Sunday, June 16, 2013

Reverberations, Repercussions and Recoveries

Shortly before the 4H auction this weekend, I dug around in our freezer taking inventory. It didn’t take long for me to realize that there was simply no way I was going to make enough room for another whole anything in there.

There’s room, but not that much of it.

And then I realized that this was yet another unexpected fallout from the (somewhat inexplicable to me still) decision by The Powers That Be for our county fair to shift the fair from June to September last year.

And then back again this year.


I’m not privy to exactly what all the reasoning was there. Immediately after this announcement was made, a howl went up from my little agricultural circle that could be heard in space.

Most of our kids start back to school in mid-August. Putting the fair in September meant that those kids couldn’t show animals.

They couldn’t take care of the animals midweek. They couldn’t attend midweek showmanship competitions. They had returned to having homework and sport-team commitments.

Plus, the weather in September is notoriously hot. A dry, unrelenting heat that beats down on things like metal roofs.

Most livestock don’t like being kept in those conditions.

We also had a fair number of vendors who couldn’t make the shift with the fair – and another group who then couldn’t make the shift back this year.

It was a bit of a ghost town, to be honest. I took a lap around the grounds after the auction and found it…kind of depressing, actually.

Kind of like what it looks like whenever I think I can still “bust a move” on the dance floor, you know? {shudder} Yeah, let’s talk about something ELSE now…

Anyway, having inventoried and reorganized the freezer, I knew I was in a bit of an awkward spot: I didn’t have room to actually buy a whole animal, but I doubt I have a full year’s worth of meat out there – even with my tendency to swap out half the meat for double the veggies in stuff.

So I figured, fine. I’d get a turkey or two and maybe one hog.

Then I got to the fairgrounds and got my buyer’s guide and flipped over to see how much my preferred processor was charging per pound and whaaaaaat?

You know how sometimes you look at something that is sitting there in plain old black and white, and you know what the words say and what they mean but at the same time your brain is just incapable of understanding it?

No. Swine.

My processor, right next to the prices for cut and wrap, had the words no swine.

I couldn’t grok it.

They do some of the best smoking in the history of the smoking. They make a bacon that is so insanely good that people who don’t like bacon like it. They create hams that are rich and lean at the same time. They have some of the best marinades for pork I’ve ever had, and I tell you what: Having the pork flash-frozen in the marinade produces results unlike any other method.

But, no swine. They were not doing any hogs this year?!

I almost whipped out my cell phone to call them up and demand answers. Whyyyyyyyyy? Why would they do this to me?!

So I looked at my other choices, which went like this:

  1. Would be acceptable substitute I guess but they also are not doing swine this year WTH?!
  2. Mediocre, and costs $0.40 more per pound – which when you’re talking about a 200 pound animal adds up
  3. Never heard of them
  4. Ugh, no, last time THEY processed a hog for me the bacon tasted “fishy” and the weights we got made NO sense so I’m pretty sure we got “mostly” our hog but also at least half of somebody ELSE’S, so let’s just say I have TRUST ISSUES there and leave it at that…
  5. Eh, heard of them, but they don’t do any smoking/curing so it would be Tama makes her own damn bacon AND ham and Tama does not have TIME for that because Tama can barely find enough time to shower on a semi-regular basis

Combined with the knowledge that I had storage issues that would mean I’d have to rent a meat locker far, far away from the Den to store the excess – cha-CHING, added monthly expense – I found myself less and less inclined to do much bidding.

Every time I’d put my card up on a hog – which was generally when one of the kids who hadn’t brought a fan club along was anxiously scanning the crowd as the auctioneer was forced to drop the opening bid lower and lower trying to get somebody to wake the @*^&@ up and get the party started on this deal – it would flash through my mind that I had no processor this year. I would have to choose between meh, and dunno, and no-trust.

Fortunately, Les Schwab, Rabobank and Raley’s Supermarket were there for me.

