of beans and vitriol

(Above:  Emmett, plucking the last handful of yellow wax beans.)

At what point do things stop being fun?

When you have to do them every single day, in the exact same way, for diminishing — not increasing — benefits.

So it has become with the beans.  The once-treasured beans, the once-poeticized beans, the once shake-your-moneymaker gourmet beans now engender a certain, erm, vitriol in the hearts of we two farmers.

Emmett, unfortunately, has been cast in the role of the Enforcer — the person who, day after day, reminds me that it’s time to pick beans.  This leaves me to play the Dennis the Menace “awww, shucks, not again” character.  Tonight I ended up using the bribe technique:  “Hey mister, want some gelato?”

Honestly, a small treat was the only thing that could get us through the bean-picking tonight.  I knew this based on a conversation Emmett and I had while driving down to the field:

Emmett began, “Really, when it comes to the beans, I’m just about ready to…”

I jumped in:  “Rip them all out and burn them?”  (Yep, definitely time for gelato.)

Why so much angst over the beans?  The purples and yellows — the fancy varieties that, along with the small size and tender quality of our green beans, justified charging $4 a pound for mix-and-match string beans — are all beaned out.  The Kentucky Wonders and Blue Lakes are still going though — going strong but stringy like an old, rusty mule.  It seems that, as the plants progress, the quality of the bean starts to decline.  They start to get shorter, and pod out faster (meaning, get seedy); they also become tougher and more stringy.  Emmett and I argue over whether it is entirely the plants’ fault, or partly our fault for imperfectly harvesting them — letting some of them get too big rather than plucking off every single bean as a tender young little thing.  (“How could we possibly have harvested them more often?  We harvest beans every single day!” I protest.)  So, basically, today’s beans require considerably more sorting, and we end up freezing proportionally more of the harvest for the chickens.  Even with the added sorting and increased amount of throw-aways, we’re planning on dropping the price of our beans next weekend — they’re still quite good, but not quite as perfect as they used to be.

The beans have been one of those short, steep learning curves.  I’ll post more on the specific lessons learned later.  For now, suffice it to say, when we planted the beans we had no idea that we were embarking on the newest straight-to-DVD Disney release:  Sleeping Beauty VII.  But today, as we faced down our thicket of beans for yet another evening harvest, I knew exactly how those little furry friends of the princess felt when they came up against the hedge of thorny thicket.  Like that evil thicket, our seemingly insurmountable bean-wall just keeps growing.

So this post is just to say:  Maleficent wins.   We’re letting some of the beans go — and for now, at least until Sleeping Beauty VIII, the princess will continue to slumber peacefully on the other side of the evil bean wall.

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