Saturday, December 24, 2011

comfort and joy

Yesterday afternoon Brett arrived at the farm with the most beautiful leg of lamb I have ever seen. I beamed with pride, looking at it. It was, as he called it, our joint-custody dinner, but the credit goes to him. This past summer at a chicken butchering workshop he loaded up lamb number 9 into a crate in the back of his pickup, with plans to raise him for holiday meals. He left here a scrappy little ram lamb with amazing vertical jumping abilities (he had to nail a lid on the 4-foot tall crate on the back of his truck, funny story), and now the lamb had come full circle. He returned to the place of his birth for a Christmas Meal.

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 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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like an awesome Christmas! Glad you get to spend time with friends who feel as you do. Happy Holidays!

December 24, 2011 at 10:17 AM  
Blogger Rosie said...

Merry Christmas Jenna and a Happy Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

December 24, 2011 at 10:17 AM  
Blogger Meredith said...

Merry Christmas Jenna! Make a good fire and enjoy the holiday!

December 24, 2011 at 10:20 AM  
Blogger bree said...

What a beautiful meal, and a beautiful post. Merry Christmas Jenna to you and all the animals at Cold Antler Farm.

December 24, 2011 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger jim said...

merry Christmas to cold antler from this little bit of acres here in texas-give the gift of love to all your friends, family and animals-special hugs to the pooches

December 24, 2011 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger e.m.b. said...

Merry Christmas to you Jenna...and all the farm! This was a beautiful post. I still remember the first goat I ate that I'd raised from a kid. I chewed slower too...

December 24, 2011 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger Debi said...

Merry Christmas Jenna!

December 24, 2011 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger Ngo Family Farm said...

A very merry and blessed Christmas to you, Jenna!

December 24, 2011 at 11:11 AM  
Blogger seagoddess said...

Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2011 at 11:32 AM  
Blogger Stacey said...

What a lovely meal with a friend! Merry Christmas to you, Jenna, and to the animal crew at Cold Antler!

December 24, 2011 at 11:41 AM  
Blogger Goat Song said...

Merry Christmas, Jenna! :D

December 24, 2011 at 12:00 PM  
Blogger Lilac Hill said...

Merry Christmas.
Such a wonderful post.
Chewing slower, lovely.
Our roast goose dinner tomorrow will be the culmination of 10 months of planning. I harvested the eggs in February and turned them, imprinted on the goslings for ease of handling and pastured them.
Eventually I hope the chestnut, prune, apple stuffing is from our own place too

December 24, 2011 at 12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that is such a wonderful approach to appreciating a meal. we all need to chew slower!
may your holidays be peaceful, restful, and full of music!

December 24, 2011 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger The Kelly's Adventures in KY said...

Very well said. " Chew Slower ". Your Brett is wise. Merry Christmas Jenna! Your shared meal sounded supurb! What a great suprise with your new stone boat!!

December 24, 2011 at 1:27 PM  
Blogger sara said...

Merry Christmas! Few people know what a stone boat is. We had one on the farm that I grew up on. My Dad drove the tractor & we kids picked stones in the fields & put them on the stones boat. The life of a farm kid--I loved it & still do.

December 24, 2011 at 1:50 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Merry Christmas to you, Jenna! Your leg of lamb meal sounds perfect. For something that really did come full circle, even better. It looks wonderful and I can almost smell it here over the rolls in the oven. Can't wait to have some of my own next year!

December 24, 2011 at 2:26 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

A stone boat - the perfect addition to your farm!

MC to all.

December 24, 2011 at 2:31 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

Your last paragraph..celebrating a holiday without fear! true. We are a blessed country. Merry Christmas to you!

December 24, 2011 at 2:54 PM  
Blogger becky3086 said...

Perfect. Just perfect.

December 24, 2011 at 3:26 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

That leg of lamb looks fantastic. The Peppermint Pig brings back memories as my Mom used to include one in the Christmas box. Enjoy it.

December 24, 2011 at 5:15 PM  
Blogger Barb & Angie said...

This is from my favorite little golden book "The Animals' Christmas Eve." Made me think of Cold Antler when I read it to my children tonight. Merry Christmas!

The Animals’ Christmas Eve

In the barn on Christmas Eve, after all the people leave,

The animals in voices low, remember Christmas long ago.

One small hen, upon her nest, softly clucks to all the rest:

“Little chicks, come gather near. A wondrous story you will hear.”

Two white doves, on rafters high, coo a quiet lullaby:

“Long ago in manger hay, the little baby Jesus lay.

“Three wise men from far away, came to visit him one day,

For he was born, the doves recall, “to be the greatest king of all!”

Four brown horses in their stalls, snug within the stable walls,

Tell of his birth: “‘Twas long foretold, by chosen men in days of old.”

Five gray donkeys speak with pride, remembering one who gave a ride”

“Our brother donkey went with them, from Nazareth to Bethlehem.”

Six spotted calves now nibble hay, like that on which the baby lay.

“They put him in a manger bed, so he could rest his sleepy head.”

Seven goats, all black and white, describe the sky that holy night:

“A star appeared at early morn, to mark the place where he was born.”

Eight nestling kittens lick their fur. They nod their heads and softly purr:

“And he was wrapped in swaddling clothes, to keep him warm from head to toes.”

Nine woolly sheep, down from the hill, on Christmas Eve remember still:

“Shepards heard the angels sing, praises to the newborn king.”

Ten soft lambs say Jesus’ name, “He was the Lamb of God who came.

He was the greatest gift of love, sent from his Father, God, above.”

Eleven puppies listen well, in hopes that they, in turn, can tell

The Christmas story another year, for all the animals to hear.

Twelve chimes ring out from far away-the lovely bells of Christmas Day.

And every beast bows low its head, for one small babe in a manger bed

December 24, 2011 at 6:36 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Sounds like you had a blissful day :) Vaughn and I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year!

December 24, 2011 at 6:52 PM  
Blogger Bovey Belle said...

We "know" the hoggets we have in the freezer - some we met as young lambs. They arrive with us and we do our own butchering into joints, and boy do they taste good. No anonymous lamb for us.

I got an inkling of the flavour of your meal. Glad you enjoyed it.

Merry Christmas.

December 24, 2011 at 7:08 PM  
Blogger Jess said...

That sounds lovely! Merry Christmas, Jenna!!

December 24, 2011 at 11:02 PM  
Blogger From the Country Farm said...

Merry Christmas From our farm to yours as well coldantlerfarm!

December 24, 2011 at 11:23 PM  
Blogger Deb Naydan said...

Merry Christmas, Jenna!

December 25, 2011 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger macbew said...

I had never heard of a stone boat before today but it sounds like such a useful thing to have. What a good friend Brett is. Great news about donating the lamb through Happy Holidays to you and have a happy and safe New Years.

December 25, 2011 at 2:17 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

Merry Christmas to you, my dear! So nice to see you reaping the care and kindness you've sown. Tell Brett I said he's a class act.

December 25, 2011 at 3:16 PM  
Blogger Cottage Times said...

Cheers Jenna!

December 25, 2011 at 3:52 PM  
Blogger K. Jean said...

Merry Christmas Jenna, and to your animals, Brett & everyone in the CAF community!

December 25, 2011 at 7:37 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

What a wonderful day! We too were blessed by uncommon kindness of friends. It is humbling to be cared for by others.

Merry Christmas Jenna. I am also super hungry right now and feel tempted to eat my iPhone, that lamb looks SO GOOD!

December 26, 2011 at 2:38 PM  
Blogger maplestory said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

February 27, 2012 at 1:14 AM  

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