Maverick the Boxer

In a small town in which i work there is a little storefront in which sits a register and straight before that is a sleeping boxer named Maverick. He is a bit scarred and has a swollen paw. He has been both run over by a car and attacked by an itty bitty barker. He’s seen some ****. And through it all he has remained a gentle giant. He is a very mellow guy that just sits beneath the register all day waiting for someone to come in and shower him with pets and cuddles. If you like, his owner will produce a leash and you can walk him. Only in a small town. I can’t wait for Wednesday. I’m going back to get my healthy dose of doggy kisses, to say hi to a good boy and give some well-deserved belly scratches while a new friend holds my arm with his paw.

Life Before and After the Pandemic

Before the pandemic i would only include beautiful movies with happy endings in my collection. Now i include anything that invokes a feeling. I was trying to figure out why. My conclusion is this: when you see mass amounts of fear, anger, suffering, relief, sadness…. At a point you become desensitized to it all. You throw the towel in on human emotions and the experience of them doesnt hit the same way it did before. There is a tendency to say “oh well the whole thing has gone to the crapper anyways, what does it matter to make sense of any of it now?” So if a movie is beautifully shot, has a message, and can transport me to a different place…captivate my attention…it now goes in the collection whether it ends in joy or tragedy, because nowadays the struggle is to feel anything deeply, not just the good.

Storytime

A young man asks a woman in a professional uniform exiting an expensive foreign car for a donation for his organization. She smiles sheepishly and replies “not today.” He repeats her answer back to her loudly and shakes his head in front of people passing by. He exchanges a look with his comrade. He’s got her type pegged. All that wealth and no heart for others. The young man is pretty proud of himself, shaming the woman for her flippant answer. She should be generous. Obviously she has the money to give if she can afford a car like the one she drives. What the young man does not know is that the car is the last remnant of a life she once had, before her circumstances changed. That the windshield wiper fluid pump, the trunk door, and the key fob are all broken and she hasnt had the ability to fix them, that the interior of the car is smeared with flood water mud from two years ago that she hasnt spent the cash to clean. It looks shiny and expensive from the outside. What the young man is unaware of is that she is just returning to work part time in her professional uniform, that she has been making minimum wage for the past two years and has been relying on others to carry her from bill to bill because her paycheck falls short. What the young man fails to realize is that the reason the woman said no to him was because now that she has a small profit in her pocket, that money is earmarked for the produce warehouse that fed her for free when she had enough money for the mortgage or food but not both, because others left money that was used to cover her veggies, for the listener supported radio station that played the christian songs her soul needed to hear when there was no hope left on her darkest days, and for the pastor whose sermons she’s been listening to for free for two years because she hasn’t had the money to pay up front for his knowledge and spiritual wisdom… member donations being the source of his salary in a very small church. What he doesnt know is that the money she couldnt give him is not for her but for others. I tell this story so that people will realize, you never know what is going on in someone’s life. God may already be at work. He has many gardeners spreading and watering seeds. Don’t cut down a sapling because it is in the way of you planting a seed when the end goal is a forest of trees.

A Dream of Death

I was leaving the house at 4 am every morning so i could get to the nursing home at 4:50, take a ten minute nap in the car, and go in to assist patients with dressing and toileting tasks while they got ready for breakfast.

At the time i was worried about somebody and they were apparently on my mind when i reclined my seat and took that ten minute nap before work in the dark one morning because i had this dream.

I was sitting in a restaurant outdoor patio garden that looked just like my friend’s yard and it was very late at night. We were finishing up our food when a mutual friend’s cousin who had been telling us all he wanted to die wrapped a noose around his neck and jumped from an iron stairwell fence railing. He free-fell for a moment and then gravity did its job and his body tugged hard on the rope, jolting the corpse and breaking the man’s neck. I watched the whole thing happen before me and i screamed this prolonged multi-syllable scream like somehow my words were going to stop his actions, as if somehow i could communicate or interact with the scenario unfolding before my eyes. I couldn’t. The moment he jumped those that could see what was unfolding knew his neck snapping was shortly to follow and death was the inevitable conclusion of his initial action that had been put into motion and could not be undone. My friend wrapped her arms around me and tried to shush the noise escaping me for the man’s family member was bound to be more devastated and we were all trying to stuff our shock down in an effort to turn to and comfort the actual family member who would grieve him. I covered my open mouth with a trembling hand as i watched his lifeless body swing through the dark in the chilly night air. The finality, the instantaneous finality of the thing was so comprehended and i just kept thinking, i have to go back in time and stop this series of events. I have to stop him jumping. But it was done. And so he swung until the rope went still and he hung motionless. There was no wind. The night was absolutely still and now quiet. Just blackness in every direction. I awoke abruptly to the noise of an alarm and was in the darkness of my car. It was 5 am: time to go to work.

