comfort and joy
Brett didn't let me help with the cooking so I headed outside to see to the animals while he bathed the leg in cream sauce, butter, garlic, mushroom and rosemary. He also had biscuits, beans, Adirondack Blue potatoes (which make purple mashed potatoes!) and I had set a peppermint pig on the table as a post-meal treat. (Peppermint Pigs are an upstate NY tradition from Saratoga) My first chore was the Freedom Rangers, who are still in the brooder. They were already doubled in size and would need more space soon. But they next week or so they would be fine. I gave them clean bedding, fresh feed, and water and then walked outside to the barn..
Standing next to the barn, was y Christmas Present. A Jasper-sized stone boat! I squealed! A stone boat is what you see in that picture, a wooden draggable sleigh used by draft horses to pull field stones, firewood, farm implements, and move over ice and snow with sap buckets in March. It is the original "tractor attachment" the most basic working horse's rig. It's not something that comes in pony sizes, but Brett took a photo of the stone boat at Merck Forest during Antlerstock and made it from his own home-milled lumber. Amazing...
The meal was epic. I had never tasted such lamb. It was succulent, slightly pink (the greatest sin of lamb is over cooking), and covered in the creamy sauce. The potatoes and greens were perfect sides. We enjoyed the biscuits with butter and a bottle of red wine. Cheers to a friendship so grand, and to his skills and kindness. This is a man who not only raised the sheep, but created a 4-star meal out of the flesh he butchered himself and has the home-tanned fleece rug on his cabin floor to prove it. I'm proud to know him, and constantly impressed by his talents.
I am impressed by your talents as well. I received hand knit socks (wore them last night!), a painting of a howling wolf with antlers, hand-knit sheep toys (with a border collie!), music, books, letters, and enough cards to drown my kitchen door. There will be a donation made from this community to Heifer.org for (you guess it!) a lamb for a family in need. That's right, we came together with enough to deliver a sheep to people who truly need it. A blessing, one of many, from you wonderful readers across the globe.
And as far as eating my own lamb, I will say this, for anyone curious. Eating the leg of lamb from a sheep I delivered here on a cold spring night was not in any way weird or uncomfortable. It was an honor and a blessing. It was possibly the best meal of my life and I could not believe such a feast started in my own pasture. I asked Brett how he felt about the lamb, since his relationship was more primal. He was the one who raised, slaughtered, butchered and served him. He thought about it for a moment and replied, "I chew slower." Perfect.
This Christmas, we should all take a moment to chew slower. You don't have to raise your meal to be so grateful for it it gives you pause. To be celebrating a religious holiday without fear, in a country at peace, with people you love and cherish deserves the reflection and amazement it should deliver to everyone warm and surrounded by grace this season.
From this farm, to yours, Merry Christmas.