Thursday, August 25, 2011
Back in the spring, I ordered 20 chicks with the idea that I'd be eating a lot of eggs. A few died just after they arrived, which seemed normal. (If I were shipped in the mail the day I was born, I might die, too.) Then a dog killed one of them. Now I have 16 left, and for the most part they've been a real pain in the ass.
I feed them every day and give them water. I let them run through the barnyard, then lock them up at night to keep the foxes at bay. If I go anywhere, I need to line someone up to chicken-sit. It might all seem worthwhile if I were rolling in eggs, but up through last week there had been exactly zero. The chickens just weren't old enough to lay. The thought crossed my mind, more than once, to throw in the towel and have a 16-chicken BBQ.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Heinz is the undisputed queen of all ketchups. If the virtues that you seek in a queen are perfectly balanced delectability and a color that mirrors the reddest of supermodel lips, then she's your go-to girl. She's beautiful, efficient, tasty--and available. I'll be the first to admit that at times, she's been my go-to girl, too.
But, like many beauties, Heinz can be shallow, even a little trashy. When you ask a bottle of Heinz to describe herself and the third thing she tells you is "high fructose corn syrup," she seems a little cheap. And that's because she is.
Here's the lesson: Appreciate the appeal of Heinz Tomato Ketchup--even fool around with her once in a while--but know that for life, the ketchup you really need is one with substance and depth. You need a ketchup you'll want to see every morning over breakfast and every night at dinner. You need a ketchup you can raise your kids on.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
My cousin Makaila is a girl of action. She has two speeds: fast and fierce. If she's not steering her little car at top speed down the steep drive of the farm lane or sprinting after chickens, then she's up to her elbows in dirt. Makaila is two years old, and by the time she's 22 she'll be a force of nature. It almost frightens me to think about it.
Around the farm, we all do our part to keep her out of trouble. That's the job I was engaged in back in April when she and I planted Yukon and red bliss potatoes. It was fun at first; we cut eyes from old potatoes and placed them in the dirt. Each chunk of spud would become its own plant. Eventually, however, Makaila got bored and focused on convincing her father, Leif, to take her on a tractor ride. A few minutes later Leif was firing up the old Ford 8N. Makaila can be very persuasive.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
If you haven't brewed your own beer, I bet you know someone who has. Thanks to the craft-brewing boom of the past 20 years, just about everyone has access to great microbrews--even people who have no interest in making them. But I'm the kind of guy who likes making things, so a few years ago I ordered some hop plants to use in my home brew.
The hops grew so quickly and vigorously that I could barely keep up with the trimming and training they require (like ivy, they are climbers and are usually grown on twine or wire). The literature I received with the cuttings warned me not to expect any hops the first year. I ended up with about a gallon of them anyway.