In anticipation of my garden's bounty, I got myself a water bath canning pot and an instruction book today.
I've spent a very happy morning "ooh!" ing and "ahh!" ing over recipes for pickles of all kinds (sweet melon pickles sound AWESOME) and salsas (all I'll have to buy is the onion, the rest is growing in containers in my garden, yay!), jams (I have strawberries growing) and jellies and preserves and chutney, oh my!
Urbaner has already submitted a request for "hot pickles" like the ones his grandma made once and FTS and Numbah Two want salsa. Littlest Ling (who is 13 now) has a couple of watermelon plants he's growing and has already agreed upon a 'per slice' price with his siblings.
As I get older I see myself becoming more and more like my dad. He was an avid homesteader; he grew up in pre WWII England where everything was rationed and you either grew it/caught it yourself or you went without. Consequently he learned to grow lots of vegetables and fruits and we kept chickens for quite a time when I was a kid. If it produced fruit or had babies, he was all over it, and that's how I am too. It makes me incredibly happy to plant a seed in some dirt and see it not only germinate, but sprout leaves and then produce something I can eat and feed my family with. I like that I can step out onto my patio and pick something to eat - and know exactly what that food has been treated with (no commerical pesticides; I'm using a mild soap solution for bugs and it's working) and how it's been grown.
Even though he's been dead for almost 3 years, I have found myself wanting to pick up the phone and get dad's advice more this summer than at any other time in my life, mostly for silly things like how to discourage puppies from chewing on pepper plant leaves and what you need to build a really good pea plant trellis. He was always good for things like that: one year I had a MAJOR squirrel problem and he helped me solve it. I had planted over a hundred daffodil, tulip and lily bulbs in the front yard and the resident squirrels thought that I did it simply for their gastronimic delight. The little bastards started digging up the bulbs and eating them and were very daring and blatant about the whole thing, even doing it when I was sitting on the porch right next to the flower beds. Dad's suggestions were: cayenne pepper (the first snoutful put them off for half an hour, but they seemed to think of it as a seasoning for the bulbs after that), chicken wire (they chewed through it), urine (I peed in a pitcher and watered the garden with it. It didn't stop them and made the flower beds smell horrid) and finally human hair (I got it from the barber shop. It got tracked into the house somehow and was a pain in the arse to get rid of - and the squirrels used clumps of it as nesting material). His final solution: a pellet gun and rat poison. "Squirrel pie is really quite nice if it's seasoned right, and you can use the pelts to make a hat out of" he said. Had he been in town I'm sure I wouldn't have had any more squirrel problems, but as it was he was in England and I was not - and the squirrels were particularly well fed that year.
I really do miss him some days.
The rat bebehs all have at least one eye open now and are getting adventurous. They've been nibbling at solid food as well as nursing and will come and say hello to FTS and I when we open the cage door. It's going to be really hard to sell them to the pet store, especially as I know that some of them will end up as snake food. FTS is having a particularly hard time with that and has threatened her brother with bodily harm if he sells them to the reptile speciality store in town. Personally I think she'll arrange for a ratty kidnapping before she'll let that happen. "No, Numbah Two, I have NO idea what happened to your rat bebehs" she'll say. "P'raps they escaped and are hiding. Or maybe they ran away. Yeah, that's it, there was a rat-ling mutiny. They rebelled and went to live in an anarchaic society so they could stick it to da man." She's articulate like that.
I have another blog on the go, and I'd like you to help me with it, if you can. It's called 'Whiskey Tango Foxtrot' and is dedicated to things that make me (and you, probably) say 'WTF??'. If you see anything you think is worthy, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll post it (you'll get credit for it, of course). As long as there are people and they have the ability to post things on teh interwebs, there will be fodder for Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.
As mum says, 'there's nowt as queer as folk'*.
*translation for non England-dwellers: people are fucking weird.
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