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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

captain stubing exits stage right

It is a saddish day for us here at Baba Capra. John took Umlaut, Captain Stubing and Audrey to the livestock auction today. It was difficult for me, since I didn't know what kind of homes they were going to, and I hate the idea of them being mistreated or neglected. But Audrey is going to a dairy, and Stubing and Umlaut are being fattened up to be sold as white packages. And that's not too bad. The thing that concerns me is not knowing what the boys' situation will be until they're butchered. I really hope they aren't going to some sort of feedlot where there are animals nose to derriere awash in a sea of their own excrement, eating food that is completely wrong for their systems and kept from passing through death's door at an inconvenient time by being pumped full of antibiotics. We've made the break from feedlot beef, and are using goat to replace lamb (and most of the lamb we have eaten hasn't been feedlot). It's not too difficult to make responsible fish decisions, especially since we don't eat a ton of it as a family (except for me--I could founder on sashimi), and we haven't purchased farmed salmon for about five years. Now we need to figure out how to get a supply of chicken and pork, and that's going to be a problem. We have some neighbors who raise their own meat chickens, but I'm sure they wouldn't want to do extras for us, because it is a truly hateful activity--you'll notice that we don't do it ourselves. We did it once so we'd know how, but that's it unless we're forced into it.

Our hayfield is a headache still. When we first moved here, the man who bought the property behind us (I'll tell that story later) asked a friend of his to cut the hay. Well, the first crop was mostly June grass, as you could expect from a 20-year-old hayfield. Also, he waited until the alfalfa had all blossomed, so there was practically no nutritive value left in it, then he left it out in the field to get rained on. So it was junk--but 2 of the three junk-making factors were his fault. Not wanting that to happen again, John asked my cousin Ryan (who farms about 700+ acres in the area) to cut our field for the rest of the summer. Ryan cut the other three crops on time, so we ended up with really great hay, except for the last crop, because it rained steadily for days in a row, and everyone around here got what they call "licorice" hay, because it's black with rot. Meanwhile, the neighbor's friend cut all of his hay crops about two weeks later than they should be cut, and generally continued cementing his reputation as one of the most incompetent farmers in the area. This spring, Ryan cut our first crop of hay--the June grass--and evidently our neighbor was expecting his friend to cut the rest of the crops, and got really upset when Ryan showed up for the second cutting. Another detail is that we let the neighbor come put a ditch on the south side of our field so he could get water to his part of the field. Stupid morons that we were, because that opens up the box of easements, and possibly affects our property value. So we have an antagonistic relationship with our neighbor, even though John paid him twice what good hay was worth, and at least three times what the garbage we got was worth. We figure it's best to cut ties as much as possible, because every dealing we have with him exacerbates the problem. The neighbor across the street approached us about cutting our hay and using some of it for his horses, so the last couple of cuttings we've had him cut our half of the field, and it has been a worse disaster than using the other guy. He cuts it way late, doesn't rake it, and this time hasn't even picked up the bales. At least this guy has a reason, since he has a whole other job besides farming, and of course he gets pretty busy. John is really frustrated about it, though, because what with his job, Voice Male (also known as his Other Job) and his church calling, it's not like he has the time to worry about one more thing that was supposed to be taken off his hands. It's annoying. Someday I hope to have a truck that I can drive and fit all the kids into, and I can take care of more of the honey-do errands.

So, the man who bought the property behind us. Here's an overview. This is a guy who sued the state of Nevada for exterminating his pigeons during the bird-flu scare, and used the money to buy a Hummer and put a trailer house in a flood plain next to a railroad track. Really.

Last night was Back To School Night. They're still not finished with the construction of the addition, but it looks like it will be pretty nice. I'm sad that they closed down Honeyville Elementary, because it would be fun for the kids to just walk a block up the hill to school. Especially since Century Elementary is now being expanded for the second time, and the classes are getting huge. I've got to believe that it's not all kids from Bear River that are making it so full. Surely we have enough kids here in Honeyville--and Deweyville, since their school got torn down--that we could support an elementary school. I hate the disposable approach to old buildings that seems so prevalent. Old schools and old churches are so interesting.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

tarpaper still

My brother- and sister-in-law have lent us the orange cleaner they used to get the tarpaper off their floor, and I'm pleased to say that it works pretty well. There are a lot of areas that need multiple coats--like 5 or 6--but at least I can see some progress being made. I've set a goal for myself to get the floor cleaned and painted by Christmas, so today I have on some groovy kneepads that keep coming unstrapped when I kneel down, the dadgummers.

I called our electrician the other day to install the new lights in the kitchen, but he hasn't called back yet. He's always wicked busy, because he's the best electrician around. We loved the job he did for us when he rewired the entire house after we moved in. He cleans up after himself, instead of leaving a bunch of plaster and wire ends and dust everywhere, and he's really meticulous in his work. I think these lights will look nice, and I think they'll provide a lot more light than the manky chandelier we have now. It's not hideous or anything, but one of the arms is nonfunctional, and I hate cooking in the dark. It makes me feel like I'm eating at that horrible Friday's restaurant in Provo. Once we take the chandelier out, maybe I'll see if I can remove the fake candle parts and put real candles in the arms, and hang it outside over the patio.

This past Sunday we had goat again. John's parents came to dinner because his dad taught a marriage class in our ward, and they were not looking forward to having goat, but I think they really liked it--his dad had seconds, anyway. This time I braised it and I was much happier with the results. It's such a mild-tasting meat, and when it's braised it's really tender and juicy, too. I've had other people in our family try it, and they're all pleasantly surprised by how good it is. You sear the meat, then deglaze the pan with a little bit of stock and add the mirepoix, then return the meat to the pan and add the rest of the stock, then it's into the oven for long, slow cooking. Good stuff, Brother Maynard.

We had our first tomatoes on Sunday. They were good, but a little wonky, as First Tomatoes tend to be. It's like the plant has to work the kinks out for the first couple, then it takes a break before it showers you in fruit. We've been eating squash almost every day, much to Emmett's chagrin. He renounces squash and all its dark works.