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Summer’s bounty has arrived, and I, like many others who have a garden, am trying to figure out what to do with some of the veggies that I have oodles of.
As I have mentioned before, this is a bumper cucumber year. I have already tried my hand at refrigerator pickles. Now, I have decided on Dill Relish — that way I can also put to use a lot of that dill that has gone to seed. I have made Sweet Veggie Relish in the past, but never dill. So here are some pics of my experiment.
After a 15 minute boiling-water canner — I had about 14 pints of dill relish. I think that should last us a while. A long while.
I started the relish and salsa canning around 10 AM. I finished around 4 PM.
We went out to dinner.
A few mornings ago, as I sipped my coffee and jumped around online, I was annoyed by a car pulling in to our driveway. As I have mentioned before, when you live on a farm, you are never really alone. The reasons for this are many, but one of the major reasons is that people just seem to stop by whenever they feel like it. I have learned that no time is too early for this, as old farmers have knocked on the door at 7 A.M. looking for my husband. I try to put on a bra early. Mostly.
This particular morning was not quite that early. It was more like 9 A.M. when the large white sedan pulled in. I remember thinking that the women in the car must be enamored by our quaint space and must be stopping to enquire about what we sold. I sighed and opened the door, cognizant of my attire and frizzy hair.
I put on my best welcome to the farm smile and opened the door.
“I think you have cows out.” The woman said, standing at her car door and pointing to the edge of our pasture. “It looks like the fence is down over there.”
“Thought you’d probably want to know.” She smiled, waved, and drove away.
Normally, as long-time readers know, Xandy is around to deal with this problem, but this time I was alone. I left Kitt in the house and ventured to the edge of the pasture to see what my morning visitor was talking about. As I walked, I called Xandy at work to let him know the situation. He promised to be right there. Right there, however, meant 35 minutes. I was on my own.
Sure enough, a piece of red fence panel had fallen over and a steer was on the other side of it munching away. I walked slowly toward the critter and asked him what the hell he was doing on this side of the fence. He looked at me, turned, and proceeded to jump through the barbed wire fence beside the panel and then galloped back towards the rest of the herd.
I called Xandy back, “You don’t have to come home. It was only one. I got him. He jumped through the barbed wire, though.”
“He’s fine.” Of course he is. We chatted about throwing hay to the others while I fixed the fence and ended our conversation.
Fix the fence. That made me laugh. If you know me, you know that I have ABSOLUTELY NO talent when it comes to fixing or building anything. I can’t even hammer a nail in straight. But, I’d rather have crooked nails than forty cows in the street, so I set off to my duty.
My sister-in-law stopped by at that moment, and helped me toss a few bales to the herd. She waved and smiled as I went back to the fence to fix the damage. “You can do it!” She yelled, as I went back towards the fence. I think I can. I think I can.
I wrapped baling twine around the panel, and hammered in a few nails to the barbed wire. Later I learned that staples are used for this job — but hey, the nails work. After I stood to admire my work. The barbed wire remained loose, but would work until later. I knew I could. I knew I could.
About ten minutes after my return to the house, my father-in-law showed up to do some haying. I sent him to fix the embarrassment of a fence.
“You know those movies where the farmer’s wife takes over the farm after the husband dies and she’s all tough and can do it all?” I asked my husband later.
“That will never be me.”
Did I mention I looked like this and that I was fixing the fence right beside our highly traveled road?
A bit ago we had friends for dinner. I apologized in advance to all of them for my lack of housekeeping skills, as we are in an old house and I can never seem to keep anything clean. One of my friends told me not to worry at all.
“I grew up on a farm,” he said. “We had cobwebs in our soup.”
Oh how true that is. No matter where I look or how many times I clean them up — in some corner of my house you will always find this:
And then — in the garage, we have a Charlotte’s Web scenario right now. I was looking for terms about how wondrous our pigs are, but instead only found this little guy eating his lunch:
But the ultimate bane of my existence is this godforsaken creature:
The house fly, I think, is the WORST thing about living on a livestock farm. By August, instead of playing Sudoku on my IPad, I play how many goddamn flies can I swat at once. I am up to three. I am thinking about learning that chopstick trick from “The Karate Kid.”
