I recently got together with a friend I last ran into six or seven years ago , and another I hadn’t seen since high school (and we won’t go into how many years ago that was.)
After the initial hugs and greetings, we sat down to enjoy a glass of wine and the conversation moved to one of my least favorite topics. My friends each took turns describing their jobs and work-related successes (and sounding way too much to me like they were in the middle of a job interview) before asking, “What do you do?”
I hate that question, because most people define their lives by their work. I don’t.
I mean, my job doesn’t totally suck (I handle advertising and social media for a local business), but there’s more to me than those eight hours a day…I write, I read, I sing, I play, I garden, I cook, I crochet, I ride my bicycle, I ride my motorcycle, I spend time with my family, I hang out with my critters….you get the point.
I like to think that the answer to “What do you do?” is “I LIVE.”
One thing I can say about everyone in our household is that we like our coffee. We go through at least a pot a day, sometimes two…and that doesn’t count the carafe my father-in-law brings out to the farm shop each day.
But lately Mother Nature has been on a rampage and it’s been hot—so hot that I hate the thought of putting steaming liquids into my body.
So I’m drinking it cold. Cold–brewed to be precise.
Though it doesn’t sound right to cold brew coffee, it works. You can also do it while you sleep, and cold-brewing uses zero electricity. As a matter of fact, the only four things you need to cold brew coffee are water, coffee grounds, a filter, and time.
I found a great recipe that makes a coffee extract that you can then dilute with ice, cream or milk, and water to make a refreshing glass of iced coffee (and one that’s a heck of a lot cheaper than those at the big chains), or mix with water and heat in the microwave for a hot cup o’joe.
And the best part is that you can store the finished extract in the refrigerator.
I think I’m in love.
Since it’s been a long, hot week, Farmer D and I decided that today we would just hang around the house with our friend, Mr. Central Air Conditioning.
D needed the break—he’s spent all week working in 90+ degree temperatures, plus going to his “real” job each night. Today he’s spend the day catching up on email, snail mail, and the pile of papers by his chair…he even had time to watch a move with A.
I, on the other hand, have been going crazy. Though I often say that my idea of a perfect day would be one in which I had absolutely nothing to do, I know it’ll never happen.
So far, I’ve:
- Picked & blanched broccoli
- Picked cucumbers and cleaned them to can pickles tomorrow
- Spent quality time with Beefy (the cow)
- Visited with the kids that came over (and pushed many of the previously mentioned cucumbers on them)
- Made lunch (which included slicing off a good chunk of thumb & fingernail with a potato peeler)
- Changed the bed sheets
- Done three loads of laundry
- Drank way too much iced coffee
- Finished watching Revolutionary Road
- Sewed Annie dog’s broken leash
- Played Bejeweled 3 for way too long
The funny part is that for me, this is a relatively quiet day.
Every Friday I post a photo that I’ve taken (or just really like). Please leave me a comment if you like this week’s picture.
When we started planting the garden, we thought we had a good variety of vegetables…we planted beans, corn, carrots, beets, potatoes, lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, onions, garlic and zucchini (not counting my herb garden).
We figured that would just about cover it, but last week I got an unpleasant surprise: Farmer D discovered that the plants that were supposed to be zucchini are another variety of cucumber—so we have seven hills of them. And, thanks to the heat and humidity, the garden’s going crazy.
Yesterday I picked two buckets full of cucumbers (and took more over to my mother-in-law). This morning I glared at D when he brought me another bowl.
You see, everyone in our family loves pickles, except me. And I’m the one that does all of the canning.
BTW, here’s the recipe I use for Mustard Dills.
So today I came home from working my “real” job (the one that actually pays me), and started making a mess in the kitchen. An hour or so later, the jars are cooling on the table. Tomorrow I can carry them down to the pantry to add to our store.
I sometimes take extra produce into town to the rescue mission. I’m think that they’re going to be getting lots of cucumbers…because tomorrow I’ll be canning beets.
I posted some pictures of our steers the other day and thought nothing of it. A couple of days later, I had a moment of panic when I started reading a rant from an acquaintance at the Animal Welfare League that said:
THIS IS WHAT A COW’S STALL SHOULD LOOK LIKE IF BEING CARED FOR PROPERLY!
This woman is an outspoken advocate for all sorts of animal issues, but she usually sticks to cats and dogs. I wondered why she decided burst out with this message:
THEY SHOULD NOT BE STANDING IN THEIR ON MANURE AND SWIMMING IN THEIR OWN URINE UP TO OR ABOVE THEIR ANKLES WITH FLIES GALORE LITERALLY EATING THEM ALIVE BECAUSE OF IT!!!! JUST BECAUSE YOU PLAN ON EATING THEM AT SOME POINT IN THE FUTURE DOES NOT MEAN THEY DON’T DESERVE HUMANE TREATMENT PRIOR TO THAT TIME!
I then realized, her rant was all my fault…but that we were the GOOD example. Whew!
Though I’m not one to normally stand in the spotlight, I am happy to show people what we do and how we live our lives.
I guess that’s why I decided to blog.
While Farmer D and I both believe in getting things done while you can, I had never thought about the literal definition of “making hay while the sun shines.” Making hay takes a few days, and in our part of Ohio, a nice stretch of weather at exactly the right time means you need to get busy.
I came home from work on Wednesday to find our little field had been mowed, just when I was starting to enjoy watching the tall grasses blow in the breeze (Farmer D said it really needed done).
The next day, a neighboring farmer showed up with the tedder to fluff the grasses to s0 the hay uld dry.
The third day, our dairy farmer friend’s 80-yr.-old mother came by (on tractor) to rake the grasses so they could be made into bales. (Alice is amazing. She has a huge picnic each year for all of the area farmers–you’ve never seen such a dessert table!) This is what the field looked like when she was finished:
On Saturday, I came home from work to find the finished product nicely stacked in our hayloft, and some very tired guys. We ended up with 148 bales, which isn’t bad for our small field, and more than enough roughage to feed our cattle.
Now Farmer D and I are going to build a hay fort so we can finally get some privacy.
One of the first things I had to come to terms with after I married Farmer D was that meat no longer came from the grocery store in perfectly presented pink Styrofoam containers. And rather than running to the store just because I was in the mood for something, I learned to plan meals around what was already on hand.
When we needed beef or pork, D found someone selling it, made the necessary arrangements, and we went to the butcher to pick up our order with huge coolers. We didn’t buy a steak or two….we bought entire cows!
Even though meat now came in white butcher paper, I still didn’t have to face the reality of what (or who) I was eating.
Then came Milton and Beefy.
Our youngest decided he wanted to raise steers for 4-H. Farmer D bought two beautiful calves–and the 4-H people told A. that because it was his first year, he could only raise one for the fair. So Milton became the 4-H project; Beefy is meant for our freezer.
In the meantime, Beefy is like a big puppy. I brush him, A. bathes him, and he loves having his neck and butt scratched. (I’m even getting used to standing in the occasional poop pile.) I tell my friend at work that Beefy and I are in love.
However, Beefy won’t be with us much longer. I don’t know how I’m going to handle that day, but I know that until then, I will take the best care of him that I can. He deserves it.
P. S. There’s a great article about buying local meat in Our Ohio magazine: http://ourohio.org/magazine/issues—-2011/july-august-2011/buying-local-meat/