3-I am thankful I have a good stash of sewing and needlework materials. This proved Just The Thing when I broke the laces of my tatty sneakers. Rather than spend ten bucks on gas for a trip to town to buy shoelaces I crocheted some. Two strands of pearl cotton held together and crocheted as if they were a single strand makes a lace thick enough to be sturdy but not too thick to go through the eyelets. As a bonus, the nubby texture makes them stay tied better. The original laces to these shoes were smooth enough that I had to tie double bows to keep them from coming undone and even that didn't always work.
4-I am thankful for VHS tapes, DVDs and Netflix and PBS. Hand sewing is a quiet activity and I do a lot of it. Watching a movie or documentary as I work makes the time go faster entertains me and educates me. It is possible that it also keeps me from going stir-crazy, I'm not really in a position to be the judge of that.
5-I am thankful for newsprint. Our local newspaper sells the roll ends of newsprint very cheaply ($3-6 depending on width). This is very handy for drafting patterns and tracing patterns from existing garments. This week I copied one of my favorite aprons so I can make more of them. I also drafted a pattern to make some chemisettes out of old work shirts of my Daddy's that Mama had saved. The generous size of newsprint rolls lets me draw out patterns without having to tape a bunch of sheets of paper together. It's cheap, so
Here's the beginning of a chemisette from Daddy's old shirt, I think it will be cute under my homespun dresses and it will help keep my neck a bit warmer this winter.
6-I am thankful for my French Curve. It makes pattern drafting a lot easier and tidier. Although I bought it more than a year ago I just recently learned to use it from a tutorial here at Gerties Blog for Better Sewing. http://www.blogforbettersewing.com/ Gertie is amazing, and I've learned a lot from her blog. Go there. Get enlightened.
9-I am thankful for eggnog. Sweet, tasty, comforting, and festive Yum. You know how when a friend or relative dies you suddenly feel like you never really appreciated them while they were alive? You feel like you should have spent more time with them while you had the chance? Like if you'd only known that they soon would be gone from your life forever you would have savored your time together? That is how I feel about eggnog. I am returning to being a vegan, and there is one remaining serving of eggnog in the fridge. As The Manimal doesn't like sweet things I will be drinking said eggnog before this day is over. I will then rinse out the carton and put it in the recycling bin, and that will be then end. Eggnog will no longer be a part of my life. Goodbye Eggnog, alas I knew you waaaaay too well.
10-I am thankful for Middle Child's continual good example to me where diet and compassion for animals come together. She has fearlessly seen me through many bouts of relatively healthy lacto-vegetarianism, interspersed with decidedly unhealthy omnivorousness, and has bravely led me to the vegan path. Yes, eating healthfully without taking unfair advantage of animals is possible. No, it is not necessarily easy. Yes it is worthwhile, for the sake of the animals, for my own health, and for the health of the earth.
(Note: You start out teaching your children, but eventually they become your teachers.)
There's my Ten Thankfuls.
Having now opened up the Vegan Kettle of Fish I will proceed to think aloud.
Yes, I'm honestly scared of what affect my becoming permanently vegan will have on my relationship with The Manimal, who has recently been making plans for taking on more farm animals.
We currently have around 16 chickens. Seven good laying hens, their noisy but charming companion rooster, a couple of bantam hens who probably lay eggs somewhere in the forest, and five noisy and not charming bantam roosters.
We also have two un-petable rabbits living in the loft, which I can only describe as having been a Bad Shoppin Impulse.
The Manimal wants more. A working farmstead is his dream.
He wants us to get milk goats. If we have milk goats they will have to have a baby each year to stay "in milk", but that is ok (to him and to conventional farm wisdom) because he also wants baby goats to eat (in curry).
He wants us to get more rabbits so we can breed them and eat the offspring.
He wants us to get some sheep for wool, but he also wants to breed them so we'll have lambs to eat.
He wants to get a couple of pigs "to fatten". Piglets are soooo cute, and that sounds like a fun project, BUT you know the purpose if "fattening" pigs is not just so that they'll be cute and fat. It is so that they'll become ham, bacon, tenderloins, sausage.
He'd also like us at some point to get a small cow so we could make lots of cheese and butter. Like goats, a cow has to have a calf every year in order to make milk. Why? Because the milk is not supposed to be for humans, it is for Her Baby! The common practice is to keep female calves as future "milkers" and kill the male calves for veal, or raise them till their big and then kill them for beef.
He wants some ducks and geese, also not just to look at. Sigh.
I was brought up in a meat-eating finish-your-milk-before-you-leave-the-table sort of mid-century family. I love cow's milk even though I'm allergic to it. I love to eat steak, roast beef, hamburgers, beef stew. I love pork chops, crispy bacon, ham sandwiches.
I also love animals.
I've had a few years of homesteading experience before moving to this valley. Long enough ago that it feels like a different lifetime, but still. I know I'm capable of killing animals, I've done it before, years ago when we raised rabbits. I understand that everyone on this planet eats someone, one way or another....I get the whole food chain idea.
I get it. But I don't like it. I think it needs rethinking. I think the fact that humans CAN eat animals doesn't mean that we HAVE TO. I think I can find a way to eat well enough without eating animal flesh or animal products. I have other options.
I learned on that long ago little homestead that I liked raising rabbits and that I could (with my seven-year-old son's help) kill them, butcher them and cook them. I also learned that to me rabbit doesn't taste good enough to be worth all that effort. What started out as an attempt to have uncontaminated meat for our growing family became an eye-opener for me in the amount of effort and resources involved in raising animal food.
Now, a lifetime later I'm figuring out that I don't want to raise and eat any animals at all. I'm not saying other people shouldn't choose for themselves, I'm saying raising and eating animals is not what I choose.
Pigs are known to be as intelligent as dogs for God's sake. How could I possibly kill an intelligent creature and eat it? Chickens are fairly stupid compared to mammals, but I find I don't want to eat them either, much less kill them myself and eat them.
The Manimals's plan is to have someone else do the killing. Me, since he knows I can do it.
His spiritual leader is dead set against them killing anything (pun unavoidable), but curiously is not against eating meat as long as someone else did the killing. This seems the height of hypocrisy to me.
Our original plan, when we got the laying hens years ago, was that if any of the day-old chicks turned out to be roosters we'd keep one (because The Manimal likes the crowing) and eat the others. I would kill them (because I lack his 'religious' conviction) and he would clean and butcher them and cook them because he's the chef around here.
His choices are his alone....I am going to play the girl card here. It is a woman's perogative to change her mind. I am hereby officially changing my mind about killing "spare" roosters or anything else.
For me it has come down to this:
I will not kill any sentient creature for any reason other than to save my own life.
My life is not being threatened with violence by any chicken, cow, pig, sheep, goat, lamb, or fish.
I will not hire anyone else to kill for me.
I withdraw my support from the meat and dairy industry which is for the most part quite hideous and is at its very best still quite unfair to our fellow creatures. As a mother if someone wanted to kill my babies and steal my breast milk I would have objected. Cows do not "give" us milk, we take it from them. Chickens do not "give" us their legs and breasts, pigs do not "give" us their bacon. I no longer feel right about supporting and taking part in this huge system of raising enormous amounts of animals to use and to kill.
I opt out.
Fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts are plenty to healthfully support my body.
I do not need more than that.
I will not take more than that.
I will learn to be healthy eating plant foods only.
Excuse me while I go serve that last little bit of eggnog to the cats.
Rapunzel the Vegan