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Archive for June, 2011

Pursed

The other evening while we were out for dinner, we overheard a group of women discussing what was in their purses.  They actually started pulling things out and comparing. Not wanting to appear too nosy, I didn’t look over to see exactly what size the purses were, but from the descriptions they gave of the things they carried with them, they must have been huge. It made me think about what was in my own purse. Usually, I have no idea. Before you think that I am getting forgetful, I know very well what SHOULD be in my purse.  “I know these keys are in here somewhere”, or “Yes, I have a pen. Just a minute…..I just used it the other day….” Recently, I have been trying to find just the right purse. You purse-carriers will know just what I mean when I say that having the wrong purse is kind of like having the wrong shoes:  not very comfortable. I really want to have a small purse, but I am always reading the latest murder-mystery on my Kindle so I want to carry it with me all the time.  I also have a small camera that I need to find room for, so now I must go to a medium-sized purse, but it must have an adjustable shoulder strap and an outside zipper for my cell phone.  I haven’t found just the right one yet, but the search is half the fun.  I was sitting at that restaurant wondering  if my new purse should be black or eggplant when one of the ladies mentioned a gun. Gun? “I’m never without it,” she said. The others nodded their heads. They’re agreeing with her? My heart started beating a little faster as she reached into her purse and pulled out a pack of gum. Oh, GUM! I have been reading way too many murder-mysteries. Perhaps I should switch to a smaller purse after all.

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Dad, The Rooster

Shortly after we moved to our little farm, I received a gift from a friend ( a real Farm Woman) of some bantam chickens: Three hens and a rooster. I tried to make them feel at home by painting their  new abode and filling it with sweet-smelling straw.  My friend teased me about hanging curtains and putting a satellite dish on the roof of the coop so they could watch RFD TV. With three hens, I thought I would have a big flock of chickens in no time. Bantys are smaller chickens that (of course) lay smaller eggs. They are also known to be good layers and good mothers. The roosters can be protective of their hens, even fighting a predator to their own death.  I desperately wanted  baby chicks, but first I had to have eggs. After a short period of adjustment, I started getting them. One at a time. Every day for twelve days, I got one egg. Being the City Girl that I was, I did some research on the internet and in my poultry magazine. (Yes, there are magazines devoted to chickens!)  I sat outside in the evenings, watching my little flock in their run. They had straw and food and sunshine, but why were three hens laying only one egg a day? Were they stressed? Were they homesick? Were they showing  a City Girl who was pretending to be a Farm Woman just who rules the roost? Every evening I watched and I wondered, until one evening, the crowing started. Yes, crowing. Not from one rooster, but from one rooster and two hens. I know. I didn’t just fall off the rutabaga truck. Hens don’t crow, and roosters don’t lay eggs. So THAT’S why I was getting just one egg a day! My Farm Woman friend apparently couldn’t tell the boys from the girls, and I followed right along behind her, dumb cluck City Girl that I was. I let Little Mama sit on those 12 eggs. She was too small to cover all of them, so one of the roosters would help her by sitting beside her at night so the eggs would stay warm. Yes, I know that hens don’t crow and roosters don’t sit on eggs, but I saw it with my own eyes.  Maybe he was getting in touch with his feminine side. Maybe he was chilly  and got warm by sitting  next to Little Mama. But maybe, just maybe, he knew that being a father means being a protector and keeping your family safe and warm, no matter what you have to do. I got seven baby chicks out of that clutch of eggs. Thanks, Dad.  We couldn’t have done it without you.

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Grab Bag

I have often said that life is so much funnier than anything I could have made up.  This is an actual email that I sent earlier today:

Dear Customer Service:

I recently received an offer via email for a “Garden Grab Bag”. I have a rather large outdoor area to cover, and didn’t much care what I planted there, so I thought “Why not?” and ordered two,  figuring no matter what you sent, I would be able to fill in the area. Flowers or greenery, it didn’t matter to me, and I thought $49.95 including shipping was a bargain.  According to your email, plants for my zone would be sent.  I live in zone 3.

