Tuesday, January 26, 2010

beautiful day in Poland, Maine

Yesterday was all about rain and I have to admit I usually love rainy days (my beloved calls me his duck), but rain in the winter is just depressing. When the snow started flying this winter I got very excited because not only is the snow pretty, it acts as a wonderful insulator for my little perennial plants that are overwintering - I visualize the snow as a warm comfy blanket for my plants - does this make me an "at heart gardener"? Now, so much has melted that I worry for my plants; it's only January - admittedly it is a balmy day, seems like it could be as warm as 50 out there and I have a bunch of windows open to air out - I know we are going to have another cold snap and without that comfy snow blanky, what will happen to my plants?! I'll get over it and replant plants I lose, but it still makes me worry.

Cheeckens are doing fine. Ralph, the Rhode Island Red Rooster, has a pretty serious case of frost bite - we put a heat lamp in the coop and it seemed to help for a bit, but then some very cold nights have done some damage. We built our coop to accommodate a least a dozen cheeckens, so I think the 5 we have, haven't been able to heat that space efficiently with their body heat alone - there needs to be more cheeckens! ;} Ralph doesn't seem to be in any pain - he'll let me touch the area with outcomplaint, so other than a herbal ointment I'm going to let it go for now. If it gets much worse we may have remove it - poor Ralph. The girls on the other hand are giving us an egg a day - that's 4 a day!

I found a gold mine at the supermarket yesterday - a 20 lb bag of local potatoes! I am a happy camper! Potato leek soup for dinner last night and lunch today - local food makes me so happy.

My herbal studies continue - so much to learn! I'm planning on making my first tincture later today, Elderberry that I can store to make into batches of syrup as needed to help fight flu. I'm also planning a Angelica tincture, some research I've read calls Angelica an all around good woman's herb and I have had a lot of "woman health challenges" over the years and I've decided to spend the next year working with this herb.

The kids have been outside almost every day this month - the rain yesterday kept them in though. I find it's actually easier to get them outside to play in the winter - they love the snow. Sledding, throwing snowballs, just making their way across the yard is very enjoyable for them - I love it. Today they built their first snowman! I've encouraged them to build one in the past, but they've showed little to no interest. We now have a lovely little snowman in our sacred space - the boy keeps threatening to "kill" it with one of his sword/sticks. I told him to do that he had to build his own.

Winter plugs away, beauty is all around us, and the New Year continues to bring the promise of countless blessings.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

lunch, local foods, and seeds

Well, the holidays have come and gone - this year was one of a lot of emotions. On one hand we were in our new house for our first holiday season, but I've still been recovering from my hand surgery so I couldn't pick up any extra hours at work during the busy time - paycheck was lower than usual for this time of year. I was also scheduled for Thanksgiving eve and Christmas night so that put a bit of a cramp in the usual plans. However, it was a very blessed holiday season all around. We attended a wonderful Solstice celebration with our community. Then, I started coming down with a cold Christmas day, so we opted to stay home instead of seeing our friends as we traditionally do. Yummy quiche made with our cheeckens' eggs wasn't exactly traditional but it was certainly filling both physically and spiritually. Lots of happy tears between my man and I sitting on the couch watching the boy and the girl opening their gifts - we finally did it, we have a house.

We've always had a home - anywhere we've lived has been filled with our family's love and that is what truly makes a home. Now we have roots and a connection with this piece of land - we are caretakers of a particular slice of our Mother Earth. It is an awesome responsibility and not one we take lightly. It feels wonderful though. Finding harmony with this particular place both physically and spiritually is challenging, but oh so rewarding. I just hope we don't let ourselves and our kids down by making bad decisions - all we can do is try - that is the true challenge moving out of our comfort zone and trying new things.

I have been researching more about local foods - my friend Wendy (hi Wendy) introduced me to this concept - I mean I've often shopped at farmer's markets and tried to shop at small independent business whenever possible, but I didn't know that there was any kind of "movement". Growing as much of our own food as possible has always been a goal of mine and now that we are here it's a goal we are working toward. First I have to figure out this whole gardening thing.

Not long after moving in to our new house. I read Plenty; Eating Locally on the 100 Mile Diet a wonderful book and then became more committed to eating locally, though sometimes it's hard and I have to admit this is a goal not an actuality. Today I gave the kids clementines with their lunch, not local by any means, but filled with fiber and vitamin C. You see, I've begun taking an online herbalism course with a very close friend and one of the last "chapters/articles" was about supplementation for vitamins and minerals. One of the vitamins most Americans are deficient in is Vitamin C - it is very difficult to get the recommended dosage of vitamin C in our foods alone - I have started drinking a lot of Rosehip tea because it is high in vitamin C and Rosehips are something I can grow here at home (yes roses are the big goal for this spring/summer). However, I'm struggling with the concept of removing a fruit the kids love from our diet because it's grown too far away especially while it is still affordable and most of what's available to me right now is already grown so far away - it's hard to get local vegis. I'm really wishing we had joined the winter CSA now. The goals for this coming harvest is to have a freezer and freeze and can much more local food. I'd love to be able to open a home canned jar of beans and add those to the many soups and stew we make this time of year.

I've discovered a Maine farm that grows and grinds grains into flour! It is in the far north and I would have to mail order, but at least it's the same state, right? Local flour is a big deal, I love making my own bread and did for years, but my hands have not been able to handle the kneading or shaping the last couple of years. Now that recovery is progressing so well, I'm hoping to start making my own bread again soon - it would be really cool to use Maine grown flour.

The seed catalogues have arrived! I just don't know what to choose! Those of you who have been doing this for years, I'm sure you can relate. It really overwhelming and some stuff has already sold out or gone on backorder. Johnny Seeds - my fav - has almost all their potatoes on backorder. I'm planning on getting some graph paper and colored pencils to map out the garden expansion. The gardening bug is buzzing - hasn't bit quite yet, but soon.