Carl and Raylene #2: Pickler’s Pickle Ranch

[Hi Everyone!  Kim here.  I think this entry was created shortly after Carl and Raylene’s trip to the World’s Largest Ball of Twine.  I have no idea why it took so long to get here!  The box was pretty smashed up, it looked like someone (something?) had chewed on a corner, and smelled strongly of . . . . . something revolting.  Its best not to go into specifics.  I hope you enjoy the account of their trip!]

Raylene: ‘Well Hey!!!!  We’re back again, and hot on the trail of another . . . oh, what are the kids calling it?  ‘Epic Adventure!’  That’s right, we’re gonna have us an epic adventure.’

[Note: I wish you could really hear what Raylene’s laughter sounded like.  The best I can do is a cross between a hyena and a flock of geese.  Use your imagination.]

Raylene: ‘That ball of twine was a sight to see, but it ended up as rather a fiasco.  After we got that thing rolled back up, we had dinner with some of the townsfolk.  We got to talking about our little project here, and got some great suggestions about places we should head next!  Did you know there is a castle of cheese AND a mustard museum just one state over, in Wisconsin??  Well, I do believe we are heading there next.  Carl does love him some cheese.  Actually, he’s having a bit of a snooze right now so I won’t have him interrupting every 2 minutes!.  Not surprising really, as we got invited to a pot luck in Darwin, and the man purt near ate his weight in lutefisk, lefse, and some kind of ‘hot dish’ made with tater tots and cheese.  The cheese done made the man gassy, and that lutefisk does not smell any better in the encore.  Well, let me think now, we were headed East towards Wisconsin.  Bacon Bits had his head out the window, ears a-floppin.  Now – I don’t think I ever explained about Bacon Bits.  I told y’all he’s small – he’s only a little bigger than a football.  He’s fat as a little pig though. HA!  He IS a fat little pig!  Oh hold on to your underpants Raylene’s on a ROLL!  Anyways, no one knows why Bacon Bits is so small.  My cousin Pooter (who almost finished half a year of vet school – so he’s got some learnin’ to back him up) says there’s no reason that pig is so small.  As to why he’s so fat?  I suspect that’s cause we feed him on chili and fritos.  And cornbread, of course.  He just loves it – and I can’t deny my little porky baby what he loves.  Anyway.  Carl was driving along and Bacon Bits sets up a SQUEALING!  Lordy that noise was something.  We looked up to see a turn off for a pickle place.  Well, Bacon Bits loves pickles – and Carl and I don’t mind them ourselves!  We decided to check it out.  I’m going to try to recount the whole situation as it happened.’

‘CARL!  Turn off the road!’ I said.  ‘Let’s get us some pickles.’

‘K,’ said Carl as he cranked the wheel on Betty Jane hard enough to make the skamper rock.

There was the sign, arching up over the gravel drive: ‘Pickler’s Pickle Ranch.’

We drove up to the visitors center and hopped out. We were met by the sweetest-looking lady.  She was about my age, which is *cough* – so practically still a sprite.  She was a tiny little thing too!  I expect that’s due to eatin’ pickles instead of cheeseburgers.  She was smiling really big too.  Now I mean really big.  Eyebrows disappearing into her hairline, eyes wide open, can inspect her dental-work smiling.  With her was a man who looked exactly like Clint Eastwood – except happy, which I declare looked just plain wrong.  They were wearing pickle badges so we figured them for the owners.  After all – business owner to business owner – we just have a sense about these things.  We just walked ourselves right over to them.

‘Well hello there!’ said the lady. ‘We’re Pat and Pat Pickler!  We’re the Picklers!  Welcome to Pickler’s Pickle Ranch!’

Carl and I introduced ourselves and told them about our travels.  I said ‘A pickle ranch?  That just must be the most interesting work!’

‘Gotta wrangle up them gherkins!’ said happy Clint Eastwood.  Oh, ok – I should call him Pat.  But they’re both Pat!  I don’t want to confuse you.

Pat chimed back in, ‘We’ve been pickling for 3 generation on both sides of the family!  Pickling is in our blood!’

