Saturday, May 22, 2010

It's Tomato Time!

I was so caught up in talking about my new cocktail yesterday that I failed to mention the real news: The tomatoes are in.

Well, SOME of the tomatoes are in, anyway. I spent a large part of Thursday digging up the tomato area, hoeing it, and constructing the tomato supports. Then I planted a dozen of my own seedlings that night, when it had cooled off. All of this left me feeling yesterday as if I had come out the loser in an encounter with a Mack truck (in other words . . . OWWWW), so I had to take yesterday off. But today I'm going to pick up some more seedlings from a local nursery (I buy my Romas and San Marzanos--we don't really have enough space to start enough seeds for two dozen tomatoes). Also basil and hot peppers. Then, if the weather stays cloudy but not actually rainy, I'll plant them. And then I'll make myself a Slippery Sidecar and collapse.

Well, as much as I can collapse while still hauling around the giant infant.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bringing Back a Tradition

Okay, so "tradition" might be stretching it, as I think Alcohol Fridays consisted of all of two posts. Maybe three. I can't remember, and I'm not going to go back through my archives to find out, because we have more important things to do here. Namely, discuss my drinking habits. WHEEE!!

There are few things in this world that are more fun and make me feel more grown-up than using a cocktail shaker. I mean, paying taxes is grown-up, but there's no way it's FUN. Cocktail shakers, however, are SO FUN. I love them. I bought one for A. awhile ago for his birthday or something, and it gets a lot of use in our house. We like cocktails. And I made up a new one.

I KNOW. You thought I'd exhausted my creativity with the Slippery Slope, didn't you? No. I have a new one, and I will share it with you. Even though you probably can't make it yourself, because the odds of you having all the ingredients are pretty damn small.

I know. I'm mean.


See, a couple of years ago in the midst of mulberry juicing madness, I made a huge jar of mulberry liqueur, which is just crushed mulberries and sugar steeped in brandy, then strained. It's syrupy and sweet and I hadn't really figured out anything too appetizing to do with it. So it's just been sitting there on the liquor cabinet, mocking me.

Punk-ass liqueur.


Now, you should also know that I'm a big fan of Sidecars. A Sidecar, for those of you who might not know, is a lovely cocktail involving brandy, orange liqueur, and lemon juice shaken up with ice in the Awesome Cocktail Shaker. I also add a little water, because it's a little too strong for me straight. So one day a couple of weeks ago, I had a thought: What if I substituted some of the mulberry liqueur (which is, after all, just sweetened, flavored brandy) for the brandy in a Sidecar?

I mentioned this idea to the MiL, who suggested it might be better to substitute the mulberry liqueur for the orange liqueur. The MiL used to be a bartender. She knows her alcohol. So I did as she suggested, and WOAH BUDDY. That's one strong drink. I had to water it even more than usual, but after I did, I was very much enamored of my creation. Which I dubbed the Slippery Sidecar. Because I'm clever like that.

So, if you ever have access to mulberry liqueur (hey, it could happen--Phoo-D did make mulberry juice once), here's what you do to make a Slippery Sidecar.

1) Add several cubes of ice to your Awesome Cocktail Shaker.

2) Pour in one shot of brandy, a half shot of mulberry liqueur, a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice (a quarter of a lemon, maybe), and some water. The water will be to taste, depending on how strong you like your drinks. I just give it a blast from the faucet. Maybe a shot-glass full.

3) Shake your Awesome Cocktail Shaker (and your groove thing, if you wish) up, down, and all around until your drink is nice and cold and the outside of the shaker is all frosty. SO FUN.

4) Pour into a glass, drink, and say "Thank you, Kristin."

I'll hear you. And you're welcome.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


We've been very lucky so far with A.'s sheep when it comes to lambing. They've never needed any assistance from us to deliver their lambs, and all of them have been good mothers. Until yesterday.

Yesterday morning, A. announced that Tillie, one of the younger Merinos who has been looking about ready to pop with her first lamb for weeks now, had separated herself from the rest of the flock. That's a sign that labor is beginning. Unfortunately, the flock was all up in the big pasture, which made it pretty much impossible to catch Tillie to put her in the barn where we could watch her. The Merinos are more like wild animals than the Cotswolds, which are so tame they're almost like dogs. The Merinos prefer to do their lambing in the open, with no people around. So A. left her up there and went to check on her from time to time.

He saw the little feet starting to come out at one check-up. Then he saw the head. And he knew there was trouble. It was a BIG head, obviously belonging to a very big lamb. And Tillie is not very big. But more distressing was the fact that the tongue on the lamb was sticking out.

Not a good sign.

So A. came back to the house to ask me to help him catch Tillie to pull the lamb out. Up we went to the pasture, where Tillie, though still on her feet and moving around, wasn't moving very fast (big surprise, considering there was HALF A LAMB hanging out her hind end) and so was relatively easy to catch. Then I straddled her and held her in place while A. took up his position behind her to pull while she was contracting.

The lamb was out with a couple more contractions and pulls. Then I let Tillie go. And she ran off.

Oh shit.

Mother sheep are NOT supposed to leave their lambs when they're first born. They're supposed to lick them clean until the lambs are up on their feet, and then make sure they're nursing.

