Saturday, July 12, 2008

What Lies Beneath

Henry the Plumber is still working on our house, and apparently will be until the end of time. But as long as he keeps working, we don't have to worry about the bill coming. Of course, it will come eventually, and then I'll have to sell some vital organs. No one really NEEDS two kidneys, right?

ANYWAY, yesterday he had to cut a hole in the floor of the MiL's bathroom to get to the pipes. It's always scary to open up any kind of closed off space in this house. You never know what will be in there. There are some things you can count on, though: wood shavings, lots of dirt, and nut shells. It's the last item that freaks me out. Nut shells indicate that an animal of some kind, most likely a squirrel, has been there.

So now there's this hole in the floor of the bathroom, and it just happens to be about 2 feet directly in front of the toilet. I don't use that bathroom much, but every time I do, I expect a squirrel to come flying out of that hole and attach itself to my face. I don't know WHY a squirrel would do this, but these are the things I imagine, okay? As A. says, I have a rich inner life.

Maybe I should start bringing Leda in there with me. It might get a little crowded, but that squirrel wouldn't have a chance.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I Fear the Garden

The corn is bigger than me.

The volunteer squash plant and the cucumbers are plotting together against me.

There could be Cabbage Patch Kids hiding in these monstrous cabbages. There could be ANYTHING hiding in these monstrous cabbages.

God knows what lurks in the potato forest.

And the Roma tomatoes are all joining forces to overthrow me.

Send help. My garden is taking over.

P.S. There were many, many fun names suggested for the lawn tractor. There were even some non-English names. We're all about multi-culturalism here at "Going Country." But I think my favorite is the simple, yet venomous and punny, "Grasshole," submitted by my girl Jive Turkey. I shall christen Grasshole tonight with a bottle of beer over his hood, thereby drenching his engine and causing a massive fire that will tragically end his life. If only . . .

Thanks for all the suggestions, y'all. I always knew my readers were cleverer than the average bear.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Simplicity? I THINK NOT

I don't think I've introduced you to our (PAIN IN THE ASS) lawn tractor yet, have I? I don't know how I could have failed to do this, seeing as how I spend so much quality time with our (PAIN IN THE ASS) lawn tractor. Allow me to present the Simplicity.

You, sir, are a PAIN IN THE ASS

Simplicity is the brand name, not a description of what a joy it is to operate. In truth, it is a pain in the ass. In case you hadn't heard.

We bought this tractor used from a guy who overhauls old tractors. The Simplicity is at least 20 years old, so I don't know why I'm surprised that it breaks all the time. I have not once been able to just get on the thing and mow the lawn without something going wrong. First, the belt on the mower deck kept coming off. Turns out they had put the wrong-sized belt on. If you could see the rejects that work at the mower place, you would not be surprised by this.

Then, some kind of bolt on the wheel broke, rendering the steering inoperable. Good thing I wasn't going very fast (or heading towards a tree) when that happened.

Then there was the totally obvious and yet completely-unnoticed-by-me flat tire that was making me get stuck on inclines all the time. And then the belt kept coming off again, until A. tightened something and made it all better.

Just this week, the mower blades stopped with a clunk, thus shutting off the engine (safety measure, I guess). I thought I had hit something, but when I examined the underside of the mower deck carefully, I saw that a metal piece of the deck had just broken the hell off, and one of the blades had jammed on it. A. to the rescue again, this time with his cutting torch. He just cut off the piece of metal that had broken. We didn't think it was that important.

Yesterday, in the two hours or so that I mowed, I managed to get stuck once (in the woods right next to the road, so all the truckers going by had a nice spectacle to share on their CB radios), flood the engine twice, and throw the belt. Again. I got unstuck by myself, by means of a piece of plywood and some serious rocking action. Also, a very bad four-letter word that is actually twelve letters (you just started counting the letters for cuss words on your fingers, didn't you?) and that I would be ashamed to use in front of my mother (hint: it rhymes with "mother-trucker"). The engine flooding was remedied by leaving the pain in the ass alone for a half hour to un-flood and stop sulking. The belt will have to be fixed by A. I have my limits.

I think the Simplicity needs a new name. Pain in the ass is too long. So, I am appealing to my readers. Give that tractor a name. All suggestions, profane or otherwise, will be considered. You might try screaming your suggested name in a simulated fit of rage, so you can get a feel for how it will sound if I actually use it.

Let the naming begin!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Appropriate Office Attire


From: The Management of Blackrock, Inc.

To: Kristin the Dumbass

Please note that the following articles of clothing are not considered appropriate work attire at Blackrock, Inc.
1) Flip flops or sandals of any kind
2) Skirts of any kind, especially fluffy, cute ones
3) Shorts
4) Anything white
5) Anything you care about ruining

It has come to our attention that certain workers (i.e., Kristin the Dumbass) have been violating this mini-farm's policy of only dirty work clothes in the hours between sunrise and sunset. The management would like to remind all workers that failure to follow this policy could result in the ABSOLUTE RUIN of your favorite clothes, as well as the necessity of chasing sheep through the blackberry brambles in flip flops.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Satan and Sheep Start with the Same Letter

I took this picture last Friday, at about 8 a.m. It's impossibly bucolic, right? The peaceful flock grazing serenely in the misty morning light. DO NOT BE FOOLED. These sheep have sold their souls to the devil (yes, sheep have souls for the purposes of this rant) for the ability to roam freely.

