Seven In The Morning, On a Monday

It is a cool morning, the temperature just above 50°F. Early this morning or late last night and the deep of sleep, I remember trying to ask my wife to throw on an extra blanket as she was getting out of bed to use the bathroom but the words wouldn’t come out. When I woke up she had my robe as an added layer over us. Maybe she read my mind.

These temps will keep the chiggers huddled in their hiding places and the flies less inclined to swarm the faces of the cows. The tomatoes, figs and maypops won’t like it but I doubt it will bother them much.

The maypops flowered Father’s Day. It is the second or third year that those happenings have coincided. Now, if I can go check my records for the first dates we harvest the fruit, we can figure out the duration of ripening. We can work back from October 25 (average of our first frost) to find the time in summer when to removing excess blooms and vines so plants concentrate on ripening what they have. Likely, I’ll forget to do this. I’m pretty sure I tried to remember last year as well.

The weekend started nicely enough, my wife asked me to stop by our neighbor’s and pick up some bananas. It turned out to be a whole case of them from Guatemala, 40 lbs. of Cavendish. As I stood there at their door, their young son came and talked to me. I said, “wow, so many” and he said “we have a case too”. I told him we’d make banana bread but wondered aloud what else we could do with so many. Then, as if asking the question would bring the answer, I remarked in surprise, “we can dry them”. The young boy seemed excited by the idea too.

I’d guess there were 40 bunches of bananas in the case. We filled up the dehydrator’s 9 racks thick with the first batch and ran the machine all night and through the next morning till they were finished. I made 3 loaves of bread the next day and we did another batch in the dehydrator and the bananas were gone (the kids probably ate two bunches fresh), a fun treat and a fruit that we do not buy.

It is good to know we can put away 40 lbs. of ripe bananas and I don’t think we’d have been able without the dehydrator. As a homestead tool, the more expensive, 9 tray dehydrator had been on our list a long time. I’m thinking now that we should have bought it earlier. We are using it a lot. Perhaps it is essential if you’re attempting to quit the grocery store.

Saturday morning, as I was cooking breakfast (the usual, garlic scapes and eggs) I asked my son to go cut the rest of the scapes so that, for this last week or so before harvesting, the garlic plants would focus on bulbs not seed head production.

We’ve been cooking with scapes for 3 weeks or so and had made it through less than half. So my son spent 5 minutes and came back with arms full to the porch and asked where to put them. I think I said “toss them in the compost pile” and he remarked something on what a shame that would be. So we decided to put them up.

After breakfast, he went and got three or four more arms full and we cut them into different pieces for fermenting: long, straight pieces that kind of looked like asparagus, curvy little pieces, and seed heads decapitated with their pointy hats trimmed back. We put up quite a bit this way. And with that, and adding to all the sauerkraut that my wife had started, it felt like a productive weekend on the food preservation front. And that feels good.

Otherwise, I was able to plant the pots that I’d gotten from my friend, Darren, mostly, pawpaws (Atwood, Benson, Pina Colada and KSU’s 3-120) and pears (Honeysweet, Sunrise and Shenandoah) but some other things too.

I’ve been trying to find service berries like the ones know from the city. Ours here on the farm are A. canadensis or a cross thereof and they’re nice but I also like the species that are more tree form as well and have been trying to get them. The ones I ordered from Lawyer this year didn’t survive. So there was one of those from Darren.

And I planted some yellow groove bamboo because we buy so many bamboo stakes each year that it would be nice to save some money and grow our own. I know they’re invasive but I think I found a spot where they’ll be limited by a stand of swamp rose, a mowed lane and a creek. We’ll see how it goes. I stood in Darren’s 10 year old grove of bamboo and really liked it. It seemed fine and not a crazy spreading mess after 10 years, just the area of a dining room and a handful of trees that are 4-5 inches in diameter with a lot of smaller ones.

I also planted a seedling Japanese heartnut. I’m not sure why I bothered though b/c I have so many black walnuts to graft on. Indeed I had grafted many of those at the same time I was grafting the hickories and some are starting to break through the parafilm.

Regarding planting, the ground was ridiculously hard and dry. Getting the stock in the ground took 4 times as long as it would have in the spring and I had to come back and water everything in deeply and mulch heavily.