Tillie ran right to the rest of the flock. She was obviously somewhat traumatized and uncomfortable with our presence. So A. checked the lamb to make sure it was alive and then backed away from it, while I slowly herded the whole flock towards the lamb until Tillie was close enough to see her lamb. Then she started licking it and taking care of it. Thank God.

We left them alone for the rest of the day, with A. checking on them occasionally. The lamb was up and trying to nurse, so he decided to not mess around with them too much. But then this morning, when he checked on them, the lamb was hunched and unhappy looking and Tillie's udder looked swollen. The lamb kept trying to nurse, and Tillie kept moving away. It looked to me like Tillie's teats were blocked and her udder was engorged, which meant it was probably painful when the lamb tried to nurse and that's why she kept dancing away.

I could sympathize.

This meant we now had to catch Tillie so A. could milk her and get the milk coming. Easier said than done.

After a couple of abortive attempts to catch her in the open field, we finally grabbed her lamb and brought it down to the shed at the bottom of the pasture, with Tillie following along until she was in the shed and we could corner her. Then A. milked her and got the milk coming, at which point the lamb latched right on and sucked for all it was worth. We shut Tillie and her lamb in the shed for awhile, so she would have to stay put and the lamb could nurse.

So. Current lamb count: 8, with one more ewe left to deliver. And GOOD LORD am I keeping my fingers crossed that it's an uneventful delivery, because this ovine midwifery is just a wee bit more complicated than the human kind, what with the general stupidity of the patients.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

You Know You Care

About the garden, that is. You're probably all sitting out there at your computers day after day, clicking dismissively away from my lame photos of fish and lambs, thinking, "GOD. When is she going to talk about her garden again already."

No? Well, too bad. Today it's all garden, all the time. Because you know what happens in a vegetable garden in the spring, right? A WHOLE LOT of pain-inducing labor, that's what. The race is on to plant everything at the appropriate times--when the ground is dry, but not too dry, when it's not raining, but not too hot. Not that we have a lot of trouble with the "not too hot" part, but the point remains. When the weather is right, you best be out in that patch of dirt busting ass.

So I have. (Although my ass seems to be disappointingly not busted. Boo.)

Saturday I planted the green cabbage and broccoli seedlings. Meaning I dug up the ground (which YES, I still have to do even after it's tilled because our soil is kind of clay-y and compacts easily--this is irritating, to say the least), smacked the dirt clods around with my hoe (heh), raked it all smooth, dug holes, and THEN planted the seedlings. I also planted some more lettuce and spinach in between the corn rows, but I only hoed the soil for those.

Then I hauled around a giant infant for the rest of the day, who did not seem to care that Mommy was tired and she just wanted to sit on the couch. If only I could put Cubby to work in the garden and tire him out too.

All in good time.


The MiL, meanwhile, was planting her tiny leek plugs, of which she got many more than she ordered and so had to plant many more than she ordered. But at least she didn't have to haul a giant infant around.


Then on Sunday, out I went again for more digging, more hoeing, more planting. This time the eggplants, bell peppers, and red cabbages. I put up the Walls o' Water around the eggplants, which is a chore devised by Satan himself, I'm pretty sure. At least if you don't have a convenient hose to fill them with and therefore have to schlep back and forth from the rain barrel by the house with a watering can.

Perhaps you can tell I don't have a convenient hose? No, I don't. And so I slopped water around with a watering can, straining my back and cussing all the while.

And then I hauled around the giant infant some more. Who chose that night to wake up every two hours, which caused me to feel as if I had been run over by a truck when I got up on Monday morning, what with the lack of sleep and the general bone-weariness that results from heavy labor.

But I'm better now! Good thing, because still to come this week: I will take Tomato Masochism to new heights by constructing tomato supports for and planting two dozen tomato plants AND THEN hauling around the giant infant. Plus, basil, hot peppers . . . and giant infant hauling.

The things I do for the love of tomatoes.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Paying Up

So. A few nights ago, Cubby slept through the night for the first time, from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. Of course, I did not sleep that whole time. Mostly because I woke up at four in the morning, looked at the clock, and immediately assumed the baby was dead because WHY DIDN'T HE WAKE UP TO EAT AT TWO?

He wasn't dead; he was just tired.

But I knew I would pay for that one night of uninterrupted sleep. It didn't happen the next night, when he slept from 7:30 p.m. until 3:30 a.m. And it didn't happen the night after that, either. No, payback arrived last night, in the form of a zonked out Cubby at 7:15 p.m. who subsequently woke up screaming for milk at 8:15 p.m., midnight, 3:30 a.m., 5 a.m., and 7 a.m. He fell back asleep after each feeding, but a fat lot of good that does me when the feedings are two hours apart.

He'd better get REALLY BIG after this growth spurt. I want to see some results for all my hard work, dammit.

But lest I sound too bitter, I should mention that when he woke me up at 7 a.m., I was in the middle of a dream in which I was giving him for unknown reasons (like, for good, for adoption or something) to people who were about to feed him formula, and (in the dream) he was staring at me with his big blue eyes and I just felt so sad that I wasn't feeding him.

Then I woke up to those big blue eyes (and that big screaming mouth) and didn't feel sad anymore. Just tired. But I'll take the tired over the sad any day.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Perpetual Motion

Gotta run, duckies. A. and I are already splitting and stacking (respectively) wood for next winter. Despite having just cleared away the mess from the last winter's woodpile.

And the beat goes on . . .