Monday, December 13, 2010

Harvest Celebration Confusion

Three bales of straw
Last Saturday night (Dec 4th) hubby took the kids and I driving to look at Christmas lights and we passed a pile of Halloween decorations--pumpkins, squash, 3 big bales of straw-- on a neighbors curb, waiting for trash pickup. Of course, I could not let this treasure go to the dump so poor hubby--all dressed up from the Christmas party we just left, hoisted the goodies into the back of my van.

I will use the straw bales as mulch for my summer garden in 2011. The golden color of the straw will help to reflect heat away from the soil, keeping the plants roots cooler (a definite concern in a Texas summer), the straw will help to keep moisture in the soil from evaporating, and it will also shade the soil and prevent the weed seeds from germinating--saving me time at my weeding. Free and pretty mulch, and all packaged in three tidy bundles. Until it is needed in the garden, the bales will act as a backyard climbing and jumping platform for my kids.

squash with straw mulch

I did not pick up the pumpkins from the curbside pile, but I thought about it. We already have about a dozen pumpkins in our backyard now from our own decorations as well as the free 'after holiday cast offs' from a friend's fundraising event selling pumpkins at her church.

Kids helping me to sort pumpkin seeds for roasting

The smaller pumpkins can be peeled, cubed, and cooked for pies, or the cubes can be roasted in the oven with salt and olive oil, the seeds can be salted and roasted for a crunchy snack. I still have 1 bag of pumpkin puree in the freezer from last years pumpkins. Pumpkin muffins were a real hit with my kids (and high in beta carotene). Even if you don't want to eat pumpkins, they are great food for the chickens. At the very least they are compost pile fodder. Nope, instead they were tossed to the curb to head to the local dump.

pumpkin squash muffins, ready to bake

How funny that the image we have of the bounty of "Harvest Time" and richness of fall with piles of rich golden pumpkins and squash, shocks of dried corn, and bales of golden straw--which used to mean a winters worth of food for the family and livestock-- are now seen as a disposable decorators item. Thanksgiving used to mean the end of the growing and harvest season, a time when families would gather to share in the rewards from a years worth of hard work in the fields.

This is not the first year I have collected hay bales from peoples trash, and it won't be the last (if you want to see a funny sight, picture tiny me, dressed in a skirt and heels for work, attempting to hoist a wet 60 pound bale of straw into the back of my minivan without getting dirty). For some reason this year it made me sad to see the wastefulness and the backward way of looking at things in our society.

So what are we really thankful for today (a bit late, buy HAY)? Thankful for good jobs that allow us to earn plenty of money to maintain a lifestyle? Thankful for stores full of goods, even those that are only used to be visually pleasing for a time? Thankful for a beautiful home to decorate for the various holidays? Thankful that we don't have to hack open a pumpkin each time we want to enjoy a pie?

I don't mean this to condemn anyone, I really am thankful that we live in such a rich and blessed society that allows us the choice to spend our money how we choose... and I'm even more thankful that the life my hubby and I share allow us the ability to see a treasure like this on the curbside. I'm thankful for the knowledge I have on how to use this bounty. I'm thankful that no other 'dumpster divers' got to this gem before me!

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