I told you a short while back about the 1994 Nissan Sentra that I bought for $600. I’ve discovered one of the nice things about little Japanese cars is that when they break down, they’re easier to push by yourself.
Last week my little “rice burner” (as I affectionately call it) stopped running all of a sudden one morning on my way to work. I managed to coast into a deserted parking lot on the outskirts of the city. Then I walked towards the middle of the city, a mile and a half, to a grocery store with a phone.
I walked along urban arteries that I’ve only driven along for the past six years. I walked by houses set back maybe twenty feet from the blacktop road and with only a driveway width between them. Some had little lawns in the front that were about the size of my winter squash patch. A few had no greenery in front—just cars and dusty pavement. Many were old homes converted to multiple apartment buildings. I heard an upset woman screaming at somebody from inside one of them. I walked past an empty bar and a liquor store. The landscape around me was filled with overgrown weeds and litter and chain link fences. Cars were continually zipping by. I wondered if I was about to hear the voice of Rod Sterling.
The city is different, grittier, dirtier, when you are actually in it as opposed to driving through it in the comfort and security of an automobile. When I got to the grocery store I called home and my oldest son drove out to get me. He brought jumper cables and some tools. I waited for him at a run-down little park across from the grocery store. I sat on a bench and read a copy of “Farm & Ranch Living” magazine that I bought at the store. I like the magazine. It had an article about a Christian-agrarian family trying to make a go of farming somewhere out west. They were my kind of people.
We got back to my rice-burner and found one battery cable clamp was just about corroded off the terminal. After jump starting the car, I drove home and put a new end on the cable. The battery wouldn’t charge up so I bought a new one. It was noon before I got the repairs done. I could have gone back to work but the day was beautiful. My little homestead was more beautiful to me than usual. My wife and children were beautiful. Walking along squalid city roads had given me a fresh perspective. I more clearly saw my rural home as the blessed haven that it is. So I decided to stay there and do some things that needed doing. Things that offer much more joy and satisfaction that working in a factory in the city.
Then, this morning, one week to the day after that incident, my little Nissan quit on me again. This time I was about to drive into the same grocery store when the motor stopped. I coasted to the parking lot entrance, jumped out quick, and pushed it up an incline and into a parking space.
My son was at work so I called Marlene. She came with the jumper cables. I charged it for 20 minutes while she checked out the Tuesday farmer's market on a nearby street. Then I drove the car to my neighbor Ron’s repair garage. As much as I wanted to stay home, I bit the bullet and went to the factory. I still like my little car...... when it works.
Weekend before last I tilled up a patch of my neighbor Don’s field to plant garlic in come October. The ground had its share of stones. So I was tilling along for about an hour and as I passed a stone, I stooped down and grabbed it and tossed it off to the side for picking up later. The bending, twisting, throwing motion did a job on my back. I did not notice it that day, and the next day it was only a little sore. But the day after that I was practically crippled. It was acute lower back pain like I’ve never experienced before and hope to never experience again. I could walk but if I moved the wrong way the stabbing pain was enough to buckle my legs. We’re talking intense here! I suspect many of you reading this (I’m thinking of Emily in particular) know what I’m talking about.
Well after two days and nights of agony the back got to feeling just a little sore and uncomfortable. But it’s still not right yet..... especially after pushing the car.
Sunday at church we had a gospel bluegrass group called Crosspoint from Shelbyville, Tennessee and we enjoyed them very much.
I took yesterday off from work to process this year’s crop of chickens. We ordered 65 Cornish-X chicks 8 weeks ago. Sixty-seven came in the mail. Sixty survived and thrived. Dressed weights ranged from 3.5 pounds to 6.5. Figuring an average of 5 pounds translates to 300 pounds of chicken. Good, home-raised chicken!
We froze 18 of them birds whole and cut up the rest for freezing. When I cut the birds into separate wings, legs, and breasts, I end up with a lot of backs, which don’t have much meat on them. All the backs and necks went into four stock pots. Marlene added water, onions from the garden, celery, peppercorns, and a little salt, then let the contents simmer for a few hours. After that, she strained off the golden liquid and canned it.
Today she canned 28 quarts of stock, which you can see in this photograph...
You’ll notice that James is eating a peach in the picture. Peaches are in season here in N.Y. and Marlene got a deal on a bunch of seconds at the market last week. Peaches rank right up there with blueberries and strawberries as my favorite fruits. So we’ve been eating homemade peach pie, peach smoothies, peach crumble, and just plain peaches.
My garden is, I’m sorry to say, looking shameful. I have neglected it for a couple of weeks and it is overgrown in spots. But it still looks far better than last year’s effort and we are harvesting something from it daily.
Speaking of preserving food, we bought a vacuum sealer for our chicken and other foods we want to freeze. The unit was kind of pricey and the bags are expensive but the machine does an excellent job. Prior to this year, we packaged our chicken in plastic bags and sucked the air out with a small hose duct-taped to the end of a vacuum cleaner, before sealing it with a twist tie.
I also expect to use the sealer to package the dried garlic slices I use to make the garlic powder that I sell every year. 1-gallon glass jars have served the purpose in previous years and will continue to do so but the dried chips would probably keep better in the sealed containers in the freezer.
Speaking of garlic powder, I have been working on an updated version of my Garlic Powder Profits report. It has been out of print for almost two years. If all goes well, I have it back in print later this week and will post information about it then.
Have you noticed that I’ve been putting more photos in my blog lately? I’ve become comfortable with the process and hope the shots are coming through for everyone. I plan to do a photo blog soon about chicken processing day and one all about my Whizbang Chicken Scalder. Stay tuned.......
Shade Cloth & Thoughts on the Hoop House - With our recent bout of spring-like weather I switched the hoop house to shade cloth. The setting sun comes in this side so I'll need one more piece to sha...
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