Monday, May 03, 2010

I love how busy nice days are. I don’t have time to sit around and mope. I don’t have time to think about how much I need to get done. Instead, I spend my entire day accomplishing one or two tiny things and chasing happy little boys around the yard. Today was half nice, half stormy. During the nice parts, we were actually able to get quite a bit done. First, we went and got the rototiller’s handle welded back on so it’s useable. Then we went and picked up a few more bales of straw (you can never have too many!) and some ant killer. When we got back home, the skies had cleared a bit so I tossed the kids in their new little fenced-in playground and took the tiller to the garden. I think I tilled up enough to get the onions and taters in the ground tomorrow. The tiller is a front-tine, so it’s like holding onto the tail of a bucking horse, but at least it broke up most of the bigger clods on the surface. I tell you what, my back is sore. Not only from the bucking horse tiller, but from lifting that sucker in and out of the back of my van all by myself to take it to the welder. There are definitely times when a strong man around the house is helpful. Eek… this means I’ll have to open my own pickle jars from now on! Hehe.

The boys also helped me today with breaking sticks to use as stakes in the garden. To make even rows, I’ll be placing the sticks at even intervals and tying bright pink twine between them. As long as I plant right underneath the twine, I should have nice, straight rows. Well, that’s the theory anyway. I’m hoping that my potatoes will be okay to plant. Some of them are getting quite ripe, starting to leak through the paper bag and get really soft. They all have good eyes though, most of them have so many that I think I’ll be cutting them into halves or quarters. I think I am going to try using the straw hilling method for them this year, but with a twist. Since it gets so dang windy up on the hill where our garden sits, I’ll have to hill a bit of dirt up on top of each straw layer to keep it down. We’ll see how it works. I just know that straw yields bigger, healthier potatoes, and also makes them way easier to dig out. With our clay-tastic soil, I’d rather make it as easy on myself as I can.

I’ve also been stocking up on canning jars and supplies. I try to grab a flat every time I go grocery shopping, but I forget a lot. I’m so excited for canning season to start up. Last year I went nuts with the produce from my parents’ garden. I hope they’ll let me steal some more apples from their orchard again this year, because YUMMY! Those were some good treats. Well, except the applesauce. You want to hear a funny beginners mistake? The applesauce recipe I followed said to core, peel, and slice the apples, then load them all in a big pot and put enough water in them to cover them at least an inch. I did that. Then it said to grind the apples up. I did that. Then it said to heat it, add the spices and sugar, and put it in hot jars. Did that… but I left out something totally crucial. The water! I didn’t mix the ground-up apples back in with their boiling water. I tossed the water out and used that empty pan to cook the apples and whatnot. I ended up with apple paste. My relatives still said it was good, but I was not a big fan of the goopy texture. This year, I’ll keep the water.

I’m really looking forward to experimenting with salsa, too. My mom is a salsa pro after making it every year since I was little. But she’s never used such colorful heirloom tomatoes, and most years she isn’t able to grow enough peppers so she has to buy them from the store. I am really hoping that I can pull out an exceptional green thumb this summer and have all the ingredients for salsa be home grown. Well, except the limes! I think my ego would swell a lot if I were able to gift home grown, home canned foods for the holidays this year. I’m also hoping to grow some of my own grain on a trial basis. Maybe a 10’ x 20’ patch of wheat, a little buckwheat, some rye. We’ll see if I can get to that, though. For now, the veggies have high priority, seeing as we spent so much on the seeds.

Oh, and pickles! I plan on trying to make a lot of different pickled stuff. Cukes, of course, are at the top of my list, but I’d also like to do some peppers, cauliflower (my hands down fave thing to eat pickled), dilly beans, onions, and garlic. The owners of the house here have some HUGE pickling crocks that are being used as toy holders for now. That will change once I start getting the harvest in mid-summer. Their large size means I’ll be able to make huge batches. Maybe I’ll even be able to sell off some of my canned goods…

Now I’m off in lala land, dreaming about things that haven’t even happened. And here I had hopped on the computer wanting to write about this new book I’m reading by Jerry A. Coyne called Why Evolution is True. I got it so I can brush up on my evolution facts. You know, get an arsenal of proof for the next time the JW’s show up with their creationist talk. I’m still giggling over the way my Fundamentalist Christian mother-in-law tried warning me about how “strange” the Jehovah crew’s beliefs are. As an outsider, they actually look a lot alike to me. I mean, they both read the same book, they both believe it’s inerrant, and they both believe in creationism. They’re both crazy, one no more than the other. But a Fundy couldn’t see that, I suppose. At least I had the sense not to laugh at her when she warned me. I try to play nice.

