June 2019, week 2

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6 am (Eastern Daylight Time) on two different mornings this week. Each morning as I walk up the driveway I turn and look back it our little Idlewild farm-ette. The sight fills me with awe and joy. I can’t believe we get to live here, take care of this land, and in turn be nurtured by it.

It has been 22 years since we looked at this strip of corn field. Looking at it today I have trouble remembering how truly dead the soil was, how you could still see the rows of cornstalks even the next year, how the water would run off the land in sheets, and how nothing would grow. We tended it patiently and it has responded with a jubilant riot of growth. Each year the recovery becomes more apparent.

We are turning our attention to restoration and retirement. This land has always been our retirement plan — and this land if finally ready to fulfill that hope. The annual garden (1000 square feet of planting space), the perennial plantings, the woods, and even the “grass” are all something to behold.

We brought in 2 rabbits and 5 chicks this year. Next year we hope to double those numbers. I’ve been spending a few minutes every morning gathering grass/clover/weeds and drying it for rabbit hay. It seems to be working. It dries well, a vivid green, and I’m storing it in breathable bags. With luck, it will signal a transition to homegrown feed.

Cost of garden supplies + seeds this year: $78. Harvest in May = $40. Harvest June 1-15= $40. Garden supplies and seeds are repayed and all garden produce is now profit.

Reading List: 

  • The Resilient Farm and Homestead (B Falk)
  • The Stress Solution (R Chatterjee)
  • The Raven Boys (M Stiefvater)
  • Assault & Pepper (L Budewitz)

June 2019, week 1

The hurry-scurry of May has passed and now there is more time to simply enjoy the property. Don’t misunderstand, there are still hours of work needed to keep both our home and land operating well.

Life without an AC has changed a lot of things around here. Primarily, it means that I am getting up with the sun so my work can all be done before the day gets hot. Currently that means all the following take place between 6-10 am. Laud, yoga, garden work, feeding the critters, taking a walk or bike ride, breakfast, and all the housekeeping tasks. I spend the hot part of the day sitting in front of a fan reading, writing, doing Welsh, researching, listening to audiobooks and podcasts, taking a brief nap, jumping in and out of the pool, etc.

The Garden:  Is there anything in this world as good as a sun warmed, still wet with dew straight from the garden strawberry? I think not. At least not in early June. Ask me again next week . . .

We are still in the greens, radishes, and strawberry phase of the garden. I see signs that we’ll be shifting to summer foods within the next week or two. I am ready for some blackberries and squash. I’m hoping the shade of the rabbit house roof will allow some greens to continue to thrive.

Cost of garden supplies + seeds this year: $78. Harvest in May = $40. Harvest June 1-7 = $15

Reading List: 

  • The Resilient Farm and Homestead (B Falk)
  • The Stress Solution (R Chatterjee)
  • The Raven Boys (M Stiefvater)
  • Assault & Pepper (L Budewitz)

 

 

Radishes

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Radishes are one of my favorite foods . . . for a while. I love how they go from seed to harvest in such a short amount of time—30 to 45 days; they don’t ask for much just some soil and sunshine; and I love how when I harvest them they leave wonderful little holes for the next seed.

However, I can only eat so many radishes at a time. And I tend to over plant. So I’m on a mission to figure out what do with them after harvest.

  • Wash, pop in mouth, chew
  • Wash, cut off tops and root, then put in jar with cold water and store in fridge. Keeps them crisp for later in the week.
  • Prep and dehydrate as chips

Growing: Radishes are super easy to grow. I make sure all the “clods” in the planting area are broken up, rake over area, and the create little 1/2” or less deep furrows. Then you sprinkle the seeds in about 1/2” apart and pull the ridged up soil over the seeds. If there is no rain in the forecast, I given the row a saturating watering, but not soaking.

