TBT: Preserving Old Varieties

On Saturday I wrote a bit about an arrangement my neighbor and I have regarding my fig trees and grapevines:  I grow them, he picks them—and makes them into delicious preserves.  He’s also provided me with heirloom broccoli plants, which I shamefully think have largely died (though two stalks have somehow soldiered on through the hot summer months; I’m surprised they survived the heat!), and he grows an impressive garden himself.

So when casting about for this week’s TBT feature, this post about the Bradford watermelon—a variety thought lost to the world—fit neatly with what was already fresh on my mind.

There is so much variety out there compared to what the supermarkets put on offer.  We’d probably all be a lot happier and a good bit healthier if we tried some of these old varieties.

With that, here is 24 August 2021’s “Preserving Old Varieties“:

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Supporting Friends Friday: Backwoods Home Magazine

As I’ve noted in the past, I’m running low on friends to support.  There are still a few bloggers out there that deserve some praise, I’m sure, and I can think of a few that I really enjoy, but who are a bit too spicy to endorse outright (until blogging pays the bills—which is an extremely long way off—even I have to censor myself).

As such, I might be giving Supporting Friends Friday a hiatus starting in July.  I started it last June (with a post about real-life buddy Jeremy Miles‘s book of poetryHindsight: Poetry in 2020), so it’s had over a year—a good time in which to run its course.

I’m not saying it’s gone forever.  I’m just going to give my talented friends more time to churn out excellent work.  Supporting Friends Friday has really been beneficial to the blog, especially since honoring Audre Myers with a post on 27 August 2021; that brought over a whole new readership, and has led to more contributions in the comment sections and to the blog itself.

Of course, I could end up changing my mind by next week, so who knows?  That said, I thought I’d dedicate this “season finale” edition of Supporting Friends Friday to a publication I’ve come to enjoy and respect over the last year:  Backwoods Home Magazine.

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TBT: Egged Off

Shortly over a year ago I wrote a piece about officious bureaucrats shutting down two little girls selling chicken eggs in Texas.  The girls were trying to help people out and make a few bucks after the crazy ice storm massively disrupted Texan supply lines.

Since then, I’ve obtained a source to bring farm fresh eggs to my home on an as-needed basis; it’s one of many small blessings for which I am thankful.  With food prices even higher than they were a year ago, free eggs is a huge boon.

I ended this post with the admonishment “The time to start growing and raising our own food is now.”  But even yours portly has largely ignored his own advice.

Let’s work on changing that in 2022.

With that, here is 30 April 2021’s “Egged Off“:

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Preserving Old Varieties

My local paper, the Darlington New & Press, features a number of editorial writers typical of the kind that get gigs writing human interest pieces for tiny small town papers:  local pastors writing brief devotionals; a guy griping about the things we all gripe about; an astronomer.  They all write in a similar, mildly folksy manner, which I’m sure appeals to the more advanced age of the paper’s readership.

One of their writers, Tom Poland, wrote a fascinating piece last week about rare heirloom vegetables, “Long-lost treasures and heirloom seeds.”  The piece tracks down the Bradford Watermelon, a watermelon variety thought to be extinct, but which survived on the land Nat Bradford inherited from his family.  The watermelon variety dwindled in popularity in spite of its sweet, superior flavor because the rind was too thin to survive bulk shipping.

After years of research into arcane newspaper clippings and agricultural history, Bradford discovered that the melons growing on his ancestral farm are, indeed, the legendary Bradford Watermelons.

To quote Poland quoting Bradford:

In Nat’s words, “The greatest watermelon to have come from the great age of watermelon breeding fell out of cultivation. Lost to the world, the melon lived on in the Bradford family farm fields. The last seeds on the planet of this wonderful melon were in a couple of mason jars.”

What a remarkable legacy—and a fortuitous one.  Heirloom varieties of many plants are enjoying increased interest lately as part of the current homesteading movement, as these varieties are often tastier than their supermarket, genetically-modified alternatives.

I suspect, too, that there is a certain joy in knowing that by planting these forgotten seeds, you are directly contributing to the survival of a variety.  There is a link to the past, and the agricultural experiments of our forebears.

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TBT: Catching Up

It’s been a week for playing catch up after the long weekend of moving, and I’m driving to pick up Murphy today.  Since getting back to South Carolina Monday, it’s been a blur of teaching lessons, dog-proofing the house, and painting (I’ve finally stripped the old lady wallpaper and have put on a nice coat of a yellowish paint I picked up at Lowe’s from the discount rack for $9).  Thank goodness it’s summertime, so I have plenty of time in the mornings to take care of things around the house and run errands.