You know – I’m sorry about the exclamation points.  But, I have to be honest, and they were there.  I was kind of starting to wonder if Pat actually HAD pickling in her blood – it would explain some.  Still, I don’t want to be ungracious, and they were very welcoming.

Pat(s) gestured towards this big barn and happy Clint said, ‘Let us give you the Grand Pickle Tour!.’

As we walked through, we saw all kinds of pickling stuff.  I’ll be honest, I was busy chatting and not looking around so much.

Pat was wrapping up her explanation of the pickling process, ‘and that’s how we make the finest pickles in the upper central Midwest!.’

I said, ‘I do love a good dill pickle.  Big slab of brisket on a bun with that crunchy pickle right on top.’

Pat smiled (well, of course she did, she never once stopped smiling, but sometimes the expression in her eyes changed a little bit.  I got the impression she thought I was a pathetic fool – in a very nice, friendly, smiling way of course). ‘Oh my!  Well yes, dill pickles are nice, but you can pickle just about anything.’

I nodded, ‘You know, my grandmamma took first place at the Nose Lick town festival 47 years in a row with her watermelon-rind pickles.  Beats all what folks saw in them – I never could eat one without feeling like one of the pigs out at the feedin’ trough!  Oh!  Land sakes, I declare Bacon Bits, Mamma’s real sorry about that.’  Poor baby cakes needed some extra snuggles, I could just see it in his piggy eyes.

‘Well, yes, you can pickle those,’  Pat added.  ‘You can pickle just about anything!  You can pickle radishes, you can pickle carrots, you can pickle parsnips, you can pickle peppers, you can pickle beets, you can pickle onions!  Why, you can even pickle corn – tastes just like corn, only pickled!’

‘Around here we have a saying,’ happy Clint broke in, ‘CAN YOU PICKLE THAT?’

‘YES WE CAN!’ Chorused the Pats.

We went on in to the next room, which appeared to be some kind of sampling area.  There weren’t any other visitors at this point – can’t imagine why not!  Happy Clint gave a big ol’ wink and reached under the counter and pulled out a mason jar.

‘You know  little pickle juice is just the things to keep everything running as it should,’ he said, with another wink. ‘This is my very special private recipe – Pickle Beer.’

Well, when in Rome.  Oh who am I kidding – when in Rome buy shoes and jewelry!  When at the pickle ranch, I guess you drink pickle juice beer.  Now Carl and I don’t mind drinking a nice frosty beer now and again.

This was not a nice, frosty beer.  But they were hospitable, and we just cannot abide rudeness!   So, we took our glasses.

And were about to drink.  Really, we were.  When all of a sudden Bacon Bits comes a tearing out the other room like his little curly tail was on fire, and ran around at top speed crashing into purt-near everything!  (My little pork-muffin is NOT a graceful creature).  Carl and I both ‘accidentally’ spilled our pickle beer as we ran around chasing him.   Little critter busted darn near every jar in the place!  Carl finally tackled him and I was able to scoop him up.

‘Oh my Mr. and Mrs. Pickler, I declare,’ I started.

‘Just call us Pat!.’

‘I’m so sorry, Pat.  I just do not know what got into Bacon Bits here.  He’s usually just a sweet as a sticky bun.  Please let us make it up to you and help you clean up this mess.’

Pat smiled, ‘You don’t worry about that.  He probably just saw the pickled pigs feet!’

‘Oh My Land Sakes!  My poor baby saw that!’ I nearly fainted, and Bacon Bits was shaking so bad I thought we were having an earthquake.

‘You can pickle those,’ said happy Clint.

Well – I must say we bid our good-byes as politely as we could and bought 8 or 9 jars of pickled products (NOT PIGS FEET) to try to make amends.  My shoes still smell like pickles and pig fear.  Bacon Bits has recovered – a jar of pickled jalapenos on his evening chili sorted him right out.  I have to say – if you’re visiting tourist attractions in Minnesota – go for the ball of twine, skip Pickler’s Pickle ranch.

I think I’ll stick my feet out the window and join Carl in a little snore fest.  Ta -Ta everyone!

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