It's the time of year when the Colonel's vast holdings here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere begin to give back to the Colonel and his kin.
The return on investment is a little out of whack, though...
God's Garden, so named by the Colonel and the produce therefrom dedicated to His service, has, just this past week, begun to yield fruit (okay,... veggies) for the intense labor invested by the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda and her man.
A dribble of fresh spinach, new potatoes, crook-neck squash, and green beans has flowed from row to plate and there is great anticipation of the freezer and quart jar-filling torrent to follow.
It had better be a torrent -- the nozzle on the Colonel's money hose has been wide open for the past two months stimulating the local economy via garden and hardware shops.
And..., as the Colonel's time is invaluable, there's no way to calculate the hourly costs committed to the cause of counted-on cornucopia.
So, let's just tally up the tangible, shall we?
The least expensive element in gardening is the seed and seedlings. Still, the Colonel's cash outlay for enough of said seed and seedlings to sow in an acre of gardens has thus far been well into three figures.
To coax green from the Confederate Concrete that passes for soil hereabouts requires generous applications of fertilizer. Fertilizer, thanks to our federal government's absolutely absurd energy policy (or lack thereof), ain't cheap.
Triple thirteen (13-13-13) on a bag of fertilizer used to refer to the chemical content.
Nowadays it more closely refers to the price.
With visions of vegetable bounty dancing in his head, the Colonel happily ran up his credit card balance for seed and fertilizer; thinking all the while that once seed and seedlings were sown and planted and fertilized, that would be the end of capital investments and all that would remain would be the time and elbow grease required to cultivate and harvest.
So, the Colonel merrily planted and fertilized and waited for Spring rains.
Interesting little fact about plants: they need water.
They need sunshine, too. But, sunshine without rain is to plants like taxing the rich to buy the poor vote is to effective governance.
Eventually the producers get too dry to soak anymore.
As the days since planting passed without precipitation, the Colonel began to panic over the parching of his planned-for produce.
Did the Colonel mention that the aforementioned gardens are a considerable distance from the Big House? "Considerable," in this case, defined as roughly a quarter of a mile.
After a week of hauling water in buckets and ladling out the precious liquid by hand, the low-watt idea bulb in a dark recess of the Colonel's little used brain-housing group began to flicker and throw sporadic light across the cavernous space between his ears. A few of those sporadic particles of light illuminated just enough photo-receptive cells to energize a lone synapse to fire.
"Eureka!," the Colonel exclaimed, straightening from the back-bending task of pouring water on pitiful plants.
"I hope you've found gold," the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda responded from a row over. "We are fast depleting our life-savings on this stupid garden and on Motrin for my back."
"No gold. But, I've just had a great idea!"
"Well, let's hear it, Einstein," the Colonel's Lady responded encouragingly. "If your idea is to let Kroger do our gardening for us, I might just approve it."
"Kroger?!? No, dear, not Kroger."
"Fine, Big Star it is then. They're cheaper, and you haven't discovered gold."
"Oh, Sweetthing! You are such a kidder!"
"Who's kidding? Just say the word and I'll be back down here in a New York minute with an acre's worth of RoundUp."
"No! You're not gonna kill my garden!"
"You're right, Knucklehead. No sense wasting RoundUp; the sun will burn it up in a few more days."
"No it won't!" The Colonel stood to his full height (five, six and three quarters -- and don't ever forget the three quarters) with arms akimbo and a look of undaunted determination fixed on his ruggedly handsome facial features. "I'm gonna install an irrigation system."
"Great," the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda grunted with no little sense of sarcasm. "There goes the money I've been putting aside for new shoes. And why are you grinning like a mule eating briers?"
"New shoes? I just got you a new pair of muck boots. Besides, how much could a couple thousand feet of 3/4" PVC cost?"
Fertilizer ain't the only thing that ain't cheap, thanks to our federal government's absolutely absurd energy policy (or lack thereof).
The irrigation system was fully operational the day before the drought broke.
The Colonel and his beautiful bride picked an ice cream bucket-load of green beans this morning.
The Colonel figures each bean is roughly worth its weight in gold.