Thursday, April 28, 2011

It's like they were made for each other...

You know your wife is a vet when:

1.  You find a bottle of penicillin where the butter should be in the fridge.

2.  She never gets upset when you come home dirty, tracking mud (and who knows what else) through the house to the laundry room because she's just done the same thing.

3.  When she greets you at home after a long day at work, you tell her "Honey, you smell like cow" and she agrees with you.

4.  You cut your finger and show it to your wife and while examining it, she exclaims: "Hold still!  You're worse than a freaking chihuahua."

5.  You walk into the kitchen to find this instead of dinner because she forgot what she was doing when she saw the dog and stopped to have a snuggle with him:

You know your husband is a farmer when:

1.  He tells you to just bill him for the penicillin he took from the fridge.

2.  You aren't surprised when you come home and find gallons of milk, pounds of butter and a load of steaks and sausage in the fridge.

3.  When he puts his arm around you, you tell him, "Tompkins, you smell like a pig" and he doesn't get mad.

4.  He lets you "practice" delivering calves and pregnancy checking his cattle. 

5.  When you are out on "date night," you have to go catch the cows that got out of the fence and eat something from the drive-thru for dinner instead of what you had planned because you probably wouldn't be allowed in anywhere with your shoes covered in manure. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

City girl likes to cook.

I love to cook.  It's my most favorite creative thing to do, mostly because all of the senses are involved, and as a general rule, more than one person can appreciate the end result.  How many things can you do in a day that signify a job well done that you can taste?

My dad taught me how to cook.  He was born in the rural industrial community of Pawtucket, RI and I guess our shared genetic desire for the finer tastes in life helped him to deviate from the meals of his youth (except for Nana's blue ribbon winning clam chowder!) and learn how to cook.  I guess since we all know recipes from the region they were imagined, I could describe my dad's areas of expertise as French, Italian, Asian and New Englander...although he commonly mixed all four with very interesting and amazingly tasty results.

That's me and my dad.  We hang out next to the range and above the jar of kosher salt in my kitchen.  It seemed appropriate. 
Since I've moved to the country, I'm learning all kinds of new foods that my dad never prepared but always enjoyed when we went out to eat - biscuit and gravy, green beans, casseroles, barbecued anything - and I covertly watch my mother-in-law to see if I can glean her secret to angel biscuits...although I'm sure she'd tell me if I just asked her.  On the other hand, since I've moved to the country, Aaron Ray (and sometimes others, if I'm feeling brave enough to invite people over and test a recipe on them) is trying out new foods that are oh so good - and straight from my dad's secret stash of recipes.  He was not a recipe-sharer (I guess that's genetic too).

I'd been planning a particular meal all week and was very excited to cook last night when Aaron Ray informed me that he had made different plans for dinner.  I pitched a mini-fit and informed ARay that I need at least 2-3 days a week of cooking suppers in order to get it out of my system and I had only cooked once in this past week; therefore, my mini-fit won out...and I made a spectacular dinner...if I do say so myself.

Herbed steak spirals with mushroom and red wine sauce - voila!

(Ok, Anson Smart took this picture, not me.  But I SWEAR mine looked just like this!  No kidding!)

I deviated from my typical cream sauce to go over some mushroom agnolotti (how many daughters are trained in their youth to have Julia Child's cream base sauce memorized?) and it was lovely.  The key is to have some sort of concentrated flavor that adds the depth which is why I'm always putting wine in any kind of sauce, but this time I used diced tomato with the juice and it was very good.  Incidentally, the cream sauce tasted much better with the steak spirals than the mushroom sauce...I'll make them together forever.  They'll be just like BFFs.

I don't have a fancy "before" picture of the pasta because I made this recipe up and I don't have an "after" either because, seriously, it is all gone.
Throw in some roasted red potatoes, spring greens and yeast rolls and I do believe my temper tantrum was worth it.  At least, it felt very worth it as my husband cleared the table and kissed me on the head as he walked by.  From a man who doesn't give compliments, I'll take it.

If you really want the recipe, I'll give it to you (I can hear my dad turning in his grave right now), but only if you come over and let me fix it for you first!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

You know it's gonna be bad when...

1.  You drive up to a calving call and see the cow haltered to a fencepost and the calf (partway protruding from the cow) attached by chains to the front of the tractor.

