Filed under:General — eric @ 5:14 am

Livestock are burning across Great Britain and Europe. British poet David Anthony has written a villanelle, a formal poetic structure, about the events. I post it here, unapproved and copied from a mailing list I’m on:


The guns are loud across the land tonight.

Grim beacon flames flash out from shire to shire

and horror groans without an end in sight.

Best not to look as marksmen expedite

such slaughter! Hired to empty every byre,

the guns are loud. Across the land tonight

Spring flinches at the foulness of the blight

that lurks within the pall above each pyre,

and horror groans without an end in sight

of pallid flames where all is darkly bright.

So draw the drapes and turn the music higher–

the guns are loud across the land tonight!

Take up the children; tuck their blankets tight:

try not to let them see that life’s a liar

and horror groans. Without an end in sight

there seems no point, why carry on, why fight?

–not only cattle perish in the fire.

The guns are loud across the land tonight,

and horror groans without an end in sight.

— David Anthony, 2001

The Weekend

Filed under:General — eric @ 5:08 am

I had one of those enjoyable weekends I like so much, filled with cooking and gardening and entertaining friends. The same couple that I had over for my birthday (see the sidebar) (the same couple, in fact, that I will be marrying in May) came over to relax for Friday night and Saturday. Preparing to get marrying is very taxing, you see, especially when you’re the jet-setting type like they are. And besides, it was the soon-to-be-Missus’ birthday, so Chris and I invited them over. I made four tea smoked Cornish Game hens for the occasion, accompanied by a morel mushroom & asparagus pasta, and proceeded by a wonderful mushroom soup they brought. It was all wonderful, and the smoked hens came out fantastic. So much so, in fact, that I think I’ll give up western mesquite & hickory smoking for this. When the hens were done, I threw in a chunk of salmon, saving it for smoked salmon and cream cheese omelettes the next day. I made a surprise rum pound cake with rum cream cheese icing for dessert, and we drifted off to sleep with bellies full.

Saturday was as perfect a spring day as one could ask for. We brought the chickens out and put them in their coop for the first time (pictures were taken and will go up here later), much to the amusement of the cats. We took the stray dog we’re desperately trying to find a home for a walk. We worked in the garden. We had the aforementioned omelettes. Later, Steve showed off his impressive French culinary skills with a Cassoulet (not actual recipe used) and some homemade duck confit, something I’ve not had before. That man can cook!

Tragedy struck while the confit was frying, though. Right before me, too quick for me to do anything about it, the stray dog burst through the screen on the coop and killed one of the chickens. It was our only Rhode Island Red, and we’re down to twelve. I’ll need to reinforce the bottom couple feet with metal screening — the plastic keeps the chickens in, but not the large predators out.

Yesterday game me more garden work, preparing beds for the true planting season in a few weeks. I harvested the last of the collard greens, bringing in nearly a bushel. For you northerners, collards are nothing more than a heat-tolerant kale. It can be used anywhere you’d use kale or cabbage or the other leafy brassicas. I shredded all the leaves, blanched them, and froze them in meal-sized portions. By the time the blacking was done, the bushel had reduced to a gallon — still plenty of future food.

So that’s the lengthy diary-like entry. I’ll supplement it with pictures at some point, and eventually I’ll be able to do a bit of web surfing and provide links like I used to.