Today, I received my grab bags.  I excitedly tore open the box, pulling out ten nice-sized plants.  the first two were blueberries.  Good choice, since I had ordered some earlier from you and I’m pleased to get more.  The next two were bamboo. (Phyllostachys aureosulcata).  These are supposed to be somewhat cold hardy, but I guarantee that if planted outside, they will be killed by our 40 below winters.  Yup.  That’s 40.  Below zero.  This made me wonder why you sent me FOUR banana plants.  (Musa basjoo).  These are “cold hardy to 0 or even 15 below” according to my internet search.  (In true grab bag style, there were no planting instructions included).   I am still laughing at why with all the outdoor plants you have, you would choose banana plants and send them to an address in northern Minnesota.  One I could make into a houseplant, but FOUR?  The next two plants are Alocasia amazonica.  This is Minnesotica, not Amazonica.  Obviously a tropical plant, also.  There are two of those, so I guess these too will have to become houseplants after I spend another $49.95 purchasing containers for them.

I do realize that a grab bag is a grab bag, but I have certainly learned a lesson and will not be purchasing any more.  Interestingly enough, I purchased a Saskatoon berry plant from you, which should have been planted right about now.  I received notice from you that the Saskatoon will not be delivered until “optimal planting time” for my area, which your company thinks is sometime in September.  Not.  Please cancel that order.  Saskatoons were bred in Canada and tolerate 40 below winters, in fact they thrive on them.  I’ll bet your Florida grab bag customers got several Saskatoons sent to them. If they return any, please send them my way.

Sincerely,

The Minnesota Farm Woman

(Writing from the tropics of northern Minnesota, where it is 61 degrees ABOVE zero as I am writing this)

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Tomatoes

I love tomatoes. It doesn’t really matter what  size, shape or color they are, I love them all. I could easily say that tomatoes are my favorite food. Every year near planting time, I become a tomato plant collector.  I stop at nurseries and plant stands on the roadsides, looking for different varieties and usually purchase at least one of each.  I swap seeds with friends and acquaintances.  Any home-grown tomato tastes great, but I especially love the heirloom varieties.  Heirlooms tomatoes come from the seeds that someone’s great-grandmother carefully carried from the old country, sewn into the lining of her coat and lovingly planted with the seeds saved year after year.  They are the kind of tomato that you can eat standing in the garden with the juice dripping down your chin, or if you have a little more couth, standing over the kitchen sink on two pieces of homemade bread spread with mayonnaise and sprinkled liberally with salt and black pepper. This year, some of my heirloom choices are Black Krim, Brandywine, Box Car Willie, Abe Lincoln, Prudence Purple, and the old standbys of Roma and Yellow Pear.  I love the names as much as I love the tomatoes.   I haven’t counted them all yet, but I will be planting somewhere around 20 tomato plants. This is nothing compared to one of my first tomato gardens, planted the year that I was pregnant. That year, I planted nearly 30 tomato plants. I was planning to “put up” healthy spaghetti sauce, salsa and vegetable soup  for my growing little family.  I read canning books. I bought canning jars. I talked tomatoes to anyone who would listen. I was very “Earth Mother”  organic except for the hot dogs and Coke that I craved constantly. Many pregnant women do care for large gardens and can their own vegetables without a problem. These are the women who also stop their gardening long enough to give birth, then strap the infant to their backs and continue with their weeding. No husband needed to help except for the first part. You know the type.  Me? I wanted to eat, sleep, and throw up. All the time. What made me throw up the most? Certainly not two big hot dogs covered with relish, mustard and onions with a side of jalapeno peppers. It was tomatoes. Luscious, big red tomatoes.  Tiny sweet cherry tomatoes. Low-acid yellow tomatoes. Even looking through the kitchen window at them  made me sick. I could hardly  step into the back yard. I called the neighbors, who came with bushel baskets. They made plenty of salad, sauce and salsa. They offered to share, but thinking about that sauce bubbling away on their kitchen stoves made me want to throw up. I gave away tomatoes until nobody wanted any more. After that,  they rotted on the vines, plopping onto the ground. Smelling the warm, rotting tomatoes made me want to throw up. The birds had a field day.  The squirrels were in hog heaven. The following year, I had hundreds of “volunteer” tomato plants come up on their own.  Life is funny, though. One of my daughter’s favorite foods is tomatoes and her least favorite is hot dogs. Go figure.

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