Wednesday, July 14, 2010

weeds

Why do I fight it - that inevitable chore weeding.

Now, many of you will say - "duh, 'cuz it's no fun!" and I'm sure many if not most gardeners would agree.

But.... I love weeding and I forget that until I'm elbow deep in the mud, with streaks of dirt across my forehead, dirt so deep under my nails that the ends of my fingers feel the pressure, and knees sore from kneeling. I love it!

This is one of those chores that I should look forward to since when I'm in the thick of it I really enjoy it, but somehow I forget. This is a job that can be such a pleasure. Close to nature, reveling in the dark black dirt, feeling the tides of the seasons, sweat dripping down my brow.

Now, I don't like sweat. I think I may be one of those people who is allergic to their own sweat - or my diet isn't healthy enough yet, so the toxins leaving my body through my sweat glands make me itch. I really hate to sweat, but somehow in the garden it's okay. I'm focused enough that the sweat is just a slight distraction.

Weeding keeps the hands and body busy, but leaves the mind free to wander a bit. Dreams of the harvest and the beauty of the bed when all those yummies for the body and soul fill in keep it interesting. I'm reminded every time I do this particular chore why I want to be a farmer - working in harmony with nature, feeling the tides of the seasons, feeding the bodies and souls of others. All valid reasons to want to farm. I've actually begun doing research to figure out what kind of farm I want to have - of course, Beloved, ever practical, keeps bringing up all the challenges and hurtles. Yet, while I'm weeding all I have to do is dream and nurture these wonderful plants that have agreed to share their lives with me at least for this growing season. The bonus: weeds make great compost!

This is what I sing to my garden as I work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QTj45cTB4U

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

lazy? depression?

Well, it's been awhile. Things have been somewhat busy here on the homestead. The second bunch of nuggets are growing (these are dual purpose roosters, so they won't be ready for slaughter until November or so and surprise of surprises we didn't lose any of them). The first group of pullets are starting to assimilate in with the established flock and our 3 more layers are still hanging with the nuggets, but I think we'll start free ranging them this weekend. I have to admit it is nice to have them all outside and not in my living room, though ;}

The garden is doing pretty well. We've planted lots of different types of tomatoes, some peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, spaghetti squash, bush beans, potatoes, onions and of course the peas. The peas are basically done now - next year we will have to plant lots more. We've started stocking the freezer with peas from the farm stand/market. Looking forward to local peas in January! Eating almost entirely local now - love the summer for good food.

Starting my own seeds was a complete bust - feeling really stressed about all the seeds I bought and the fact that unless they went into the ground - I didn't get anything from them. Also was unable to grown any greens - we're still working on reconfiguring beds to hopefully be more successful later in the season. I've also had a hard time finding seedlings of the medicinal herbs I want to plant :{ - we managed to winter over our chives and some thyme and I purchase some lavender and some basil to put in the garden. I also bought a really pretty ornamental yarrow for my "pretty" bed in front of my bedroom window, but I haven't even been able to figure out where I want to plant my nettle. I'm feeling a bit stumped and like I'm running out of time. The strawberry plants did not come back and I'm now thinking of pulling them out and just not having any - they are plentiful in our area, so I'm thinking that we should just purchase them at a upick farm for the freezer and jam.

Lately, I seem to be focused on what I haven't accomplished rather than what I have and this makes me feel lazy and depressed. I think all in all I'll feel much better once we have the garden fenced in - then I can really be weeding and checking on things and maybe get something more planted - I'm afraid to plant anything else right now because the cheeckens or the ground hog will probably eat it (what we've planted so far is fenced in with temporary fencing until the whole garden is done).

I have managed to remain pretty strong in my commitment to only line dry our laundry - we've used the dryer twice in the last few weeks, so I guess that's an accomplishment. However, I've really dropped the ball in my sewing projects and herbal studies. I've also fallen out of my spiritual practice and studies. I'm really feeling like I'm in a holding pattern, maybe even back tracking a bit.

I know this path is about adjustment, releasing old habits and learning new ones, but I have to admit I'm just really tired and find it hard to fight my old habits - I'm just really struggling right now. Maybe working third shift has just caught up to me?

I'm sure I'll figure it all out and start back on this important spiritual/practical journey - maybe I just need a vacation.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

growing homestead

Our little homestead is growing. The next batch of cheecks has arrived - 18 more. That brings the total of cheeckens to 37 - yes we currently have 37 cheeckens. Beloved didn't believe me when I first did the count - I mean how can we possible have that many cheeckens?! There are 9 nuggets that go for slaughter next Monday, 15 new cheecks (5 days old) for meat, 3 more (also 5 days old) for laying + the 5 from the established flock with the 5 hens that were added with the nuggets - they are about 7 weeks old. Whew. So thats 9+15+3+5+5=37 - I'm not sure exactly how that happened ;}

Here are the newest batch of cheeckies:

We've also added a new puppy to the hopeful, humble homestead. Her name is Sheela Na Gig and she's about 8 weeks old. A true Mutt - a little border collie, some bull mastiff and a bunch of other breeds in her mom and her dad's some sort of hound. She is very cute and the first "big dog" we've had. Our other older dog is being very patient with her. The kids are being very responsible and doing most of the walkies and clean up. She is fitting in very well.

