Left to his own devices, my husband would live in a condo, surrounded by computers and electronic gadgets, and eating TV dinners. Homesteading, going back to the land, living the “simple life” are strictly my obsessions, not his.
He is, however, an extremely accommodating fellow, and over the years has built, mostly out of scraps, a number of objects that have enabled me to live out my fantasies. He has made chicken feeders and chicken roosts and nesting boxes. When I had goats he made me a couple of elaborate milking stands, hay feeders that minimized waste, and a cheese press.
But of all his creations, the one closest to my heart is the latest, the Amazing Apple Smasher.
This was a terrific year for apples in Vermont, and even the wild apple tree in our front field was covered with fruit. The trouble was, the apples were small, hard and bitter. Still, they were apples, so I figured that somebody should eat them. The answer, as always when a questionable food item is under consideration, was the chickens. After all, they adore spent broccoli plants and discarded Halloween pumpkins. Surely they would love those apples.
We picked a great barrel full and carted it to the chicken yard. We threw a little green apple on the ground, where it bounced and rolled like a golf ball. When it came to a stop, Buffy, the boss hen, gave it a peck, but she turned away in disgust when she couldn\’t make a dent. Not even Charlemagne, our 50-pound rooster, could crack that apple.
“They\’ll eat it if I break it up for them,” my husband said, hitting the apple with his heel. Sure enough, the apple flew into fragments and the chickens gobbled them up.
“Here, you do it now,” he said, handing me another golf ball. I put it on the ground and stomped, then jumped on it, but I couldn\’t smash it. All I got was a sore heel.
“This isn\’t going to work” I said. “I think we should just throw the apples in the compost.”
“Just hang onto them for a while,” my husband said, and went into the basement.
That evening, he handed me two scrap pieces of two-by-four, hinged together at one end.
“What\’s this?” I said.
“It\’s an apple smasher. You put an apple between the boards and stomp on the top board, and that smashes it.”
How can any woman turn down such an offering? I didn\’t think it would work, but to be gracious I carried it to the chicken house, set it on the floor, put an apple in and stomped. Pieces of apple exploded in all directions, with the chickens after them. Then they came back for more.
Now, when then see me with the apple smasher in hand, they gather round expectantly. They love the apples, and I love the stomping. There\’s something cathartic about the stomp-squish-scatter sequence. And thanks to the apple diet the egg yolks in our eggs are still as bright orange as they were in the summer.
Which goes to show you that you\’ve got to have high tech, if you want to live the simple life.