Poultry Lice

There are no pictures of this debacle as i was a bit too tied up with the events at hand to set up a camera to document the whole thing. I discovered lice crawling on my chickens one day when i parted their feathers while petting them and noticed these long, slender beige bugs just living their best lives sucking my chickens’ blood. Light colored combs, difficulty putting on weight, and white debris around the feather shafts can all be signs of poultry lice infestation. Daisy had a moderate amount of bugs on her while the rest of them seemed to only have a few here and there. I figured i should nip this in the butt while it was still manageable so i did some research and headed to the feed store for spray. They sold me the same spray they used on their own chickens and i was instructed to “soak” each chicken with the spray, aiming to get their skin and not just their feathers. I stared at the young man who had always been quite helpful to me at the local feed store. I asked, “How am i supposed to soak the chickens? At best only 3 will let me catch them and as soon as i start spraying they’re going to panic and death roll. i mean, how am i supposed to soak a fleeing chicken?” The young man said to me, “maybe do it at night when they’re all bedding down and kind of stationary.” Something told me this was not the problem solving brilliant idea it sounded like it would be. Something told me bedded down chickens could always wake up if they thought they were under attack. So i sought to get as many chickens sprayed as i could before nightfall, so i wouldnt have to work so hard in the dark. Of course the first chicken i sprayed was Daisy. She was the only one that would willingly climb in my lap. She did not disappoint and after a minimal amount of struggling she settled her head on my arm and let me spray her under her wings and around her vent, parting her feathers to soak her in this poultry lice killing fluid. She did still kick me at the end before fleeing in a mess of feathers but she sat still for a good amount of the spraying, voicing appreciation of the cool liquid on a very hot day and unappreciation of being pinned interchangeably. I then grabbed Rosie, who made a completely unnecessary amount of fuss and in all probability didnt even need it. I couldnt find a bug on her though she didnt really let me have a thorough look. she was a super fat chicken with a dark red comb and shiny feathers. Chickens try to keep poultry lice at bay themselves by taking dust baths and i made sure they had plenty of dust to roll around in at the back of the pen. Rosie was probably doing a good job of lice management by herself but without a proper look i couldnt be sure so she got deloused just like everybody else. She wiped a fair amount of it on my feet and clothes. I really expected ellis and oakley would be the hardest to treat but huge Ellis is very motivated by food. Thinking i might have some, she walked right up to my extended hand and into my trap. I clamped my hands down around her and pinned her between my knees as i parted feathers and sprayed things. I pinned her with an elbow and one knee and now sprayed under a wing and around her neck. I suddenly remembered that you were supposed to do the neck first so all the lice didnt just crawl immediately to the chickens head for safety knowing you cant spray the eyes. I was barely getting any spray on their skin. Most of it was soaking feathers. How the heck was i supposed to establish a barrier around the neck? It took me another hour to catch Lily and then surprisingly distrustful little oakley. It was Petunia that made me wait until nightfall to put the wet clothes back on and finish what i started by spraying the last chicken. As i made a decision to save Petunia for nightfall, i emerged from the chicken pen drenched in foul smelling liquid. I had bits of corn and feathers in my hair and on my clothes. I spent three hours in the house before placing the door on the chicken coop. I waited about five minutes. Then i opened the big door to the coop, identified Petunia with the lantern, and tried to catch her. she ran around in circles, knocking chickens off roosting bars, stepping over chickens, flying into chickens, flying into bars, walls, and a window. She almost escaped through my feet three times. Then there would have been no catching her and the activity would have been over before it started. I finally realized i was going to have to get dirty for this and i wrestled her down in the shavings and spent chicken feed. She squawked loudly, screaming bloody murder as if i was killing her as i sprayed her down. Daisy took heed and rushed to the rescue, running like she does in that signature velociraptor way chickens do. She waddle-ran over to me where she grabbed a vein in the back of my hand and tried to wrestle it from under my skin. I thought about pulling Daisy off of me but i recognized this would be an effective tactic to get me to release my grip on Petunia so she could make her escape. I refused to take the bait. Instead i continued to spray Petunia thoroughly as Daisy collapsed not one but two veins in the back of my left hand and created cuts in the skin that would still be trying to scab over a week later. The cuts became immediately infected and required raw organic coconut and tea tree oil to heal. The chickens covered my spray laden clothing in feathers, discarded feed, poop, and dirt. I am sure i looked very festive. I was trying not to inhale as they had kicked up a large amount of old bedding dust which could contain harmful spores from bacteria in their waste that could scar my lungs. I crawled out of the chicken coop with debris all over my clothes and in my hair, blood and poop on my hand, and spray all over my glasses and neck. The final chicken was done. All had been sprayed. Yes, i deloused the chickens. I had done my duty. They would all be somewhat protected now. I called the feed store and asked about how often i would need to repeat this ritual with the chickens to keep them lice free. The young man answered cheerfully, “oh about once a week.” I stared at the chickens from where i stood in the grass, “round two next monday.” They looked about as excited for the event as i was.

