I'm not sure who makes out better on the days when I can — us, with our jars of summer goodness stored away on the shelves for winter, or the chickens who get to scratch through the scraps of fruit that I toss into the flower beds.
As soon as I emerge from the house with my big bowl of scraps and call "chick-chick-chick", they come in a mad-dash, head-down waddle across the yard. They know exactly where to wait for the big dump. Then they grab hunks of fruit in their beaks and run off to a more private place to gobble down the spoils.
Each year, I get a little more ambitious and a little more comfortable with canning. Every year I learn and try something new, and every year I still make a few mistakes.
Let's discuss this year's mistakes (so far):
Mistake Number One:
On a day when I must have been feeling quite energetic and organized (I must have given the kitchen a good cleaning that day) I stopped at a local farm stand and picked up not one, but TWO boxes of peaches.
Mistake Number Two:
Feeling thrifty and oh, so wise, I purchased seconds. I was so proud of my good deal, wise-thinking, and smart spending. And at first glance, the peaches (a.k.a the ones on top) seemed to be in pretty good shape barring a few soft spots, misshapen sides, and blemishes, of course.
Mistake Number Three:
I needed somewhere cool and dark to store my TWO BOXES of peaches. The coolest place in the house? The downstairs bathroom, which also holds the door down to the basement (hence, the coolness.) Doesn't everyone store peaches in their bathroom?
Mistake Number Four :
When I purchased the TWO BOXES of peaches I didn't consider that I would be tied up with errands, lessons, soccer practice and a heat wave for the next several days.
And so, this year we learned a lot about buying only what you can use right away. Avoiding seconds if you have any hope of canning sliced peaches versus jam. How quickly a colony of fruit flies can grow over night. And how to make one heck of a fruit fly trap.
I will not discuss, how many POUNDS of peaches went to the chickens. I won't discuss the pathetic amount of jam I got from TWO BOXES of peaches. I won't discuss all the places in my house I am finding clouds of fruit flies.
But I am learning. The hard way, perhaps. But still learning.
And thank the Lord, that we aren't a pioneer family on the lonely plains who's survival through the long, cold, harsh winter depends upon my ability to store away food.