the hunger moon

IMG_6349Today, when Opal asked what was for lunch, my reply was met with a big sigh. “Scrambled eggs again? We always have scrambled eggs. I’m tired of scrambled eggs. I’m hungry for something else…”

I have been thinking of re-reading The Long Winter aloud to the children again, just as a little reminder of how easy we have it. In this story, the Ingalls family survived intense blizzard after blizzard, mercury actually freezing in the thermometer (I think that was when it was colder than -40 F. How exactly does that happen?), and existing the cruel conditions on nothing but coarsely ground wheat made into hard loaves of dense bread. No butter. Their days were filled with nothing more than grinding the wheat in a coffee grinder and twisting tight bundles of hay to use as fuel in the stove for warmth. And listening to the howl of the wind. Yep, we’ve got it very, very easy.IMG_6351Around here, we are not hungry in the sense of not having any food. We still have bushels of potatoes and sweet potatoes, countless butternut squash, a few carrots, canned tomatoes, jars and jars of kimchi, and lots of eggs. We’ve got milk and butter in the fridge (from a neighbor), pork in the freezer (from a friend), and plenty of sheep in the pasture if the hankering for lamb meat suddenly struck. We could even raid the corn and wheat in the chicken’s feeder if necessary, and that ton of grain would keep us going for quite awhile. We have the additional luxury of making a monthly co-op order for staple foods that we don’t grow ourselves like oats, buckwheat flour, coconut oil (coffee, ahem). No, we are not at all hungry and have absolutely no right to even hint towards complaining. But…


But there is an underlying hunger surfacing in my house as of late. We are hungry in a spoiled, longing-for-something-(anything-)else sort of way. Hungry in a way that only grazing in the garden on nothing but fresh fare will satiate. Like a full quart of strawberries straight from the plants. Doesn’t that sound divine? Or a juicy spear of asparagus. Mmmmmm. Or my weakness, a sweet red pepper (or ten). My mouth is actually watering right now just thinking about it all. The hunger for greens, particularly salad, is acute in my household. My stubborn self will admit to giving in (more than once) to spring lettuce mix from the grocery store. The whole family greedily devoured it with a passion. (Eeegads… makes me think of the cobbler’s kids having no shoes. In this case, the farmer’s kids have no salads!)

but look! those salads are getting closer and closer!

but look! those salads are getting closer and closer!

The wild creatures that we share this farm with, however, are truly hungry. It’s the time of late winter’s hunger moon. The time when the pickin’s are pretty slim out there. Just this morning, while sitting in my snug house with a warm cup of coffee in hand (see, absolutely no right to complain) and watching the grey sky start to spit snow, I saw a very large coyote chase my wool sheep down the hill. Right here by the house! The coyotes are likely feeding young right now. They are hungry and prone to being bold. No harm came to any of my sheep, thankfully, and I got a swift kick in the pants to get them off of their ranging habit and back into paddocks protected by a hot fence. I’ve been watching the classifieds for another livestock guardian dog (we keep one with our chickens and she is awesome) to keep near our homestead to protect my sheep and all of Ira’s various poultry. (Our little chihuahua is basically worthless at protecting anything except his own bowl of food and would much prefer to be buried under a pile of blankets than to guard the fort.)IMG_6360Just a few nights ago, as I was settling into bed for the night, Ira’s ducks started making a wild raucous. I hopped up, grabbed a flashlight, slipped on some boots and trotted over to his coop. The door was ajar, and most of the ducks had fled to the safety of the water in the branch (stream) by the house. A few ducks remained in the coop. I went in and had a look, didn’t see anything and shut the door behind me. I didn’t realize an opossum had squeezed into a cranny of the coop out of my sight. I pity the poor ducks that had to spend the entire night in that coop with a hungry opossum. Fortunately, only one duck became that opossum’s dinner. Ira discovered both duck and opossum in the morning when he did his chores. He witnessed hunger first hand. And if I had truly been hungry myself, that fat opossum would probably have been a welcome treat. But like I said, I’m spoiled. We did not have opossum stew for lunch. Maybe if I would have told Opal that’s what was on the menu for lunch, she might have been happy to have those scrambled eggs.IMG_6350


10 thoughts on “the hunger moon

  1. You could try some fried eggs instead, or maybe a fritatta? Anyway, I’ve been asking around about sweet potato sets and most folks tell me, “I get all the sets I need for a year off one sweet potato.” and I keep thinking, “I bet you don’t grow anywhere near the number of sweet potatoes that I do.” But YOU do grow at least as many as us (probably a heck of a lot more). Roughly, how many sets can one expect to get off a single sweet potato, either hot-bedded or in water?

    • We eat eggs in all fashions, to be sure! Omelets with melted cheese is the current “most accepted” egg dish with the kids. As far as sweet potato slips, we usually save two bushels of our best looking potatoes back for slips. I’m not exactly how many slips you could expect per potato, it would just depend on their size. I’m guessing 20 per potato at least. The thing is, if you don’t mind staggering your planting, your sweet potato will continue to generate more sprouts once you pull the first round off. You just want to be sure the sprouts have good root development before yanking them off the potato. We lay ours in a bed and cover them with sand, then pull several thousand slips at a time.

  2. I used to be a petsitter and have seen some pretty mean chihuahuas – maybe she could protect the ducks! 🙂 Eating with the seasons, and especially trying to eat only your own food, is tough when we have so many other easy options.

    • We have certainly considered giving Rascal (the chihuahua) a mission in life and maybe he could earn his keep a bit more… it’s good for all the critters on the farm to have a job! Freeloaders don’t always fit into the farm economy!

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