1. Lesson learned: Keep the emotions for your husband, not the chickens. As I shared earlier this summer, our black chicken was killed by a opossum. A couple months later I saw a hawk on the wood fence staring at the two remaining chickens, and I decided I needed to temper my emotional connection to the animals. A month ago our new puppy tore the chest open on the little brown chicken, but it lived. Thanksgiving weekend Chris and I woke up to find one chicken on the windowsill, and one dead. Two days later Chris "offed" the remaining chicken, after all, they are animals that need companions. The long, cold winter would have been really lonely for that last bird.
2. Lesson learned: Time management is important to local food security. Want to eat primarily local food - it's a great idea but when the season between mid-fall to mid-spring arrives you better have been a good squirrel. If not, you're going hungry. In order to eat the most local food possible, insight and planning for the future must happen. Winter meals begin in the spring and summer. And, you must have the time in your schedule to prepare them when the season is ripe (preserving, gardening, etc.). So, begin preparing now for the future - here's a great article by Mother Earth News to get you started.
3. Lesson learned: Don't boil the heck out of the cans - they must boil, but a fierce, rolling boil isn't best. The Sedgwick County Extension Agency Master Food Volunteers have an excellent canning class which is offered for a very reasonable fee. (Find future classes here.) After taking the class early in the season, I decided to can June berries. I boiled the berries in the canner for the appropriate amount of time, and when I dumped the canning water it was purple. Ugh, during canning the liquid seeped from the cans. Because I couldn't tell which can leaked, they all were considered unsafe for extended time on my basement shelf, so we ate them soon after canning. I'm trying again with June berries next year.
(More lessons learned in the next post...)