On a certain kind of crazy

Dent corn, she sure do grow tall:  the girl is 4′-2″…these now-tasseling stalks are easily three times her height.

But the calico and blues top out at 5′ or so.

This time of year, I think having something like A.D.D. or O.C.D. is actually helpful.

I have a dear friend who’s a shrink…a good friend to have, incidentally, much like friends who make their own food or like to repair cars or computer glitches.   Our discussions of certain-things-wrong-with-brains include many “disorders” that actually serve some purpose.  And it’s at this time of the year when I have exactly eight food-processing functions going on in the kitchen right now that I think having a piece of crazy might be helpful.  (I haven’t held up a mirror to myself lately so maybe I am already a bit nuts, and it’s already working.)

Looking for another five-pound weight to throw down on top of the parmesan cheese I am pressing, I realize the half-gallon jar of fermenting beets, sitting nobly off by itself, would do the job.  So on it goes, fitting snugly into the press, and lo, those other weights set nicely on its top.

Funky smells, sticky floors, bubbling pots, a full counter of canned jars and a sink full of drying dishes:  It’s August all right.  Every morning and evening is taken up, somehow, with some form of food preparation.  There’s other preparation that is happening daily too:  the freezer birds (turkey and chicken) need twice daily care, the egg birds need love, the goat needs milking, the weeds need pulling…and then there’s the harvests.  It’s a bit maddening.

For those of you who think I somehow squeeze more in my days than most:  I don’t quite know if I do.  I know I don’t sit down much except during working hours!   And I do go to bed really early (mainly to read) wherein I am in bed by 9:00, then up by 6.

Boundless energy?  I doubt it.  Just a serious seasonal case of put-it-away-for-later-itis!

16 responses to “On a certain kind of crazy

  1. Actually, it sounds like heaven! I love all the busy-ness of the harvest time. What a great feeling to look at all the food being preserved and stored for the coming months. I can’t think of anything more satisfying.

  2. You know, a certain popcorn that someone (you:) gave me is just as tall…it really looks quite funny next to our much smaller regular corn. I’m just glad we were spared any spring and early summer wind storms, it is still firmly placed and growing up, up, up. I’ll have to take a picture of the grandson standing next to it.

  3. I keep thinking that whole “kids are off school in the summer to help with the harvest” thing is baloney. If things were really timed with the harvest, we’d be off July, August, and September in my part of the world. Or August through October.

    Good luck finding some rest in the next few weeks!

  4. Heh! Emily’s reply reminded me of something one of my little old lady friends told me long ago. She had several brothers and they were all expected to help on the farm. The girls helped in the house. Everybody had a job. But her dad noticed that he always had to split the boys up and put them on different tasks. He would say, “Two boys is half a boy and three boys is no boy at all.”

  5. Absolutely love this time of year! My kitchen sounds much the same as yours. All the fence post pounding, running of the fence cable to keep out the deer, raised bed building, trucking manure, soil, spreading compost, seed starting are paying off this year as my heavy clay soil never has before. It is rewarding and deeply satisfying to be putting up the freshest and cleanest organic foodstuffs for the cold months approaching. The house is filled with the scents of leeks sauteeing for a quiche, tomatoes cooking down for sauces, basil and garlic whirling together with pine nuts, parmesan and olive oil for pesto, both sweet and garlic dills lining up on the counter, hot pickled peppers, zucchini bread cooling on wire racks!!! I am in heaven with the thought of my first year with kale, collard, chard, kohlrabi and winter lettuce starts for my low tunnel winter garden!!! The weeds and heat and humidity can’t sway me from a repeat preformance next season.

  6. Hmmm….maybe I’m glad I only have a quarter acre after all!

  7. Ha Paula, that’s one of the reasons we’ve stayed in town, it keeps me from doing more than I ought to!

    There are definitely personality traits that lend themselves to certain professions and hobbies, that’s for sure. I guess I’m glad there are different kinds of folks in the world to do the jobs I don’t want. And I’m also a bit grateful for you guys who do WAY more than I do, as it makes me feel so… reasonable, ha ha.

  8. May I ask a practical question? How do you harvest corn from stalks that are 12 feet tall? Seems like trying to balance on a ladder would be precarious and risky, and it would be hard to drag a trampoline through the rows.

