Uncle Vern’s Weekly Farm-Fueled Musings, March 31–April 6, 2014
Can you hear it? That distant rumble of a million hooves? The vibration and momentum of an unstoppable, ground shaking, fully loaded freight train full of summer coming our way? You could probably feel it better if you were standing in the middle of the tracks like I am, crouched with a steely eye looking at the distant smoke and signaling below a catcher’s mitt to hum it right in here baby.
Asparagus and strawberries told us it was spring, and apricots will be here before you know it, latter part of April. Squash plants are already a foot tall under their tunnels. The ground was warm enough to start planting sweet corn this week; that’s crazy early! Now you’re starting to feel it too aren’t you, only in a waiting at the depot instead of standing on the tracks sort of way.
Funny how when fall gets here we start craving apples, and oranges in winter, strawberries in spring, and peaches in summer. Same with the vegetables, you wouldn’t want hard squash in summer any more than zucchini in December; it’s how we were designed. The nutrients in seasonal food exactly mirror our seasonal nutritional needs, but wait, there’s more! Seasonal cooking and eating is so much more fun than the same boring stuff year round don’t you think? I mean really, pick any food item; if you had to eat it every week all year it would be more like a sentence than supper.
Dinner time should bring the celebration of life that’s going on outside to our insides, and if we did our jobs on the farm right, that taste of the land should positively transmit the best of every season and provide the fuel to embrace it maximally. Whatever your age or circumstance, whatever you’re doing, life is so challenging, and that challenge is best met fully fueled by whole, living, seasonal food.
Changing gears—as I usually do at least once in these weekly notes—we live in a Bermuda triangle of river, freeway and counties. Our home is in Tulare County, while a mile north is Fresno County, and a half mile south is Kings County. There’s the confusion of road names that suddenly change or don’t go through and I’m always telling lost travelers: “Sorry, you just can’t get there from here.” We farm in all three and thus have to travel a bit to get to any of the county seats to request permission from our benevolent rulers to say, create jobs or increase the assessed valuation.
I have a personal tradition, however, that makes the trip to Kings County a treat. Since Kings County has more milk cows than people, one would expect to find some pretty good ice cream, and one would be right. Superior Dairy has been churning and scooping since my dad rode his bicycle the 20 miles each way in a day when parents didn’t think that was irresponsible.
You order one scoop of whatever—it’s all good—and they literally put a quart of ice cream in a 6 ounce cup with a little spoon. You walk across the street expectantly balancing the delight to the pretty park, find a bench in the shade where the next half hour’s battle of the melt is about to begin. Ah, that all of life’s difficulties could be so good. There’s a trick to it, however, the uninitiated miss; you must be intently alert, working with the melt and you have to start at the bottom and work your way up in long melt arresting strokes or you’re going to literally have a mess on your hands. When life hands you a challenge, stay alert, work with it, start at the bottom and work up.