I know you all must be wondering how things have been going since my last newsletter. Or maybe you haven’t given it another thought? That, actually seems more likely! :P)
For those of you who have been wondering… our first month on the farm has been pretty full on. We arrived at the scheduled time on possession day to find ourselves in what one might describe as an unruly fruit jungle. We spent the better part of a week just meandering around, being totally overwhelmed and flip flopping between laughing and crying. I can’t lie - I have questioned my sanity more than once over the last month.
The land is vast and overgrown and needs an unbelievable amount of attention. There are berry bushes and fruit trees of every variety known, in every nook and cranny of our land, and we are discovering new and rare fruits and berries almost on a daily basis. When I don't feel like crying, I don't think I have ever been happier!
The houses need work. The first thing my husband did was rip out both the kitchen and the bathroom. We currently have a toilet (which had to be replaced on day one, along with the leaking hot water tank) and a tub. We do have a stove and a very tiny bar fridge as well - these are not optimal kitchen vibes. I think I cleaned the stove for two hours before I would even consider using it. I wanted to just take it to the curb and offer it up to someone for free, but my husband convinced me that was a bad idea.
Luckily, I have several decades of trade show gear at my disposal, so I have set up all of my old folding tables as make-shift kitchen and bathroom counters. I also have countless Rubbermaid storage boxes from my years of hauling essential oils all over the country, so all of our “essentials” will be living in blue plastic totes for the foreseeable future.
There are zero closets in the house. Zero. Zero closets, zero cupboards. Like, none at all. Can we all just picture that for a moment? Where do you put your broom? Your bathroom cleaner? Your coat? Your rice cooker? Your toothbrush? Your sanity? All of these challenges are being made totally okay by the fact that I needed this change so badly in my life that I will pretty much put up with anything. I wake up so happy every day that all the closets in the world wouldn't make me any happier!
One thing that has been a bit taxing is doing all the dishes in the bathtub. It hurts my back and my knees and it also makes the bathtub extra dirty, which means that I have to clean it twice, if not three times as much.
So, the other night at 8:40 pm when my husband told me that he was going to whip up a quick jam from the berries that he picked that afternoon, my first thought was how arduous and painful the bathtub clean-up was going to be. He is a farmer by nature so he has a farmer’s way of thinking, which is very different from my ingrained city girl mentality. He picks things when they’re ripe and he has a plan for them right away. He does not mess around, even if his project just happens to be starting at our regular bedtime.
So on Wednesday night, twenty minutes before all the stores were closing, he casually asked me if we had any sugar. As I mentioned earlier, all of our belongings are in Rubbermaids, and even at the best of times, the only time I have white sugar on hand is to make hummingbird food, so I told him that we didn't have any sugar and didn't he think it was too late to start making jam?” He replied, and I quote, “Baby, you say you want to be a farmer. When you’re a farmer, you harvest at harvest time.” Knowing that he (as usual) was absolutely right, I begrudgingly told him I had jars and sugar at my office, so after a small disagreement as to what would be faster, driving to the store or my office, we got in the truck and headed to my shop for jam supplies at just before 9pm.
Our entire jam making journey took less than two hours. When we got home my husband got to work heating the berries and measuring out the sugar. My only job was to sterilize the jars in the bathtub and, of course, to do the tub dishes afterwards. Now we have a whopping two and a half delicious jars of jam to enjoy at our leisure. One Red currant, and one haskap, gooseberry and black currant combo. The half jar is the remnants of both batches mixed together. The irony here is that my husband doesn’t even really eat jam, but his farmer self is stepping up to the plate and trying to drag me along behind him.
This is the life that I wanted and he is here to show me the way.
Bathtub Currant Jam
Place the currants in a saucepan with a tiny bit of water.
Bring to a simmer. Add sugar to the pot and stir to dissolve. Simmer the jam for about five minutes until it begins to set.
Boil the kettle and sterilize jars with boiling water in the bathtub.
Dig out the oven-mitts from a Rubbermaid and try not to burn yourself trying to pick up the jars
Ladle into sterilized jars and store in the refrigerator
Yours always in love, berries and aromatics,