Maybe my next post will be about the book. I’m only halfway through it as it is, but it’s really good! A must read for anyone interested in battering down some creationist walls. Seriously, a person would have to be blind, deaf, and severely dumb to accept creation if they have read all of the research and seen the fossils. Yet… ignorance is bliss.


Friday, May 07, 2010

Do you ever have a nightmare that is so scary you just freeze? You are frozen, unable to look away from the horrifying image before you, unable to cover your eyes or even move your leaden body? Yeah, I had one of those today, but I was wide awake. I was doing the dishes when I looked outside and noticed that the chickens’ door had blown shut in the wind, and they were all standing outside in the pouring rain. I slipped on my mud boots really fast and ran out to open their door and let them into their dry coop, but halfway back to the house I had a weird feeling. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up, and goose bumps broke out all over my skin. That was when I looked around. Everything seemed to have a green tint to it, like the air was suddenly full of little droplets of green tea. The sky was very dark, and the wind was starting to pick up, so I automatically looked up at the clouds. My heart thudded to a stop, my limbs locked in place, and panic shot like a bolt of lightning from my head to my toes. The clouds directly above the house were swirling as if in a blender, faster and faster. I heard a roaring sound, and I think that was what broke me out of my daze. I ran inside, feeling almost dizzy from the adrenaline coursing through my veins, and herded the boys into the bathroom. I’m still not sure if the roaring was the wind, or maybe it was just the blood in my ears. Whatever it was, it died down. I looked out the bathroom window (yeah, I know, that wasn’t the best place to go… I wasn’t thinking straight) and the clouds looked a lot lighter all of a sudden. The rain and the wind both let up. So we came out of the bathroom and I called my husband to tell him how close I came to crapping my pants in fear.

The power ended up going out just a couple minutes after I got off the phone with my hubby. I’m not sure if a tornado actually did end up forming and touching down, or if it was just the terrible wind, but oh my goodness just thinking about it is getting my arm hairs up. I hate that we would be so vulnerable if a twister came through. It’s consuming me now. We could go into the basement next time, I suppose, but the house might come down on us. I’m plain terrified of natural disasters, even more so since it’s just me here with the kids. I know one thing, next time I’ll try to snatch the phone before going into hiding. That was immensely dumb of me, just rushing in there with nothing. I might have needed to call someone for help if we had been trapped or hurt.

Anyway, we’re all okay. I don’t think the kids even registered that I was scared out of my mind and shaking. That’s good. They are upstairs sleeping now. I’m pretty sure they were out as soon as their little heads hit the pillows. All day we have been hearing thunder, and I don’t think they were able to nap well through all the racket in the sky. They were tired, but I’m still sitting here all keyed up, ready to jump up and do acrobatics at a moment’s notice. And that is after spending all day cleaning, moving furniture around, playing with the kids, and running up and down the stairs so many times I lost count. I hope this giddy feeling wears off soon so I can get some sleep.

The only other thing I want to mention is that even though it may seem like I have everything figured out some of the time, most of the time I am just floundering around like a fish out of water. It’s been nearly three weeks since I last saw my husband, and here I thought I was doing so well remembering all of the things that needed to get done. I’ve kept up with laundry, done all the dishes, swept, mopped, vacuumed, dusted, scrubbed the bathroom, changed sheets regularly, kept meals coming at regular intervals, fed and watered the chickens, and even snuck in a few of the items from my to-do list. But I forgot all about the plants in the “greenhouse.” Yep. They were all in dire need of water. I don’t know how I didn’t even think about them all this time. I’m sure I probably lost half a dozen tomato plants, and I might need to restart the artichokes. I’m so upset with myself. Here I was all excited about gardening, getting things planted out in the dirt, hefting 50# bags of compost up the hill to the garden site… and I forget all about watering the plants inside the house.

My hands smell like tomato plants now, because I just spent a lot of time gently watering them and trying to get them to stand back up. I really hope they recover. I feel so awful for letting them waste away like that. It’s like plant torture, and I have the chlorophyll on my hands.

Okay, well, I’m finally starting to feel a little sleepy. I hope everyone in the area is safe, and that no one was injured in a tornado. Gosh, that was scary. Night, y’all.