Bad stuff happens- to everyone. It’s how you respond to it that demonstrates your character. I’ve never understood why in some situations I get angry, maybe even curse and stomp off to fume in private and in other situations I sigh and calmly try to figure out what the solution is going to entail. It might have something to do with what is in my control and what is not, what my expectation is and whether the other party is cooperating. These last couple of months out here in the country have been lovely and on occasion, frustrating and sad. The thing I have always tried to apply to less than positive situations is that on a lesser note, perhaps as an underlying theme, is there a lesson to be learned for the future? And I can assure you, that typically there is.
Keep your eye on the prize, err the machine!
A couple of weeks ago, I was so excited to finally be able to make ham salad again. Ok- excited is an overstatement, what I mean was that I actually planned several days’ worth of meals around a food processor that I had gotten for Christmas that I was anxious to try because it replaced a one note, no thrill kitchen drone that I no longer had. This new processor had already cut me- TWICE, and I was still excited to get it going to create one of my favorite lazy lunch treats, ham salad. And of course, I would need to document it with a blog and recipe post, naturally. This machine had a larger bowl, actually TWO bowls to choose from, several cutting styles, four speeds and a feeder tube. So, I bought my ham, made it as Sunday dinner (naturally), saved the bone for red beans and rice (another recipe and blog post, YES!) and put away the leftover pieces of ham to make the lunch staple that I would be eating off crackers for the first part of the week. Well, eating off crackers is right, here’s what happened. The next afternoon, I gathered the ingredients for the deliciousness that was on its way such as my farm fresh eggs, hardboiled and peeled, dill pickle and Duke’s mayonnaise (this was before my home-made mayo journey- which also tested my patience and resolve to make everything from scratch). I pulled the container with the ham pieces and selected the best cuts and eyeballed how much I would need. That was my first mistake. Next I assembled this professional grade food processor (ha!) and set aside a bowl where I would mix everything after it had been cut to the size that best suited white bread and saltine crackers. As the machine pulsed, I noticed some pieces of ham were getting dragged along the side and missing the blade all together, so I had to stop, move stuff around and return to chopping. It just appeared that there wasn’t enough ham, so I added more, and then a little more and of course because I had added more that naturally meant that it would take LONGER to process so I let it run…for several minutes. After I stopped the processor and from outside the bowl, saw the walls of it streaked pink, I opened the lid and cried like Lucille Ball- waaaaaahhhhhh!! I had over processed all that lovely ham and it had turned into mushy paste, like pate. Remember that pink stuff that they said McDonald’s was using to make chicken mcnuggets? That’s what this looked like. This was not salvageable- nope- it was downright disgusting and unpalatable. But I tried. Yes, I didn’t like the idea of waste so I chopped up the dill and the hardboiled eggs, watching this time that they didn’t become a paste like my last ingredient and I bravely tried to combine them, oh I tried so hard to make them blend. The correct size and texture of processed ham for a salad is the size of bitten off pencil erasers. What I had was Elmer’s glue. My lesson here, cutting myself AGAIN as I washed the intricate, multiple pieces of this expensive machine are several- here are some of them- 1) Newer and fancier doesn’t always necessarily mean better, being humble gets the job done and 2) Never take your eyes off the machine believing that more will improve the outcome-I let it go and got back a mess and waste.
Have all the tools that you need, even when you hope you’ll never need them.
At this point, we have not needed nor have I wanted a handgun or a shotgun out here. I don’t particularly fear for my safety, which probably is a little naïve. I’ve just never felt the justification of arming myself for an intruder. It wasn’t until I moved to Texas that I ever truly was worried about someone coming into an office I worked at to start shooting. It just seems at times, that there would have been more desperation in Las Vegas than here in the DFW. What there is more of here is access to guns. Let me put it plainly, the only threat to myself directly happened in Las Vegas, a death threat where I was told that I was being watched and that they knew where my kids walked to school. No one was ever caught and nothing came of it. The only place where we had a home invasion happened in Las Vegas; the man was drunk and kept insisting that it was his home to the point that he was belligerent with the police and they hog tied him and carried him off. But while these two threats of violence happened away from the farm life, I felt the fear greater out here because I know people can access guns here and carry them around all the time. I haven’t felt the need to lock my doors in the last 3 years since moving out to the country, honestly because we go in and out so much that it wouldn’t make sense. Also, we live far out and there isn’t anything to want to steal from these parts. However, my husband has mentioned that he wanted me to have a shotgun out here since most of the day I am alone and he doesn’t get home sometimes until way after dark. He wanted it not only for protection in the home, but while out with the animals in the event a copperhead snake shows up. I know how to shoot. I’ve shot a rifle and a handgun when I was a teen. I know that we can coexist safely and sanely with a weapon in our home with our family. Several months ago, I had a situation come up where a weapon would have made a difficult situation less painful and really brought to my attention how badly prepared I was. We had two half-sister Nubian goats that we had been preparing to breed but we were still on getting them in a secure pen. So, for the time being, Bootsy and Sugar had the roam of the property. While it sounds idyllic, its messy and destructive. Goat poo, like pebbles, everywhere you can imagine and they like to rest on car hoods. I had just come home with the kids and I saw the goats being chased to the front yard by our dog, who likes to show off that he can herd them when necessary. I asked my daughter to take some stuff out to the trash when I heard her call out crying. I didn’t understand what she was saying but she was sobbing that Bootsy was hurt. When the small goat trotted over to me, I could see that a sizable portion of her intestines were hanging out of her side. She seemed oblivious or perhaps she was in shock because she carried on like it was any other time. This was a fatal injury, with no surgical possibility of putting her back together. I struggled as I searched for something to put her out of her misery, as I knew I was responsible for her to let her go on. But I had nothing. Nothing to put her down immediately and safely. I had no gun, not even a sharp knife to cut her throat. I tried pathetically to slice with a box cutter but it barely caught some of her goat hair in its short blade. At this point, the young goat was starting to panic a little as she grew weaker. Sadly, our neighbors ignored my daughters call out to them. I had her come back and she paced in the background sobbing. I am so thankful that within the next five minutes, a couple from the next town over that pasture their cows around our property had driven by to check on them. We waved them down and I begged for their help. This long-time rancher was prepared in his truck with a good long knife, ending her short life and taking her body away. I have never felt so useless in all my life when it came to being responsible for another animal. I was prepared in my heart and head to put her down, because it is my responsibility to her. But I was not prepared with the tools to do so and it cut me just as deep as that knife went. Loss of any life, is unfortunate and to be avoided. But the loss of a life that depends on you for all its needs, because you are its steward, is heartbreaking. You must know, from the moment you take on this adventure, this challenge to live a life out on the farm, that you have responsibilities that take you away from your family, your sleep and other hobbies. Any animal, no matter how big or small, whether they be a pet or are there to serve a purpose on your farm, deserves to live and die in dignity. Spur of the moment plans for dinner or extended stays in town, need to work around the farm schedule. Vacations need to be planned around who you can get to water and feed the animals that depend on you. In less than two weeks we are adding two more goats and at least 3 feeder pigs to our farm adventure. We have a new farm dog to learn the ropes with Tucker. I can assure you, that by the time all my new animals show up, I will be better prepared.
What would be the first tool you know you want to get when you come out to the farm? Have you ever had a tool not work out the way you had planned? Let me know in the comments below.