Back in SoDak

I’m back west of the Minnesota border–at least temporarily–staying at another friend’s farm in the rural Corona/Twin Brooks area, in sight of the long dark line of the Couteau hills. My mailing address is still in Big Stone County, though–so you could say I have dual citizenship.

While the Scamp was a beaut, the logistics of staying on Borrowed Farm with a needy and displacement-distressed pooch got to be a bit overwhelming. It seemed less stressful for all involved to look for some easier accommodation.

It also occurred to me that if H came up to see me, he would be hard-pressed to get through the door of that little thing. The thought of me, H, M, and Vega all fitting in there together? Picture those tiny little clown cars where a dozen people magically pile out. Except with us, it wouldn’t be nearly so magical.

The dog, who seemed at first disturbed by yet another move, is starting to settle in to the farmhouse and delights of doggie-ness: mainly, drinking out of the (yes, clean and with no chemical additives) toilet. She has attempted a few other doggie delights to no avail: I’ve had to slap her butt a couple of times about chasing cats and chickens.

Really, the chasing cats thing didn’t work out very well for her anyway–these farm cats just growl and swipe at her when she noses at them, rears up on her hind legs and woofs, hoping they’ll run so she can give chase. What a buzz kill!

A little while ago, when I was out burning garbage (yes, that’s what many rural people do when it would burn a heckuva lot of gas to haul it somewhere), she started after a hen, and I put the kybosh on that right away.  I will NOT have a chicken-chasing dog.  The cat thing there seems to be no helping.

The chickens got a bit flustered and moved off into the tall grass, with the rooster standing guard on the edge on their little refuge–clucking and crowing to protect his flock, and the dog–chastened by her butt-whacking and “bad dog” naming–chilled out considerably.

After a long day in which I cleared out the Scamp, made a run for the border, then went back across for work and to rent a storage shed and pick up the trailer, I can’t help but think of canning.

I’ve finally picked up my two lugs of peaches from Bonnie’s Hometown Grocery (the farm mistress has three of her own lugs partially emptied in the kitchen).  Before leaving Clinton, I stopped at my burned-out house garden to pull onions and pick tomatoes, sweet peppers, and squash.  I stopped back at Borrowed Farm to grab the hot peppers I’d stashed, and to pick some of the seemingly endless supply of sweet peppers in my gardens there.

Besides the couple of cases of canning jars and big bag of lids and rings I picked up at Bonnie’s and Bill’s in Ortonville, my vehicle is loaded with produce, and smells fabulous.  Since the temps are finally cooling off, and I’m radically slowing down, I think it’ll have to live there for the night–peach salsa is on my mind, but I know better than to attempt that project tonight.

If they ever find and convict the asshat that torched my house, I’m pretty prepared to sue them for the extreme insanity they’ve caused me, not the least of which destroying my kitchen and all my food preservation supplies right during the height of canning season.  Not to mention all the work of last season that I was still enjoying: cases of assorted jams, jellies, pickles, salsas and sauces, relishes and chutney, ratatouille and vegetables, etc. etc.

It’s not like you can just walk down to the store and replace that for a few bucks.  That was hours and days and weeks of work–that was my own food, lovingly tended and preserved with care.

It’s awesome that I have good friends who let me use their kitchens, but it’s also hard to work in unfamiliar surroundings with unfamiliar equipment and around unfamiliar schedules.  Oh, and also working around the fact that I have a torched-out house that needs sorting through and cleaning right when I need to be focused on filling the winter larder. Wherever the heck that’s going to end up being.

OK. End rant. But mark my words, those bastards are going to pay. And if they didn’t have cash, they’d be on no-gloves hot pepper chopping duty for a year if I were the judge.


In the morning, I’m looking forward to hearing the rooster wake the day. I remember the last time I stayed here, when I was in the process of interviewing for my current position and then looking for a place to live (ha!), I had a cell phone that I’d set to crow when a call came in (mostly to amuse M). But the service I had at that time didn’t work up here, so my phone hardly ever chirped when I was on the place.

Every time I heard that big boy let loose out in the yard, I’d glance over at my phone, thinking it was ringing before realizing that it was, in fact, the real deal. Then, after a few days, when I got into a better cell coverage area, I’d hear the phone go off and ignore it for a few seconds, thinking it was just the farm rooster.

Don’t ask me why I thought there was a rooster in my truck, traveling 70mph down the interstate and crowing. In light of recent events, it wouldn’t be the strangest thing that’s happened.


One response

  1. Talk about events-you win a mower and you lose a house. I feel really bad for you. Steve and I were involved in a fire in Canada one time. To try and catagorize our losses was hard and we were just on vacation. You know I am hoping that the arson was some kids messing around and it got out of hand. The alternative would make me angry and fearfull. Most years I can and freeze a lot. We have 2 houses this year-both for sale-(not by choice)- so did not put much garden in.There is no way to put a price on the work involved from ground prep to in the sealed jars. If you would like to use any of my stuff-I have 2 pressure canners, waterbath canner, 3 stainless steel pots, a small freezer, juicer,vaccume sealer -the regular stuff you can/freeze with, please let me know. As far as clothes, you would drowned in mine but I’d hate to see you have to go naked for the clean up. Anyway, let me know if I can help. Julie Kunrath Cell 320-760-6775.

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