Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Much Better Aftermath

I managed to convince A. that what he really wanted to do yesterday morning was dig up potatoes for me. I can be very convincing. I meant to only do a small patch, but then he got on a roll and we ended up digging all the potatoes. Well, he dug--I picked up. That's a whole lotta digging.

Also a whole lotta potatoes. Not quite as big and numerous as last year, but also not showing any signs of blight. YAY! At least so far. It's possible that they'll all develop rotten spots later and spoil in storage, but I'm choosing to always look on the bright side of life (sung in a Cockney accent, of course) (that's Monty Python, in case the Cockney thing just completely confused you).

Presenting! The worst photo of potatoes ever! Can you even see the second tarp in the back? Probably not. Oh! And there are the blighted tomato plants, still awaiting disposal! And weeds! LOTS AND LOTS OF WEEDS. What a pretty photo.

Also falling under the heading of the bright side of life, there are always some potatoes that get sliced or nicked by the shovel and need to be used right away. Well. The best use I know for potatoes is french fries. And the best french fries are these. And if you're really an indulgent wife, you'll go even further and make these for your husband. Which I did.

A. ended up having a pretty good day yesterday after all.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Aftermath

This is what the tomato patch looked like after yesterday's Great Purge:

Well. THAT'S depressing.

And this is what I looked like after pulling up thirteen decaying plants and picking up dozens of rotten tomatoes:

Even Leda is disgusted.

It was a real good time.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Today Is the Day

I have to pull out some of my tomato plants. BOOOO. For reasons unknown to me, some of them just aren't producing any usable tomatoes. Even though the tomatoes were there before The Blight hit, on some plants all the tomatoes themselves are all blighted and rotting before they even get ripe. But not all of the plants. It probably has something to do with the different varieties and how resistant they are to the fungus.

The happy news, though, is that while ALL of the plants have been blighted and are pretty much dying, they're not all dead yet! Yay! When I first saw the signs of The Blight on my plants and read up on it, all the sites I consulted were all gloom and doom and pull your plants up NOW because they'll be dead in a week and you won't get any tomatoes anyway.

Well. I respectfully disagree with the Cornell Cooperative Extension. I couldn't bear to pull them all up when the tomatoes were so close to ripe. So I left them out there. That was three weeks ago. And my faith has been rewarded by a fairly respectable harvest, considering the circumstances. Some plants, as mentioned, have just given up and everything on them is rotting. But some others, notably the Romas (love you, Romas!), have managed to produce quite a lot of non-blighted tomatoes. I don't really understand how some of the tomatoes on a plant can be blighted and some can be perfectly fine, but mine is not to question why. Mine is but to can or die.

However, some culling will be necessary today. I really need to clean up the tomato area. It's pretty gross, what with rotting fruits and decaying plants all over in there. So the sickest plants will be mercifully euthanized today, and I'll see how many more tomatoes I manage to get out of the plants that are left.

It's all so exciting, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Look! I'm Not Dead!

Despite wishing fervently for that outcome a mere two hours ago.

So, did you miss me this morning? Did you wonder WHAT in the WORLD could have kept me from sitting down at my computer to write you your daily dose of cheer, the thing that undoubtedly gives light to your dreary days and purpose to your dull drudgery?

I was sitting on the floor of my bathroom, re-enacting my college days. Except without the fun night of heavy drinking that usually precedes such a morning.

Yes, I woke up at 3:30 this morning with the sure sense that it was not going to be a good morning. Six hours later, I was SURE it was not a good morning. And before you get all, "HAHAHAHA--this is what you get for saying you haven't been sick at all during your pregnancy," just back off on the schadenfreude for a minute. I'm pretty sure this had nothing to do with the small being currently residing in my innards. I called the doctor and was told a pretty nasty intestinal bug is going around.

Since I never go anywhere, I'm blaming A. He went to court last night (on someone else's behalf, of course, not because he was arrested for criminal mischief or something), and I am now insisting that he was the one who brought home my own private morning Gethsemane. I know, this is highly unlikely, but it made me feel better to have someone to blame when I was moaning on the floor.

Anyway! All is well now! I am currently on a nutritious and oddly delicious diet of saltines and ginger ale. And I got out of dinner duty. That silver lining--it's always there.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"Be Prepared" Could Totally Be My Motto

That is, if the Boy Scouts hadn't already cornered the market on that one.

But I would just like to let you know that we are SO READY for this baby. Up to now, we've done, um, exactly nothing as far as preparations go. We haven't purchased a single thing--no clothes, no cribs, no toys. Nothing.

