Our first solstice at Cairncrest Farm was in winter. Garth and Alanna had returned from their cheese making apprenticeship in France days before, and Edmund and I were scurrying to put the final coats of paint on the interior of the Talbot house. There was a pile of rotten wood and debris from the house clean-up in the driveway, and untold trash laying beneath the snow.
The winter solstice marks the onset of winter, but also the lengthening of daylight. It seemed an appropriate time to celebrate our collective farming venture. We invited "everyone we know" (which at the time were admittedly few) to share a large pot of chili and stoke the bonfire of debris in the driveway. That cold night, only the friendly couple who grow organic vegetables down the road came knocking on our door. It was just as well. The bonfire’s flames reached 10 feet high and we nervously looked at the electric lines dangling not far away. We had chili left overs for the next two days.
At times the number of projects at hand seems overwhelming. Last month we debated whether a solstice gathering this summer would distract from our pressing goals, not the least of which are building houses, tending a huge garden, raising chickens, maintaining our cows, and building a root cellar.
Deciding in the end to celebrate the solstice, Edmund prepared the wild turkey he shot in May into a “Turkey Galantine”. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this dish, the Joy of Cooking describes it thus:
“A galantine of fowl is an extravagant production that begins with the boning process. The skin of the bird eventually becomes the covering of an oversized, luxuriant sausage that contains the meat of the bird combined with eggs, spices and other meats. When a galantine finally appears in all its... splendor, no one will suspect how it began, for in no way does it resemble any bird ever seen.”
This turkey sausage was about the size of my 5 month old son, as long as my forearm and too large to put two hands around completely. We had leftovers after this solstice party as well, but not before twenty-odd people had taken a thick slice.
Lawn games! A ukulele! And what seemed like everyone under 40 in Otsego County were in attendance. I could only feel joy and optimism looking around that evening last week at our growing community of friends. Anyone who has moved to a place where they are completely new knows how slowly friendships are formed. So it was a particular happiness to take an evening to celebrate the longest day of the year cultivating the relationships we forged thus far.
Let’s do that again.
The above three photos were taken by our friend, Amy McKinnon, at our solstice gathering.
Here is a blurry photo or two from our winter solstice bonfire last year.
And of course! Edmund’s amazing galantine! Here is it being sewn up in cheese cloth before being cooked.
Here is the galantine leftovers we had the next day for lunch.