Last year I grew dry beans for the first time. They tasted great, but in the end I think I netted about two pounds of dirty beans. The boss was not convinced.
This year I planted what I thought were bush beans; they grew into pole beans. I’m not sure if I misread the package, didn’t read the package, or was lied to by “the man.” I’ve chosen to believe the latter, though I was using organic beans raised by Vermonters who think patchouli smells good. If that’s the man, we’re in real trouble
Once I got my belated and haphazard trellis up, the beans grew like mad. Because they were trellised, the fruit hung far above the soil and dried nicely. Perhaps the pole beans aren’t such a bad idea. If I had prepared for this, I probably could have had a much more refined trellising system.
The boss suggested hiring the children for harvest: “We can pay them two bucks and they’ll work for hours.” I knew she was a closet republican.
So I hired the youngest boarder (posing in the image, unimpressed by the bean), and boy was he excited. He headed straight out to the beans and proceeded to talk for 30 minutes until a friend came over. Then his friend’s mom and I picked beans; I told her I wouldn’t pay her though. I haggled the children (the boarder plus friend) down to a dollar each. Now I’m the anti-labor republican.
I might as well just buy an SUV and start ranting about O’Bummer.
I harvested a bit more than half the beans and put them in a big bucket. For about ten minutes I kneaded them — like bread. Occasionally, I tossed the whole mess up into the air a bit and lots of chaff blew away. Pretty soon I had beans and hulls separated: I had threshed my beans.
Then I just passed them back and forth between two large bowls in front of a fan: winnowing. Soon I had 5 pounds or so of shiny black beans. I checked the price on a bag of Goya black beans we had in the pantry: $1.59. Organic is probably $2.00. So my effort netted me about $10 of beans. Minus two bucks for the union thugs and I saved eight dollars. Oh yeah, there was the trellis netting and beans too. I think these beans probably cost me almost the same as they would have at the grocery store, they’d better be good.
But that doesn’t really matter. My mother in law paints lovely landscapes. She’s been working at it for years and has spent many thousands on lessons, easels, paints and what not. There’s a lot of what not in painting. She could go buy herself some gorgeous paintings at a gallery downtown and save a whole lot of money. But that misses the point. So is it silly that I love growing staple foods? The boarders’ love beans. When I serve them something I grew and they eat it, I have provided for my family in a way more visceral and clear than any banker who sends his kids to Deerfield and only sees them at Easter and Christmas, despite his “success.”