Friday, February 24, 2012

survive and nose dive friday: slow and quick plant deaths and a whole beef miscalculation


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.


Rachel @ Lautaret Bohemiet said...

Oh man. You guys and those bummers. I'm glad you and Jason don't get too worked up over stuff like that. It's probably why you're still married and relatively happy, even over there in ND all alone.

And of course your friends would stay in on the meat! Who could stay mad at you guys? (I mean, sure, I can stay mad at Jason, but I can't stay mat at you for more than a few seconds, and I'm sure your friends can't either.)

*Reading Between the Lines* said...

Hey...sorry about the plants.
You are ahead of me...I have just began thinking about getting & planting seeds & needing a grow light.
We got a grass feed, hormone free half a beef last meat health wise...but it is kinda of hard not knowing for sure how much it will cost you.

Rena said...

Uh...on the plants, no comment. Other than to comment that I myself am perfectly glad to pay local nurseries to do all the hard work and I'll pick out a few thriving plants come June. Sounds like that's the way to avoid a lot of disappointments. (And you DO have a very good man in Jason, by the way.)

On the beef...didn't we already learn this lesson once? ☺

tamie marie said...

You two are perfectly amazing, you and Jason. I know your life has struggles like every other life, but it sure does have a lot of sweetness.

lori said...

Yes, we had learned the beef lesson once before, and we had learned the grow light BULB vs. grow LIGHTS before. It takes us a couple tries.

I think there's a lot of sweetness, Tamie, and sometimes I feel guilty for it. There's a lot of plain ol' humdrums too, actually.

Tamie said...

Oh, don't feel guilty, please. I mean, life will throw plenty of suffering at you, you know? Why add in guilt too?

I suppose that humdrums are one of the biggest challenges of a blessed, rich life. Isn't it interesting how every single life, no matter its level of blessedness and goodness, has its challenges? I suppose that I imagine that there is a life out there without much challenge, or much struggle. But, probably not.

The Weems Family said...

Actually that is a good price for hormone-free, grass fed beef. Even hamburger here that is good quality is that price in Oregon. And it's a killer price for any other cut. Also, grass-fed beef is lower in fat naturally. So you have more meat/protein per pound than at the grocery. And considering beef prices are going up, I'd say nice job indeed!

Elaine said...

Oh man, I remember when we butchered Daisy and Oreo and calculated the price per pound...I was bummed too. I had thought it would be a really, really good deal. :) At least you have the peace of mind knowing where your beef came from, etc. Plus, that was the about the only time in our 12 years of marriage that we ate so many steaks and roasts.:)

Sorry about your plants.

Shana said...

Tomato plants sure are a pain in the keester aren't they?! None of ours made it last year. We are trying a few seedlings inside again now but plan on buying some organic starter plants too as I LOVE TOMATOES!!!

Too funny about the beef. We bought our first beef a year ago because we, too wanted antibiotic and hormone free and wanted an all grass-fed cow rather than corn. The rancher we got it from explained the whole weight thing to me in advance or I am SURE I would have been like you all. And, is more pricey but it is sooooo much better for us. We got a half cow and it is just about gone and we already put in an order for his next round in June (although the rancher said the prices went up a little-wahhhh!).