Today I have several unfortunate incidents to report.
#1) We were initially ecstatic about the high germination rate and quick growth of the plants in our container garden. Our enthusiasm turned to confusion when nearly all the basil and cilantro grew up weak and spindly, dozens of wispy little stems that bent over to form toy train tunnels. Our confusion ended in dismay when we learned that those are symptoms of too little sunlight and that our best bet was to pull them up and start over. The plants had grown so quickly to find light; placing them at a window and supplementing with a full spectrum light bulb were obviously not enough this time of year. (We have a real grow light we should use.)
#2) Aside from the herbs, it appeared that our three or four tomato plants were growing at a more sure and steady rate and developing thicker bases. "Yippee!" we thought, and took care that the light was lovingly and disproportionately focused toward them versus the decorative pea plants and some other random edible leaf thing Jason had planted (which are also faring well). Yesterday morning, while Ziah was taking a leisurely early morning bath at an hour that no other children in the entire earth were awake, I decided to water our container garden. It's in the middle of the bathroom, the warmest room with the best light. When the container's reservoir was full, water began to trickle out the side hole - that's the way we know it's full - so I grabbed for a towel. It came off the door rack hard, and its opposite edge, with the precision of a judo chop, flung backwards toward the container and snapped every one of those tomato plants off at the base. None of the other plants was affected. Just the tomatoes. My jaw was agape. Then it was clenched as I reached for the cell phone to inform my dear husband by text message what I had done. He texted back, "Hmmm." and then, "Oh well." He's a good man, that one. A good man who, should North Dakota be the focus of a nuclear threat in the next month and our family be confined to the house, will sit with us and look over at that container of decorative pea plants, then look over at me, who will shrug my shoulders as we die of starvation, and he won't say two words of meanness.
#3) Late last summer, we got in touch with a local guy who raises and sells grass-fed, hormone-free beef. I talked with him by phone several times, often at length about how the cow is raised, butchered, processed, etc. The term he always used for calculating what we'd pay him and the butcher was "hanging weight." The cow's hanging weight was estimated to be about 750 pounds, so the meat would be around $2.69 a pound - hamburger, steaks, roasts, ribs. How excited was I? I called a couple girlfriends and talked them into the deal, and they likewise talked a couple more people into it. After all, you can't even get cheap-o crap-o hamburger for that price. So we all went in together on a whole cow and placed our order to the butcher for how we wanted it wrapped - how much hamburger per package, how thick of steaks. Then we waited several months until our cow was ready for butcher. Fast forward to a couple weeks ago when we got the call that the beef was available for pickup. One of my friends took four boxes in to pick up her meat, and they filled up two boxes 3/4 of the way full. After some phone calls and google searches, we realized our (MY) mistake: hanging weight and take home weight are two different things. So, any of you who plan to buy a half beef or something, figure on taking home about 60% of the hanging weight.
In the end, the beef cost us just under $5 a pound. That's expensive for hamburger (though currently, the cheap-o hamburger at Wal-mart is just under $4 per pound), but it's a good deal for roasts and steaks and ribs. Plus, we all got several packages of liver, tongue, and other delectables. heh heh. I don't know if I really want to google cow tongue recipes.
Lesson learned on that one was to not rope your friends into something unless you're darn well sure of yourself. We did offer to buy the meat from anyone who wanted out of the deal, but everyone decided to stay in.