I uploaded this photo a couple of weeks ago expecting to add a few lines about how great it was to have an old fashion butcher shop in the village, selling local, pasture raised meat, but my first purchases have been less than terrific.
My grandmother always said you could tell a lot about a butcher from his ground beef. I thought this butcher's ground beef looked fatty so I bought only a half pound. I couldn't sear it directly over the coals, as I usually do with my burgers, because it made so much smoke. After it had cooked with indirect heat the bottom of the kettle was a mess.
Then a friend told me the butcher had made some of his ground beef with bacon!! I have absolutely no idea what to make of this place.
It would be nice to be able to buy fresh, local meat in small quantities when I want it, but if I have buy my local meat frozen in larger quantities than I really need to get the quality I want, so be it. It's not like we eat a lot of meat anyway.
On a happier note, when I went to Grisamore Farms last week to pick 7 quarts of red raspberries and 6 quarts of sour cherries, I stopped at Coffee Mania in Homer for some Origins coffee. The Indonesian Flores Bajawa Ngura is absolutely splendid and the El Salvadoran Cerro Las Ranas is almost as good.
I'm having a terrible time coming up with even a modicum of enthusiasm for this year's garden but I do take some measure of comfort in the fact that NOAA is not forecasting drought for the Eastern U.S. thru July.
I have about half the number of seedlings that I've started in the past and I'm planning to grow primarily those things I can't find locally, like several varieties of cime di rapa and cardoon.
At the moment though, while most of my effort in the garden is spent dealing with an explosion of lesser bittercress we have again this spring, the rhubarb is coming on strong and the lovage that I thought a chipmunk had destroyed last summer looks promising.
As with so many other things, the key to serenity in my gardening seems to be in adjusting my expectations.
Rosie Meier, a grain merchandiser at the Great Bend Co-op in Great
Bend, Kansas, told Bloomberg, "About 30 percent of the winter wheat in
central Kansas has already failed, with further damage likely unless
there is rain."
I guess the best way to sum up the past year on these two acres is to say it was one of transition. The process is ongoing but at this point we are pretty much 'retired'.
One of the changes we've made in the past year is the way we eat. We used to eat the conventional three meals every day but now most days we are eating a larger breakfast around 9:00 and a main meal around 2:00 with a light snack in the evening.
As breakfast became more important so did the problem of a griddle. Since I gave up my favorite griddle years ago because of the Teflon coating, I hadn't been able to find a replacement I liked. I had been using a large skillet but sometimes there were tell-tale flavors from previous heavily seasoned dishes and even a hint of garlic is not something I want in my banana pancakes, thank you.
A few weeks ago we made what I expect to be our last investment in high-quality cookware. We used our Christmas gifts from The Mister's father to buy a Swiss Diamond griddle. It is absolutely perfect and the first breakfast of sour buckwheat cakes was delicious as was the sourdough French toast on New Year's morning.
You know you're going to outlive a lot of people who have been important in your life but I'm surprised how difficult I'm finding these mounting losses. I suspect it may be that I'm less able than most to offset the losses with some measure of faith in the future but the future was a very different place when I came to appreciate the music of Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond in the 60's.
I saw Dave Brubeck in concert whenever I had the chance, the last time being here in Syracuse in 2007, but of all the concerts and recordings, the image I love best is the one portrayed in a 2001 hour-long interview with Hedrick Smith, "Rediscovering Dave Brubeck". It's not often one can truly believe a famous person known from afar is also a fine human being but Dave Brubeck was just that.
The attic is quiet. I'll miss the flying squirrels but not the red ones.
With new coverings of hardware clothe and screening there's only the the sheet rock to replace and a couple of holes to patch. We've considered adding to the cedar trim but I haven't had any problems with moths in the woolens so I'm just going to fill a few old pillowcases with cedar shavings and place them around the room.
I've spent much of the past few months hauling stuff out of the attic. The last boxes of books, crockery & glassware, linens, Christmas decorations, etc. went this week.
The once cluttered and crowded attic is now almost empty and I can't for the life of me decide how I feel about that.
We can't remember the last time we saw a radar image like this. It is a truly lovely thing to see and I feel a sense of relief just looking at it.
The modest amount of rain we've had this month has made a noticeable difference in some of the trees. Some of the trees that were beginning to fade or yellow earlier than usual have actually 're-greened'. Those that are probably stressed by other factors besides lack of water however, are going to need a normal winter of dormancy and moisture to recover.
A damaged corn field in central Kansas August 7, 2012.
Credit: Reuters/Jeff Tuttle
(Reuters) - Dry
weather will return to the drought-stricken U.S. Midwest crop region,
with corn and soybeans ending their growing season on a negative note
after this week's rains proved to be too little too late, an
agricultural meteorologist said Friday.
So I'm pulling the last of my garlic, 24 plantings of what I expect to be Nootka Rose, and I realize half of them have hard necks. I can't believe I didn't notice the difference when I prepared the garlic last fall but it seems one of the two growers from whom I ordered Nootka Rose last year sent me something else, a porcelain with the lovely name, 'Georgian Crystal'.
It's really quite pretty and not like any of the others I've grown. The silvery outer wrappers have a blush of pink and the cloves have just a bit more color. It has a nice full flavor without much heat. Even though all my garlic is small this year after I planted later than usual, I think I have enough good-sized cloves that I will be able to grow some full-size Georgian Crystal next season.
That's pretty much how I'm coping, by looking forward to next season. The storm systems that do roll through central New York almost always part as they approach us, going north and south, leaving us dry as a bone. We get the odd brief shower and it greens up the grass but does nothing for the more deep-rooted.
Everything seems to be in stasis, waiting for rain.
It's July and I'm on my annual virtual vacation in France. J'aime Le Tour de France. I also adore Dave Harmon, Sean Kelly and Carlton Kirby, the Eurosport broadcasters.
Other than watching the cycling I'm spending most of my time schlepping hoses around the yard & garden. NO rain for weeks now and all I'm trying to do in the garden is tomatoes, eggplant and peppers, some beans and summer squash. After all, the critters have to have something to eat.
The bad news is that it's dry, the good news is that it's dry and so the 90º weather is surprisingly bearable. We haven't gone to AC more than a few nights when there was some humidity along with the heat. I'm just glad I don't have grazing animals to worry about.
The other upside to the dry conditions is that it's almost wiped out the nymph stage of the deer ticks.
Today was the first day of the full Farmers Market. At first I was happy to see the vendors who don't come in the winter but then I spoke to an old-timer who has been one of the major fruit vendors for many years. He's despondent. I knew they had suffered a lot of damage last month but until he told me, I didn't realize last week's low temperatures pretty much finished off the rest of the crops.
There's been very little in the news but in Canada the situation is much the same:
"'This is the worst disaster fruit growers have ever, ever experienced,' orchard owner Keith Wright said Friday. 'We've been here for generations and I've never heard of this happening before across the province. This is unheard of, where all the fruit growers in the Great Lakes area, in Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York State, Ontario, are all basically wiped out,' the Harrow, Ontario grower said."
What to do with this space. When I started at the suggestion of a friend I found that I liked being able to augment my handwritten journal with something that could include photos and provide a way to index entries by topic.
It's been only four and a half years and yet it seems like a lifetime. So many things have changed or are changing, including my sense of what's worth posting.
In the past I tried to separate the personal from the political with a second blog but now I find it impossible to write here without referencing the world beyond these two acres.