We, and more specifically the MiL and I, have spent more time chasing sheep in the last few weeks than should be necessary for a flock of six. The stupid things are like Houdini--escaping from impossible situations left and right. The ewes have knocked their fences over in pursuit of grape leaves, the lambs have slithered under their fences in pursuit of day lilies. The ram has knocked the gate to the paddock open in pursuit of . . . I don't even know. He didn't even go anywhere.

And that's the thing. It's not like they want to get out so they can GO anywhere. They just hang around outside the fence, eating whatever is closest and maaing (sheep maa, they don't baa) at the sheep still inside. Once they get out, they want to be back in. It's irritating in the extreme. Especially since I invariably discover them after I've showered and put on a skirt and flip flops. Not ideal sheep-herding clothes.

The lambs' little escapade in my vegetable garden this weekend inspired a call to the meat processing plant to inquire about dispatching Senior Lambie, who is a good 70 pounds already. All the lambs will eventually be, uh, disposed of, leaving us with three sheep again. Which is fine with me, but makes A. panic. MUST GET MORE SHEEP. So he's looking into getting some more ewes. And the kind he wants to get is half Rambouillet. Rambouillets are HUGE. Like small pony huge. I am not so keen on this idea.

I can only hope that these new sheep have not yet made a pact with the devil. I have my doubts, though. Think about it--sheep have cloven hooves.

Where's my crucifix?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Lowlights and Highlights--Fourth of July Edition

So I repeat myself. So what?

Lowlights of the long weekend:

1) Discovering Friday that my car wouldn't start, despite the $200 starter I had put in two weeks ago. Piece of shit car.

2) Carrying cinder blocks for the chicken coop. Those sumbitches are HEAVY, and they crippled my hand for most of the weekend.

3) Two of the lambs escaping the paddock and getting into my vegetable garden. Little bastards.

4) Attempting to chase Devil Lambs out of my garden, by myself, without causing any damage to my precious, precious plants. Casualty: one bell pepper plant. Rest in peace, my friend.

5) Spraying boiling chicken stock across the kitchen because I am dumb. Then doing it again, because I am REALLY dumb.

Highlights of the long weekend:

1) Realizing that my car wouldn't start because of a loose battery connection, which was easily tightened. I am a mechanical genius.

2) Attending a family cookout Friday night. Someone else cooks and cleans up? SIGN ME UP!

3) Sitting at a bonfire Saturday night, looking up at an incredible number of stars in a perfectly clear sky.

4) Finishing the chicken coop. (Except for the painting--always with the painting.)

5) Managing to finally can the crazy amount of mulberry juice and chicken stock that has been staring at me from the refrigerator for weeks now, and not blowing myself up in the process (except for that minor snafu with the spraying). GO ME!

6) My new friend the garden tote. I anticipate many happy years together.

How was your weekend?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

I Can't Take the Excitement

Yesterday was a big day. A. wanted to go to the county fair (small, smelly, boring) and I didn't. I wanted to go see Indiana Jones (first movie I've seen in MONTHS in a theater and it was . . . really not good--REALLY) and he didn't. So we did both, so we would each do something we wanted to do, and something we hated. Compromise--the reason we've been married for five years and no one is dead.

But the fun does not end there! Oh no! As if I hadn't had enough excitement for the day when we got home at 4 p.m., I just had to try pressure canning for the very first time. The MiL had ordered a pretty new pressure canner from the hardware store that was supposed to arrive two weeks ago. And it still hasn't. Meanwhile, we had six quarts each of chicken broth and mulberry juice languishing in our refrigerator, taking up space and in imminent danger of spoiling. And the MiL is out of town for a week, so it was all on me. So I borrowed a pressure canner from A.'s aunt, who has two.

I was very happy to have a pressure canner, but this is not the one I would have chosen for my first time (dirty). It's old, like at least 20 years old, and the seal is not great on it, and there were no instructions. I mean, Auntie gave me a crash course on the thing--it's not like she just sent me off with it with a merry, "Good luck! Don't blow yourself up!"--but I like to have directions I can read multiple times while I'm working. But chicken broth waits for no woman, so I forged ahead.

All went well with the getting it up to pressure, though it was kind of scary how it shook a little bit and puffed steam. When the broth was finished and it was time to lift the very heavy rack out of the pot, A. did it for me. He was wearing the oven mitts, so he also lifted the jars out of the rack. And here is where I made my mistake.

With hot water bath canning, you flip the jars upside-down to help them seal. That is what I told A. to do. This is not a good idea with pressure-canned jars, since they're under so much pressure (pause for chorus of "duh"s and eye rolling here). As we discovered when A. flipped over the third jar and molten-hot chicken broth sprayed across the kitchen and all over A. Luckily, A. is tough and he didn't get scalded. Much. Then, because I am not very quick on the uptake sometimes, I told him it must have just been the one jar, and he believed me. It's touching, really, the faith he has in me. Totally unwarranted, but touching. He flipped the next one and we repeated the fountain of chicken fat across the room. Oh well, the dogs thought all their Christmases had come at once when I let them in for the clean-up operation.

Anyway, I righted the jars and thanked God that I hadn't done the mulberry juice first. And then I DID do the mulberry juice, and all was well. Everything did seal, so it was mostly successful, despite my breathtaking stupidity.

So learn from me, kids: DO NOT turn pressure-canned jars upside-down.

And now, so that you may properly appreciate my awesomeness (and how intimidating this monster pressure canner was), behold my mad pressure-canning skillz:

Not pictured: Fountains of chicken fat.