MOLASSES

MOLASSES & BUTTER BREAD BARLEY DARTS 2018

Molasses was important to America’s original homesteaders.  Like honey, it was often called Liquid Gold.  Why?  It saved lives.  Even in our modern times, few things perk up a compromised animal, like a healthy shot of molasses.  In fact, it’s one of the best, non-meat sources of iron.  It’s also loaded with other minerals and vitamins.

So, when I ran across a recipe for molasses bread last week, I had to try it.  But, instead of mild molasses, I used blackstrap.  And I wasn’t disappointed.  The bread was bold in flavor and as just tasty as I had anticipated.

Truth be told, I’ve always loved molasses; even as a child.  I still remember it poured from a tin can.  But, I don’t recall turning my nose up at the smell.  I also don’t recall spitting out the syrup.  And unlike today, I never heard anyone say that molasses was gross.  Yet, I concede that molasses’ sulphur smell may be unpleasant to some.  And it’s boldness may actually be an acquired taste.  Guess, I’m lucky.  My mom used molasses for her delicious pecan pies.  And my dad taught me to enjoy it on biscuits and pancakes, early in life.

Keith also grew up with an appreciation of molasses.  (By the way, his mother makes the best molasses cookies I’ve ever tasted.)  And as homesteaders, molasses continues to be an integral part of our life.  Aside from critters, it’s used for making dark breads and nut pies.  Keith and I also dollop it in hot cereals or coffee.  And thanks to a man named Mark, we love it drizzled over scoops of vanilla ice-cream.  The molasses “candies” as it freezes and the stark contrast in flavors is delightful.

And don’t forget about Switchel.  Thanks to modern homesteaders and hipsters, it’s in vogue again.  A.k.a “Haymaker’s punch”, Switchel is a mixture of molasses, cider vinegar, and ginger.  It was the original Gatorade-like, hydration drink.  Trust me, nothing is more refreshing.  Especially, when haying all day under a July sun.  So, if you dare, raise a glass and let’s make a toast:  Here’s to hard work, good health, and molasses!

 

FOURTEEN

PIGLETS 14 MARCH 2018 BARLEY DARTS

Wednesday’s Word is fourteen.  That’s how many piglets we have so far.  Mama Lily  and Mama Speckles farrowed, just a day apart.

We had thought each sow and her piglets would keep to themselves; in their own little worlds.  But, they soon taught us about communal pig piles.  The piglets benefit from the additional heat of others.  And the sows benefit, too.

While one mama is nursing, she’s also becomes a babysitter.  The other sow is then free to go shopping for a tasty snack.  As for Natasha, she’s still a lady in waiting and hasn’t farrowed, yet.  But, she’s due any day now…

WEDNESDAY’S WORD: DENSE

HORSE SPEEDY BOWING BARLEY DARTS FEB 2018

DENSE.  It means thick, heavy, or condensed.  It can also mean: unintelligent, simple-minded, or ignorant.

The first time I saw man-made coats on horses, I was in Texas.  Out of hundreds of horse ranches, I saw one whose horses wore coats.  They weren’t blankets.  And they weren’t coverings for biting bugs.  Instead, they were full-body, insulated, monogrammed, black coats.  And even though the weather wasn’t hot, it was warm compared to the 35 below zero temperatures our horses faced back home.

While I was no equine expert, I knew that horses grew their own natural coats.  And when horses are in good health, all they need is some wind protection, sufficient food rations, and a source of water.  After all, horses are innately equipped to adjust and thrive in the harshest conditions; from Mustangs that survive blizzards on sub-zero plains to Arabians that survive triple digit heat and desert storms.

So, what if the coated horses had been aged or ill?  Then I was just as dense as the hair on our horses.  But, what if the horses simply had fancy coats for each season?  Then the matter wasn’t primarily about warmth.  Instead, it was more about a horse of a different color.  And most likely, a million-dollar one.

WEDNESDAY’S WORD: AGAPE (LOVE)

LAUNDRY BARLEY DARTS

 

Agape is the highest of all love.  It is an unconditional love.  It is a sacrificial love.  And it is a selfless love.  It goes far beyond friendship, family, or erotic love.  It’s a kind of love that marriages are to emulate.  It’s not a glamorous love.  In fact, it’s inconvenient, difficult, not very pretty, and often painful.

Our Valentine’s Day was one of Agape Love.  It was not celebrated with roses, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, diamonds, fancy clothes, or dinner at a restaurant.  Instead, Keith dressed this morning in his Carhartt’s.  He did all the morning chores, cut-up half a hog, worked a twelve-hour shift, did all the evening chores, and paid bills.  It was my day off.  So, I dressed in a stained t-shirt and worn-out jeans.  My hair was in a disarray and I wore no makeup.  I did laundry, dishes, delivered tax information to the accountant, worked on a family party for Saturday, cooked 1/4 of a hog (for another celebration), and made dinner.

Our evening meal was dished at 7:00 pm.  However, there was no room available at the kitchen table.  It is full of party preparations.  We had to eat in the living room, but first a load of clean laundry needed to be moved out of one chair.  It was relocated to the bed in our bedroom.  After dinner, the laundry was returned the chair, so Keith could go to bed.  Dinner dishes and the laundry will wait until morning.  Why?  I’ll be pulling the cooked pork.  It won’t wait.

Now, I understand that most folks don’t fantasize about such things.  In fact, I know many women that would threaten their spouses with divorce, if they spent Valentine’s Day this way; much less, everyday.  Instead, their food is grown by others.  Their dishes are done by machine.  Their laundry is done at the dry-cleaners.  Their hair and nails are done at the salon.  And any parties are catered.  I also know men that won’t work 8 hours, much less 16.  They drink or play video games; all day.  The bills don’t get paid.  Their wives have to do all the work, or it goes undone.  And let’s not forget the folks that demand or begrudgingly give Valentine’s Day gifts.  Where’s the romance in any of that?

Our evening was hectic, but peaceful.  It was tiring, but gratifying.  When Keith kissed me goodnight, our Valentine’s Day ended, the same way it had begun.  Yes, it was just another day on our homestead… another day of Agape Love.

 

 

WEDNESDAY’S WORD: PRECARIOUS

HEN AND CHICK FEED BARREL 2018 BARLEY DARTS

PRECARIOUS: Risky, unsafe, unstable, not secure, dangerous, or uncertain.

Our banty hen lives life on the edge.  She insists on roosting:

… away from the other chickens

… in our feed shed

… with a jumbo-sized chick

… tucked underneath her

… on the edge of a barrel

… filled with fermenting, pig slop.