Monday, July 09, 2007
The two of us are piled into Betsy's little S-10 flying down the highway listening to Jethro Tull in the sizzling heat of this east Tennessee Sunday. Damn, it sure is hot. I've got my overalls on and a tank top with every inch of exposed whiteness slathered with Bullfrog sunscreen. My big straw farmer's hat has my cropped hair in a permanent state of bad hat head.
Betsy has her Cowthulhu t-shirt on. She's in love with all things Cthulhu. The dashboard of her truck is strewn with plush Cthulhus. I don't know about her...but I feel like a teenager when we sneak out on these jaunts.
We pull into the lot closest to the animals and farm vendors. Betsy is looking to see if a goat she saw at this past First Monday is there. She's been thinking about that goat a lot and regrets not bringing her home.
I'm mostly along to find more grist for my writing mill.
We check the guy's stall and the goat isn't there. But he does have a gorgeous and brazen display of home canned goods. You can get slapped pretty heavy by the USDA guys if they catch you selling this stuff. But everything was so lovely and I wouldn't have been afraid at all to take home boxes of the stuff for sale there to use on my table. And I'm a strict by the book canner.
They had canned green beans, beats, tomatoes, relishes, chow-chows and pickles. All very beautiful. Whoever put all those jars up put a lot of work into them.
We meandered around looking at guineas and turkeys until we came to the pig guy. Betsy had asked me about how to dig and prepare the pit for a pig pickin'. I gave my best idea of it since I'd only watched the procedure, which is an ancient male ritual involving much shirtlessness and cold beer.
The stoats were in the back of a small truck doing piggy stuff. We shot the breeze with the pig guy and wished we had brought a dog crate since there was a right handsome boar stoat, about at the age for cutting that looked like he'd fatten up real nice. I told the story about when I was seven and helped cut the pigs on my best friend's pig farm. I got to hold them by the back legs while her brother did the actual cutting. For those of you that don't know, you have to geld the young male pigs that you are raising for meat. They call that "cutting".
Betsy bought a gang of plushies from the lady next to the pig guy. She was looking for a goat one. The entire selection was sadly Cthulhu-less. She buys some nice pullets from the plushie woman's son.
We wandered around towards the one building that housed an army-navy store. Betsy bought some cammo shirts for her husband and replaced her army jacket that had gotten left out in the rain.
We only did about half the market since I was getting nervous about exactly how effective my sunscreen was going to be. I get a little paranoid and wonder if I missed a spot. Lupoids don't do so well in direct sunlight.
We found the real treasure trove over in the far corner of the market. I think it this circa 1950-something electric washer that drew us in that direction.
It's just like the one that a local woman told me she got in the 60's. She was so happy to get that thing. I remember thinking she was talking about an automatic one, but when I asked her about it...this beast was exactly what she described. Mangle and all. But this would have been a huge luxury after spending your days hauling water up from the creek to boil your laundry in vats of lye soap and bluing. She says that the modern washers don't actually get your clothes nearly as clean as these big machines or the boiling did. And everything would be hung out on the clothesline to dry. I think we forget that luxurious feeling of sun dried clothing. Sheets especially. Can you all remember that smell?
No, the real find of the day was a 50 gallon cast iron cauldron in really great condition. No thin spots or anything! Perfect for cooking up a big batch of applebutter, scrapple and a must have for any respectable hog killin'.
Or maybe I was just in a particularly pig murdering mood that day.
I've had barbecue on the brain recently. And home cured country ham. And crispy fried scrapple slathered in butter and sorghum. With some salt-risin' bread.
But it was a really good trip, despite the heat and glaring sun. We stopped off at a Chinese buffet to grab a bite on the way home.
I didn't buy anything, but I almost bought a pig, a bunch of guineas and a sheep. But I restrained myself.