2.  An emergency phone call begins with "My horse's penis is swollen and he won't let me touch it."

3.  You come home after a long day at work and both of your dogs come bounding toward you but they smell so bad you have to run in the opposite direction...and they think it's a game and they tackle you and now you smell just as bad as they do.

4.  You happily find that your husband has started the laundry before you got home...but none of your dirty clothes are in it.

5.  You start pulling calf from #1 and realize that it has been dead for a couple of days and is now a balloon-calf full of noxious gases produced by degrading bacteria and it may explode in your arms at any second.

6.  The kitchen is a mess, the laundry is only half begun (see #4), and there is a pile of dirty coveralls on the front porch. 

7.  You realize tick season is officially in full swing when you pick off at least a half a dozen from patients at work and then find one crawling up your arm when you get home.

8.  The "tree house" that the previous homeowners left in the back yard tumbles down in the windstorm and Bella and George discover all the wonderful treasures inside...and proceed to destroy them, strewing the pieces across the front yard.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sunday in the Country

I have never been a Baptist before.

My mother raised us kids in a non-denominational church.  I joined a Presbyterian church in college.

I married a Southern Baptist.  My husband (and deacon) baptized me in the New River last summer and I joined my (new) beloved church family shortly thereafter. 

Since then, I have joined the ranks of Southern Baptist women in this part of the country I now call home and have been educated in the historical significance of being a Southern Baptist Woman and Deacon's Wife.  And lemme tell ya, ladies, it is quite the undertaking.  I had no idea how important I was going to be in the grand scheme of things...the lovely ladies I made friends with when Aaron Ray and I were dating/engaged showed me by example what kinds of things I could do to contribute to the day to day/month to month workings of the church...but, goodness gracious...there are a million things to do!

My first try at contributing to a church event came up not too long ago....I agreed to be part of "Family Night Dinner" which happens once a month and all I needed to do was bring a main dish, side dish, dessert, and help set up/break down the fellowship hall.  No big deal, right?  Well...when I agreed to help, I didn't realize that I'd also be on call that day...

Which means that my Southern Baptist Woman and Deacon's Wife score for that day was about a 70 out of 100.  Not an altogether fail, but not that great either - between calls I made some "semi-homemade" strawberry shortcakes for dessert, corn from the freezer section (that I shamelessly microwaved 15 minutes before I brought it to the church) and had Aaron Ray pick up fried chicken from KFC.  I helped set up for about 20 minutes before I got called out, missed the dinner altogether, and Aaron Ray had to do my share of the dishes afterward while I did a c-section on a Beagle.

The worst part of it all is, I actually like to cook, I'm good at it, and I would have gladly done every dish in the place to show everyone how grateful I am to be part of this community.

The best part of it all is, I have a husband who will pick up the KFC and do the dishes afterward...and I think the contribution I make that people are most excited about are the stories I's pretty awesome that I can entertain people just by telling them about what I did this weekend:

1.  Survived torrential rains and a mudslide on Saturday morning

2.  Learned how to play Yahtzee with a couple other Deacons and their Wives

3.  Met a client at a local fire station so I could treat their goat who was having a vaccine reaction

4.  Impressed my husband with some not-so-country-home-cooking

5.  Followed up dinner with a date down at the barn with Aaron Ray and some heifers who will hopefully have calves in 9 months thanks to my endearing, proficient in Artificial Insemination, husband.

6. Enjoyed springtime in the mountains

Sunday, April 10, 2011

City girl takes country boy to the city...

This past weekend, one of my dearest friends got married.  I've known her since she was eleven and I feel like it has been forever and no time at all since we were in high school, discovering books like Pride and Prejudice together, and wondering about our own Mr. Darcy's.  So, it only seemed fitting that I should drag my country husband to the city to witness such a lovely event - we're so happy for Ginna and Jeff!

Carrie took this picture...regretfully, I forgot my camera...but look at how beautiful the Neels are!
As I was standing and watching Ginna and Jeff pledge their vows to one another, I was thinking of all the wonderful things I was able to do these past few days (thanks, Jess, for taking call for me this weekend!) that I wouldn't have necessarily been able to do at home...

