The Clan is currently knee deep in fall harvest.
At the moment we’re in the apples and tomatoes part of the year, so we have about fifteen bushels of apples in the garage and a tomato “forest” out in the garden loaded with rapidly ripening tomatoes. This means that making applesauce and blanching tomatoes are practically daily activities for us at the moment and will probably continue to be regular features of our day for another week or so.
However, only a few weeks ago we had a completely different category of food crossing our counter. Back then it was sweet corn and green beans.And before that? Peaches, cherries, and other fruits for jams.
In fact, I know our fall harvest schedule so well by now that I can predict that after the apples and tomatoes are done, we’ll be moving directly on to beets, carrots, and Brussels sprouts.
And once that’s over, probably venison and squash.
But then, maybe, we’ll be done for the year.
Except for any orange marmalade or incidental chicken hindquarters we decide to make and can throughout the winter and spring.
I guess you could say that the canning never completely stops at our house. However, we’re usually only cranking jars through 28/7 (because a mere 24 hours has never been enough) during the late summer, fall, and into early winter. Unfortunately, it just so happens that we’re right smack dab in the middle of canning season at the moment, so sometimes that feels like the only thing we’re doing.
It’s during this time of year that teamwork becomes absolutely essential for the Clan. Without every available pair of hands helping out, there is no way in the world we would ever got so much canning (over 1,000 quarts!) done every year without losing our minds.
Even with teamwork, it sometimes comes pretty close.
One of the key principles of Clan teamwork is that everyone helps—regardless of age, Mom can always find something for you to do. Even the littlest kids would be assigned some small, simple task to keep them involved. Sometimes we would end up needing to “create” a task for them just do give them something to do, but this usually wasn’t a hardship for us because as siblings we have this mysterious desire to make sure everyone else is also working if we have to work.
Of course, now that the youngest is all of 7 years old, there aren’t many of our regular canning and harvest jobs that she can’t fully participate in, so there’s really no need to add extra steps to give her something to do. But back when we had two or three toddlers who needed to be included in whatever we were doing, we sometimes had to add extra steps to give them a way to help out.
Which is why, for many years, we’ve had a bean-picking superhero: Bean Boy.
Or Bean Girl. The role of Hansen Harvest Hero is pretty fluid and can be adapted to whichever sibling or siblings happen to be in need to a toddler-sized job at the time.The Bean Boy/Girl, for those of you who have never picked green beans with the Clan, is what we call the youngest kid or kids in the family, the ones not quite coordinated or experienced enough to actually pick the green beans while we’re in the garden. Instead, we have them collect beans from pickers and carry them to the central bowl or box we’re picking into. This is a good job for toddlers with short attention spans, because literally the only thing they have to do is come when someone hollers for a Bean Boy and collect handfuls of beans in the “shirt pocket” (which is what we call it when you hold out your shirt and carry things in it).Of course, they still get sidetracked and distracted, but the rest of us are pretty good at hollering when that happens, so we make it work out.Is having a Bean Boy/Girl an extra step in our bean-picking routine? Probably.
Does it keep the littles actively participating in what we’re doing? Absolutely!
Do they get sick and tired of hearing “I need a Bean Boy/Girl”? Very much so! But as far as teamwork goes, you can’t beat having a Bean Boy or Bean Girl on the team.
I just don’t know what we’ll do when the youngest is fully capable of picking beans herself and we finally have to carry our own beans. That’s never happened to me before and I really don’t think I’m prepared for it yet.