Life Happens

Chilly Walk at Sunset

I had lots of ideas in my head and planned to write up some new recipes this week, but sometimes, as we all know, things don’t go as planned.

Too much going on farmwise – we had a light and scattered frost on Tuesday morning.  That means the 15-minute Tuesday drive around the farm took about 40 minutes instead.  Dad and I always take a ride around checking out which crops (or plantings of multiple crops) are ready for harvest each week.  

So we hopped in the Jeep Wrangler (Mom’s baby from 1987…. still with my OCCC parking sticker on the bumper) and drove to see the celery and artichokes.  We stopped and got out, checked celery (last planting caught up to the first and now both are ready to harvest), celery root (a little small, probably due to lack of water, must turn on drip irrigation and hope workers haven’t accidentally cut the tubing when picking celery), artichokes (must leave a few rows and not pick so they flower), and eggplant (not much new growth, and the fairytale is finished). 

Broccoli, still a few weeks before harvest

Next stop, broccoli.  Well, there WOULD have been a next stop IF the Jeep had started.  Dad tried so many times to get that thing moving but it just refused.  “Oh, sometimes it takes a few tries….”  Riiiiight.  A hundred tries wouldn’t have gotten this thing started. 

So we walked… shoulder to shoulder (almost, because he’s only got like 5 inches on me height-wise) down the field and to the house to get his ‘new’ pick-up.  The ‘new’ pick up is like 2 years old, and considering that this man keeps a vehicle on the road for nearly 20 years, 2 IS new!  It even has that (GROSS) new-car smell.  I HATE new car smell. 

And so the trek continued.  Three sections of broccoli (green and purple), all planted a week or so apart, looking great and right on schedule.  New section of carrots ready to pick in about 2 weeks.  Asian greens looking tired (time to move on to the next planting and chop the old ones up into compost).

Frost-bitten Basil

I mentioned how chilly it was at night, and how I was shivering bundled under my covers with windows wide open. “I wonder if we got a frost?  It was pretty cold”, Dad says, with just a bit of a mumble caused by the cigar that is perpetually perched between his lips.  “Well…. Basil IS the field thermometer – let’s check it out.”  You all know this because you read my previous post  ; )

Sure enough, the top covering of leaves were all black.  What a shame, too, because we know the tomato plants are nearing the end of their production and people don’t buy much basil after tomatoes are gone from market tables.  The winter squash leaves were also translucent and curled around the edges.  They can handle a frost, but the dying leaves mean anything that’s not mature now will probably just rot in the field. 

String beans were next, and they were injured too.  Hopefully they’ll grow out of it and produce some good beans for next week.  The baby haricot verts  beneath the darkened leaves were delicious, just so you know what to expect.  The basil nearest the beans was a mere inches tall, and yet that WASN’T hurt.   So thankfully, the frost was scattered enough so as not to hinder growth of everything.

Brussels Sprouts at Dusk

We did see that the parsnips,spinach, rutabagas, and brussels sprouts are growing well, as are the new sections of cucumbers and kirbies and zucchini.  The peanuts, however, are slow this year!  I figured the hot, dry summer would be great for them, but they came on so slowly in the spring, they may not have been at the right growing stage when that perfect weather hit and weren’t able to thrive. 

I also check on a particular stray cat that I’ve been feeding since Christmas ’09.  This cat reminds me of my dear Miss Book because she, too, was a long-haired stray.  I found her back in 1998 in the kitchen cabinet of a trailer we purchased for labor housing.  She weighed only  3/4 pound and could fit in my shirt pocket.  I had the choice of keeping her or taking her to the Humane Society.  14 years later, I had to put her down because of a tumor that had finally ravaged her to the point that she couldn’t eat. 

My first baby… Miss Book

It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, and the fact that Thomas was old enough to be aware of the entire event was practically devastating to me.  We try to protect our kids and keep them from having to deal with those kinds of horrible life situations, but to what end?  When I brought her cold, lifeless body home from the vet, Thomas wanted to see her to say goodbye.  He stroked her head and belly like he never could when she was alive, then watched as Dad and I lowered her into a hole by the river.  She loved to hunt in the weeds there, and she was a very good hunter.

Thomas kept wiping his eyes.  He asked me why he can’t make them stop watering.  So, with child on my lap, surrounded by strong mommy arms, I comforted my baby and in turn comforted myself over the loss of a member of our family.  We as adults UNDERSTAND death, but that doesn’t make it any easier to accept.  He was lying in bed that night and I kissed his forehead, stroking his hair, when he asked, “Mommy?  Do you miss Book?”  “I sure do, sweetie.”  “Me too.  I can still hear her meowing.”