A Black Swallowtail named “Blue”

I was outside working in the yard one day when i noticed a pop of color underneath the car. It was a butterfly! I was immediately terrified i’d run him over or hit him with the grill of the car earlier when i’d parked, since that was where i found him, beneath the front of the car. He was laying in the dirt. Ants were gathering around him. He was kind of crawling on his side. I say he but i have no idea what gender the butterfly was. His wings were fully intact and beautiful. I knew that older butterflies sported dull colored wings and his were bright and vibrantly patterned, so he was not an elderly butterfly. I was careful not to touch his wings as the oils from my hands would make it so he could never fly again. Instead, i offered my finger to his sideways splayed legs and the butterfly grabbed on. His legs held me tightly and curved to grip my finger as i lifted him off the ground and over the porch. I was surprised he didnt let go the whole way to the house as his wings hung draped to the side. I laid him on a wooden chair on the porch. It was only then that i realized the extent to which he was infested with ants. I had to get them off of him. I also couldnt touch him or he’d never be able to fly again. All i could think of was water. I said to the butterfly, “Hold on, i’ve got to get these ants off you. I have an idea. Hold on here. I’ll be right back.” I filled a cup with well water and returned to the chair on the porch where these horrible ants were seemingly killing the butterfly. I poured the water over the butterfly and the ants floated out from underneath him, then climbed right back on. I had to really flood the spot where the butterfly lay struggling to wash all the ants out from under him. A few were seemingly inside his body cavity. I didn’t understand where they had come from. Once the ants were flushed out they began tracing their scent trail back to the butterfly so i smooshed them all with the edge of the cup or my fingers. I decided to look up what kind of butterfly i had as a guest on my porch and name it. I had to have something to call this new visitor in crisis. The butterfly turned out to be a black swallowtail which i named “Blue” for the brilliant pop of color on his wings. Blue flapped around in circles while laying sideways and wiggling his legs.

