On morning mental math

Sunday evening harvest at a neighbor’s apple orchard:  it’s all who you know.  The girl was so excited for a ride.  We got 8 bushels, gratis.

In the gray half-light of a predawn Monday I am madly pulling Blue Coco pole beans off their vines.  I am puzzling a math problem in my head that goes thus:  If it takes me x time to do something and x+y+z=the time I have before I have to leave the house, why is it that if I shift x with z I am late?  The time is the same.  Yet late is what I will be if I don’t get these things harvested.

Yes, I think I have it all figured out, this harvest, these tasks, but I didn’t quite figure that it’s still REALLY too dark at 6 in the morning after milking to harvest said beans.  And they’re blue (dark purple, actually) beans after all, which makes them even harder to see.  So here I am, running around the garden with hair quite wet from the shower, an hour later than I thought I would be out here.   Mondays are a delivery date for two of my CSA customers, and I need to bring the beans and the boxes to our daughter’s school with us.

I am doing other math in my head too.  One is a simple check of the status of three nappa cabbage (big enough, even though I can barely see them) and the carrot row:  I have just cleaned out the small fermentation crock so I think kimchi is next-up for cooking.  Do I have a knob of ginger, I wonder, as I nearly trip on a hose in the darkness.  Another is a mental calculus about how quickly meat birds grow in relation to the hen-raised birds.  I do believe I need to call back the butcher’s wife and bump up The Date With Destiny I had slated for the Freedom Ranger meat chickens out in the tractor.  I have just let out the yard birds (regular chickens) and two of the dashing young roosters have followed me to the garden gate and have commenced a crowing session.  It’s more like throat-clearing, actually, with a touch of teenaged bravado.  The meat birds in the field are responding, which is amazing to me because they’re a full six weeks younger than these two scrappy creatures at the gate.  I wouldn’t call it outright crowing but I do give them all an A for effort.  And I am doing a mental check on how much freezer space I have.

Beans, zucchini, and tomatoes now picked, I run into the house and bag them up into waiting paper lunch bags.  The share for these two customers is as follows:  one quart each sauerkraut and yogurt, one small chevre, two servings of savory bread pudding, a monster red pepper, the aforementioned vegetables and a dozen eggs.  And a good dozen apples.  I would say that’s a decent harvest.  And I am late!

8 responses to “On morning mental math

  1. I can’t believe that you are cooking kimchi! I was stationed in Korea more than 4 decades ago and one of the first things I learned was not to stand downwind of Koreans cooking their kimchi – the smell was terrible. I think I know of only one soldier who actually learned to eat it; he said it actually tasted kind of good once you got past the smell. But none of the rest could get past the smell.

    I raised a small flock of chickens this year for the first time. I loved them, they were so entertaining at all ages. One was a white-crested black polish (all black with a broad white crest) that was a rooster. His early attempts at crowing were tentative and rough-hewn, but he kept trying. The last week or two, though, his voice had gotten a lot stronger and his crow well-defined and much more frequent. I enjoyed listening to him, my wife not so much so. We sold them to a local farmer, though when we get back from our trip to Italy, we are going to their farm to pick up four hens to keep ourselves.

  2. Get a runner’s head lamp so you can see what you’re doing in the dark…..

  3. Your pretty darn amazing you know that. I read your posts and am always so surprised at how many things you get accomplished on any given day…seriously.

    Best of luck with the CSA, how exciting…well maybe not so exciting to you at 6 AM in the morning.:) I am going to have to ask you more questions about it one of these days. Micki thinks we should try and do a small one but I’m not sure our garden (or me) is ready for that kind of commitment yet.

  4. I wish I lived in SW Michigan, El. I would join your CSA and let you do the gardening-cooking-fermenting–never mind the cheese making–for me! I hope your clients realize how good they’ve got it. Your approach sounds like a great model for “smallholders” going into business–if you survive it, that is…(!)

    Happy autumn~ Brett

  5. Its amazing how fast the days are getting shorter. The only benefit is that my hens sleep in a little later on weekends before griping to be let out. But every other chore is packed into an ever smaller window of time.

    The CSA seems cool, its nice you can provide such a big variety of stuff.

  6. I do so enjoy reading your blog from MI….we moved from Port Huron 22 years ago to our MO farm but picking apples sure brings back memories…husband used to have his bees in our family doctors’ orchard so we got to go pick as many apples as we wanted. Much harder to keep apples good here as it just doesn’t get cold until late Nov. Our Arkansas Blacks are the best as they mature really late. This year we have a wonder guard dog in the Australian Shepard my kids had to leave when they moved back to the city. NO deer eating my orchard or garden this year. We had a horrendous garden summer…over 90 for 2 mos. straight and no measurable rain. Every year a new challenge for gardeners but I really do miss my sandy loam garden in MI…gotta love rocks living here! DEE

  7. So how are the Freedom Ranger meat birds doing compared to what you expected? I don’t actually know anyone growing them so I thought I’d ask……


  8. Dennis! Have fun in Italy: I am jealous! I am glad to hear you’ll be going back to pick up a few hens for yourselves; they are a lot of fun I think, getting to know their personalities is even more fun. And kimchi. Well, truth be told, I don’t put fish paste in mine, which probably would help make it more stinky. Just a lot of ginger and garlic and onions of all kinds. I think it will finish cooking in a week, and it should be good and hot! just in time for the cooler weather here. But yeah kimchi does normally taste much better than it smells. The exact opposite of coffee I think.

    Paula, good idea. I have about 8 of those things around, mainly so I can put the young, clueless chickens away at night. Thanks!

    Mike, well, honestly I just don’t sit down much, and with all these balls in the air I give the appearance of being a complete flake. Ah well! But *you* two leave me in the dust in terms of one-time harvests, goodness. And frankly sharing the veg would actually be not much more work than you’re doing now…and lots less of a harvest if you include things that go bad in storage on you. Tell Micki it helps to diversify, i.e., putting bread or canned goods in the box too…

    Ah Brett thanks. I just think about what it is I would like to get in a box; being the former subscriber of a box myself I got tired of the same-old that would happen (one year was the Year of Pattypan Squash, I couldn’t look at them, much less grow them, for years afterward). But it is convenient, I will tell you. One friend makes all her evening meals from the contents. Pretty good deal it is for her.

    Sara, I am going through my Extreme Seasonal Denial thing again. You know it was actually chilly enough to turn the car’s heater on this a.m. but I am personally thinking this was a fluke…but then I also am pulling out tomato plants with abandon so I guess denial isn’t really what I am in! But good luck transitioning yourself…

    Dee! Thanks for checking in, and wow what luck for you that your kids couldn’t keep that dog, eh? I think all dogs need a job and it sounds like Deer Chaser is definitely your dog’s job, huh? And yeah, I have heard it was a really awful year for many people, wow we even had quite a few days above 90 here, but no, you can keep your 2 months’ worth 🙂 And yeah, when we find a rock in our garden it’s kind of an event! It’s like, look, a rock!

    Hi Elizabeth! They’re growing out just fine. I could put them in the freezer right now but am waiting a week; they’ll be a little over 11 weeks by then. I will let you know how they taste…they are growing about as fast as my slow-growing cornish and red broilers grew out last year, so I don’t think there’s that much of an advantage, time-wise. The proof will be in the tasting I guess.

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