FacebookTwitter

You can shine all the buttons on your green shirt

By on Apr 21, 2015 in Look at My Big Garden | 1 comment

I caved and bought a hoop house, and not a modest one.  I could live inside it.  I have, in fact, lived in smaller spaces, as has been well documented on this very web site.  Here’s a general schedule of our first few days with it: Friday:  assemble hoop house. Saturday morning:  eagerly move scrawny, desperately sun-searching seedlings into hoop house.  Install thermometer and hose.  Watch hourly and document temperature change as the seedling soil ruptures and the new leaves pop open in time-lapse fashion.  Watch the temperature reach triple digits and high-five melon seedlings.  This will be our year. Saturday night:  haul everything back in, because of course in my excitement I might also have planted a hundred or so new seeds, and because it still gets down around freezing at night, even in the hoop house. Sunday morning:  move newly invigorated seedlings back into hoop house.  Meticulously arrange contents of hoop house in a way that the contents of any of my living quarters have never seen.  Watch again as the temperature reaches degrees that would make any Vermont-born thermometer melt, while the seedlings lap it up. Sunday evening: again dash everything inside, where flats and treys now cover the freezers, the tables, the appliances, the drum set, and the squirrel’s bed. Monday morning:  wake up to snow. Greenhouse maxes out at 45 degrees.  Curse everything.  Seedlings shake their fists at the skies. In any event, I can’t tell if this means I’ve become a yuppie or I’ve really committed to growing vegetables.  Possibly both.  Possibly, if I keep up this attitude, I’ll end up living in there.  Which would be okay, given how nicely organized things are...

Its fruits are tasting strange, The apple tree is shaking

By on Sep 23, 2014 in Look at My Big Garden | 1 comment

We got a little overexcited at the apple orchard, which left me with a bushel and a peck of apples, which, in modern measurements, translates to a Half a Metric Cubic Shitload.  This meant a lot of applesauce, because our Squirrel, now 2, subsists on the stuff. It was, sadly, more than my beloved apple corer/slicer could stand, and the handle snapped right off.  Which makes me lucky to live with this guy. (Yes, I know, I’ve been gone for a year and instead of updating you on huge gardening and canning success, nor the introduction of pigs and goats and an additional 13 acres of land on which to enjoy these things, I’ve returned to a sad elegy to my dog and a vertical video.  Sit tightly on your hands, remaining two readers!)...

Wood Hertz

By on May 13, 2013 in Hyperbolics, Look at My Big Garden | 2 comments

Typing these words hurts me, and I’m not speaking in metaphors or about my feelings. The tips of my fingers, with every letter pressed, hurt. Ow. Hurt. Ow. I could go on, but that’d be masochism. Ow. One winter day of my unforgiving childhood, I was asked to help my mother bring in wood for the wood stove. We lived in a climate and an era where snow was unexpected, so when a few inches were on the ground, we didn’t know how to navigate through them. So, we slid on whatever excuse we had for boots at the time, and grabbed the red wagon we always used for wood-hauling, filled it up, and on the way back to the house, my mother pulled from the front while I pushed from behind. Little red wagons of the 1980s (yes, I’m old. Piss off.) weren’t the best tools for this job even for wagons and roads of great condition, so our well-battered box on a snowy trail was a chore, and I was really leaning on it, feeling it in the pancreas, when I looked up to see my mother’s hands bloodied from her own effort. Two revelations struck at that moment: one, she was willing to go through what at the time seemed tremendous pain to keep her clan warm. And two, I was not going to meet the same fate. I would study and perform well and become well-educated and Gatsby the fuck away from that future. So I did. I moved to the center of the universe and attended a reputable university and got a well-paying job in a respectable industry until, at some point decided that wage slavery was worse than scratched-up hands, so I slowly began to pedal away from it until I met the Native, who convinced me to shit in a hole with him in the snowy woods. So, ow. I moved a year’s worth of firewood today, because it had been sitting upon a space I want excavated into a terrace for a new garden. And tomorrow begins the biennial excavator rental, which will hopefully catalyze many fine projects that lead to a resurgence of fodder for this inconsistent bit of bloggerel, and as much as I had been hoping for an alternate outcome, the wood pile did not, elas, move itself. And so I have so many splinters in my hands at the moment that, if extracted, could probably start a woodstove fire of their own. Ow. On the other hand, if I’m anything but steel-solid biceptually after this, I’m going back to desk jockeying. (I’d have shared a photo of the pile, but this millipede found within is much...