After around fifteen minutes of this it became apparent to me that Blue was not going to make a miraculous recovery once rid of the ants and fly away. Blue was hurt in some way. I first examined Blue’s abdomen, as it was where i had seen two ants crawl out of. I could see strings of orange goo on Blue’s legs and hanging from his abdomen. I wasn’t sure what to make of his condition. His wings were so bright and colorful, perfectly intact, not a scratch or a tatter anywhere on them. And yet he was clearly injured in some way. As Blue twirled around on his side i got a good look at his underside and realized it was hollowed out. Something had seemingly taken his guts out and now his abdomen was shriveled and hollow save for the strings of orange goo he was dragging around. I was unsure whether these were his guts or whether this was a poisonous substance secreted by a predatory animal that had victimized this butterfly. To my dismay the ants continued to follow their scent trails and find him. I doused him with more water. He seemed to welcome the water as it meant the ants were floating away and his legs relaxed each time the water flowed over him in a little wave. I then got a better look at Blue’s face. His head was half caved in. One eye was cracked open and the other intact but cloudy. It seemed something had crushed one side of his face. I realized that he couldn’t see. His little spiral curl tongue was in its resting position. I could see every little individual hair that collectively made his head and torso appear fuzzy. I had never seen a butterfly up close before. I sat and googled all the parasites and predatory animals that could cause a butterfly this kind of damage. I ruled out dragonflies, snakes, mice, praying mantises, birds, and lizards. The praying mantis would have eaten the head only and the rest of the aforementioned animals would have swallowed Blue whole. I had to focus on animals that would be more likely to eat Blue in pieces or just poison him and then leave him to the mercy of some opportunistic ants. I knew from my eyeballs that ants were an enemy of butterflies but it seemed unlikely that they themselves would have smashed Blue’s head open and crushed his eye. I felt the ants must have a similar relationship to butterflies as vultures have to deer. Wasps and spiders were both possible suspects. I did wonder if ants were capable of bringing down a butterfly or just scavenging someone else’s kill. The problem was that Blue was not dead. He was alive and the ants were carrying away pieces of his abdomen as he struggled to crawl around on his side. Blue was clearly broken. I decided to sit with him while he died. I kept the ants off of him and spoke softly to him about how wonderful and peaceful he would find heaven and that it was all going to be okay once he got where he was going and i would be here with him until he let go and made the journey. I continued to research what could hollow out a butterfly’s abdomen out of insatiable curiosity and a willingness to understand as i sat with him next to the chair on the porch, standing guard against the ants. Then google stated that butterflies could live without their abdomens. I took the phone into the house briefly to see the screen better and read the full article. The title was a bit misleading. Butterflies could live without their abdomen for a number of hours before inevitable death set in. My hopes dropped and i returned to the porch to sit with Blue. As time ticked on Blue remained alive and struggling around in circles on his side. Sometimes he would lie still but his legs would move. One common thread through all my research was that butterflies couldn’t feel pain. Every article stated that scientists had found no pain receptors in butterflies’ brains and so therefore they could not perceive pain. One article stated that butterflies could feel sensation and knew when something was touching them but since they had no pain receptors they could not know the sensation of pain. I sat with Blue for a long time. I watched his stiff legs shake and twitch. Every limb was extended and stiff in the air. He pulled a leg in towards him or tremored a bit from time to time. His movements appeared labored and strained. When his legs shook he reminded me of myself trying to deal with the pain of pcos before ultimately vomiting, passing out, and going to the ER for help with pain management. When your insides are in such a tremendous amount of pain and theres nothing you can do to get at it the natural reaction is to tense all your muscles and writhe. That was what i was watching Blue do.

Occasionally i was not quick enough to thwart the ants and they would crawl on him. While they were crawling on him he would remain stiff and his movements were slow and labored. When the ants crawled inside his abdomen and began tearing off chunks of him to take back to their nest Blue began to writhe uncontrollably, moving his little legs quickly and shaking at times. He appeared frantic. As soon as i got the ants out of him the movements became slower and more labored. I could use science to explain this and say the ants had found some muscle control center and were operating the butterfly’s legs from within the abdomen but even before the ants would tear off a chunk of him, he responded differently when the ants were just traveling over him than he did when the ants had climbed into his wound. The slow, labored, jerky movements and occasional tremor turned to quick frantic movements where his legs grasped at anything within reach and they flailed about rapidly as if to signal panic or crisis. Every time i removed the ants with water Blue’s legs relaxed and he flapped his wings once or twice while lying on his side.

The internet told me, “Don’t worry, your butterfly does not feel pain. Butterflies are incapable of perceiving pain.” I sat and watched Blue. It seemed pretty clear to me that the insect was suffering. His legs shook and tremored, extended and held their position for a moment before shaking or retracting and extending again. The ants were gone. So what was causing the strained movements of his legs now if not pain? I wondered how scientists could be so sure that there was an animal without any semblance of the survival warning system we knew as pain. What made them think butterflies could not perceive pain? Well, they found no pain receptors in butterflies’ brains when they cut them open. Are we sure we know where they are located in insects? Are we sure that the system is even anywhere similar to human anatomy? Maybe butterflies had some other way of perceiving and processing pain, not brain receptors. I was not a scientist and i tended to draw conclusions through observation of body language and behavior, not images on a slide. I put my face close to Blue’s and stared into his one crushed and remaining cloudy eye. I stared at his shriveled hollowed out abdomen. The movements of his legs reminded me so much of mine when i couldn’t any longer cope with the pain of pcos. They were tensed at all times and tremored and retracted during some moments. It became apparent to me at this point that Blue would be with me for hours before his passing. This was going to be an all day event. I knew what the internet said but in my heart i felt it was wrong. My eyeballs and instincts told me i was looking at an animal who was suffering, despite article after article telling me that Butterflies don’t perceive pain. I wondered why humans believed God would make only one animal without the ability to feel pain. I felt butterflies could perceive pain, we just didn’t understand how and so we vetoed the existence of the whole thing.