  9. Re Emily’s comment: The University of Minnesota, as well as some other midwestern universities, I think, used to start up at the end of September, so the farm kid/students could be at home to help with the harvest. I think that agrarian schedule has since gone by the by.

    We’re fortunate here today in Saint Paul to have a cool, dry breeze blowing through, to help us get on with the tasks of preserving the harvest.

    Now, I’d better go attend to those piles of cucumbers–bread & butters, sour dills, and cornichons to make today–and try to reduce the sprawl of tomatoes across the kitchen counters–I like to skin ’em, slice ’em, and then reduce them down in the oven a bit with some herbs, garlic, and olive oil, before freezing in portions.

    It is a great time of year, El, and we’ll all be sorry–though relieved, for a while–when it’s over.

    Cheers~ Brett

  10. I had hoped to be groaning under the load of tomatoes, but alas, not yet this year, unless I wished to can cherry ones. Busy-itis isn’t a disorder yet, I don’t believe.

  11. I stopped by your blog during a search for homesteading blogs. Seeing that you were in SW Michigan drew me in…we used to live in Holland. I look forward to reading here often.

  12. Your kitchen sounds delicious.

  13. “two boys is half a boy and three boys is no boy at all”

    I LOVE THIS! And wow is that corn tall. Did you consider planting a maze of it? How fun!

    I also love the image of your jar on top of the cheese press. I’ve had a few near misses trying to rig up weights on mine as well.

  14. Susan, yeah, it’s nice seeing all that preserved stuff pile up, isn’t it? And I wouldn’t be complaining so much if this summer hadn’t been so hot…it puts a crimp in my plans to weed much less fire up the pot to can stuff!

    Mike, how funny! That popcorn only gets about 8′ tall for me, you know, regular corn height. I guess an ear was lost of it last year so it grew all clumped together in one of my open beds: it’s also about 8′ tall and about 18 plants all together! very interesting! And it’s been good to see your grandson back on the farm lately too.

    Emily, we just finished reading the Little House series and Almanzo had a ton of time off in all the seasons to do things like plant, harvest, and…harvest ice out of the dammed creek behind their house! Frankly there’s not much to do during July, but yeah, October is pretty busy. And I think it’s just dumb that kids get a summer off, but that’s my personal opinion. I mean, *I* should get the summer off too then.

    Ilene, that is hilarious! I guess of course it depends on the boys…but I can see how goofing around would be tempting.

    Chris! YAY! I agree, on smells alone things are pretty sweet in our kitchens lately 😀 I am so happy to hear your sweat is paying off…and honestly winter gardens are the EASIEST OF ALL! though people don’t believe me. No weeds!

    Paula AND Sara, well, I do often get myself in trouble, but it’s nothing life-threatening. *Know thy limits* should be a garden commandment. And the biggest limit in almost everyone’s roster is time. But yes, when I had a smaller yard, believe me it was the most manicured and perfect little patch on the planet. Now, not so much, and I am okay with that, really. I think.

    Karen, I should take a picture of what happens to the corn when it dries. It’s kind of cool what the plant does to signal that it’s time to dry out and preserve its seed. Maybe next post.

    Brett, Michigan schools have the good sense to start after Labor Day (unlike Illinois and Indiana) but still it’s kind of a drag. Lake Michigan’s water temperature is often the warmest at the end of August through the first 3 weeks of September, and I always thought as a kid that it was a crying shame that I had to start school when it was still putatively summer outside. But yes. You’ll see where we stand on pickles in this house; I do some simple lacto-fermented things that go in the fridge and get quickly eaten. No canned pickles again, and good riddance!

    Stefani, I hope hot winds blow in the Bay area soon; that’s a shame to be tomato-free, especially if you’re Sicilian.

    Welcome, JoAnn. Holland isn’t too far, maybe 45 minutes away? It’s an unusual town! I hope you stop by again.

    Esperanza, well. It’s…sticky.

    Annette, the one great savior I have figured out is jamming dish cloths in to keep things from being too jiggy. So, on top of the follower but under the jar below the weights, lots of washcloths…you can’t barely move the thing they’re so wedged in there, but, it’s not gonna fall! OH and plenty of washcloths below the cross-stitch plastic below the cheesecloth-covered cheese…I just change the cloths as often as I can. The thing sits directly on the counter, then, and is a lot more stable. I don’t delight in 35-50 lbs falling over, you know?

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