Tuesday, June 12, 2012

An Ox in the Ditch

Sundays in our part of the world are a little different than the rest of the week.  Many of us have deep church roots that taught us that Sunday was a day of rest and old habits die hard.

Generally, it’s very quiet early on a Sunday, no tractors or mowers or even big trucks running through town.  Even the animals seem quieter as the church bells toll.  During a walk down the road, gospel bluegrass and the scent of bacon and pancakes waft through the morning air.  Those cars going through town are filled with folks in their Sunday clothes who wave as they go off to church.

Throughout the Southern US, the reference to the “ox in the ditch” was a common one during Sunday services. The allusion is to a conversation in the Bible between Jesus and the Pharisees in which Jesus explains that sometimes work MUST be done….Sabbath or not. 

Religious and theological arguments aside, the Boss and I would rather NOT work on Sunday.  In part this is due to consideration for the few neighbors who may cling to their Bible-Belt upbringing, but for the most part it is for our own benefit.  Sometimes, we really need a break!  Sunday gives us a chance to relax, re-charge, and re-focus for the upcoming week.

There are times when the “ox in the ditch” affects us.  That morning check of the weather occasionally reveals that despite our plans and desires, there is much to be done prior to predicted storms. The weather is no respecter of persons…or our plans, so there are times when we have to do jobs when the weather dictates.  The garlic harvest became one of those jobs.

I have been writing about the beautiful garlic crop for some time now.  Every time we would go out the drive, the Boss would say, “gotta get the garlic out SOON!”  With the predicted rain, this statement became more urgent.

"exploded" garlic...
definitely NOT something to offer for sale!

The garlic was at the point where harvest was imperative. The scapes had been cut some time ago and the bulbs were at the peak of perfection (we hoped).  If left in the ground too long, the garlic bulbs will swell and “explode”.  This opens the entire plant to rot and mold and the crop can be lost. That would be tragic in oh, so many ways.

So, we headed out to harvest the garlic.  I would like to have thought that it was one of the Boss’ infamous half hour jobs, although I knew better. …and it was hot and humid in advance of the upcoming weather.  Looking up the rows, I was not too encouraged.  This was going to take a while.

The first bulb out of the ground made it evident that the extra effort was going to be worth it.  It was gorgeous!  …and the next one and the next one….oh wow!
Each garlic plant needed to be loosened with a digging fork, and pulled from the ground.   

 Then the excess dirt was removed by gently tapping the plant against our boots. 

The plants were left to dry slightly in the hot sun. 
Hauling the garlic to the barn
In the afternoon, we hauled the garlic to the barn and placed it on wire racks with fans underneath.  The fans run 24/7, circulating the air and drying the garlic leaves. This will allow the garlic to “cure” before they are trimmed up for sale.  By allowing the skin to “cure”, it will become dry and protective and the garlic will last longer.The garlic will head to the Market next week.

As we placed them on the racks, we did a quick inspection. Most of the bulbs were large and lovely.  There were very few small ones and even fewer bad ones.  This year’s garlic crop looks like the best ever!

A couple garlic bulbs joined a chicken on the grill for supper.  Not only were they gorgeous, they are delicious, too!

With that “ox in the ditch” out of the way, we got back to our usual Sunday routine.  Although another weather check meant Monday’s plans were going to change…

                                              …and possibly Tuesday’s…
                                                                                                ...and Wednesday's...

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