Life's Little Details: Knitting, Sewing, Green Living, Frugal Living and Cooking In A Little Corner of Southern French Countryside.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Hazardous Duty Pay

Is there any way I can receive hazardous duty pay for working in my own garden? Is anyone up on the current laws for these types of issues? I know the military pays it when you're in a war zone and everything, but what about when you're battling insects out in front of your own home? I've already got problems with stink bugs and aphids. Then, there's a mystery bug eating the young squash. I'm starting to think it's our monster-size grasshoppers. Actually, I'm not sure they're grasshoppers, exactly. I've never seen one like these in the US, that's for sure. I mean, take a look at these suckers (click here). I've posted my own picture of one of these before, but this guy's really does them justice much better than mine did. Creepy, huh? I think the long tail is for laying eggs or for fertilizing the females. I don't remember which. Looks like one big stinger to me, though (And while we're talking about hazards of our home, I woke up with one of these guys in my bangs this morning. I have to say that that'll freak you out when you're all groggy in a dark room at 6 am. Believe it or not, I got him out without a single scream.).

Anyway, so we're at war. And, though I've killed a few aphids and stink bugs (yes, I braved the smell!), no casualties had yet to be reported for "our side" - that is, not until today. This morning I received my first war-related injury. While leaving the garden today, with a basket full of goodies (we'll get to that) I was stung on the cheek by a wasp. I think it must have been hanging out next to the door and I scared it, because it flew at me - and fast.

So, being careful not to drop my treasures from the basket, I ran to the house. It must have been quite a sight... a seven-month-pregnant lady high-tailing it up the hill with a basket full of vegetables. All I wanted was to get some hot water to stop the venim from spreading too far. Then, it occurred to me that maybe getting my blood pumping fast wasn't the best idea. So, I did the fast-walk that's been made famous in yuppy neighborhoods across the US. When, I got to the house, I put my whole head under the sink with running hot water cascading across my burning cheek. Good thing I did, too, because I can't imagine the damage had I not been able to. As it is, the entire right side of my face from my cheek to my jaw is swollen. I've got that chipmunk look that you get from dental surgery (the painful half-numbness, too). At least now I know what I'd look like if I gained about 30 pounds too many, right? Not many people get a chance to see that without actually having to gain the weight.

Alright, so I know that they say that nobody wins in war. And, I think that's true. I don't mind sharing our crop with the bugs a little. They can have a few fruits and veggies here and there. But, come on, they don't have to start getting all snippy on me. And, they could consider we've got growing children to feed... leave a little for us, too. So, the question we have to ask ourselves is: Is it worth it? I'll just let you judge for yourself...

Exhibit A:
Fresh squash blossoms, of which we have plenty these days. They are wonderful fried up, as I've shown you before, but this day, I had so many that I was able to make a squash blossom soup. Very delicate flavor. Quite yummy.

Exhibit B:
Fresh beets, plus a few herbs. These were the first beets we've had from our garden, and I don't know if it's the particular variety I planted or the soil or something else, but these were by-far the most tender beets I've ever eaten. I've already noticed a difference between organic and non-organic beets, but these even outdid the organic store-bought ones. Delicious.

Exhibit C:
Today's haul. I got enough green beans to feed three adults and two kids, with some leftover. I want to try to keep them picked, so they keep producing more. They could help out a bit by painting themselve bright orange or something, though. Because the camouflage/camellion act just isn't very helpful.

Then, there were some huge Daikon (Japanese radish). I noticed they were popping out of the ground last night and decided to pick them today. They were great pickled Japanese style. I'm impressed by these guys. As with the beets, they were quite tender - more so than any I've ever bought in a store. Very tasty. I had to fight with them to get them out, though. They're long, as you can see, and they hold on to the earth for dear life. You can see I ended up snapping the ends off a couple, but I just couldn't dig any further (I was able to get the broken end out for the most part, though.). And, notice how they're mostly straight! I'm so pleased the rocks didn't cause too much trouble. We'll have to wait and see how the carrots do.

You'll also notice I picked some dill, basil and mint. The dill was sauteed with the blanched green beans. The basil went into a mozzarella and tomato salad. And, the mint became a mint/lemon syrup for adding to water for a refreshing hot-weather beverage.

All in all, I'd say our garden is putting out pretty well so far. I guess if you caress her just right, she's that kind of lady. I'm alright with that. I even think a war injury here and there is worth it. I do think we should take that wasp to the war crimes tribunal, though, because although it wasn't some kind of massacre, I think that kind of preemptive strike was totally uncalled for.