First, I was able to make it to Friendly Center in Greensboro at exactly 8:15 pm on a Thursday night and go shopping.  I actually ran into three different stores and got exactly what I was looking for, all before each one of them closed at nine (even the coffee shop closes at 5 pm in Sparta).  And, miracle of miracles, Qdoba doesn't close until ten during the week and I was even able to get my most favorite burrito that I haven't had in over a year, for supper.  I literally sang out praises to the Lord as I was driving out of the parking lot with a fresh chicken burrito with no beans safely resting in the passenger's seat.  Heaven.

Second, I got to stay up late and talk with my mom on Thursday night.  I absolutely love living close to family.  It was something I didn't have growing up, and now I'm on a covert mission to get all of my family up here in the mountains so we can hang out all the time.  It's gonna happen, I just know it.

Aren't we the cutest?
Third, I got my first manicure and pedicure since our wedding last year with all the girls (there's no nail salon in Sparta...I sense a business opportunity here...).  Now, this was a little awkward...not only do my country feet spend virtually all of their time in boots, but my country hands had just been busy amputating a prolapsed calf rectum (read: trainwreck) the day before...which made for some interesting conversation with a sweet Asian woman who spoke very little English.  Poor thing, she worked on my feet until they looked like they belonged in the cute sandals I had just bought, and she believed me when I said I worked in the dirt a lot - and by dirt, I meant manure.  Eventually though, when she asked me about the bruises I had under my fingernails, I explained that a dog had bitten my thumb and a horse had smashed my middle finger...that I was a veterinarian.  Veterinarian does not translate well, apparently, but I think she understood when I said "doctor for animals" since she went on to gush to me about the bunnies she had and how her daughter really wanted a dog.  I can only assume her bunnies were meant to be pets, but we bonded a little when I told her my husband had brought me some bunnies too...

Fourth, and finally, my new life collided with my old one as I paraded my delightful husband around, re-introducing him to beloved friends.  It was lovely, so much fun, and I wished it hadn't ended so soon.  I can't wait for Carrie and Andrew's wedding in May so we can do it all over again!

Allison, Carrie and I.  Photo credit: Allison
For now, though, I'm back in the beautiful country, I spent most of my morning hugging all the old ladies at church, tonight we're going to eat supper with some more Tompkins', and tomorrow, a new week will begin.  It's weekends like these that revive me and remind me how full of life, life is.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Let me show you something...

Typically, I don't feel the need to write twice in a 24 hour period, but this morning (on my day OFF!) I've been lazy, lounging around in bed and watching the Walton's (when I should be out running the million errands I need to have done by Aaron Ray's birthday party tomorrow) and pondering what Olivia Walton would do if she was faced with what my husband brought home yesterday.  Here, let me show you:

Don't see it yet?  Well, first of all, I apologize for the state of my fridge.  Today is housecleaning day and "throw the leftovers away" day.  So, it'll look different by this afternoon.  But this is what I'm talking about...

That, my friends is a whole lot of pure, unadulterated cream from the serious jersey cows of Rural Retreat, VA.  When Aaron Ray came home last night toting that mess on his shoulders, I innocently asked him "is that cream?" and watched him mosey his way into the kitchen where I heard random things being dropped on the floor and re-arranged in my refrigerator so the onslaught of dairy could fit on the top shelf.  When I heard his response, I thought I was imagining things, "Yep!  MiMi, I'm going to teach you how to churn butter!"


Butter comes from the grocery store.  It's already packaged in little sticks so I know how much to cut off and put in the mixing bowl when I make chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

I'm not so sure about this.  Olivia Walton would have been thrilled.  I am slightly less than thrilled and more than a little apprehensive. 

I was chatting with George about such things this morning (this may be an indication that I need to start having children.  Do normal people talk to their dogs?  I feel I should know the answer to this, since I'm a vet and all.) while I dished up his and Bella's breakfast.  I learned something interesting while doing so - he chowed down on his puppy food while I was with him, but the second I turned my back, he abandoned all those good vitamins and nutrients and ate all of Bella's grown-up dog food.  Apparently puppy food is not tasty.  Bella was disappointed when she came in from playing outside and found her bowl empty.

Oh well.  Maybe I'll just teach the dogs how to churn the butter.  Then I'll be set.