When we moved into our house, we were told the pear tree in our front yard was just going to make wormy pears. We were told we should learn to make cider.
Which, when we moved in in the middle of winter, seemed like a fine autumn activity. Of course we would have time to learn to make cider and assemble the necessary carboys and pipes and whatever the hell else you need to make cider by AUTUMN. Ha. Autumn might as well have been another century.
Then one Saturday between doing all the stuff that one does on a Saturday, we had a third dry wall guy come to give us a quote. On his way out he asked if his wife, who was apparently in his van waiting for him to quit bullshitting about elk hunting with my husband, could pick some of our pears.
Apparently, the pears were ripe. It was suddenly autumn, and we had not learned to make cider. I thought about being surprised, and realized I didn't have time.
We let the guy and his wife pick some pears and then the next day we thought, we should probably pick some pears too. Someone's mini horse had broken into our yard that same weekend and hoovered up a load of downed pears before some good Samaritan (who apparently knew all the horses in town) brought it back to its owner. This of course happened while I was out and my husband didn't ask the horse whisperer whose horse it was. I thought this was poor planning because a horse eating pears off our grass seemed better than me picking up the pears. I wanted to ask the horse back, but alas, my husband hadn't thought to get the equine's info.
But mini horse aside, we had a tree full of pears and we needed to do something about it. Sunday was windy, so windy the pears were cratering into the ground with the sound of baseballs hitting the driveway. We got out there with the ten foot ladder and picked as many pears as possible.
Then we realized our neighbors pigs would probably eat the ones on the ground which were rotten or had impacted Earth so hard dirt had shot through them. We mounded all the bad ones in the wheelbarrow and brought them to the pigs. They were very excited about them. Also, my neighbors pigs were bigger than me, which was trippy.
Pigs aside, we still had boxes and boxes of pears, despite having given a box to the neighbors, a box to the dry wallers, and then fed a cornucopia of farm animals with them.
So we started to process them. We peeled them, cored them, chopped them, baked them, boiled them, slow cooked them, canned them, mashed them, dehydrated them, and froze them.
We processed them for over eleven hours and then finished the next day. We listened to podcasts on bear attacks, the Roman empire, ship wrecks, and air traffic controllers. We learned to can things, which required several hardware store visits, and eventually the checkout ladies started giving me discounts for being a return customer. I have a great fear of botulism, and my husband had to repeatedly tell me the likelihood of me getting botulism from canned fruit is minimal. But I've read many a book about Arctic and Antarctic shipwrecks. I know a thing or two, or at least I think I do. Granted one of the books I recently read was a horror that involved a mythic snow monster cutting shipwrecked sailors tongues out of their heads and then breathing into their mouths and playing their vocal chords like a flute BUT before that all happened, they got botulism from badly tinned meat. That's the important part here, the part where they got botulism from discount canned food.
Which I was told was irrelevant.
So now we have a cabinet full of canned pears. A freezer shelf full of a pears. Bags of pear chips, and then pears in the fridge, and whole pears in the fruit bowl. We have pears for days... And the worst part? There are still more pears in that tree, and it's dropping more pears on the ground (and I still don't know that horse's name.)
My husband noted that if we really figured out our fruit trees, and how to garden, and if we could hunt enough meat, we could really go off the grid. I told him we would have to quit our jobs to do that, and I liked having health insurance and disposable income. I then grabbed some jelly beans which I noted, I bought because I have disposable income.
"Hey!" My husband said. "You can't eat jellybeans when we have a ton of pears. You want sugar, have to eat the pears!"
I didn't tell him that the jelly beans were pear flavored.