It Was Real Good

June 18, 2014 § 9 Comments

Fin and the cream machine

Fin and the cream machine

It’s down to meat, greens, and eggs, for the most part. A little milk, too, but not much since Apple hasn’t yet freshened and Pip’s only giving us a half-gallon or so each morning and the fellas have that polished off before it even cools. Before it even makes it to the fridge, most mornings. The berries are gone. Kimchi, gone. Potatoes, gone. Onions, gone. No carrots yet. For breakfast, we eat eggs and bacon and steamed nettles. For lunch, steak and salad. For dinner, leftover steak and salad. Rinse and repeat, maybe throw a bit of lamb or the occasional chicken into the mix for the hell of it. A smidge of bread here and there, usually piled thick with pate. We’ve got enough pate to survive the zombie apocalypse and the beautiful thing about that is that hardly no one else likes the stuff so we don’t even have to bother with the razor wire and booby traps.

It’s a slimming diet, I’ll tell you that much. I’m down two belt holes in just the past month, the larded paunch that came upon me over the winter melting away one footstep at a time as I hump my diminishing self over hill and dale chasing a yearling heifer that seems unfazed by the 4,000 volts pulsing through the fence that is supposed to keep her contained. Confounded thing. Yesterday we finally corralled the beast, got a halter on her (no simple thing, let me tell you) and taught her a thing or two about electricity. Lo and behold, she wasn’t out this morning. Hopefully, the lesson will stick. Otherwise, the freezer awaits. We hath no mercy for self-liberating bovine.

It’s a funny time of year, food wise. We’re caught in the annual gap between the bottom of our freezers and the productive capacity of our crops and so are eating in the margins. There is a certain comforting sameness to it; frankly, there’s just less to think about when your choices are so limited. But on the other hand, we’re all ready for a bit more diversity. Yesterday, in a fit of weakness (or maybe just sheer hunger) I stopped at the village grocer on my way home from little tractor job and bought an ice cream sandwich. By the time I’d motored the rest of the way down Main St (and a veeeery short Main St, at that), I’d devoured the whole damn thing and even licked the dribble that’d run down my forearm, tasting not just the sugary confection, but the salt of my own sweat, a bit of softwood pitch, and something that I’m hoping won’t make me ill over the coming days.

What I’d really like, to be perfectly honest, is a ripe tomato. Some fresh blueberries. A cup of cream, with slug of maple syrup. Have you ever drunk a cup of cream with a slug of maple syrup? And I don’t mean just any cream, but cream so thick it won’t pour; you have to spoon it into the glass. And I don’t mean just any syrup, but the batch of syrup you took a little too far, so it sort of sinks into the cream in its own little distillate ball, an egg in its nest.

Now I stop, for I am beginning to feel deprived and I do not like feeling deprived. For lunch I will eat my burger and my lettuce and I will do so if not exuberantly, then at least in the absence of outright resentment. I will remember that my shot of cream and syrup are only days away, maybe a week at most. I will remember the day that happens every late July or early August, when the boys come running back from the blueberries with the first half-ripe specimens in their hands. I will recall the first tomato of last year, how I snitched it right from the vine and didn’t even share. You want to take the true measure of a man? It’s what he does with the first ripe tomato. Now you know.

I will even remember licking cheap melted ice cream from my arm as I putted down the Main Street of Cabot, Vermont yesterday afternoon. I ran my tongue from elbow to wrist and then right up to the tips of my fingers where little bits of brownie fuzz had stuck in the small folds of my skin.

Damn. It was good. It was real good.


§ 9 Responses to It Was Real Good

  • reneeliamrhys says:

    Mmmm…cream and maple syrup sounds real good

    Via Down to Earth
    Alexa from

  • cher says:

    Oh, yes… there’s nothing like heavy cream and a “slug” of maple syrup. And we’re a little ahead of you here, just past that awkward bottom-of-the-freezer-end-of-all-storage-crops phase of the season… I just ate several handfuls of blueberries on my way to the house from chores. And a ripe cherry tomato. I didn’t share either.

  • Tres Jolie says:

    I’m so jealous of your GREEN grass. It’s already dried up and intensely bright out here. Sunlight reflecting off grass the color of Caribbean sand. And I’ve got blossom end rot for some reason. Crap!

  • Barbara Gantt says:

    We live in Brattleboro and have been living off of last years green beans and carrots. I found five ripe strawberries. They didn’t make it to the kitchen. It was a long winter but there is hope in these warm days.

    I really enjoy your writings. We homeschooled five kids. They are all grown, good jobs and homeschooling their own children. Growing what we can on half an acre.


  • Kent says:

    Your prize photo “Fin and the cream machine” evokes a strikingly similar feeling of Andrew Wyeth’s “Christina’s World.” (Christina wanting to inch her polio-tortured body up the hill . . . Fin wanting to savor a cup of cream with a slug of maple syrup . . . both Christina and Fin wedded to the natural world outdoors)

  • Eumaeus says:

    Licking the drips of an ice cream bar off your arm? Writing of longing for a ripe tomato… :)

  • ncfarmchick says:

    Just within the last week, we’re up to our eye balls (and higher, actually) with wild blackberries that run down the hill from our house. Our forays out into the patch to pick and eat has become a much anticipated nightly tradition over the years made enormously more fun once our boys arrived. Joy is the only word to describe little boys with blackberry juice all over their faces and hands and clothes and hair…My freezer is getting stocked and I’ve got one pie made so far with jam and many other things on my mind. The waiting makes them all the more sweet. But, I am a fan of ice cream sandwiches, too!

  • Lots of green grass, cool nights and surprisingly warm days here in winter for us in Victoria Australia. We await our goats kidding eagerly (just on 4 weeks to go) and we’re heavy with chook eggs but little aside from turnips in the garden at the moment. I eagerly await the day when we stop shopping at the local supermarket. Not too long now I hope.

  • CassieOz says:

    I’m a little envious as we head into real winter here in inland New South Wales, Australia. The frosts have finally come and the winter dormancy has arrived so nothin’ much is growing at the moment. Freezers are full of meat and veg (and there’s still pork, ham and bacon to come), pantry is full of jars of fruit, pickles, ferments etc, cheese fridge is full of aging cheeses, calf is weaned and I’m finally getting cream. No maple syrup for us and not even any honey this year. I barter mostly for grain, salt, sugar and coffee so there’s not much to buy but I can see that icecream sandwich pretty clearly from here. .Maybe even smell it….

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