When you hear the term “slow-food”, you probably envision a beautiful roast that’s been braised for several hours over the stove top in a cast iron pot. But did you ever consider the many months, sometimes years it took to grow the ingredients for this meal?
It always blows my mind when I think of not only the time involved, but also the passion, hard work and dedication that went into growing the ingredients for one single meal. Every meal, every ingredient tells a story; the story of a farmer and his crop. Some stories are straight forward and predictable, while others are full of passion and sometimes heartbreak. This is the story of one of our homegrown meals.
This story begins in late fall of 2016 – a year ago – with the arrival of Hermann, a five month old Icelandic ram lamb that I borrowed from my fellow homesteader friend Lelayna. We invited him to spend some time with our ewes Helga and Frieda in the hopes of getting them bred.
Hermann seemed to understand the purpose of his visit as soon as we introduced him to his ladies. The minute we let him into the paddock, he decided to mound Frieda. The fact that she stood still was a good sign that she was currently ovulating. I took note of the day on the calendar and also marked the expected due date, which was going to be in about 152 days.
Around the time of Hermann’s visit, I also planted our garlic for next year. We always seem to run out of garlic before anything else we grow and so I decided to double the number of garlic cloves I put in the ground – about 150 cloves. I wish I had waited a little longer to plant the garlic, because unfortunately the mild temperatures last fall resulted in many of the cloves sprouting too early and then getting damaged by a sudden overnight frost.
I started my seedlings in mid February. We don’t have fancy grow lights, just a window sill, a bookshelf and a fluorescent light above it. The plants get a little lanky this way, but it works just fine. The only seedlings that I start indoors are our cabbages and celeriac, which is a special variety of celery that produces a very fragrant root. Celeriac has a very long growing period and thus needs to be started indoors at least six weeks before the last frost date.
Other than my seedlings, there wasn’t much to do except waiting for spring to start. I was watching the ewes very closely, of course, eager to find out whether they showed any signs of pregnancy. To be honest, I didn’t really think that it had worked. I have three kids of my own and getting pregnant was not quite as easy as one might expect. The winter came and went and neither of the ewes looked all that different to me. But then in late March, while I was travelling through Germany, Tim sent me a picture of Frieda – the message read “she’s is totally pregnant”. And yes, I had to agree, her belly had become huge!
To be continued…