After watching Blue suffer for an hour i read that if i wanted to put a dying butterfly out of its non-existent misery i could place him in a ziploc bag and set him in the freezer. He would first feel cold, then warm, then drift to sleep and not wake up. I felt this was a kinder end for Blue than struggling all day on the chair while the ants continued to find him and rip chunks from his abdomen. I told him my plan. I spoke to Blue that it seemed his abdomen was missing and his face was smashed and he would not be making a recovery from this. I told him that the internet said he would feel cold and then warm and then drift off to sleep…take a nap that he wouldn’t wake up from, and then he would be with God in heaven. Blue did not seem afraid of me in the slightest. He never tried to crawl away from me and any time i gave him my finger he latched on with his legs and did not let go until i put him down at the destination. Blue trusted me. I sought to end his misery when i realized i couldn’t help him get back up on his feet. I brought out a little plastic sandwich bag and opened it, placing it next to his body. I looked for a stick to nudge him in with but there was no need. Blue climbed into the little baggy before my eyes. I wanted him to die of hypothermia, not suffocation, which is a very different and more cruel experience. So i made sure to trap a bubble of air in there with him. I told him not to worry, that he would be with God soon and relief was coming. I placed the baggy in the freezer. I looked in once as Blue was drifting into his eternal nap. I said goodbye. Then i closed the freezer again and Blue was frozen the next time i opened it. Blue was finally still. His body looked relaxed, peaceful…resting. His legs laid flat. I thought about the body language of the butterfly. It would have been read as agony in any other species. Why was i to believe it was not so in butterflies? I realize i am wrong in the eyes of science but i know what i saw. A butterfly in any other situation has a healthy fear of humans. You lower your standards to accept help from anyone that is willing to give in extremely painful situations, when you are desperate and weak and cannot manage to cope much longer. He let me transport him. He held on so tightly to my finger with his little legs and it wasnt an unconscious reflex because he let go when i placed him on the porch or on the chair. Throw me in jail if you must, i will believe to my dying day that all animals have the ability to perceive pain. It is a warning system to increase likelihood of survival. Why would God bestow some animals with this and not others? Is it not useful to everybody? My eyeballs tell me an animal is writhing and if it is writhing would it not be writhing for the same reason that the rest of us do (dogs, snakes, elephants, cats, fish, monkeys, scorpions), the perception of pain? I have watched many an insect battle out here and there is nothing you can say to me to convince me that animals with different anatomy feel no pain because they are not constructed in the way that we see humans are when we cut them open. I feel pain. Blue feels pain.

I said a prayer while Blue was dying in the freezer. I asked God to forgive me for killing one of his children and i asked that he receive Blue with open arms, end his suffering, and welcome him into an eternity of peace. While i was sitting outside the freezer keeping Blue company i realized why i could never drag a deer corpse off the highway. I had touched dozens of deceased people working in the nursing homes both in holding their hands while they passed and cleaning them up for their families to come in and see them one last time before they went to the morgue. Some families prefer to do this for closure and when they request we close the door and leave them in there until they can drive up to see them we first clean and bathe the body, brush their hair, dress them, and place new linens on the bed so they will look their best for their family to view them. This does not terrify me in the slightest but touching a corpse of a deer on the road, i have never been able to do. I finally realized why. I viewed myself as an animal more than a human. Butterflies, cotton tails, deer…they all seemed like my species to me. Humans i understood much less inherently. Humans were not my people. And so when one died it was easier for me to tend to them with empathy because this was just another part of the job. Their death did not strike fear into my heart. But animals i identified with more than humans. I saw myself in their behaviors. When i see a deer dead on the road i think i see myself in that corpse more than a human who has passed on. As strange as it sounds, this registers as a corpse to me while the other one is a somber series of steps that need to be completed with respect and care for the sake of the soul that once occupied the body, the personality you had come to know and will miss, and for the sake of the family members who will be devastated by the loss. I should mention that this in no way means i don’t feel sadness when a human i have cared for over years dies. It simply means i don’t see myself in them. I mourn humans and animals alike when they leave. Its just, something additional is happening when i look at deceased animals. There is a personal fear that i have not yet overcome when i realize… “some day, that will be me.” I think my brain expects to die in the woods where the vultures will peck my eyes out and the coyotes will do what they do, instead of in a bed in a gown where an embalmer will take me apart and put me back together. Ideally, i will die in the woods. I don’t want to die in a building. I want to be an animal just like the deer and the cottontails. I want to go back to the earth when it’s my time.

George

The picture does not do him justice. He’s huge.