“It’s a healthy ecosystem,” my husband tells me.
Yum, yeah. Flies landing on everything, laying eggs that form maggots. Healthy.
One just landed on my arm as I am writing this. I want the thing to die a painful death. I guess I can never be a Buddhist now.
“There’s a bat flying around upstairs,” my husband said to me as he went to bed last night.
“A bat. You really need to get your hearing checked.”
“I heard you. I was just processing. What the hell are we going to do?”
He stared at me blankly.
“Can you close Kitt’s door, so the dang thing doesn’t go into her room?” I called after him as he ascended the stairs to do battle. Or so I thought.
About fifteen minutes later (I had to finish the episode of “Suits” that I was watching, a new guilty pleasure –Xandy can handle the flying rodent, I rationalized), I turned on the hallway light and went upstairs to bed. With each step I took, I glanced around for any creatures of the night. The hallway was silent and clear. Even though Kitt’s door was wide open, I didn’t worry as I assumed my husband had taken care of the problem.
Something still nagged at me, however, and I turned on our bedroom light. My husband looked at me amorously from beneath the covers.
“So you must have gotten rid of the bat.” I said as I approached the bed.
“Nope. I have no idea where that thing is.”
“SERIOUSLY? Only you would think of…” I turned to see the small, black critter clinging to the wall opposite the bed staring at us. “It’s right there!”
“Would you look at that.”
“So now what do we do?”
The bat didn’t even flinch. It just remained in the same position like a miniature gargoyle standing watch.
“We could go to bed,” he said, and it took everything I had not to scream back at him. The last thing we needed was to wake Kitt up.
“We have to get this thing out of here. They carry rabies for God sake.”
Xandy grabbed a dirty work T-Shirt from the floor and walked towards the bat.
“No. Not that. Grab that garbage can. You can trap it and then we’ll cover the can.”
I glanced around the room. Thankfully, a few days ago I had gone on a TJ Maxx shopping spree and had purchased a new set of sheets. This night I was happy about the wasteful use of cardboard in the sheet packaging.
Xandy dropped the T-Shirt, not entirely convinced that my method would work. He grabbed the small bedroom wastebasket and walked slowly towards the bat, which still hadn’t made any sort of movement. I hoped it were dead. That thought only lasted seconds, however, as the moment the can covered the thing, it started to fly around inside of it. Xandy carefully slid the piece of cardboard between the wall and the can, and moved the can from the wall.
I wondered if bats could chew through cardboard as we descended the stairs. Seconds later our visitor was set free to fly the night sky.
“Hey it worked!” I was thrilled that a plan I hatched actually came to fruition.
“Yeah, well, the shirt would have worked fine.”
I just shook my head. Sure it would have. I thought about changing my profession to animal wrangler, but thought better of it when I actually considered keeping the light on for bed.
“This is totally going in the blog tomorrow,” I told him as we finally climbed in bed for the night.
“Only you would document our sex life.”
As I mentioned earlier, we have a ton of cukes. This year I grew slicing cucumbers, although I honestly prefer pickling. Beggars can’t be…well, you know the rest.
So I decided with all of our new harvest goodies that I would make pickles, and delicious pickles I did make.
Here are the ingredients:
First I simmered the following together until the sugar dissolved:
1 C White Vinegar
1/2 C Cider Vinegar
3 cloves garlic (picked fresh from our garden and cut in half)
1/3 C sugar
1 T mustard seed
1 T sea salt
I then poured the hot mixture over a bowl of thinly sliced cukes (1/2″ or so) and mixed in
1/3 C chopped fresh dill (also picked from my garden — how spoiled am I?)
1 Bay leaf
I didn’t measure the cucumbers, but I used about 1 and 1/2 large slicing cucumbers. I then covered the mixture and stuck it in the refrigerator until cold.
Here is the finished product before I covered and refrigerated them:
Perhaps those slicing cukes aren’t so bad after all.