So needless to say, The Boy is anxious for another pet.  [He said he’ll gladly take a little brother instead, and is actively making mental lists of rich, available men to help me out.  Seriously.]  It’s been a year and a half since we lost her, and as much as I’d love a kitten (or two), I absolutely loathe litter boxes.  You have 55 acres of Black Dirt at your disposal.  I am not going to scoop poop.  Therefore, no new kitties in our house. 

This stray, however, has our attention.  It’s gotten to the point that it waits for us to come home to feed him.  It lounges on the back stairs soaking up the morning sunshine.  My house is apparently his safety zone and is the first place he runs when a tractor comes by or people scare him.

I try to make sure I see him every day, and usually he’ll be right there within seconds of me filling his food bowl.  I just can’t get to within 6 feet of the beast.  He isn’t vicious, just skittish.  This week, though, he wasn’t running for food and wasn’t running away from me.  I still couldn’t get close, but I saw that he wasn’t putting weight on a front paw.  I’m used to my cats getting into trouble and fighting to protect their territory, so I assumed the poor thing had an abscess or infected wound. 

Hungry Stray with White Socks

Mom was out, so I asked her to stop by the vet  and pick up the havahart trap they said we could borrow.  Obviously this kitty needs medical care, and I couldn’t bear to see it hurt.  I set up the trap before bed, and by morning there was  a little gray tiger-striped cat inside.  Yeah….  But it wasn’t the cat I wanted to catch! 

I was able to bring this one in and he (three months old, three pounds) was neutered and got some shots and is now lost somewhere in the bowels of my mother’s home….   We assume he’s still in there because something is using the litter box.  We’ll give him a chance to get used to people, and if it doesn’t work, at least he’s fixed. 

I set the trap again that night.  I’m sitting on the couch at 9:15, in my pajamas, enjoying a beverage, when I hear CLINK!  YAY!  I thought I got him.  I didn’t.  It was a possum [or Opossum, which I find irritating], razor-toothed, sharp-nailed and scared.  Ok, probably not TOO scared, because I apparently feed an entire neighborhood of possum.  So there I am in my nightie and slippers releasing this intruder from the trap. 

Next morning?  Another possum in the trap. 

Keeping a planter of herbs nearby makes them easily accessible for all your cooking needs!

Ok, now this was day 3 of having the trap.  I was losing faith that this thing was going to work, and I hadn’t even SEEN the cat, so maybe he got so much worse that he couldn’t walk anymore?  I was worried, and anxious that I’d never get him.  So around 4pm I set the trap once more.  Thirty minutes later, CLINK!  I ran out to find another (larger) gray tiger-striped cat. 

Frustrated, I opened up the trap and let this one out—and it hung around waiting for me to give it more food.  That’s when I realized it was my aunt’s cat!  I’m gonna keep Purina Cat Chow in business with this late-night buffet of mine.  An online friend suggested I use tuna as bait, so with Mom’s help (and tuna) I set up a trail of tuna bits from the bottom of the stairs all the way up into the trap.  Sure enough, that was the secret , and within minutes White Sox was my prisoner. 

Thomas practices casting every day after school

Back to the vet the next morning, and he was sedated enough for them to see the mess on his paw.  I won’t go into details….  But they cleaned his wound, gave him antibiotics and vaccinations, and pulled a broken canine tooth that was infected.  The doctor told me that he was already neutered and declawed on all four paws — meaning he was either a runaway or a drop-off. 

HOW ANYONE CAN ABANDON A DEFENSELESS ANIMAL  is beyond my comprehension.  I was horrified when I thought about how long this little guy was probably out there.  I mean, I’ve been feeding him since December and he was skin and bones then (11 lbs 10 oz now!).

He’s been out on his own since Saturday morning and I haven’t seen him, but the food bowl is empty.  I figure that’s a good sign.  I will continue to feed him and hope he becomes accustomed enough to me that maybe he’ll let me touch him.  I’d hate to think he’ll have to spend another winter out there, but if he chooses that, at least he’ll have daily chow at Kasha’s Wild Animal Bistro.


In other news, Papa took Thomas shopping last Sunday and bought him a new fishing pole.  They go fishing nearly every Sunday and I cannot imagine a better way for either one to spend an afternoon (plus we get the added bonus of dinner!).  I also discovered what has been nibbling away at the basil in the herb planter on my deck…..  Rotten bugs.

Date night for grasshoppers

So, if you will, please raise a glass to this week being uneventful and pleasant and even boring.  I could use the rest.