That’s what I will miss most about summer:  the work-life balance.  Teaching a few hours of music lessons two or three afternoons a week, with some Town Council work sprinkled in for good measure, has been glorious.  Instead of waking up at 6 AM and rushing through the same morning routine, I’m able to rise at a more stately 7:30 or 8 AM; take my coffee and breakfast; and leisurely settle into a morning of writing, gardening, cleaning, or the like.

I understand why people work so many years to retire:  not having to rush into work is amazing!  I’m blessed to have a gig where I can live like a retired person for two months out of the year.  That doesn’t mean I’ve just been sitting around the house in my underwear (uh, well, not too much); if anything, I’ve been even more productive, because I’m not constantly exhausted.

That said, I still have some catching up to do on this blog—and around the house!—and an old pup to pick up.  So with that, here’s 27 July 2020’s “Catching Up“:

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Frogtopian Failure

As I breathlessly reported two weeks ago, I attempted to build a small frog pond in one of my rear flower beds using Tupperware containers, dirt, rocks, old planters, and mulch.  I dubbed the watery domain “Frogtopia,” hoping it would attract neighborhood toads and frogs to his muddy environs.

After two weeks—and a new addition, using a large and deep IHOP to-go container—I must concede that Frogtopia is, at least so far, a failure.  While the WikiHow article I used as a reference guide suggests that it can take a year or two for frogs to show up to a frog pond, I can already see a major structural problem with my attempted design.

The problem, in one word:  evaporation.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Homeownership

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

I love home.  Being at home is one of the simple joys in life, especially for a homebody like me.  Even before I owned my own home—when I was a lowly renter—I cherished time in my little pre-deluge bungalow.

Owning my home has made that appreciation even deeper.  As I am sure I have written before, I can understand why the Framers of the Constitution required property ownership as a requirement to vote.  Sure, I understood it in the abstract before I owned my house, but the wisdom of that prerequisite became real once I became a homeowner.  There is an immense pride that comes with owning a home, and with it, a protectiveness:  a desire to guard that investment, and to nurture it.

Few people with that sense of protective pride would squander their rights easily.  I understand why that is better than ever.

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Adventures in Gardening: Building a Frog Pond

With the unlimited free time of summer, I can finally get some work done in the yard.  I’ve finally transplanted my potted tomatoes and peppers into my flower beds—probably way too late—after getting up weeds this weekend.  I need to get out with the weed trimmer soon to get the edges of the house and around the grapevines and fig tree, but the beds are looking good, if a bit bare.

While pulling weeds Saturday, my girlfriend’s dog started nosing at a little frog—possibly a toad—hopping around in one of the rocky beds along the side of the house (I thought it might be a gopher frog, but now I think it’s more likely a Southern toad; if anyone can tell from the video, please leave a comment):

I get quite a few of our amphibian friends around the house, often hiding out in planters and shady spots in the yard.  After the Spooktacular in October, I found quite a few hunkering down inside of the ceramic and red clay Jack O’Lanterns and votives I had on the porch.

Indeed, one morning I found one chilling on my toilet seat!  I sucked him into my vacuum’s canister and emptied him safely outside.

I have always loved frogs (just not when they’re hanging out in my bathroom), and I’m delighted that so many of them live around my house.  In doing some research on frogs and toads in South Carolina, I stumbled upon a WikiHow article entitled “How to Make a Frog Home in a Garden.”

Given my free time and desire to spruce up the yard, I jumped at the opportunity to put together a small frog pond of my own, which I installed Wednesday.

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Egged Off

An unfortunately perennial story that always gets traction here on the Right goes something like this:  precocious youngsters, hoping to engage in some earnest enterprise, start selling lemonade or the like from a roadside stand.  The kids are doing well and making good money (for kids), until an overzealous local health board official sends in the cops to bust up the lemonade stand.  Like Treasury Department revenuers smashing up a yokel’s still, these local officials destroy children’s dreams—and sometimes slap them with a fine.

It’s a story that guarantees outrage, and highlights the clueless, stringent rule-following of bureaucracies.  Yes, yes—technically you’re not supposed to sell lemonade and hot dogs without some kind of license, and the health department is supposed make sure your establishment is clean.  But these are kids, selling stuff on the side of the road.  Why bother?  Let them have fun and make a little money.

The latest such story involves two young ladies selling eggs in their town in Texas.  The Lone Star State has been reeling since the major winter storm hit a month or so back, and food supplies have been disrupted.  Having some backyard eggs for sale surely helped out some locals.

Unbeknownst to the girls—but beknownst to some overweening Karen, no doubt—a local ordinance prohibits the selling of eggs, though it permits the raising of chickens on one’s property.  That’s asinine.  Why can’t people sell eggs in a small town in Texas?

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