We just purchased the last of the promised seven. What am I talking about? I'm sure I'll get to it somewhere in my blog...probably the end, just so you will read it all.
We had almost 100 people over for the weekend. Yes, you read that right 100. Do you know how much food gets eaten with this many people? Lots. Most stayed in hotels but we did have a full house, with the bedrooms, library, family room and trailer filled with weekenders. We also had 4 visiting dogs.
I decided to treat this as a practice run for having to deal with lots of people. I didn't use any of my preps, instead, since I knew I had to spend a bunch of money on this crowd I enhanced my preps! For example, instead of buying strong paper plates for just a penny or two more per plate I got plastic plates. Then instead of throwing them out we washed them and put them into storage. Same with the plastic forks and knives. I didn't spend much more but got a better quality. I'm sure the guests thought we were a little strange in our "country" ways. Three trash cans; one for food waste, one for plastic plates and silverware, and the last can for cans and bottles.
The food waste was brought to the chickens. They like cake! After the weekend was over I filled the can of plastic plates and silverware with some hot soapy water. I let it soak a while then dumped it out on the back lawn. I sorted through everything and brought it inside for a real washing. It's all now cleaned and stored in the garage.
Even with a bunch of preps stored in the garage, nobody here had a clue about the home store (except immediate family). We made sure we didn't open that door the entire weekend. Instead we put food into the mud room cabinet, and everyone thought that was our home pantry. I couldn't imaging 100 people knowing that we had a lot of food. We certainly wouldn't if they all decided to descend upon us in times of trouble.
Girl made a few speeches over the weekend. The first one she was tongue-tied and barely said anything more than a whisper. By the time the weekend was over she was able to get up in front of people and talk. Even calling people in to eat is a big deal if you aren't a public speaker. Even when those people are all friends and relatives. It's easy for me to speak in front of people, but for some people it's terrifying. When I was making Girl speak at one point, Army daughter came up to me and said I was abusing her and it should stop. Absolutely not. Sure it was difficult for Girl but what better practice than in front of people you know. As I said, by the end of the weekend Girl was pretty comfortable with getting up in front of people. If I had stopped the torture, as Army daughter tried to insist, Girl would still be unable to speak to a crowd. That wouldn't have done her any favors, and as a grandparent, I'm full of teaching moments!
We had a few complaints from people that our towels were not soft. Sorry, they are line dried, not drier dried and we aren't using paper towels for all to wipe their hands. Nobody but us uses a clothes line - out of 100 people!
Our menu was pretty simple. Much of it came from the garden or the chickens. Breakfast was bagels that the kids and I made. It's really easy to make them but it does take some extra time. You make the bread dough, then shape the dough, let it rise, boil in water, then bake. Compared to a dollar a piece from a bagel store, or fifty cents from the grocery store, we saved a ton of money. It cost under $5 to make them as compared to $100 to buy them. We cooked up eggs from our chickens. A friend brought us some fresh milk and we made soft cheese (sort of like cream cheese). We also served fruit from the trees and melons from the garden. Lunch was fish and a bunch of salads. I'd like to say we raised the fish but we didn't. If it had been our fish, serving 100 would have depleted our stock! Dinner was baked chicken (yes we are missing several chickens from the coup!) Add to that home made bread, home made baked beans, and lots of fruit and vegetable salads. Lemonade, orange juice (both home grown), and water were the main drinks, although soda and beer were available. And yes, after preparing for that many drinking a beer sure tasted GOOD!!!
I knew we were going to be having this gathering when I planted the garden this year so I was prepared by planting the types of vegetables I knew we'd be using. I made a great dish by cooking up eggplant, onions, tomatoes, and garlic in a little olive oil. Another dish was carrots and cucumbers cut into bite sized pieces. Egg salad was easy to make! I'd been saving eggs for the past month and not giving any away or selling any. Needing 200 eggs meant the chickens had to be laying well!
Some people from work were part of the group. We did make a few comments that we all may be out of jobs next week, so this may be everyone's best meal for a while. Am I worried about not eating? Not at all. We are well prepared both in the pantry and in the mind.
For the past 17 years I've been putting great effort into the garden. This weekend San Diego sister stopped at a nursery for me to pick up the final trees I had on my list. Do you have a list of things you want to plant? I have had a list for 17 years. I now have everything on my list. Does that mean I'm not going to keep picking up fruit trees or bushes? I don't think I could go through a spring and not plant some permanent food plant. After all, I'm still landscaping the yard and most everything is edible. But what was the final item on my list?
Oh I can't answer that yet. It brings me to something that the President said during the 2012 campaign. Remember when he said, "you didn't build that"? Of course he was sort of taken out of context. Isn't just about everything? The jest of what he was saying was that although you may be super talented, smart, and rich, you didn't do it all on your own. If it weren't for the government having a hand in everything...such as building roads and bridges to get people to your store, or the research for the internet to be able to now have such a wonderful tool, that it was government incentives and your hard work. He was partially right but VERY wrong.
Not one time in the President's speech did he give credit where credit was due. This takes me back to my list and my effort to get my property set up for self sufficiency. And Girl put it all together in her speech on some chapters in Deuteronomy. She said I could quote her, so I'm going to include a little of it today...Remember she is eleven...
"Moses reminded the Israelites how God had cared for them when they were in the desert. He gave them Manna and also water. Their clothes always stayed clean and their shoes never wore out. He really took care of everything. There is this famous saying that I never heard of before I read it (but grandparent said it was famous) Man does not live by bread alone, but by what God says and gives. This means we are to remember that God is behind everything! The land of Canaan will have wonderful crops of food - seven types. Wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. In order to honor God and to remember all he has done for us, we grow all 7 crops at our home, including the date palms that we just got this week!" "If you think you do it all yourself and forget that God is behind it all, certainly you will perish."
Not a bad speech for an eleven year old.
All in all it was a good weekend. After butchering enough to feed 100 people, we have about 40 chickens left, which should be plenty. After all, normally there are only three of us at home not 100! There is still food in the garden waiting to be canned and eaten. We have peaches, pears, plums, apples, and figs still on the fruit trees. I have two date palms to plant next weekend. They will provide 100 pounds of dates from each tree in just a few more years. Life is good.