Vegetable garden wife’s nightmare

Country folks always have a vegetable garden, and the faithful wife is supposed to can, freeze, dry and whatever else to all that food so the family can “live offa the land.”

When I’m doing all that stuff the words to “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart” go through my head over and over. Specially the part where Patsy Montana says, “I want to ride old paint, goin’ at a run, I want to feel the wind in my face.”

I’d sure like to meet HER cowboy — if she ever found one.

I think I must know the wrong ones, beginning with my Dad. Cowboys do not know how to plant a small, family-size vegetable garden.

One year my Dad got carried away planting pinto beans. He planted a whole acre of the things! I will never forget the zillion days I spent pulling weeds, irrigating, and the worst part of all — helping my mom pick and shell them. To this day I only cook beans because that’s what you hafta do if you’re a country girl. Also, after I married I told my husband I was not going to do the fruit thing.

The fruit thing was, my mom and her friends, in late summer, drove a hundred miles into the mountains and purchased fresh fruit. At home we made canned fruit and even jelly, jam and preserves. I counted the days to when school would start up again, and I could stop peeling and chopping that stuff.

Our family always had a big early springtime discussion at the supper table, deciding what to plant. One year when I was 5 or 6 years old, I wanted to join the discussion.

I actually remember saying, “Be sure and plant lots of gravy cuz I really like that.” They never let me live that down.

One of my daughters refuses to eat pickled beets, because I learned how to make them one year and we had A LOT of beets. You would think she’d forget after 20 years.

Zucchini! Two hills of the stuff at most is plenty, but noooo, we had to have 10 hills. We ended up taking it to all our town friends by the pickup load.

I don’t remember my dad or my husband helping much with irrigating and weed pulling. When it came harvest time, though, they were right there. My husband used to get a 5-gallon bucket every afternoon and go out there. Half an hour later he’d come in the back door, the bucket full and proudly say, “Look what we got today!”

He always plopped it on the back porch and went about his business — whatever that was — leaving me to deal with all that stuff.

By late summer fresh food just out of the garden was not happening. We were eating what was about to ruin.

One year we didn’t get our first hard freeze until into October. By then, I’d been — for three weeks — starting each day with a quiet prayer, “Please let it freeze tonight.”