Posted on | March 4, 2014 | 1 Comment
In the beginning God said, “Let there be light.” And from that day forward every gardener turned her face to the sun. Waiting for winter’s gray skies to turn blue.
For the days to lengthen and the sun to fill the greenhouse with warmth and light. So that she can fill it with seeds.
For the soil to warm in the raised beds. While her hands itched to dig in that dirt.
For in the beginning there is always hope. Seed packet after seed packet of hope.
Before the bugs. Before the weeds. Before the drought. Or the blight. Or whatever nibbles cucumbers right on the vine.
In the beginning there is excitement for the old reliable….
….and the so-old-that-it’s-new.
There is the joy of finding soft weed-free soil under the tarps placed or straw spread after pulling up the last of the fall harvest.
And the wonder of discovering entire beds that I forgot to cover or smother, running amok with mats of chickweed. Why? Why?
When the blue skies appeared and the sun warmed the earth I was overcome with all that hope and excitement, joy and wonder. So overcome that I went down to the garden just to plant the snow peas, kale, and swiss chard around the pea trellis. I figured they could handle whatever chilly temperatures winter still had in store for us.
But after I turned that small section of ground, I started turning the rest of it. Because hope is stronger than the risk of freezing temperatures.
I decided every row of the 2014 garden would be 3 pitchforks wide. Because while all the shovels and hoes, stakes and string, for marking off rows were still up in the shed, the pitchfork was sitting right there in the garden.
Then when the first layer was turned over—the chickweed vanquished, the last of the spinach and mealy radishes set aside for the fat pony—
the joy of seeing that rich, crumbly soil was so powerful that I decided to spread a bit of the compost from last year’s pumpkin patch over the rows.
Since I was just going to spread a little bit, I used the pigs’ old water bucket. Rather than walk all the way up to the house to get the shovels and the wheelbarrow.
And the sight of that row was so exciting….
….that I decided to keep spreading compost. Just a little bit longer. Just until the pumpkin patch was neatly divided from one large unworkable space into two nice neat rows.
And the neighbor’s puppy watched through the blackberry patch and wondered. Wondered why a woman would use a bucket to spread yard after yard of compost. Which is exactly what my shoulders were wondering.
But bucket after bucket, the garden revealed itself.
The hope embodied in the sections of rich dark soil.
The joy of finding last year’s plant markers.
The excitement of discovering that areas of impacted clay were slowly yielding to the annual amendments, pig tilling, and time.
The wonder of how many rocks a garden grows during the winter season.
Oh, yes. The beginning is a beautiful, wonderful, magical place to start. Four full raised beds of hope.
Plus, the excitement of pulling out every last blackberry bramble. Because as much as I loved the blackberries, I hated getting my hair, my legs, my arms, and my clothes embedded with thorns anytime I passed within snagging distance of those brambles.
And now I had all that empty space to plant and espalier fruit trees this spring.
The joy of hauling the last of the stinky muck from the pig pen into the garden. As my work partner says, “Pigs are the gift that keep on giving.” But their poop keeps on giving stink much longer than any of the other critters. With the pig manure out of the pond pasture and into the garden, it can rest, dry, and deodorize until it’s time to serve as this year’s pumpkin patch.
The wonder of setting up containers to grow the carrots. Can this really work??
With the garden set for spring, there was nothing left to do. Except go for ice cream at the local dairy, basking in the dying warmth of the setting sun….
….and then begin again.
Because we are full of beginnings around here. And one of them was registering Big for high school.
Oh, the capacity for hope in a building so big, so grand, as a high school.
The joy of finding old friends in line during Information Night, the excitement of rooms full of new faces, the wonder of a cafeteria where you sit where you choose, with whomever you choose, and can talk the entire time if you want.
What hope one places in the oldest, the biggest, the first of one’s children to reach out into the world!
What a joy to watch him finding himself, even when he can’t find the floor (or even a cleared surface) in his room.
How exciting to see him try new things, explore new adventures, discover new worlds. Whenever you can get him out of a book.
Now if we could just figure out the wonder of signing up for high school classes online.
Yes, beginnings are filled with sweetness.
Not that I am fooled. I know there will be a sudden frost.
Or even sleet and ice.
There will be teenage angst and educational struggles and unreasonable outbursts.
And he and his friends will be too cool to be seen with us any more.
But it’s time, people.
Let it begin.
Posted on | February 15, 2014 | 2 Comments
There has been a leadership problem since Brianna left the farm. As Queen Bee, Brianna was in charge of all aspects of the goat herd. She was especially important during kidding season. I always put her in the kidding barn with does having their first kids. I knew Brianna would make sure all the babies made it out of the amniotic sac. She would ensure all babies were up, clean, on their feet, and seeking for their mother’s teat. She never left babies in the cold and she raised a racket when a baby was separated or stuck somewhere in the barn. At the sound of a baby’s cries, she always stopped what she was doing to investigate, even if the mother calmly and cluelessly continued napping or eating hay. She didn’t tolerate kid abuse from anyone in the barnyard—not ponies, not livestock guardian dogs, not sheep, not even other does. Any critter that started chasing or harassing a goat kid, whether it was Brianna’s kid or not, was met with a rock hard head butt from the Queen Bee.