As the weekend finished, I was prepping an area in the woods to expand another pig pen (32′ by 32′) addition for rotation. While I was out there, I moved Annabelle to a new pen and watched her get acquainted with Boris.

Maybe the work was difficult, first dragging the hog panels then moving the 55 gallon barrel waterer and filling it up, but I found myself stopping frequently to observe the pigs. I enjoy this, perhaps it is the Eumaeus in me.

As usual, the item on my weekend To Do list that didn’t get accomplished had to do with the bees. I didn’t take out the frame of honey that must be finished and capped now, nor add the frame to the new hive. Anyway, there is always more to do. God forbid that I ever accomplish everything on a weekend To Do list. It has never been done and it might be of some cosmic importance and set off some strange chain of events for Marty McFly to go back and undo.

Finally, we finished the documentary, Seed, and maybe it was hyped but we didn’t like it all that much. Maybe this kind of thing is just old hat to us though. I wonder how many documentary films I’ve seen Vandana Shiva in. It must be more than 20.

So I leave you with a poem I heard last week and an image by photographer Dorothea Lange.

This I have heard:
The army ordered
All Japanese faces to be evacuated
From the city of Los Angeles
This homeless monk has nothing but a Japanese face
He stayed here thirteen springs
Meditating with all the faces
From all parts of the world
And studied the teachings of Buddha with them.
Wherever he goes, he may form other groups
Inviting friends of all faces
Beckoning them with the empty hands of Zen.
– Nyogen Senzaki, May 7, 1942

A compilation of Dorothea Lange’s “censored photographs of FDR’s Japanese concentration camps” can be found here.

Featured image painting by Sandie Keyser

P.s. We also made 10 pints black berry/black currant jam as a start bringing in Arapaho thorn-less bounty.


9 thoughts on “Seven In The Morning, On a Monday”

    1. We do have some olive oil. Have to try that. Though we don’t eat much pasta and sometimes have a hard time using pesto – we have put basil pesto on homemade pizza in the past. Maybe garlic pesto’d be good to garnish for an omelette?

      1. Garlic scape pesto is good on just about everything ;). The short list is: burgers, sausage, eggs, omlettes, roast chicken, roast veggies … You can dilute it down with a bit more olive oil and use it for salad dressing. Can you tell we like garlic !? We didn’t grow any this year because of the move and I was only able to get a handful from a nearby farm. They sell them here at the farmer’s market, but the price is too much for us.

  1. Sometimes when we have banana overload (although no great neighbors who give out cases! 🙂 ), we freeze some for smoothies. Interesting and awesome about the dehydrator. My folks used to use something, mostly for mushrooms in the fall. We live in the dehydrator now. All my herbs dry out in a day. And you take clothes out of the wash, and can put them right on, and be dry in 20 mins. 🙂
    Seed was way overhyped, and much regurgitated material, I was perhaps excited to see Bill and Hopi people in it, as it is close and dear to my heart here. Another one that has been so promoted everywhere is the Seer on Wendell Berry. Have you guys been able to see it or get a hold of it? I am not able to find copies of it anywhere.
    Have you ever ate or put up pickled fiddleheads?

    1. Didn’t think about freezing for smoothies. That’s usually our go-to for preserving fruit bounty… Haven’t seen Seer film yet. Not sure where they’re at in the screening/sales process but def have my ear out and will see it when we can… And, have not eaten fiddleheads. There may be some that you can eat here but we don’t have ostrich fern which is I think the main one they eat out east/up north… Stay cool 🙂

  2. Chris. I enjoy reading your farm-themed prose. Very readable and worth reading. The old Eumaeus seems like a dream when reading Chris. More settled, certain, okay w/ life’s actualities, focused. And here’s to your small but sustained decapitation of the industrial grocery store. May your witness blow into Chicago and blind them unto seeing.

    1. Of course, I’m happy to have you with me and thank you and bless you. Eumaeus had less limitations. I suppose my focus has narrowed though, as I know more what needs to be done – confident in the direction, etc. Perhaps it was that swineherd what shoved my rudder down, Lord knows. If we do blow to Chicago, they might hear our anthem playing before we come “my uniform is my dirty overhauls”…

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