Not wasting away in Coronaville

Published 11:46 am Friday, April 24, 2020

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Larry McDermott

Life on the farm


I have succumbed to my worst addiction while we are locked down on our farm. Chips and cheese. It laid its devil hand on me and won’t let go.

Excuses? I’ve got plenty. Bad things have been happening here, and I just needed a taste to settle my nerves.

Now, we’re fortunate. We have plenty of food in our four freezers—everything from our own blueberries, goat milk and chèvre to several pounds of C-Saw Hill Farm chorizo and Past Ur Time Farm sausage and chops. Eggs coming from the hens, asparagus from the garden. But what good is all of that if the No. 1 electronic team player in your kitchen dies?

Anita is an excellent cook, but like all good cooks she needs her stove. Yep, the oven came down with its own electronic virus and went out, not with a whimper, but a bang. She had placed two quiches in the oven to bake. My mouth was watering because her quiches are heavenly.

Unlike me, she rarely uses profanity, so I came running when I heard her cut loose with a few choice words. Smoke was billowing out of the oven. The quiches were burning. The stove door was locked and the stove was in self-cleaning mode.

I don’t know much about stoves, but I do know that when an oven is set to self clean the door locks and won’t release until the process is complete. The temperature in the oven goes high enough for a blacksmith to work with it.

She quickly trouble-shot it on Google and punched in some secret presidential Gold Codes. The door unlocked. The quiches were only burned on top, so the food was salvaged. The oven, however, was down for the count and not getting back up.

She dug around in the basement until she found a toaster oven. I’m amazed at the stuff that can be cooked in that little black box. She looks forward to the day when we can shop for a real oven.

But that calamity was followed by others even more daunting.

The barn sprung a leak after a storm pulled some shingles loose. The weather station showed 46 mph winds in recent months. We’re still waiting for call-backs from roofing companies.

Then the septic system pump control panel died. Clearly, it was under the spell of the kitchen oven. The ensuing backup was not pretty. Our septic guy, whose stories are so good I want to write about them someday, pumped out the septic tank, and our electrician, who is a master craftsman with power, installed a new controller.

Neither got closer than 10 feet to us, and we were back to our business.

But it was too late.

You see, I gave up chips and cheese more than a year ago. My friends—even my grandchildren—didn’t believe it. No chips had entered this house until we made a big grocery staples run. (Yes, we were wearing PPE.)

I grabbed the two biggest bags of Scoops I could find. I’ve been rationing them ever since, watching nervously as the bag shrinks and my waistline grows.

Lucky for me and my addiction, Anita doesn’t eat them. But, if I hear a chip crunch, the gloves are coming off.

Larry McDermott, a retired journalist, owns a 40-acre organic farm in Rutherfordton, where he grows blueberries, keeps bees and raises horses, dairy goats, and chickens. Email: or see farm happenings at