Karns Christmas Letter:
The Back Story 2014
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all our friends and acquaintances. We hope you are well and enjoying this holiday season. We haven’t written a Christmas Letter in a while, so we hope to catch you up with us.
This year we are sharing remembrances from the garden. As many of you know, growing and gathering food has become major part of our life, so why shouldn’t we compose our thoughts according to the rhythms of the garden? We hope you enjoy it.
Planting the seeds
As the old saying goes, “To reap the harvest you must plant the seeds”—which is always a major endeavor for us, requiring the twin qualities of pre-planning and going with the flow. This is how planning-and-flowing worked for this year’s seed planting.
We did the planning this year, planning what we wanted to grow, when it should be planted, and which growing area it should go in.
Then, around March 1 Cindee used her new soil blocker to make soil blocks for planting, and she planted an amazing array of seeds, strategically setting them either under a grow light, or in a place where they could catch the spring sun.
Then the seeds began to grow into the cutest little seedlings.
Then, we went on a vacation in April and most of the fragile little seedlings died and had to be re-planted…late.
Then we realized that we had planned one of THE major workshops of the year (rocket mass heater construction: theory and practice) during the very season when we should be transplanting seedlings and planting salad.
What a fabulous group of builders!
THEN, having 14 people in the house, the bacteria just couldn’t consume all the waste that went down the drain (dishes, showers, etc) and we had a system collapse. 🙁 All the fish died. Note: I did NOT take pictures of dead fish. Sorry. It took a lot of the summer to get the system back in balance again. Luckily the neighbor boys helped me clean the pond.
THEN, we were EXHAUSTED, but in the end, of course, everything got planted or replanted, though maybe a little later and a little differently than we originally planned. This year’s garden.
Then the teaching continued the same natural-build theme. The greenhouse needed the rough-coat of plaster. The finished plastering lesson was inside our house. We made a beautiful mountain design for our living room wall with the help of the talented students and instructor.
Sharing the harvest
The greenhouse produced peppers, pickles, green beans, cucumbers, and lots of tomatoes. In our home we grew 4 varieties of apples and 3 varieties of mint! The garden boxes produced broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, radishes, peapods, fava beans, beets, and the most beautiful lettuce garden anywhere.
You never know what will come out of new things…or even old-tried-and-trues, for that matter. This year we decided to grow fava beans…maybe for soup? We heard they grew well in Alaska, so we decided to give them a try. We never grew them before, so if they did poorly, we would hardly miss them. It seemed an experiment worth trying.
It turns out that fava beans are good for more than just soup. One of our neighbors came by and practically gushed when she saw our fava beans. It turns out that fava beans contain a natural component that helps with the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Ruth’s husband suffers from Parkinson’s. We were so glad we had them and could give the whole batch to these friends. Next year, we will definitely plant more.
Looking back, what a year it has been! Our food was bountiful this year. We tried to grow, hunt, fish and gather enough food to provide at least 50% of our own food for the year, with plenty to share.
Wild foods included salmon (fresh filets and smoked), blueberries, and a fabulous moose hunt (thanks to Curt’s niece, Brittany, who talked three generations worth of the Karns/Hoffman hunting clan into taking her hunting for her first time). We were glad to have enough to share with friends and extended family this year.
Sharing the harvest is an essential part of life. God blesses all of us with personality, relationships and other gifts to share. In the sharing there is enough for all, but in holding back there is never enough for anyone. Friendships always bless us, and we hope to also be a blessing to others.
When the tasks of life are shared, everyone involved also ends up sharing in the camaraderie, which is itself a harvest. All of life can be about sharing, and so all of life—even the preparation and the implementation phases—can be about sharing the good stuff.
We hope and trust that you are also taking joy in what you are building for the future, in the new life you are planting, and in the harvests of life you are planning on sharing with others.
Curt and Cindee
PS: If you want a VERY brief synopsis of what Cindee and Curt have been doing in past years, Click Here for our Christmas Letter: The Back Story! We have sections on Home-and-Family, Cindee’s Business (The Alaskan Bioshelter and Permaculture Center) and Curt’s Work (Executive Presbyter and Owl for the Presbytery of Yukon).