I have an excuse! Kind of. See, I just don't really FEEL pregnant. I'm barely showing, I have no symptoms (except for my permanently broken-out face--I call shenanigans on this "pregnancy glow" bullshit), I just . . . I guess I'm still trying to convince myself that there will be an actual squalling newborn in this house in six months. So I haven't been all that motivated to DO anything.

Except make food. That, I will do. So! Yesterday I made and canned 10 pints of spaghetti sauce with meat. Because it's easy! All I have to do is open a jar! I don't have to cook it! I believe this will be a bonus when I have a baby attached to me and I'm running on about two hours of sleep. We'll just ignore the fact that I also made this sauce last year, when there was no baby on the horizon. I prefer to tell myself that I am in Baby Preparedness Mode.

Also, the MiL, who is apparently much more motivated than A. and me, took matters into her own hands quite literally and decided this kid had better have some wool booties to keep its tiny, delicate newborn feet from freezing off in Blackrock in March. A not inconceivable event, of course.

So she knitted a bootie.

I find it difficult to believe a human foot will fit in this.

Now all we need is the other bootie, and we are definitely ready for this baby!

Why are you all laughing?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Things You Do When You Don't Watch T.V.

When we lived in our little basement apartment in Albany, A. and I watched a lot more t.v. Of course, we only had an antenna, because we are too cheap to pay for television if we don't have to, which meant our choices were severely curtailed. Mostly, we watched PBS. On Sunday mornings, we would watch "CBS Sunday Mornings," which is a fantastic program, but somehow we never get around to watching it anymore. There are other things to do. Like make laundry detergent.

Oh yes. You read that correctly. We made laundry detergent yesterday morning. I know you're all thinking, "WHY?" To which I say, "WHY NOT?"

See, we somehow ended up with a magazine called "Grit" in our possession. I do not know from whence this magazine appeared--maybe from the magazine exchange at the library? It's not like we have a subscription. Anyway, it's a magazine about . . . well, about self-sufficiency and country living, I guess. You know: gardening, animals, building things, and making things. Like soap. There was a whole section in this particular issue about making soap.

Now, I really have no desire to actually make soap. A. was all for rendering some lard and making soap from it. I really feel no need to be messing around with lye and fat. But there were instructions for making laundry detergent that did not require any nasty rendering or lye. The recipe (is it a recipe if the end result isn't edible?) called for a bar of laundry soap, washing soda, borax, and water. Easy enough.

We always have Fels Naptha in the house. Fels Naptha is a very old brand of laundry soap in bar form. It's pretty powerful, and A. likes to wash his hands with it when he's soiled them with some filthy activity, like sheep shearing or dismantling an oily car. I am told you can actually just add grated Fels Naptha to a washing machine. Not that I have ever done this. And we brought a bar of Fels Naptha with us when we went to Spain for two weeks, for hand washing our clothes in sinks. Easier than hauling around detergent.


I had to buy the washing soda and borax, both of which are available at the supermarket, though not prominently displayed. They come in BIG-ASS boxes, and you only use 3/4 of a cup of each, so we have enough for many, many batches of laundry detergent. All you do is dissolve a grated bar of Fels Naptha into hot water, add the washing soda and borax, more water, stir stir stir, cool and done. The texture was oddly . . . mucous-y. Ew. And the detergent seemed to be pretty fragrant (Fels Naptha contains perfumes). Bummer. I don't particularly care for heavily scented laundry detergent.

BUT. That laundry mucous got our dirtiest clothes CLEAN. And the scent disappeared in the wash. Plus, we got about three gallons of detergent out of one batch. The whole thing took us about 10 minutes, and I figure cost about two bucks.

It's gonna be laundry mucous for us from now on.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I'm Easily Amused

Which is a really good thing if you think about it. I mean, here I am, home all day, rarely leaving the property (by choice--some people would call me a recluse, but I prefer homebody), not talking to anyone except A. and the MiL. And the dogs, of course. I don't even watch t.v. for God's sake. But I find endless entertainment in the things I see on these five acres every day. Like a pumpkin.

See, we planted some pumpkin seeds on the far edge of the garden by the barn. Pumpkin vines wander pretty far, and we were hoping these vines would wander up the side of the barn. Instead, they wandered over the blackberries, through the potatoes, possibly over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house. And into the barn. Not around the barn, or over the barn, but into the barn. The vine worked its way between the siding, and then a pumpkin grew right over the lambs' water container. I have this vision of a lamb leaning in to get a drink, and the pumpkin falling right on its head, cartoon-style. After which the lamb would stagger away with little stars and tweeting birds circling around its head.

It's like the pumpkin of Damocles*.

Except the lambs actually drink from a bucket by the gate, so this is one scenario that will only live in my imagination.

* If you don't know who Damocles was, go read up on your Greek legend. Thank you.