thanksgiving at the farm

so, i got an iphone and my whole life changed. i am mildly obsessed with the poloroid picture app. thanks for the idea, lizzie!

i am also mildly obsessed with the northwest. i loved my trip up there for thanksgiving. a fantastic part of the world.

i feel like i added significantly to my winning power on the game "two truths and a lie" during my time on the olympic peninsula. because, among other things, i -
  • ate a deer heart
  • helped deliver 10 baby piglets
  • helped butcher a turkey (then ate it)
  • caught crab and ate them 1 hour later
  • had elk sausage for breakfast and elk chili for dinner
  • got snowed and frozen in while staying in a sort of shack of a house in a random northwestern town
it felt like a very authentic thanksgiving! it's funny how going to my siblings' houses has in a way replaced going home. i get that same feeling of warmth, familiarity, coziness, comfort. it felt like home for the holidays. and it turned out to be quite the adventure!

after our epic road trip, kelsey brought me to the ferry terminal, where jo and aja picked me up and we went straight to the seattle center to see the space neetle. pretty neat.

it was freezing. hit me hard after all these sunny 75 degree days in san fran! that night, we went and did sealings at the seattle temple. it was really cool to perform those ordinances with my brother and sister-in-law. and the temple was gorgeous!

on monday we tried to go to victoria, british columbia. i was dying to go to canada and had heard victoria was so charming and wonderful. well, it started snowing on our drive to the ferry and before we knew it, we were in a legit winter wonderland. and we had missed the ferry. aja is pointing at canada in this picture (obviously).

so we decided to make the most of the weather. aniston was in heaven in the snow.

we went to a yummy little mom-and-pop restaurant in sequim and loooved the hot coco.

and we played in the snow back at the farm. about 5 seconds after i took this picture ana threw that massive snow ball right in cam's face. without any hesitation.

he recovered. and took a long walk with me. jonah's cars (which run on grease) froze overnight and wouldn't start. so we were literally stuck. i took cam and elsie on a walk in the chilly sunshine and the landscape was so rugged and beautiful. camden loved finding these huge masses of snow.

later, we borrowed a neighbor's car to go to the ocean to go crabbing. jonah has become quite the expert, and we got some good ones and brought them home and cooked them right up.

it was so pretty out on the boat. the olympic mountains are sensational.

on wednesday it was time to butcher mr. turkey. aja picked him up on her drive from san francisco to sequim. a great craigslist find. he lived a happy life and got fattened up for thanksgiving. the night before the slaughter we fed him lots of alcohol so his meat would be tender. sweet little turkey, a little tipsy. i told jonah i didn't want to help with killing mr. turkey, but when the time came he just said, "do you want to hold down the head or cut it off? it's up to you." i made the obvious choice. i'll spare the more gory photos.

honestly, it was a cool experience. to see a creature fulfill the purpose of its creation. we killed him in the most humane way possible and we really, really appreciated him. i was glad jonah made me be a part of it. it made me think about where my food comes from and it didn't freak me out like i thought it would. i built a fire to thaw the ground so jonah could dig a pit and after lots of plucking and wrapping up, mr. turkey cooked there for 14 hours.

it warmed up a little and the cars would start, so i went shopping with aja the day before thanksgiving. jonah and aja are the masters of getting free stuff and this is what the car looked like when we got back - all of that food free from the food bank. they remodeled their kitchen for $5. it seriously baffles me the deals they find and the awesome way they live. the best part was that i got a pumpkin pie from the food bank. aja doesn't like it, and i was really struggling with the idea of thanksgiving without a pumpkin pie.

on thanksgiving morning we took another crabbing trip. it was freezing. so i bundled up a little.

i made everyone the greatest pilgrim and indian costumes ever. our cousin aubrey came out from seattle. it was so fun to have her.

we made a list of 1952 things we are thankful for. here we are holding the list. right after we took this picture, aja went to check on luau the pig and we heard her yell, "guys! we have piglets!"

the thanksgiving feast was all ready to be served, the table beautifully set, and luau had gone into labor! two piglets were out before we got there and then we got to watch the rest be born (10 in all). i loved watching aja there, 8 months pregnant herself, in an indian costume (isn't that one-shoulder leopard print tunic to die for?) sitting in the straw cleaning off newborn piglets in the freezing cold. what a woman. birth is a miracle. it was so neat to see.