Of course the only way to get her picture is when she is sleeping - when she's awake all pictures are a blur. ;}


Monday, May 3, 2010

Beltane

Happy post Beltane all!

We had a lovely Beltane or actually a lovely May 2 with some friends and some gardening. Yesterday, Beloved stripped some sod up and prepped 2 new beds for me and helped me reconfigure my little viola patch. Today we planted onions in one bed and trellised the peas after stripping more sod. This is a bit more involved then you might think. The peas are enclosed in a "cage" of chicken wire to keep out cheeckens, so we had to open that up and put up the trellis. We also had to enclose the onions with a chicken wire "cage" and that took some doing. The girl and I also weeded the front perennial bed that is slowly being transformed into another herb bed ;} - that's where I'm planting some more medicinals.

Yesterday some old friends came over for a visit - yes I warned them that if they came by they would be put to work - they did pretty well for city folk ;} Then we had hamburgers and salad topped off by a fireside chat. All in all a good Beltane.

Lots still to do here on the homestead - the Nuggets go to meet the butcherman in 2 weeks and the next batch of cheecks comes on Friday, so we need to get the hens in the house out to the coop to open up the brooder for new cheeckies. They, of course are really too small to be with the big cheeckens, so we are trying to figure out how to cage off one corner for them until they're as big as the established flock. Should be interesting. Luckily we work pretty well under pressure.

We lost a tree in the woods to the side of our house last week in a big wind storm that landed on the utility line going into the house (see my last post for details). Unfortunately, the utility worker that took the tree off the line dropped it in my raised bed - urgh. Now I'm not really sure how upset I am about this because for the life of me I can not get anything but bush beans to grow in that bed. I can not get lettuce or chard or spinach to grow there - I can't figure it out. Beloved and I talked about it and think maybe the drainage in that bed is too good and the plants just aren't getting enough water. Maybe??? I'm starting to get a bit frustrated. We're talking about taking the bed down a bit to make it less deep and closer to ground level hoping that might help - I was hoping to use this bed for hoop tunnels to grow greens next winter, but not if I can't get any to grown this spring. We'll see - it's hard to get everything done 2 days a week, so I'm thinking we need to put more evenings in and I'll just take shorter evening naps.

Well, that's all for now - Happy Spring to one and all!

Friday, April 30, 2010

surprises

Okay so yesterday was a day about surprises. The weather was the start of it all. Woke to a chilly but beautiful, windy, sunny day - no surprises there, pretty much what weather.com forecast. Cloud cover quickly rushed in around 1 pm or so and the next thing I know, IT'S SNOWING! Wind is picking up - we hurriedly get the cheecks back inside (first intro to the great outdoors for our new laying hens) and hunker down. Snow mixes with rain and the sun comes out - not particularly surprising, I've seen the sun shine while it's raining many times before. Temp is quite low. The snow and rain stop - very short lived little squall - and the wind continues. Now wind is not surprising on our property, we live at the base of a "mountain" so we see lots of wind here. What was surprising is the huge CRACK that made the kids and I jump out of our seats. I went into my bedroom and looked out the window to find a dead tree had fallen on the power lines going into the house - SURPRISE! What is even more surprising is that the power did not go out and the lines did not disconnect from the house or the telephone pole. Thank goodness we had put the cheeckens in. Power company came and removed the tree at midnight - all is right with the world and we never even lost power!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day

Celebrating Earth Day today by letting Father Sun dry my laundry as he warms Mother Earth. That and some knitting ;}

The kids are celebrating by riding their bikes for the first time this spring.

Love the earth, love the spring, loving life.

Monday, April 19, 2010

spring moves on


Well, it's been interesting here at the hopeful, humble homestead. We just had snow a couple of days ago - quite a bit, an inch or so. I can tell you driving home in the snow squalls at 2am was not fun (oh the challenges of third shift life ;)


The biggest news is that the nuggets are out of the house!!! YAY!! WOO HOO!! The smell in my living room is already so much better. The best part was how the family pulled together and worked to get the coop addition built, so we could get them out of the house. It was a wonderful afternoon of family cooperation and then the pleasure of moving the "franken cheeckies" outside to their new digs.... What a relief. I love crossing goals off the list. That was a big one for the spring.





The peas are coming up and looking great. My chard is very small, but still growing as is the lettuce. There are a couple of spinach plants peeking out of their bed, but no sign of beet greens yet. I love having the hoop tunnel in place, so if the temps are going down significantly we can cover them up. The temps this spring have really confused my garden. Heck - they've confused me. We haven't removed the straw mulch we wintered the herb bed with yet and the chives have already grown up through. It's neat to see the green peeking up through the straw - makes me smile and reminds me that nature wins - always nature prevails.

However, the tomato seedlings are not happy - they were growing happily for a while and now the leaves are curling and blotchy - thinking maybe over watering? Not sure - still trying to remind myself they are just seeds and we can always buy seedlings from the garden center to plant if we need to. Meanwhile, the other seedlings seem to be doing well.

I've also made a new commitment to hanging laundry out on the line when ever I can - I'm hoping I won't be using the dryer at all by winter. Beloved put up a second line for me because I realized the reason I didn't use the line last year is because it just wasn't big enough for an entire washing machine load - now I have enough for a load and a half or so - 2 loads if they are small. I've only used my dryer once in the last 3 weeks! Exciting! Laundry on the line makes me happy ;}