Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Planting peas, Fritz and Otto

I got that lovely "breathing not an option" cold. The kind that sets up in your lungs, making you hack so intensely that you feel like your body is trying to cough up your toes. Whee. The other 2 were able to kick it in 3 days.
The weather took a turn for the amazing. Oh yes, today is supposed to get into the high 70's and the next several days are supposed to be just as wonderful.
I am planting the next set of peas. Cabbage, leek and kale also going in. Lots of leek this year as I love tossing them into stew. Homegrown leek are much less gritty, and for the price of one leek at the store, I can get a packet of seeds and grow hundreds.
Peas and beans are nitrogen fixing (meaning they grab nitrogen from the air and put it into the soil), the flowers are pretty... but the taste of peas picked right off the vine and popped seconds later into your mouth... like candy.
I remember when I was about 6 being at my Mom's cousin's house in Germany. A small farm with a stable, the world's most evil jet black pony, the rabbit hutches, the ferrets, the big garden, rows and rows of peas. They put me and my next younger sister to work helping to pick the peas. Our cousin told us to try one and after that they desperately tried to get us to stop.
It was an amazing farm. There were pigs in the barn, but we were not allowed to see them. You see, Uncle Fritz had a glass eye from an incident involving a pig and a pitchfork. Not kidding. His brother, my Uncle Otto, loved to fish. In particular he liked to catch eels and smoke them. Have you ever seen confirmed chocoholic little kids pass up dessert for more smoked eel? Yeah, it was that good.
My attention (after being physically removed from the pea patch) zeroed in on the animals. The trained ferrets that would scamper all over us hoping to steal candy from our pockets. Trained you ask, why yes they were. For a long time that part of my family used ferrets to help hunt rabbits.
The pony, oh I was soooo intent on winning him over. His ears were pinned, stomping his itty bitty hooves, he just wanted to squish me. No fear, I had a plastic replica that looked just like him, he WILL love me, just as long as I had enough treats. We settled on taking treats nicely and a few neck scratches. He protested by chomping the air, but not directed at me.
The big, fat, cute bunnies... oh were they sweet. We rounded up treats for them, petted and snuggled them, and later it seems we ate them. Chicken cacciatore, they told us it was chicken! Only after dinner when we went to give them one last snuggle did we realize some of the hutches were empty.
Even though some of the family are avid hunters, I think all of us are genetically predisposed to caring for animals. Like Uncle Fritz and Otto used to have a pet skunk (orphaned baby they found). They also had a deer. Yet another orphan that was adopted. Fritz raised it and Otto teased it. They used to leave the door open and it would walk in and out as it wanted. It was a buck and on Christmas back then some of the ornaments were made of chocolate. The deer loved chocolate, effectively eating every ornament it could reach. Deer don't forget. While it adored Fritz, he grew up and stayed close to the farm. He hated Otto. Otto teased him one last time and the buck, sporting his pointy antlers, chased Otto up a tree. When Bambi goes bad, he goes very bad. Otto was stuck in the tree most of the day until Fritz got home. Otto needed some stitches, Fritz meanwhile gave the buck more treats.
I need a farm. I need an evil blood lusting pony and big, fat, tasty bunnies. I guess until I get my farm I will just plant peas in my yard, remember the past and dream of what may yet be.

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