All the Whey Home

By on Jan 3, 2013 in Big Dummy, Look at My Big Garden | 1 comment

Two days before closing camp for our big winter trip, I was bestowed an early Christmas gift in the form of a quart of whey, leftover from a cheese-making adventure. My friend said it was tasty when drunk straight-up with a little maple syrup, and I don’t know about you, but the mere thought of downing a quart of whey in two days, no matter how sugared, was met with the gastronomic equivalent of yelling fire in a theatre. Figuratively, anyway. But the thought of wasting food is even worse, so I phoned my local resource for turning festering muck into products of some culinary merit, who pulled out the nearest reference book. “Whey lemonade?” she suggested. Lemonade? Lemonade? I prefer limes to lemon, and don’t know of any recipe for whey tequila. I had her read on. “There is a whey cheese that seems easy enough. Gee jee toast? I’ve never heard if it.” Gjetost. Gjetost! Do you know this stuff? We call it Candy Cheese around these parts, softish and a cool brown color and priced roughly at $750 an ounce, give or take a few hundred bucks. Gjetost? Suddenly the whey is a Christmas miracle. I asked my favorite cheese maker, Google, for more information, and came across a few recipes that looked promising. With the gist of things in mind, I dumped the whey in a sauce pot and got started, and with a nice puck of the good stuff in front of me, I present The Mostly Unabridged Guide to Gjetost-Making, or, What To Do With All This Whey 1. Dump the whey in a saucepan and get it boiling. 2. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer. Leave uncovered. Or, cover it, then uncover it when it boiled out all over the place, if you need an excuse to clean your stove. 3. Nurse your baby Squirrel, wash the dishes, make raspberries at your Squirrel, do the crossword, and cut your fingernails, all the while stirring your whey every half hour or so. My one quart took about 6 hours to really caramelize. 4. When it starts to thicken up, grab a whisk and give it hell. This is where other recipes call for food processors and warn of crystallization, but I just kept it steadily whisking, and all was okay. Plus, a whisk is easier to lick and clean than your food processor. 5. People eat the stuff at many viscosities, from that of a pasta sauce to that of a hard cheese. So do what you will. I whisked mine until it took 10 seconds or more for the whisk’s trails to disappear, which, when cool, hardened to the semi-hard (think Swiss cheese) consistency I find in stores. 6. Cool it quickly! Really. Stop reading and cool it. You should have read this in advance anyway– you had hours! I poured mine into a mold then plunged in an icy water bath, and it set up perfectly. But I’ve read horror stories suggesting that things get tricky if you move too slowly here. 7. Never again wonder what to do when someone plies you with such a lovely gift. 8. Try not to get too fat. Mine didn’t get too dark in color– maybe because it was cow’s milk, or a couple of days old? The flavor was exactly right, and I don’t get hung up on...

Double Vegetation

By on Nov 16, 2012 in Look at My Big Garden | 1 comment

Last year at this time, when we were just getting used to the idea of having a Squirrel of our own, I was cleaning up the garden and saw a little kale that I hadn’t remembered planting, just starting to take off. I decided to leave it there, or more accurately, I forgot all about it, instead adopting the pregnancy diet of milkshakes and girlscout cookies, neither of which was a successful crop last year. This spring, with Squirrel approximately eighty months in utero, the rampant kale returned just long enough to sprout millions (give or take) of little seed pods. I left this, too, to see what would happen. Or, again, in the name of accuracy, I neglected it to go eat cookies and milk and eagerly anticipate the eighty-first month. And guess what’s there now? Thousands (give or take a few) of perfect and delicate little wild kale plants, looking gestationally ready-to-eat. Which makes me wonder why I don’t try harder to be negligent. I remember watching these Ruth Stout videos and thinking she had the right approach. Now, looking at this kale, I think I might have to garden naked and care-free for the rest of my days. I will never, though, not ever, smash a...

There Was No Potato Famine

By on Sep 28, 2012 in Look at My Big Garden | 2 comments

Despite the fact that this year’s garden looked like its boyfriend just broke up with it and it got a bad haircut the day after it failed the chemistry midterm, and despite the fact that it suffered further abuse at the hands of the chainsaw for the sake of our firewood, and despite even the fact that all my actions these days are either performed one-handed or with a 12-pound squirrel attached to my chest, there was still a modicum of a harvest. Putting the word “hands” so close to “chainsaw” feels like tempting the gods, somehow. Please, users of chainsaws the world over, mind your bodyparts. As for the blackberries and ferns that have taken over the rest of it, it’s the blowtorch for you. Good thing you’re not literate; there’s no one to warn you. Suckers. You’d think that as someone concerned with the visual internetted proximity of the linguistic symbols representing human appendages and tools capable of cutting them off, I’d be less-than-willing to entertain the idea of blowtorching-while-babywearing. Internet Child Protective Services Agents, take note. It’s a metaphor! I think. We’ll just use gasoline and a match. She doesn’t have much hair yet,...