14 hours wasn't long enough to cook the 42 pound turkey, so we had to let it cook a bit more in the oven and we had our first course of thanksgiving dinner (vegetarian style) while aja was being pig midwife. elsie had had enough of her pilgrim costume by then, so a unicorn came to the table. as we talked about our food sans turkey, she said "i'm not a vegetarian! i'm a unicorn!"

finally mr. turkey was ready. and he was delish. before and after photos -

feast round 2:

then we played with the piglets and watched "elf." what a thanksgiving day!

this is aniston's to-do list for the day after thanksgiving. (ct stands for christmas tree). i think it is a perfect agenda. we did all that plus some.

like riding ana's new horse, coco. it had finally warmed up a bit and i loved trotting around.

and like shooting aja's grandpa's gun. i shot my clay pigeon soaring through the air on my second shot. i was astonished when i hit it. flabbergasted.

and we hung out with the piglets, one of which was named "cheech" after the favourite aunt (me).

we didn't have a truck to put the christmas tree in, and didn't want to bother tying it to the roof, so we hitched on the boat and hauled it home that way. jonah and aja buy a living tree and plant it on the farm after christmas.

i think the day after thanksgiving is purely for christmas decorating, not shopping. we got the shack looking pretty magical.

i love these guys so much, and the unconventional life they live. they are so fun to be with and always up for an adventure. i am really lucky to be related to such devastatingly cool people.

thanksgiving at the farm - swell. i have so much to be thankful for!!! like doting nieces and nephew, slippers and hot water bottles that kept me from freezing to death, and the fact that jonah didn't tell me it was deer heart until after i ate it!


  1. You are an absolute delight and so is your family. That thankful list is soo impressive. That is a great tradition. I get a pick-me-up everytime I read your blog. You have been blessed with such a positive outlook on life! It's contagious! Keep up the good work. (ps that was the most entertaining post for thanksgiving on the farm! So neat!) -Nashina, Idaho Falls

  2. Honestly this post is the very best ever! What an experience! How could you possibly make up a story as magical as that???

    I sent a comment from Pothiers because we all looked at this together and I don't know what happened to it. Anyway, they all saw it too and just couldn't believe their eyes! This is certainly a Thanksgiving to remember!

  3. Aersome post!!! My favorite one yet. :)
    Except for that last photo of me. Do I look pregnant or what?!

    We sure do miss you around here. It's been so quiet.... I only have to check on the piglets once a day and all the snow melted and I sold a bunch of chickens today and the house is clean. I really don't know what to do with myself. Please come back!

  4. Charity, it's amazing how fascinating things seem to follow you. You just exude fascinating.

  5. you are too stinking cool.

  6. I enjoy your blog very much, but I simply must comment on your brother and sister-in-law's availing themselves of a food pantry. If able-bodied people choose not to work at a traditional job, that's a perfectly acceptable choice. But to take food that is meant for people who cannot support themselves because of illness or disability or unfortunate circumstance, well, that is simply immoral. It is akin to stealing. The people who donate to food pantries -- sometimes by true sacrifice -- do not do so to support other people's experimental living. They do it to help the "needy", and I cannot believe that your relatives fall into that category. Your parents do so much to help people in true need that it seems unfathomable that they would support this sort of nonsense.

  7. dear anonymous - bless your heart! I sure hope that you see this reply! and that it will clear things up for other readers.

    I completely agree with what you have said about the ethics of using donated resources and social services. believe me, I am all about serving the needy and quite aware of the work and sacrifices that go into food bank type programs.

    most food banks actually get too much food than they can distribute before expiration dates roll around. it is truly a shame that, by law, so much food has to be thrown away. Jonah and Aja have talked with their local food bank about the pounds and pounds of food that goes to waste because it is barely past its expiration date and have developed an agreement that they can take the food that is on the way to the rubbish bin and feed it to their pig.

    I took and posted that picture merely as a playful illustration of my brother's thrifty lifestyle, but I should have explained better. about 98% of what you see in the trunk is expired food for the pig. while we were at the food bank picking that all up, the workers there realized there was a pumpkin pie headed to the bin so they gave it to me. we also had some of the bread that otherwise would be wasted. the rest went to mama luau and the baby piglets!

    the interesting thing is that most everything that is left over at the sequim food bank (not picked up by people before it expires) is all the healthy stuff - the whole grain breads. apparently the white bread goes like hotcakes. sort of an intriguing trend.

    anyway, the point is, JO AND AJA ARE NOT CHEATING THE SYSTEM OR BEING IMMORAL IN THEIR UNIQUE LIFESTYLE! quite the contrary, in fact. they are some of the most giving, kind, helpful people I know, always reaching out to those who are less fortunate than them and adding to the resources that their struggling fellow men need.

    don't condemn our family!! :) hope this clears things up!

  8. Hi, there. Me again. Old Anonymous.

    I wanted to thank you for your lovely and gracious reply, and for clearing up my misunderstanding. I am completely down with expired food and feeding the animals! And I'm delighted that you took the time to explain your post.

    So now that I've generated all this "controversy" on your blog, you'll undoubtedly get a million hits, and advertisers will line up at your e-door, and crafty folks will send you free products to review. Don't forget your old friend Anonymous when you become rich and famous! -g-