores, butchering, shearing, etc.
  • Learn old-fashioned candy-making
  • Focus on food preservation techniques:
    • Pressure canning
    • Smoking meats
    • Drying
    • Fermentation
  • Take a class in business planning for the fiber mill
  • Maybe, just maybe, learn a new knitting skill
  • Explore niche or value added markets
  • Take a botany class
  • Spend some time with growers using methods outside of your own, including conventional, biodynamic, and other permaculture or organic farmers and gardeners
  • Cut up seed catalogs to make art with the kids
  • Cut up seed catalogs to do some companion planting planning
  • Re-read Edible Forest Gardens

The list continues to grow and hope blooms eternal, so… suggestions are always welcome and may spring shine warm sunlight upon your gardens!

Timing is everything; time is relative.

DSC_2298It was the kind of morning when you discover the coffee pot has run dry, the baby is running around carrying his diaper, and there’s a small chicken standing in the middle of the mudroom chirping staring up at you inquisitively from atop a pile of laundry. Too much to do and not enough time.

I have bread to bake, I remind myself. For an event, for the office, for the house. What an impossible task it seems when fitted into the scenario above. And yet, while changing the baby, I consider the process.

There’s the kneading. A relaxing chore I delegate to the mixer. The mixture and greasing of bowls in preparation for the dough. A quick and simple task. Then the rising of the dough, representing the steady consumption of sugars, the process takes about an hour and frees my hands entirely. Next, I form loaves, roll the dough with cinnamon, butter, and sugar and deposit the loaves into their greased pans. Another hour dedicated to the slow unwind of yeast-induced progress. Then bake for 40 minutes. The house warms slightly and the sweet scent of cinnamon soothes and stirs the air.

The whole thing takes about three hours, with only a few minutes dedicated to each step. A daunting task reduced to it’s most simple stages. I return my thoughts to the freshly diapered child before me and consider that life is a little bit like bread-making. One simple task at a time until the laundry has been folded and put away, the baby is bathed and in bed, and the bread, warm still, is tasted. The effort pays off in the end, and sweetly so.