This is George. He is a toad that used to live in the plants i had in the wire cages on the porch. However, he ate so many bugs attracted to the porch light and grew so large that he cannot fit between the wire rungs anymore and instead sleeps in the mud beneath the porch stairs and appears on the welcome mat every night at dusk. He is still sitting there at dawn. I named him George and i now see him nightly. He’s always there leaving ungodly large turds on the front porch and waiting for his dinner to arrive.

The Earth is Finally Watered

It finally rained. We had such a historic drought that many of our trees died and i only had to cut the grass once all year. What is dead doesn’t grow to need mowed. Well once everything was good and dead the heavens opened and dumped an immense amount of precipitation on our crusty parched land. North texas suffered historic flooding and required water rescues. We just had the regular amount, thankfully. The flat land comprised of limestone rock and a thin layer of clay filled up with water until it spilled over the plateau and began running downhill, taking any topsoil with it. It rained for a full week. I had almost forgotten the sound of rain. It had been so long. We all basked in it, soaking the noise and the smell of it in after such a hiatus of precipitation. I could not believe the ground was wet.

The dog run is located too close to the chicken pen for Sili and Cashew to drink standing water after a storm. It has chicken **** in it, i’ll guarantee you. However, i cant be out there guarding all the holes they dig after every rain storm to make sure they don’t succumb to the torment of e-coli. So, i improvised. I used chicken panels and glass dishes to cover the holes full of standing water and placed the appropriate alternative on top of the biggest hole, prompting them to drink from their designated man-made bowl. Neither of them got sick or moved the bowls/chicken panel so i think it worked.

It was pretty muddy for 7 days and then we returned to our former state of drought.

A Trip Back in Time

I was driving into town one morning when a covered wagon pulled by a team of horses came towards and then passed me on the main road. I felt like i had gone back in time and was getting ready for the Oregon trail. i felt the urge to park my car and go purchase supplies at a general store. I had no idea where they were going. Naturally, i had to pull over and take a picture. I stopped in at the post office and mentioned what i had seen go by. All three men standing in there smiled, nodded their heads, and said, “Oh yeah, they go by from time to time, especially on the holidays.”

The rider following behind the wagon

Herbs for the Winter

My friend Ren gifted me a basil plant from her garden earlier this year. She used clay-like red mud that was present on the properties closer to the river, sprinkled worm castings and some nutrients into the hole before pushing the dirt around the little basil plant, and let me borrow the pot she put it in. I placed the thing inside a wire cage on my porch and it grew wildly into a jungle of basil. I grew the plant until it was spending all its energy making flowers and i was spending all my time pinching them off before the plant could seed and inevitably die. When i could no longer keep up with the plant’s will to flower i harvested the leaves. The haul made 5 packed full sandwich bags of basil. I put them in the crisper drawer until i had a day off when i could dry and process them.

I ran the oven from 10 am to 5 pm. I cooked each sheet of leaves on parchment paper for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

When each batch was cooked i pulled it out of the oven and crumbled all the papery leaves into my coffee grinder. I placed the cap on and pushed the button to turn the blades on and transform the leaves from paper thin teardrops to a fine powder.

I began with a tiny jar full of basil powder and the excess stored in a little square tupperware on my shelf. However, when my friend Ren gifted me chives i needed the jar for those and moved all of the basil powder into the square tupperware.

One day i visited my friend Ren to borrow a different sized screw driver than i had and she gifted me an entire grocery bag of cut chives from her garden. The chives were a little bit more difficult to process but they were my favorite home processed herb to cook with so i was motivated enough to get it done. Because chives are thick at the bottom of the blade, medium in the middle, and thin at the top, they have to be separated into batches accordingly and dried for separate lengths of time depending on thickness, unlike basil which is a consistent thickness all through the leaf.

Due to the tedious and disorganized nature of the process i did not photograph anything but the end result. I was a bit busy trying not to burn it nor put any moist pieces into the grinder which would ultimately mold the batch. Anyways, here is the end result of an entire day of processing chives. There was a smidgeon left over which i placed in a ziploc bag to be used first.

With basil, chives, and sumac processed and jarred i am all ready for cooking throughout the winter when fresh herbs are not readily available in the store. The only thing i would have added had i been doing an herb garden this year would have been dill, but this year was not a financially lucrative year that allowed for the budgeting of an herb garden in the spring. I count myself very lucky to have friends like Ren who would share their harvest with me.

Something Delicious made with Ren’s dried 2022 garden herbs, Ren’s 2021 pecan harvest, and bonito flakes.

There is nothing tastier than sautéed or roasted vegetables seasoned with freshly dried garden herbs. The herbs taste like the store bought versions if they were a thousand times more flavorful and also toasted.