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Relishing time with the Family

August 6, 2010 in General Info

Well it’s Project season at the day job. Everyone is in high gear and the days are getting longer as the first few whiffs of panic hit the air as people start to realize the fall deadlines are approaching. It’s the time of the year where I always wish I was spending more time with the Family. But my time seems to be split between the day job, and the work on the farm on the weekends. The kids are full on into their activities and we seems to spend an inordinate amount of time driving them about.

So I try to take whatever opportunity I can to spend some time with the family and this weekend it was pickles to the rescue! I had planted a nice size batch of pickling cucumbers on my trellis in the garden and they had come on in full force the last week giving me 20+ pounds of cucumbers.

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While I searched through my recipes, Samantha pulled out the canning jars and got them into the dish washer. I explained to Miranda the intricacies of washing pickling cucumbers (knock all the little black things off the bumps, get the blossom end well), armed her with a vegetable scrubbing bush and sent her to work.

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Meanwhile, Tommy and I set up the “tools”, consisting of the sausage grinder, various pots, pans and cutting boards. We got the pots of water on the stove and the peppers and onions cut. We identified the larger cukes as candidates for relish and I put the boy to work running the grinder. And once he was on it I couldn’t pull him off. He would just keep switching arms as he got tired and refuse to let me help with anything other than feeding the cucumbers through.

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The relish had to sit overnight so we turned our attention to the rest of the pickles and we spent the afternoon slicing cucumbers, packing hot jars into boiling water baths and watching timers. The next afternoon it was a couple more canners of relish and finally we had our work on display.

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So we worked all weekend, but we worked as a Family and built those ties and connections just a little bit more. The kids were able to become a bit more familiar with a skill we are quickly losing and hopefully understand a bit more about from where food actually originates. I’ll take spending time with the family to develop that knowledge over an expensive day trip to Sea World anytime.

Dill pickles = 5 quarts
Bread and butter pickles = 7 pints
Sliced sandwich stackers = 2 pints
Relish = 26 half-pints
Time spent with the family = Priceless

- Tom at the Broken B

Eating out of the garden

August 4, 2010 in General Info

Well I got home tonight from the day job and my wonderful wife had made a stir-fry dish using vegetables from the garden. She had picked corn, yellow squash, and green beans not 50 feet from the house. There is just nothing like vegetables from your own garden and I have to admit I even picked around the chicken to get more of the veggies.

I don’t know what it is about enjoying the fruit of your own labors, but there always seems to be a deep sense of satisfaction that makes it better. Take the corn in the dish. It wasn’t one of the “Super-Sweet” varieties, and it didn’t do particularly well this year. I planted late because we are surrounded with fields of GMO corn and I didn’t want cross pollination with ours. High winds knocked over a good portion of our small patch and of course trying to do this without chemicals means we shared most of our small ears with the bugs. But seeing the corn in my bowl, knowing that we had prepared the soil, planted the seed, cared for the plants and then harvested it ourselves, that made all the difference.

There is a lesson there I hope to instill in my children. In our automated pre-packaged and pre-prepared world there is still a desire, and truly, even a need to be able to do things for ourselves. It integrates us, makes us a part of the process and helps us root ourselves into our lives. It is what builds family traditions and experiences and becomes the stories told to the next generation. It isn’t always easy or convienient, but it is fullfilling.

105 degrees, the A/C is out, and it’s alright.

August 3, 2010 in General Info

Of course it always happens when you need it most. With temperatures hovering at 105 the central air decides its time to give up the ghost and on a weekend no less. But this isn’t the first time we’ve been at this rodeo so we know what to do. We breakout the fans, pull the small window unit out of storage in the tool shed, locate the A/C paperwork and make calls to the local repair guys so we’ll be at the top of the list come Monday morning.

The kids get to sleep in the front house in Papa’s spare bedroom and we get the window unit installed in the master bedroom to start cooling it down in just a few minutes. Sunday afternoon during the worse of the heat we head into town and have a late lunch at one of our favorite burger places and grab a movie as a family. Monday morning the A/C guys are calling and Samantha gets one over to fixed the A/C around lunch. Of course the warranty expired on the part just a few weeks ago, so we get to buy a new one. Man can those manufacturers time it or what?

But with all this going on, I’m actually feeling pretty good about the whole thing. It all kind of demonstrates why we are living the way we do. We were prepared for this type of inconvenience to occur because we’ve been through it before. The last time this happened a couple years ago we weren’t nearly prepared and the A/C was out for days. We had to run out and find a window unit and try to locate an A/C guy in the local area and in all we were pretty uncomfortable. But this time we didn’t panic, we just worked our plan. We had the extra A/C window unit on hand and I had even left the small wooden brace in place in the window just in case. The unit slid right in with no fuss and we had cool air in minutes.

Because we’ve eliminated debt and managed our money, taking the family out and even buying the new parts for the A/C wasn’t an issue. It just makes me feel good to know we can handle the small stuff like this without it even being a road bump. It means if something bigger happens we be just fine. Every day we make a little more progress towards a bit more secure life. And that has me feeling pretty good.

-Tom of the Broken B