On being an incrementalist

I am going to post a theme this week.  I will call it Baby Steps.  The reason?  One, it’s really easy to get overwhelmed by big tasks and two, I find I work better (and am less of a mental wreck) if I bite things off in small pieces.

Today, I wanted to show you  how our 5 year old baby’s stomping steps help in the harvesting process.

img_06731She loves her cowboy boots.  Might as well put them to work in shelling some flageolet beans.

img_0679Put on some music and get stomping!


img_0702Ah, good work:  about 1.5 lbs of beans

If I had to shell all 25 pounds of the dried bean harvest at one time I would be more than a little crazy.  Thankfully, this task can be put off, done only when you need the beans.  I have about 15 paper grocery sacks filled with dried, unhusked beans that I simply harvested, tied up to dry in the shed, and bagged when I had the time this winter.  On Sunday, I looked at the contents of our pantry and said “cassoulet might be nice this week,” so out came a bag of beans and fortunately the child is almost always wearing the boots.

(Incidentally, it’s even easier to winnow beans by dancing on them between two sheets.  Then, you can take the bottom, bean-filled sheet outside on a windy day and carefully, with a friend, toss them in the air:  the breeze should separate most of the dried chaff from the heavier beans.  It is not advisable to take this step with a five-year-old, unless you want to play Bean Pickup in the grass.)

16 responses to “On being an incrementalist

  1. These boots’re made for stompin,
    And that’s just what they’ll do…

  2. great lesson, nice boots

  3. The bean dance, I love it. We tried to get our four year old grandson to help with a “wheat dance” this last fall but he quickly lost interest.

  4. Sweet! My girls would love this!

  5. When I was a very little girl I wanted red cowboy boots so badly! I never got them, probably because there were 8 of us and so we didn’t get everything we wanted. Even so, that’s the only thing I remember wanting that I didn’t get!

  6. Child labor, its great ain’t it!

  7. this is simple and brilliant. i’m glad you posted. i’m going to be growing shell beans for the first time this year (let’s be honest, most of what i’m growing this year will be firsts for me), and i was a little nervous about what to do if i was successful and had a lot of harvesting to do.

    where do you store your bags?

  8. is she for hire?

  9. Great hints. We are growing our first shell beans this year as well. My children like shelling peas so I hoped it would be similar- This is a LOT more fun!

  10. Sure, you see that as a chore.
    I see it as loads of fun.
    But then, I don’t have a five-year-old daughter. (She’s five!) Or a bean harvest.
    I might. I lurve beans.

  11. 🙂 I love that dancing is the easy way to winnow beans 🙂 And red boots make everything much better – can I get a pair, lol!

  12. All: aren’t those boots fabulous? Tom bought them in Wyoming when he had his show in Jackson last fall, and they’re the real deal. Considering the girl’s primary career choice is “cowgirl,” these are necessary in her mind.

    Kate: gotta put that energy to work!

    Thanks, Ed! Hope it helps you this year.

    Oh Mike I should tell you that our girl lost interest here too: after sorting the pods off the beans she affected a great sigh and eye-rolling: I am SO tired of this, she said. I think it just makes them feel better if they can help even a little bit. Like treasure-hunting.

    Lindsay! Yep, I’m sure they’d love it too.

    Kris, I just figured out she’s tall enough to turn on the kitchen sink faucet so THAT means she’s almost big enough to load the dishwasher 🙂

    Hi Serinat. I store them in the shed for a while (outdoors) but if our barncat is slacking there are mice in there, so actually they’re all piled up in the basement with all my canned goods and the freezers.

    Sylvie, incentives help, like sweet desserts…

    Judy, yeah, peas are mighty fun but they tend to mostly get eaten before they get cooked around here. This process is a lot faster and a lot more forgiving of time.

    CC, 25 lbs is a chore, 1.5 not so much!! Tell Cranky to get sod-busting as they do require some space. But fresh shell beans? wunderbar!

    MC I am just so glad they’re not pink boots! This was fun, we’ll repeat it surely….

  13. On a different note, you do not have mice issue or oother pest issue with how you store your beans?

  14. Hey Sylvie. Well, I do have a bit of a bean beetle infestation at certain parts of the summer, but mostly the dried beans are free of them. I let them dry as long as I can outdoors then I pull the whole plants up, tie them in a bundle, hang them upside down in the garden shed and THEN bag them when I get a chance. Unless the mice start flying, the beans are fairly safe.

  15. I absolutely adore this idea. Makes me wish I could put on my boots and dance on them myself. I have three little girlies though who would surely beat me to it.
    Your blog is beautiful and I often come to you when I have questions or simply and interest in something you do so well.
    Thank you for sharing your life and your knowledge.

  16. Amy, hi! Wow, with 3 (or even 5) little cuties to do the boot stomp: wow, maybe I should borrow them, we could have a harvesting party! It would all get done in no time at all! But I thank you for your kind words. I hope I am encouraging folks to at least give some things a try: it is FUN if it’s nothing else, you know? I do like having a little person around to help, though: she is the reason that we do what we do, and I love partnering with her in doing all this crazy stuff. Just this morning: Mama, let’s make some pizza dough when I get home, okay? Not: Mama, let’s call for a pizza tonight, okay? 🙂

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