Thursday, June 26, 2008



Just recently, on nephew Nick's web site, which he created for the family, we got into a discussion of country topics, such as garden crops, and especially an over-sized radish Nick had grown and was wondering in a joking way how to prepare and eat. This reminded me of a time, many years before, when Nick was a boy, how his parents -- my now late husband Steve's brother Norman and sister-in-law Janice -- had invited Steve and I (a "city girl") to dinner at their place, where they had a lovely garden. While we were there, Steve and Norman went out to the garden and came back with a large, long white vegetable that they tried to tell me was a carrot.

I could tell by the looks on their faces, especially Steve's eager, boyish one, that they dearly wanted me to fall for this tale. I didn't. I recognized that it was probably a parsnip. I said, "That's no carrot." Steve and Norm's faces fell -- they were highly disappointed. Janice and I just chuckled.

As I explained on the family site, I had already distinguished myself in my citified ignorance of country facts, especially about animal reproduction, which is likely why Steve and Norm felt that I would fall for the "carrot" story.

This is where the entry turns PG13, for those who care. Earlier -- I believe not long after Steve and I were married, when we lived in Portland and came out to the country to visit his folks, who lived in the house I occupy now -- on a drive out here, Steve made a comment about a farmer whose place we passed having his cows and his bull separated by a fence. I said, "Is that for when the bull is in heat?" Steve laughed and said, "Honey, the bull is always in heat." Then he explained to me that particular essential difference between cows and bulls. He found my farm faux pas too good to keep, and so told Norman and Janice what I had said.

Later, after we had moved to the mobile home that now is the office for my business, we had chickens, including roosters that had been raised from chicks by a banty hen we had been given (possibly by Norman and Janice). We had one particularly mean rooster and one day when I was outside, I saw him viciously attacking the banty hen. I panicked and ran into the house and called Janice, telling her that a rooster was trying to kill my little hen! She chuckled and explained to me that the rooster was mating with the hen and it was nothing to worry about -- it looked worse than it was.

Still, later, when Steve was butchering some of the grown chickens for me to clean (yuck!) and freeze, I think that mean rooster was one of the first to go, because he had also attacked very young son Jeff, just missing his eye. (I had no idea how to clean chickens at first and had to ask Steve's mom, Lola, and even though I followed her directions successfully, I don't think I was able to very easily eat the chicken meat. That was our last experience raising chickens!)

I have long ago made peace with the fact that I am not a country girl at heart. I love living out here, among beautiful farmland, but the maintenance of the place, with all the weeds and blackberry vines that crop up, is a bear. I am happy to laugh, though, about my early adjustments in attempting to live a country life (I did pick and can and freeze vegetables and fruit quite competently, although my canned peaches were never as pretty as Steve's mother's). ;-)

I just hope that I am now no longer as ignorant of the facts of farming life -- even if I, myself, don't truly live it -- as I once was. LOL!

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