Photo by Roseanne Saalfield
It’s been SUCH a busy summer, mostly spent finishing up writing my book on project management, teaching, and on rare occasions, hacking back some of the more virulent weeds in my garden (to minimal effect). I’ve been chastised a couple times lately for not blogging. Like, someone came up to me at the dump recently and said how much she enjoys laughing at my perpetual struggles with various failed-pseudo-farmer-wannabe endeavors. Well, as Eeyore said when his house blew down, “Thanks for noticing me.”
I’ll try, though. I’m often told that Internet surfers would rather read a list of quick tips than extended articles. So, instead of diving deep, this round, I’ll list some of this summer’s insights, observations, and lessons learned.
- Backyard beekeeping is a booming fad. This means that traditional suppliers are more likely to be out of stock of things you desperately need, and also that you can get a lot of inappropriately expensive/highbrow gear from floofy catalogues where nobody on staff has any experience at all actually keeping bees. Despite its booming popularity, keeping bees remains a complex and potentially dangerous affair, even if you’ve been at it for a while.
I predict there will soon be a big increase of used beekeeping equipment on the market (which, arguably, nobody should buy), in two or three years, once the Martha Stewart set tires of it. On the flip side, there is probably room in the market for products designed to truly disinfect used beekeeping equipment and make it less risky. So, invent that product, please. As usual, you are free to run with my entrepreneurial ideas and send me just 15% of your profits.
- Until I retire, I will never have a neat garden, and probably, not even then. I can no longer blame my newborn children, my town committments, or my job. The reason why my garden is always a wreck, year after year, is because I am an awful gardener. That said, I’m again pleased that tomatoes produced really well without any intervention at all. No weeding, no watering, no chemicals, no mulch, no products of any sort. They just do it.
- Alpacas can be shorn in mid summer. Some people don’t even sheer them at all. They are happier, shorn, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get it done at the “ideal” time, which is May (and when everyone else also wants a piece of your shearer).
- Your car’s air conditioner might not be working well because a mouse built a nest in it and is blocking the airflow. Similarly, your wood chipper might not work because a mouse built a nest in it. Also, your riding mower. (Note: back to the wood chipper, technically, I can only be certain that half of a mouse built that nest, because that’s all I found. Ewww….)
- Consider playing musical chairs. Back to alpacas, for the past year, when giving them their periodic shots, my friend Judy would hold them still and I would give the shots. It was always a pain in the neck, but we did it that way mostly because I felt obligated to do the nastier part of the job, seeing as they are my beasts. Last time around, on a whim, we traded tasks, and it was profoundly easier. Part of the reason is that I’m taller, and can therefore hold them still more easily. Also, she’s more deft with a needle than I am. As a result, the procedure is so much easier on everyone. I definitely need to reflect more on the large-scale ramifications of this lesson.
- Yard sales are said to get more traction if several households do them at once and advertise as a collective. Residents of Harvard Shaker Village (the Church and South family clusters) are planning a big one for September 1, 9 to 1, which is over Labor Day weekend. Since holiday weekends are said to be bad times for yard sales, hopefully the two bits of wisdom will counter each other, and we’ll get an average turnout.
- Roasted oysters are delicious, and you don’t have to shuck them. Speaking of seafood, you know about Fishmail, right? I hope that this service continues, now that the Harvard General Store is under new ownership. Note, if you mess up and don’t buy Fishmail fish on Friday, the Globe Fish Company at the Saturday Harvard Farmer’s Market also has excellent quality fish.
- Another mass-produced product idea: insulated pizza travel boxes, analogous to reusable shopping bags, available at your local pizza parlor. (I mean you, Sorrentos.) Why doesn’t every pizzeria sell branded travel cases, like the ones they use in-house? You might scoff at this idea now, but in the winter, you’ll realize how right I am, while you gnaw on your stone-cold crusts. Corollary idea: reusable pizza boxes. (Again, just send me 15%. You can make do with 85%, and these two ideas will change the world.)
- Best excuse ever for a student handing in their homework late: “I have to prepare for my elopement.” Probably, this will continue to be relatively uncommon in grade school, but behold this new world of online adult education.
- Gas stations with convenience stores often sell 2-cycle engine oil. This is important on Sundays, when you pour your last bottle into your gas can, but then look inside it and see that the interior is caked with sludge, so you can’t use it.
- To whom it may concern: If your goal is to get hired by a company clearly owned by a woman (such as my lovely wife), don’t address your correspondence to it, “Dear Sirs.” And if called on it, it might be more effective to agree that this was kind of a dumb oversight, on your part, rather than to insist that this is a universally acceptable form of address, and thus imply that we don’t know what we’re talking about. I mean, really, people….