Outbid me every time.

And I just let it go, feeling a little relieved that I didn’t have to worry about storage lockers or which processor to use.

I ended up getting a couple turkeys and calling it a day; a very long, tiring day. Then I took a lap around the fair and felt even more tired – because the vendors all seemed so tired. The crowd was sparse, and not spending much.

Then I remembered that since I had no Denizens with me, I could totally go check out the exhibitions. Without anybody immediately deciding that they were starving or tired or thirsty or booooooored or any of the other things kids come up with when adults want to do something boring like look at another adult’s knitting and mutter things about buttonholes and short rows.

As I was walking through the home crafts building, I heard one of the attendants fretting to the other that there just hadn’t been enough time to finish what she’d wanted to do for that year; the rules state that they have to be produced within one year of the opening date, but of course she had been busy making last year’s project right up until moments before the deadline, so, that really left her a terrible disadvantage…

I stopped and looked at the offerings in the knitting division. I admit that I winced a bit. That I thought to myself, C’mon, really?! as I scanned over the scant handful of items. All of them made with acrylic on what had to be at least #10 needles, with minimal actual pattern-work.

Nothing stranded. Nothing intarsia. No lace. Just blocks of plain stockinette, as if all the experienced knitters in the entire county had suddenly moved to a different state and only left behind their Teach Yourself To Knit In Just Three Days booklets.

And the yarn they didn’t want anymore. And a sticky note that said Knock yourselves out kids, haha!

And then I said to myself, so drily that I immediately had to go and buy myself a lemonade, Ya? So, where’s YOURS, then?

Oooooo, snap! OK, yeah, you got me, Self, mine would be not here at all because I did NOTHING AT ALL on that front.

I chatted with a few vendors on my way out; their own opinions of the run split down the middle between blaming the fair organizers for being lousy at it and swearing that there would be no saving it while THAT gang of yahoos were in charge, and shrugging it off as they can’t ALL be blockbusters, sometimes you just have a bad run, plus there’s still tonight! And tomorrow, so, who knows? Might still be good!

Would they come next year?

No way in HELL / you BETCHA.

I got in the car thinking about how sometimes, things we try don’t work the way we hoped; that our expectations are not met; that something painfully obvious after the fact rears up and slaps our awesome idea right out of the air and then laughs madly at us for ever thinking it could have worked.

And how sometimes, the fallout seems to just keeping coming. As if we’ll never finish paying that piper, as if there will never be an end to the oh, and, also… from the peanut gallery as they keep coming up with yet another reason why whatever it was really never should have been done. Yes, thank you, I got that memo, CAN WE PLEASE MOVE ON NOW.

And how comforting it was to know I’m not the only person who tends to shrug and say, “I still have tonight, and tomorrow! Who knows? This could still be good! And sometimes it’s just off, you know? Doesn’t mean next year won’t be better!”

Maybe next year my favorite processor will be willing to handle our smoking and curing again; meanwhile, I can check into the ones I don’t know at all and see what I think of them.

After I’ve figured out what I want to do that would show all FIVE people who wander through that part of the exhibition hall next year that there are still Knitters in this county.

Knitters who aren’t afraid to use wool. In a couple colors, maybe.

Or maybe wool so thin it causes strangers on trains to make comments such as “Are you knitting with thread?”

That crocheters aren’t the only ones with the capacity to make an afghan or a baby blanket.

And that whimsy can be functional. Sort of.


CeltChick said...

I've been eyeing that Fish Head pattern for years, so long in fact that the kids I thought I'd make them for are getting "too old" to wear them. So it's good to see it on an actual child!

sadiekillmouski said...

I would so love a "Fish Head" hat...of course, by the time I learned to knit and then became accomplished enough to knit one, I would probably have it ready just in time for me to be buried in, but still...

Unknown said...

Perhaps check with your favorite processor to smoke one of those turkeys and find out if you can reserve a spot for a hog next year?