Grecian Nostalgia: Acropoleis, Sheep, and Makin' Bacon

United States. Home. How interesting it is to be back on its soil.

It's been about three weeks since John and I left Charles and Ellie's blissful olive farm.
A short hike up from their backyard leads you to this abandoned and isolated  ruin of an ancient acropolis. This was our favorite spot to watch the sun set and the moon rise.
Five couches, two floors, one air mattress, and two beds later, I've reached the sunny shores of Florida for a week with my parents.

How does one manage 10 different sleeping locations in three weeks? Uncomfortably. The original plan was to couchsurf with a friend in Atlanta and help him with a new comedy project he's undertaking. After helping him move out of his apartment, I found that the new locale wouldn't be quite suitable for me to nest in for the weeks to come. Cold, damp, and under-insulated, I reached out to my other Atlanta friends and played musical couch for two weeks. It was fun, if a bit frazzling and unglamorous (not that my lifestyle could ever really be called glamorous).

The not-so-fun part about this period is that soon after my arrival to Georgia  my dear grandmother decided it was time to meet her maker. Since I last wrote you, I have become a grandparent-less child.
Only a woman who has raised eight children can strike such a pose. Farewell, Grandma Pat. 
Like I said, life has been a bit frazzling of late.

Now that I've left Atlanta, I'm happy to have my own bedroom for the next week or so here in Florida before heading to Spain in March to meet back up with John.

The truth is that after eight months of being in and around Europe, I feel a bit out of sorts and unfocused here in America. Somehow, the notion of staying and working on a farm presents to me an idea of stability, something that I've had little of in my zigzaggity path through Georgia, Iowa (for my grandmother's funeral), Florida, and soon back to Georgia again.

So to tie me over, I've decided not to be finished with farm number eight, otherwise known as the Olive Farm.

Let's get nostalgic, y'all.
Nothing says nostalgia like a picture of grown-up sitting with a child atop a knoll.
There's lots I've yet to show you about the farm, and even more to tell you about (by the way, did you see the way I smoked John in the 100 meter dash during our visit to Olympia?).

And warning: there will be excessive lamb shots.
You do realize you can come out, don't you?  No, you don't. Because you're sheep and you're dumb.
Did I tell you they have pigs? They have pigs! All food leftovers (pork excluded) go to these guys. The combination of pig waste and woodchips are used as fertilizer/compost for the garden. Yeah sustainability!
And then there was Daisy the cow, the most affable cow in the world who will brave wood-chopping implements and blazing fires if it means getting closer to you so that she can lick your sweater and/or your face. 
There is a reason that followers are called "sheep": sheep follow. And they do it with anybody, really. Just get a big stick (for guiding, not hitting!) and they'll go wherever you please. Ah, fools.

Before we go any further, I thought I'd show you this small orange band. What does it have to do with pictures of lambs? Well, it's a castration device. Shimmy it up around the goods and they should fall of within a couple of weeks. 
Now that we know about lamb castration, let's watch lambs playing!
In a few hours he'll somehow be able to jump five feet. That's an exaggeration, but not a big one.
No, I didn't follow baby lamb pictures with a picture of a roasted leg of lamb. It's goat.  And it's amazing. The Brits know their roasts (thanks Ellie)!
But hey, let's get back to that sunset spot I told you about at the beginning of the post. As if having the ruins of an acropolis to ourselves wasn't enough, every night, we would watch huge swarms of starlings dance over the water as the sun disappeared. Magic, anybody?
Looking out over the farmland of Zacharo
The top of the ruins
Where of where did this doorway lead to?
No big deal, right?
I'll close out the farm experience with our exciting endeavor into making bacon. As-local-as-it-gets bacon. This stuff was literally raised in the backyard, and I have no problem eating a pig that was raised happily and killed humanely. It's an encounter that's hard to find, and trust me, it was savored.
Our beautiful hunk of meat. According to Charlie, you can baconize any cut, but obviously one with layered fat and meat is best.
We rubbed it with sea salt, juniper berries, and a few other spices. You can spice it how you please, as long as there's tons of salt.
You gotta break 'em in early
After a few days of dusting off the salt rub, dumping any secreted moisture, and applying more salt, you're ready to soak and smoke.
Soak the pork in water to get rid of all the excess salt, and then find enough wood chips to smoke, not burn, all through the night.
Here's Charlie's contraption that, once fitted with a cover, will keep the hunk of pork surrounded by smoke all night as long as the wood stays lit (so expect to be up throughout the night to check on it--fun!). Since there's no flame, it doesn't get cooked--hence it's dubbed the "cold smoke method."
Somehow I forgot to get pictures of the finished and cooked bacon product. Oh yeah, it's because I was too busy eating it savagely.

Here's a good source on reasons and how to cure your own bacon, and although the curing method is different than what I've described, I'd like to try it out, only with lots more salt and curing for 4-7 days using Charlie's methods

If you're offput by so many pictures of meat hunks, let's cool things down with photos of a cute cat.
Just what the doctor ordered: cat pictures. Wait, does that not do the trick for you?
I'm pretty sure he's drinking the water that the salted pork was soaked in...
So that's it guys. I'm at least mildly cured of my nostalgia.

And I haven't even told you about Athens yet!
The Theatre of Herodes Atticus at the Acropolis in Athens,  with the city in the background.
(Spoiler alert: I saw FIVE cats hanging out together in a SINGLE tree!! Just kidding, that wasn't a spoiler alert, but I still think everybody should know about it.)

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