I expected a battle for the throne from the other does when Brianna left the farm in December.
Um, no. Read more
Posted on | February 14, 2014 | 9 Comments
Of course, you people had a head start. While all you yahoos had a snow day (or 2) ( or 3), I was busy at work. In my ambulance being pulled out of snowdrifts by my supervisor saving lives. And I really enjoyed seeing all those pictures of you guys. You know, sledding, eating snow cream, making snow angels. The snowmen, in particular, were very well done.
Honestly. Nice work.
Good incorporation of native elements.
Posted on | February 7, 2014 | 1 Comment
Now that I have created my own language, I have added another term. And I just thought you should know. It all started with the fact that the goats are due to kid this month. So last week I rushed around the farm tying up loose ends in the flurry of nesting behavior that always precedes kidding season. The new buck pasture had to be finished and the bucks released into to it. To start tearing up those trees, too.
Fallen trees on the fence line had to be cleared and the fence repaired.
The barn had to be loaded with enough hay to get us through the next few months.
Posted on | January 28, 2014 | 4 Comments
Does the nutrition in the kale chips and fruit salad cancel out the fat and calories of the deep fried donkey balls?
Who the heck cares? Read more
Posted on | January 18, 2014 | 11 Comments
I bet you are waiting with bated breath to hear if the dead chicken necklace stopped Bella from killing chickens.
The answer is no. And yes.
It’s true that the chicken necklace was a great hindrance to her usual romping and wrestling with Bruno. Her speedy race to the pond to bark at vultures was more of a clumsy waddle as she stumbled and tripped over the carcass around her neck. She got snagged when squeezing through the cattle panels to nestle amongst the hay rolls. Plus, no one was interested in giving lots of puppy love to a puppy wearing a dead chicken.
But I also saw her curled up comfortably on several occasions, using the dead chicken as a nice, fluffy pillow. Several afternoons I caught her gnawing contentedly on a chicken leg. And once I saw her spinning around gleefully and then happily chasing the feathers that flung loose and floated down through the air.
Seemed like the chicken necklace was not as traumatic as it was portrayed to me by other farmers. Rather it seemed like a combination of good and bad. And the results remained to be seen. Read more
Posted on | January 9, 2014 | 6 Comments
Yeah, I know it’s colder where you are. I realize you get snow every year and temperatures below zero.
Well, bless your heart.
But around here, we don’t do single digit temperatures. It’s just not done. It’s considered vulgar. In bad taste.
The schools called a 2 hour delay just at the thought of single digit temperatures.
No snow, no ice. Just cold enough for us to be swooning and havin’ the vapors. Nobody can learn under conditions like that.
We can’t turn on the radio or the television without being warned to keep a close eye on our elderly neighbors and outdoor pets. Which I also find vulgar and in bad taste. How old exactly do I have to be before I get lumped into the same category as “outdoor pets”? Read more
Posted on | January 8, 2014 | 7 Comments
Well, I got lots of good stuff for Christmas. But no one was able to find a replacement for my barn coat. Oh, they tried. But how do you replace this?
Ah, the perfection of a broken-in barn coat. It always has a piece of twine tucked somewhere in case of emergency. There’s always a stale treat hidden in its folds to lure a loose animal back inside the fence. It can be used as a rag to wipe things or a plug to stop leaking things. No matter how many times it is washed, it envelopes you with the comforting smells of hay and manure, woodsmoke and wet dog, fresh dirt and buck funk, curdled milk and dried egg yolk. (Do not put stray eggs in your barn coat pocket. Do not. You will not remember them until you have broken them.) The rips and stains stand as testimony to a full life and a long barnyard to-do list. Read more
Posted on | December 27, 2013 | 8 Comments
Well, it’s all over except for the tree burning ceremony. Since no one has watered the tree since we put it up (just like last year)(and the year before)(and, yeah,…you guessed it), I’m expecting the fire to be even brighter than the Christmas lights.
This year The Other Half managed all the Christmas shopping. Including shipping, handling, and hiding. And on the big night, while I was at work dealing with drunken domestics and brittle diabetics, he was up late reading Christmas tales to the kids, wrapping the presents, and arranging the stockings for Santa. By the time I got home in the morning there nothing left to do but sip coffee and watch the annual display of shock and awe. Read more
Posted on | December 20, 2013 | 2 Comments
I took the truck to get hay.
So The Other Half and Middle took the ‘85 Sprint and headed into the woods.
Which meant that when I heard them honking in the driveway, I came out to see this:
Yep. Carried that buck all the way home strapped to the front of the Sprint. Read morekeep looking »