How do you celebrate a harvest festival when you have harvested dick all after a season of hard work? How do you give thanks for spindly tomato plants that didn’t produce, and for frosts in June followed by a two-month-long heat wave, most of which was spent being sick and painful? What do you do, when after the “growing season”, your homestead has shrank to a skeleton crew of poultry and a functional garden patch smaller than your compost pile?
Let me tell you what you do. You get pissed.
This year, for Thanksgiving, I demand my right to be a cranky, bitter son of a turnip, and I resolve to greet the next yoga-panted, gratitude-obsessed, meditating hippie who advises me to “practice mindfulness” with a punch in the nose. I am very mindful, thank you very much. I am perfectly mindful of how much things suck right now.
Douchebaggery Ranch can barely be called a homestead at this point. After being ill and miserable for most of the summer, I have hastily and heavy-handedly downsized the poultry flock, getting rid of the ducks completely and reducing the hens and the quail to a bare minimum required for eggs and potential future re-population. Between the heat, the occasional monsoon-strength rain and having the constitution of a slug, the garden got taken over by a merry tangle of dandelions, plantain and Queen Anne’s lace. The “harvest” consisted of several handfuls of snap peas (the shell peas all got enation virus), a few pounds of pocked potatoes, one zucchini and precisely five tomatoes. There are half a dozen pumpkins on the vine the chickens kindly planted in the compost pile, but they are still green, and I doubt they’ll ripen before the heavy frosts come. (The light frost has already been making an appearance since early September, which is decidedly not normal.)
This is super lame. Allow me to shake my fist at whatever divine multiversal power might be listening and actually giving a rat’s ass.
So, Thanksgiving, is it? Bertha and Bertha, the two remaining Barred Rock hens, are still laying, which I suppose is worth mentioning. Let’s count that for one. The apple trees are heavy with fruit, except I can’t stand apples – the sad truth of my life. (They will most likely be given away to friends and possibly to church.) My mother is here for a month, actively waging war on the house, cleaning behind furniture and vacuuming the ceiling (I shit you not) while incessantly trying to feed me. (The added bonus is that she is nearly deaf and therefore totally immune to my PMS-driven grouchiness that urges me to scream at anyone and anything within range.) The cats speak Ornery as a second language, so they are always around to commiserate. There you go, I’ve counted my blessings. Thanks Be To Whoever.
There is no turkey dinner, but there is mom’s cooking, and I don’t like turkey anyway. The pantry is full of discounted dry goods rather than fruits of my harvest, but it still beats an empty pantry. The firewood still hasn’t been delivered, but wool blankets are plentiful and the dogs are still quite eager on their bedwarming duties.
Overall, I keep telling myself that the important points to remember are twofold
- In the world of homesteading, there are no certainties. There is always a chance of illness, drought, fires, hurricanes, crop failures, locusts, plagues of frogs, what have you. Some years you have to buy your tomatoes.
- Things could always be worse.
So happy effing Thanksgiving from the north side of the border.
And gosh dang and bugger everything. Blargh.