Threshing shows seem to get us off the farm for a few hours. Those trips are sandwiched in between farm chores and canning. I had to smile when at a recent threshing show, a vendor was selling canned pickles. A couple tried them and said they were tasty; but when asked if they would like to buy some, they said, no thank you, as they had just done a canner full of pickles before coming.   

That’s not unusual for many of us. That morning my stove had kettles full of apples cooking up for applesauce from the early Duchess apples. They were  off in the refrigerator waiting for my return home to package for the freezer.  And then there were the pickles.     

Four gallon glass jars were sitting on the cupboard filled with teeny cucumbers.  They are the kind that first ferment for a week in a crock, then a week of cooking the sugar syrup brine each day. The mysterious process produces a savory, delectable pickle that is more than just sweet.    

It’s the month that I realize if I am going to get the beans canned we need, it’s time to get it done, sweet corn still hasn’t gotten off the list. The farmer’s market has been needing everything this year; but it’s time to get serious or we will be eating dried bean and pea soup all winter as there is an adequate supply of carrots, onions and potatoes; the garden’s contribution to the soups.   

Putting up food is something I enjoy doing. Sometimes I work alone or with my farmer, other times the girls just do it or we all work together. Then the kitchen bustles with an activity of seriousness and laughter.   

Now is the time to work. Like success; play only come before work in the dictionary.   

Because of the planning done last winter, seeds sown and most of the weeds gone; rain and sunshine sent from above, the gardens are producing in abundance.    

Mindful that winter will come again; a wise person will work to make provision for that season. At least it seems that way to me. Remember that old saying, "make hay while the sun shines"?

Food preservation, laying up a winter’s supply of wood, securing feed for livestock; is one way we take care of our selves, teaching our children that they too need to prepare for the future.  

Life is not all fun and sports; sometimes one has to look at taking care of one’s own needs; because then one better able to help another person in need.    

All of life has us in a preparation mode, an expectant mother plans for a the new born baby, securing a crib and bedding, clothing and a mountain of diapers it seems.   

School days has parents shopping for supplies and clothing. Before a child leaves for college there other things to buy and many, many instructions.   

Preparations don’t end with the graduation; rather a wedding often gets planned in there somewhere, or a new job and home.   

Even now my farmer and I watch our parents make the necessary changes for dealing with the effects of old age. It gets us wondering about future life. A two story house with laundry in the basement works well for a family; but what happens when steps become more of a hazard?   

Preparation of food needs seems minor in the scope of life and death; but it reminds us to number our days. For if  life is a journey; then we must not neglect preparing for our final destination.

Essays from My Farm House Kitchen | Renae B. Vander Schaaf

Renae B. Vander Schaaf, freelance writer, lives on a real working farm in northwest Iowa.

To Contact Renae B. Vander Schaaf, please email her at [email protected].