Sunday, August 15, 2010

Oy Vay (or) Don't Count Your Pickles Before They've, er, Pickled

Is there a story attached to that title? You betcha!
Oh boy. Oh boy oh boy. Oh expletive expletive! Oh $^%^&%^&*!!!!!!!! Fortunately for all of you, I can't really share much in regards to my current foul attitude. What I can share is a smidge of sage advice. And that is this: never build a home. Never, never, not once, never, ever should you consider such an endeavor. If you are romanced by a lovely lot - an empty field and swaying trees - a windy road and quiet country - if you picture something lovely and perfect to build in these locations then immediately smack your own face two times, shake your head vigorously, and change the subject.

You're welcome.

Let's just say that we now are wrangled in some messiness that fulfills almost every negative stereotype we've ever heard. It's the type of stuff that always falls in the "worst case" category when people talk about the pitfalls and foibles of building. We look horrified and they say "No no! THAT doesn't happen, it's just the worst case scenario!" Well. There ya go. And here we are. And that's all I'm gonna say about that.

But moving on to happier news: Like all good homesteaders, Jer and I invited some friends over for an 'ol fashioned pickling party. You know the kind. Everyone gathers around steaming, vinegary pots of brine. Then everyone gathers around empty mason jars, gleaming with promise. Then everyone excitedly stares at the mountain of cucumbers. And starts to ask who's in charge of what? And did you know that botulism is used in botox? And that it's probably time for lunch. And the cucumberse can be cut up after a beer.
Ok, so mostly it was the ladies who lost the will to pickle and the men folk finished the enormous task of turning 500-ish lbs of bright green cucs into salty, shriveled, army-green treats. Essentially we heckled the guys while they oversaw the Herculean task and plan to take most of the credit in 6 weeks when we eat them. So what?? For the record, pickling was our idea. Had it not been for us, the guys would never have experienced the joy of sterilizing mason jars.

So - we've covered two of the hottest topics discussed right here at No Name Farm/Ranch. Right?......(ahem: homesteading and homebuilding) To bring it full circle I'll include the third, and arguably the hottest topic of all: salvage.

See, pickling was mostly suggested because of another (yea, yea ANOTHER) sweet salvage find I made last weekend. A local guy was cleaning out the parent's barn and came across a gorgeous art deco light fixture pulled from an old country church. It had all the classic deco lines with intricate etchings to boot. I got it for aaaaalmost nothing.

How do you like that? I picture this in the entryway by our front door in the house that will never be built.

When I arrived to pick her up, the guy had graciously loaded four cases of old mason jars in varying sizes. These also were packed away into the overstuffed barn. Since I told him we had property in the country, he assumed we were probably the type to make preserves, to pickle, to be your all-round country folks, so he tossed in the lot of jars for free. Good man.

I promptly washed them all and fixed myself a stiff summer drink in the only mason jar that came with a handle. They double as lovely glasses, tupperware, etc. To me, the sight of mason jars is as comforting as chickens in the backyard. The world can change around you but some things were made so right the first time that they're not worth changing. Chickens scratching, pickles pickling, gardens growing. Simple stuff like this gets lost in the jumble of greedy dreams to build big houses on hills in the country. The key is remembering why you want to be out on that hill in the first place. Doesn't have anything to do with the damn house.


John said...

Sorry to read of your troubles or challenges. I feel we are about to fall into that same world ourselves. I have been reading back on your old posts trying to catch up to speed and it looks like we are following right in your footsteps. We are about to close on ten wooded acres north of you outside of West near Aquilla Texas and our work is cut out for us. It is overgrown and full of poison ivy and greenbriar but loaded with trees. Fortunately for us, it does already have a trailer on it that we can use temporarily until we build our own house. Were you in Americorps? I saw the shirt in one of your pics. My wife and I both did our ten months up here in Ft Worth building houses for Habitat. That's why we are going to build our own! I am really enjoying your blog and hope things get better. You motivate me to write in mine more often. We shall see.

The Vegetarian Hunter said...

Arrgg, now it is going to drive me crazy wondering what all the stereotypes are and what is going on. I really really hope everything turns out well for you two.
I love your blog! I think it is hilarious that my cats like to roll in the dirt just like your donkeys!
Hopefully as things calm down and get resolved you can clue us into the drama!

jennakl said...

John - welcome to the incredibly terrifying and exciting world of landownership! It definitely sounds like you're about 10 steps ahead since you'll be able to move right out there, utilities are set up, etc. I wish we had considered that more carefully but then, we wouldn't have our particular plot of property and we just love the stupid place. And yes I was in Americorps here in Austin but in a school program. I really wish I had served in the Habitat program - what a huge advantage that would be right about now. We're both very jealous of your beautiful property and that you can build your own home. Good luck!! Will you have animals? Farm? Stay in touch! Can't wait to see where this leads for you...
And Vegetarian Hunter - thank you so much for your well wishes! Things are really looking up as of late afternoon today...maybe there'll be a blog post about it in the near future :) I'm glad to hear that my odd donkey behavior extends to other members of the animal kingdom. I'm so glad you've enjoyed our little story - as long as someone gets a laugh it makes our misshaps worthwhile!