On Helping Homesteaders: How You Can Help People and Animals Impacted by the California Fires This Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, my husband and I decided to do something a little different. We are homesteaders, and we had a really good year in our harvest overall. So we decided our Thanksgiving dinner this year would be a celebration of our harvest.

We haven’t raised turkeys, so we’re having one of the chickens we raised instead. And instead of the traditional Thanksgiving fare, we’re having potatoes, corn, beans, homemade bread, and berry pies frozen during summer’s harvest. It’s a celebration of what we grew and raised.

I am amazingly blessed our family is able to raise chickens, ducks, and a bountiful organic garden that helps to feed our family for much of the year. We eat well above our station thanks to the amazing work of my husband and a lot of work from myself as well. We eat healthy, delicious food, and our little homestead helps support our family all year.

I have been feeling especially blessed because I have been reading in online homesteading groups about the people who have lost their chickens, ducks, goats, pigs, horses, dogs, and more in the wildfires that have destroyed so many people’s homes in California. Their stories are powerful and devastating. I’ve seen posts of women who are distraught and in tears because she had to leave her chickens. She is thankful to be alive but devastated by her loss. I read another story about a woman who was trying shove as many animals as she could in her car as she quickly worked to escape the fire. I read the story of a woman mourning her horse so deeply. I read about a woman who was mourning her land. If your land sustains you, it is especially devastating to lose it, I would think. You can read an overview of some of the impact this fire is having on people and their animals in this news article from CNN.

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Photo Credit: Vadim Fomenok, Unsplash

These stories are heart wrenching, and reading them made me think I would like to try to help my fellow homesteaders in California in addition to donating to a general help fund.

I’ve been reading in the news about places we can go to make general donations to help those affected by the fires in California, and I have some links I can share below. I have done my best to make sure these are reliable sources, but please do your due diligence as well and only donate to organizations you feel you can trust.

But, if you can donate some, it’s a good thing to do. I have read stories of a lot of people asking for help to support local rescues operations.

I have sometimes worried that maybe I just can’t donate enough to help, but I think we all have to remember that every little bit counts. It’s what my husband and I say to each every day.

Every little bit counts.

Even if we all just did a little bit, you know it would add up fast.

Here are some links to places you can help those with animals or people working to rescue and support animals in the wild fire area:

Hold Your Horses Livestock Emergency Evacuation *This is a link to a Facebook page, so you would need a Facebook account to see this organization and their fundraisers. If you have trouble following this link, you can just search for the organization by name on Facebook.

North Valley Animal Disaster Group *As of last week, they had taken in over 1,400 animals, including alpacas, turkeys, ducks, and more.

Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control *As of last week, they had taken in 815 animals, and 550 of them were horses.

Butte County Humane Society *This organization is working to reunite people with the animals and has started a pet food and supply pantry.

And if you want to make donations to general help, this link takes you to a donation page for Public Good where you can choose from several reputable and important organizations to donate to.

 

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On Indian Pudding: A Recipe for Adding History to Your Thanksgiving Tradition

Thanksgiving is such a joy to me. It’s a lot of work, and we have no family here in Maine to celebrate with; still, our little family has developed some lovely Thanksgiving traditions that are fun and important to us.

Since I love food history so much, I like to use Thanksgiving as an opportunity to teach my son a little food history behind Thanksgiving. One of my favorite traditions is teaching my son about what was on the menu at the first Thanksgiving.

While turkey may not have been on the menu, some kind of wild bird was, so it seems like the turkey is certainly close enough to accurate, right? But it’s fun to teach about the other foods that were served. According to historians, berries, onions, beans, and carrots were likely on the menu. Also (and this is probably the greatest departure for most of us), they probably served a lot of seafood.

Since I’m kind of a fan to sticking to the turkey and not having to prepare some fish as well at Thanksgiving, I focus on the corn as Thanksgiving tradition and history.

 

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

 

According to historians, corn was likely served–just not in the way we think. It was likely ground up into meal and made into a porridge like substance, which was then sweetened with molasses. We call this (or something close to it) today “Indian Pudding” or “Hasty Pudding.”

And it’s yummy! It’s a delicious way to add some fun history to your Thanksgiving traditions.

Please find my favorite version of the recipe below complete with my own recipe for the homemade whipped cream to go on top. This recipe is simple enough to make with your kiddos and can lead to a great conversation about Thanksgiving and history.

Indian Pudding (adapted from foodandwine.com)

Ingredients:

2 cups milk

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup molasses

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/3 cup cornmeal

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

Pudding directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, mix together the cornmeal, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In a sauce pan, mix the milk, cream, molasses, and brown sugar. Bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat and stir it occasionally.

Add your dry mixture to your wet mixture and mix. Pour into an 8 X 8 baking dish and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, stir, and then cook about 20 minutes more. The pudding will look wobbly, but it will set up more as it cools. It should cool at least 20 minutes.

Whipped Cream

Ingredients:

2 cups heavy cream

4 Tablespoons sugar

Whipped cream directions:

Pour your heavy cream and sugar into a mixing bowl and use a mixer to mix until your whipped cream is fluffy. If you don’t have a mixer, you can use a whisk, but you’ll have to whisk until your arm falls off and then some. I’ve done it this way before. It’s still good, and you do burn a lot of calories, which is very important to me at Thanksgiving.

Serve the Indian Pudding warm with the cool cream on top, and if you have a sweet tooth like me, add a double scoop of that cream!

I hope you enjoy adding a little history to your Thanksgiving tradition.

Happy Thanksgiving!