Sunday, March 22, 2020
The sky is overcast and grey this evening. The haze of blooming pear has relented. The daffodils out around the log cabin dance and bob like little maidens at harvest time. The chickens, ducks, and goose are scattered about the yard hunting bugs and pulling up bright green grass pushing its way through the remnants of last year.
I’d call it idyllic. Four acres tucked away in the countryside halfway between Tulsa and Oklahoma City. The plot looks out over a lake on the north and east edge. The small house comfortably fits me, Wren, and Beryl. Let’s not forget Arty the dog, Nexus the fat black cat, and Niju the tabby calico.
I made my order today for my orchard that I’ve been dreaming of putting in since we bought this property almost seven years ago now. Two years back, we went to the state forestry department and bought up 50 mulberry trees, 50 lilac bushes, 100 sand plums, and 100 American pear whips. I planted those up the driveway and along the north, west, and south edges of the property line. They won’t bear fruit for another five years, but they are already hindering the run off we get up on this slope.
I should receive my trees sometime next month to put into a patch I’ve had on reserve for an orchard for years now. Three apple trees, three cherry trees, three peach trees, two pecan trees, and twenty-five strawberry plants. Oh, and a spare bag of watermelon seeds.
We’ll be finishing the chicken moat around the vegetable garden in the next couple weeks. Plans are to put in water-trough raised bed gardens on concrete or brick tiles. We have bermuda grass out here, which is highly invasive. It and the deer have made me cry one too many times in the past years as I’ve made futile attempts to grow food out on this piece of property I call The Vintage Farm.
I’ll be getting in a proper compost bin to put in the garden next week too. I already installed a little compost bucket on my kitchen sink cabinet door. I matched it with a small garbage can, both of which have been working out wonderfully.
I made a run to the store today. That was…a dark experience. Shelves lay bare. Toilet paper, hand towels, disinfectant, counter spray, diapers, flour, frozen fruit, it went on. Some people wore disposable gloves as they carefully picked up items and set them in their cart as they tried not to let their sleeves touch the rails. I bought two-three-four of every item I needed. I’m not going back to the store until at least June. Not if I can help it.
We received a call this morning from Ma. She’s come down with a bad cough. There were no tests at the emergency center. Our hearts sunk into our stomachs. Slowly, Wren and I are realizing that the low count of confirmed cases in our state is not because of the distance between houses and rural living. It’s not because the schools closed down quickly. It’s not because restaurants were told to limit. It’s because there are no tests available to check. The government has been too slow with the uptake.
We returned from the store, strung out and stressed. Wren doused my hands in sanitizer after I got out of the store, before I touched the door to the car. I sat stock still, wringing my hands, trying not to touch any of the surfaces as best I could. I could feel the anxiety creeping up my chest, trying to strangle my throat. I wanted to be home. I wanted to be clean. I wanted this to all be over with.
I got in the house, carefully stripped out of everything and dropped it all in the washer before taking a scalding shower. Returning to the laundry room, Wren and I broke out the bottle of rubbing alcohol and painstakingly wiped down every item from the grocery store as I put it up in our pantry and deep freeze.
It’s been a day. I can only hope that it gets better. Looking out on our world, I don’t know when that will be, but I don’t see it getting better before summer. We’ll see.
I have an orchard coming. There’ll be a vegetable garden. We will get there. We’ll be okay.
Potatoes O’Brien with sausage links and a wedged, salted tomato.
1 lb Pinto beans, 1 Tbsp dry ranch dressing mix, 2 tsp vegetable bouillon, 5 cups water all in the instant pot for 45 minutes at high pressure. Let naturally come down in pressure for 30 minutes before releasing remaining steam.
Yeast Rolls: 2 tsp dry yeast bloomed in 1 1/3 warm water with 4 tbsp honey. Add to 1 tsp salt mixed with 4 cups flour. Mix, knead, create roll shapes and allow to proof in a greased glass casserole. Bake for 20 minutes in a 400 F oven or until golden brown.
Banana Bread: 3 bananas, 2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 cup plant-based butter, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 goose egg, 1/4 cup chopped pecans. Baked in 350 F oven for 60 minutes until toothpick inserts cleanly.
Sweet tea: 1 large pot of water set to a boil with 1/3 cup sugar. Once boiling, shut the heat off and add two bags of tea. Let that steep ’til dark. Pour into a pitcher and add water to dilute to taste. I keep this stocked in the fridge, making a new jug about every other day.
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