Monday, October 31, 2011

Averting a Total Tomato Take-down

You know those times when you just want to say "fuck it", throw in the towel, and call it a day? I'm in that space as we speak. After a grueling 10 days of battling one nasty virus in which I did not get out of my pajamas, brush my hair, do the dishes, or stay awake for longer than three hours at a time, I have emerged from the other side with a "to do" list that would make Martha Stewart cry. Aside from my home looking like what hurricane Rina had been predicted to do to the Mexican coastline, the farm is at an all-time low. The fall/winter garden hasn't been planted, the compost pile needs to be spread over the beds, the hives need to be harvested and put to bed for the winter, the animal pen needs to be mucked, the goats need their shots, Ethel needs to get pregnant but can't seem to get that done, the animal pen needs to be sprayed to control the urine odors, the rats and mice need to be evicted, the lice on the goats have to go, the plants in the hoop house should be disposed of and composted, loads of crap needs to go to the dump, every inch of everything needs to be cleaned.... Should I go on?

It's moments like these when I wonder "What the fuck am I doing?". What possessed me to think that spending all this time raising animals, growing food, mucking crap, and in general, adding about 101 additional chores to my list of things to do was even remotely a good idea when there is a grocery store right across the street from my home? Clearly, I am a little bit insane.

To add to my tale of woe, in the midst of my sickness something was eating my tomatoes. I'm thinking mice or rats. But then there was also a serious fruit fly infestation. Even the green tomatoes were being affected. And this is where the pity party had to end. There was no way that I was going to lose my crop of tomatoes that I had doted on for six months to insect or vermin. Fuck that! Virus or no virus, something had to be done.

Somewhere on the interwebz, I had seen a nifty trick that some folks do in Italy. They harvest the tomatoes green, but keep a good section of the vine to get them to ripen up off the plant. I harvested 17 pounds of greenies and set them out on the front porch to redden. They are doing fantastic. A few got mushy, but not many. The rest will be put into the crockpot for tomato jam, one of my favorite preserves.

I am slowly recovering, but am still not 100% and we are at day 17. This bug really likes to loiter. In the meantime, I am trying to prevent myself from relapsing by not overdoing it. So I am off to chug some elderberry juice and get ready for Halloween festivities.

Anyone out there overwhelmed by their decision to "do it all"? What do you do in these moments to push through and salvage your efforts?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


  1. I feel your pain and I haven't even been sick! Just too many plans to be able to take care of anything.

  2. Well, I got sick last week. As in, Monday evening, my first day where I'd officially been GONE from the former job from hell, I was hacking and sniffling like no one's business. My cats are great sleep coaches, but they don't do squat around the house. The dood did what he could to tread water, make himself coffee and breakfast in the mornings, and run loads of wash while feeding the hens and feeding the two cats.

    Last week was also the week that the belatedly transplanted tomatoes decided to grow like gangbusters in the raised beds, before I had a chance to nip all the stinking sucker vines.

    It was the week that my chicken-planted butternut squash decided to start producing fruit, and also the week the damn peppers started kicking out fruit (probably because the chickens are clucking snake-charming songs at them from their run, both the squashes and the peppers).

    I have to nip off a bazillion sucker vines today.

    But no, first I have to move my 13 black Cornish X peepers out into the juvenile coop and run first. Gladys The Nosy learned how to not only fly onto the mason jar waterer, but to also aim for the edge of the brooder, and miss that and land on the floor. She's scared the crap out of Lucy several times now, so it's time to put them outside. After I rake out their run and coop, and after I hook up their heat lamp just in case, and after I re-install the chicken wire on the top of their run.

    I need a nap already.

  3. I enjoy reading your blog. I have 9 Rhode Island Red Hens and live here in Arkansas. Temps have suddenly dropped. I am only getting about 4 eggs daily or the past 3 weeks. I think it is time that I butchered a few of them. Can you give me advice on how best to do this? Thank you

  4. I know what you mean. I think it's ironic that this is considered "the simple life". The simple life is going to the store and buying your food. End of story. You'll get most of it done, and what doesn't get done, well it's probably not the end of the world. You keep pushing on because it's part of who you are. You can't NOT farm. I don't even know what normal people do with all their spare time!

  5. Poor Heidi! I have only just discovered your blog and I love it already! I hope you get back on top of everything soon....I love that trick about the tomatoes.....will definitely keep that one up my sleeve come autumn.

    Hang in there!

  6. @ Dr. Beth - I've got a couple posts on butchering hens which you can search for (search box is on right side of posts). but it sounds like your ladies have dropped in production because it is fall and they are probably molting and/or laying less because of shorter days. I've got 6 hens and only one is laying right now due to molting.

  7. I feel I can't keep up with my house, the kids, the garden and the chickens and I am not even working nor am I sick. So you are not alone. This year, due to unemployment, I planted a winter garden for the first time, my compost is doing so well with the addition of the chicken manure, but I am fighting against slugs and caterpillars eating my brassicas.

    I hope you will feel better soon, and will be able to slowly attack that to do list.

  8. I was beginning to worry about you. Really enjoy your blog. Feel better!!!

  9. It isn't the 'simple life' but it sure is the 'good life'. Last year I felt like I was permanently sick, and the only thing that made me feel good was going out to the veggie patch and checking on the chickens with my boys (2 dogs). During the challenging times you always have to remind yourself of the good times.

  10. Yeah. Sometimes I find myself two seconds from tears because I can't see how I'm going to manage whatever insane thing I've inflicted on myself.

    For me, honestly, it's the complete insignificance of It All that kind of saves me from complete meltdown. I mean, really...the Fate of Man is not hinging upon my ability to get a tomato from seed to sauce. Nations will not rise OR fall because I didn't notice "something" was chewing on my spinach until I had almost-complete crop failure. (In point of fact, the Denizens would probably throw a celebratory parade.) If I don't get around to making soap today, well, there's always tomorrow...and if the last batch never sets, eh, in a pinch - the store IS right over yonder.

    Only thing that ever REALLY suffers from my inability to actually DO all the Crazy I want to do is my pride. And frankly, I don't think it does me any harm at all to have THAT deflated from time to time. ;-)

  11. Get well, child! Love the tomatoes! Can't believe the production! And yes, it is not the 'simple life'! Why do you think I gave up on the garden years was much easier to go down the street;-)

  12. Lol, simple life indeed!
    I laid in bed this morning, covers up to my ears, dreading going out there in the 37 degree temps to go milk Minnie. And it's just November. I bitched about the heat all summer here in Texas, and now I'll bitch about the cold. Basically I love my life when it's 72 degrees. I need to move back to Santa Barbara.