The Life and Times of Florence Knitingale

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Camera Did Not Remind Me To Take it Along

Or, to put it another way, I am a complete spaz and completely forgot to take the camera along while we were hunting and bagging a Christmas tree. It might be just as well, though. The whole experience was absolutely wonderful and we'll definitely do it again next year...but the farmer in question apparently helps keep weeds down around the trees by letting the cows in to graze between the rows. Effective, and definitely cost-effective...but it is perhaps challenge enough to look up long enough to locate the perfect tree, and down long enough to avoid stepping in a giant cowpie. While keeping ones hands warm because it was cold enough to....well, let's just say there was a line of very worried brass monkeys outside the local welders. Adding in a camera may have had disastrous and somewhat dung-ish results.
We ended up choosing a Frasier pine, in that they last forever, have tight, short needles that lend themselves to ornament hanging, and the needles are green on top and silver underneath and so are unbelievably pretty. See for yourself:

Warning: this photo does not accurately reflect the two hours spent untangling lights that had magically unwound themselves from neat little coils over the last two years (remember, I was mad at pine trees in general after they took out the hood of my car last year, and absolutely refused to invite one inside) and became knots that would make a sailor proud. Or make a sailor swear. Or I used language that would make a sailor blush. It was one of those.

There are multiple cow ornaments on the tree--a tradition of ours because Mr. K use to work on dairy farms, and because Ms. K is just plain weird.

Speaking of cows, the old farmer who sold us the tree reminded me greatly of my Grandpa whom I adored and who was also a farmer. He (Grandpa) raised cows for beef and, later, huge amounts of wheat. Anyway, this farmer yesterday had several fields of assorted Christmas trees, and also four cows, happily munching away (clearly the gifted creators of the multitude of above-mentioned pies). They were Holsteins--the black and white ones that I adore--and I was charmed when the farmer told us the story of how he got them from a local dairy when they were just a day old, because they are male and the dairy doesn't have use for male calves, and still more charmed when he described feeding them through the night to keep them alive and more charmed yet when he said "they're my babies" and later "Yeah, they know when I'm coming to feed them. They recognize their mom." And then he reminded me still more of my pragmatic, old-school grandfather as he added cheerfully "I'm going to butcher 'em next summer and sell the meat." Ewww....... Mind you, Mr. K was delighted, since the resulting meat will cost no more than $2 - $2.50 per pound, and has now decided that he will purchase half a cow for us, along with a new freezer in which to store it.

Which begs the question: why have I been angsting so much about finding him the perfect gift...when clearly, I could have been wife of the year just by purchasing him half a dead cow? And another question: where else but the Northwest could you negotiate a Christmas tree and a half a cow, all at one time? The mind boggles.

Having finally put that lovely image out of my head (and put it into yours...sorry about that), I did manage to do more decorating (translation: I went quite happily nuts and the place looks like an elf threw up). This first picture is proof once again of my eternal optimism:

You can't see it, but the floor below that banister is oak, with no rug whatever to soften the blow when Gracie happily pokes her paws through the rails to knock the red and white balls to their doom. I know this, and I have even had the joy of awakening to the certain crash of exploding Christmas balls...and yet, there they are again. I can't explain it, other than to say I am the same woman who has enough knitting patterns to provide diverse wardrobes for all of Montana and half of Idaho. It's hope. It's not sensible or wise hope...but sometimes you have to work with what you have. And buy an extra box each of the frosted red and white balls.

I also decorated the sitting room, or family room, or whatever the heck that extra room is:

I have neither seven feet nor seven is simply a further measure of my weirdosity that since there were seven nails in the mantel at stocking height when we moved in, I simply had to hang seven stockings. I suppose it makes as much sense as the nutcracker on the hearth that could no more crack a nut in its jaws than I could with my armpit. Not that I've tried, mind shards, and all.

Here's a picture of the same room from the other angle:

No, I have absolutely no idea why I felt you needed to see it from both directions. As I said, weird.

I am off to dip peanut butter balls in melted chocolate, having decided that the almond pastries were not up to my standards (that is, the little buggers stuck together in the freezer like they'd been iced with superglue), and then finally knit a bit in front of the tree and tv.

Happy Knitting....I still think you guys are the greatest.


  • At 4:48 PM, Anonymous said…

    you are the greatest too. but you know that

  • At 7:58 PM, Anonymous MonicaPDX said…

    ::sitting here howling helplessly:: Oh, man. "...the place looks like an elf threw up." Lordy, I wanna use that sentence for a sigline! I think you should immediately start using it. For the holidays, y'know. Ghu knows what people would think if you used it otherwise, but then, it's you, so... Nevermind. [eg] Wonderful, wonderful post! And I'm glad you successfully got your tree. It looks gorgeous! So does everything else. Let's hear it for holiday decorating! And the equally traditional holiday cussing.

    PS - Um, next time you're negotiating for half a cow? A few hints: The ones that guy has are 'feeder steers.' Dairy farmers sell them cheap every year. Many farmers use a beef bull instead of a dairy bull to sire their calves, so they get more meat on the bull calves they'll castrate and sell for beef. Check to see the farmer does try to fatten 'em up with grain before slaughtering. They're awful stringy if he doesn't 'cause they're half dairy. (If it didn't work too well, lay in a supply of tenderizer or use it in recipes with long cooking times, like stews and such. Tasty, but can be tough.) And the farmer will tell the butcher what cuts he wants, so you should be able to specify in what form you want your half a cow, too; like so many roasts, so much hamburger, so many steaks, some liver for the cats, etc. (If half dairy, think pot roasts rather than steaks. [g]) If he doesn't offer this, next time? Track down the butcher. ;) Often farm families raising their own beef can't use an entire cow, and sell half or a quarter to the butcher. Frequently they're doing this with beef calves, so you get better meat, still at (usually) cheaper prices.

    *kof* Can you tell who spent some time chasing feeder steers and then our Angus calves all over hell's half acre? ;)

  • At 4:07 AM, Blogger Lynn said…

    LittleBit wants to know if any of those stockings are *knitted*? As in, by you?

  • At 4:29 AM, Blogger Ms. Knitingale said…

    They're knitted, Little Bit, but not by me, sadly. In fact, they were purchased for about $1 each at Value Village our first Christmas here, as soon as I realized there were 7 nails and about the same number of days until Christmas. But you know...that's not a bad idea at all for next year....

  • At 9:12 AM, Blogger Tola said…

    Christmas is just plain weird. What other time of year do you sit around a dead tree in your living room and eat candy out of your socks?

  • At 12:54 PM, Blogger Kitty Mommy said…

    Hmmm...a Christmas tree and a half cow...yeah, I think we could do it in Wisconsin, too.

  • At 3:17 PM, Anonymous Lilly said…

    There you go!! You just told us the PERFECT gift for Mr. K's Christmas. Buy the dear man a freezer, or at least a gift certificate at a place that sells freezers. And put some vehicle polish in his stocking for the new mower, (works well on freezers and other appliances, too.)

  • At 5:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What a lovely tree you selected! You had to be
    looking up and not under your feet.

    I'm also impressed with monicapdx's explanation of the feeder cattle situation too. I'll have to keep that in mind in case I ever have the urge to buy half a cow.

  • At 10:32 AM, Anonymous Doris said…

    Have you ever thought of using shatterproof ornaments for the bannister? We have a dog who thinks the tree was put up for him to help himself to the "toys" that dangle! I have used the shatterproof ornaments on the part that he can reach, and it has worked wonders. THey are still pretty...look like glass.


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