Saving Seed:  It is important to let a large number of radishes stay in the ground when you want to save seed. I try to go with 40-50. These radishes are usually planted separately. Basically, just leave them alone. In 4-5 months they will flower and that flower will develop into a pod. (I’ll add a picture later this summer) when the pods look dry, pull up the plants and hang upside down in a pillow case. In another couple of weeks, rub the bag so the pods come off the plant, add the plant to the compost and keep the pods. I roll the pod around until it cracks open and pull out the seeds.

Seeds are best stored cool and dry.

 

drying laundry

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One way I express my creation care is in the way I do laundry.  Specifically the way I dry laundry. I have 6 drying racks: 2 like the one above and 4 folding floor racks.

The hanging rack above has 1 pair of shorts, 3 t-shirts, 1 tank top + 1 pair cut off long johns (my pjs), 3 pair of underwear, 1 sports bra, 1 regular bra, sport socks, and 3 washcloths.

I’m hanging laundry inside today because it’s been raining for two days and I keep 4 days of cloths for myself. Since it’s humid (sooo much rain) and not windy, I’ve got the fan blowing over the cloths.  It’s not wasted energy because I’m sitting on the sheepskin on the floor with Jasper, writing this post, doing my Welsh, and reading.

May 2019

 

 

May has just flown right by it seems.

Garden/Food Production:

We have 1000 square feet of annual planting space in our garden and it is almost completely planted. We have 2 types of lettuce, kale, spinach, chard, turnips, radishes, peas, carrots, summer squash, hot peppers, sweet peppers, okra, parsley, eggplant, basil, tomatoes, and to be planted sunflowers, pumpkins, winter squash, and green beans. As some things finish up, I will fill their spaces with new seeds.

Our perennial garden also looks pretty good: asparagus, strawberries, blackberries, grapes, apple trees, peach trees, cherry trees, persimmon trees, and plum tree.

The pollinator garden (Ellen’s memory garden) hasn’t started blooming too much yet, but it has filled in very nicely. I might actually have to expand it next year. It looks like there will be a mass of flowers!

The rabbits are doing well. Work was halted on the chicken coop as we worked to get the garden planted. We’ll work to get it finished now that the most time consuming and time sensitive garden tasks are done. We have finished enough of the chicken coop that the rabbits are in their new spot. It has made a huge difference in my ability to care for them even if I’m having a rough day.

Cost of garden supplies + seeds this year: $78. $45 —stainless steel handle spade. $33 —seeds. Harvest in May = $40

Retreat, Education, and Reading:

I went on a retreat with my church to New Harmony, Indiana. It was a lovely time of quiet reflection, time spent with friends, and hearing presentations from Kenneth McIntosh about Celtic spirituality. He did 3 presentations: Everything is Sacred, Furred and Feathered Friends (creation care), and the Cross.

I’m still plugging along with Welsh and still absolutely in love with the language. I got a couple of new books to geek out over too!

Book List:

  • The Overstory by R Powers
  • Quantum Space by D Phillips
  • Quantum Void  by D Phillips
  • Quantum Time by D Philips
  • (Listening to) Circe (again) by M Miller
  • Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth by S. Bivans
  • My Family and Other Animals by G Durrell

New Harmony, 1

 

 

In bag’s main compartment in a small Eagle Creek specter packing cube: pjs, cardigan, UV shirt, t-shirt, bra, under”roos”, socks,

In bag’s back pocket: Welsh notebook, journal

In bag’s front pockets: water bottle (with filter), Iberian cube (Kind bars, red light flashlight, charging cable, peanut butter packets, Rx), Ultraviolet cube (face serum, sunscreen, deodorant crystal, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, shampoo bar sliver).

In purse: sunglasses, wallet, foldable grocery bag, sun hat, fountain pen, tide stick, go-everywhere pouch (nail clippers, pocket knife, bandaids, Pepto, emery board) and phone.

 

April 2019 —the rest

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Things got super busy around here shortly after the last post. Here’s a rundown of what all has been accomplished.

  • 5 1/2 garden beds are dug
  • 4 garden beds are planted
  • 20 blackberry bushes have been moved along the fence line and a new row started next to the other two rows
  • Silver, another rabbit, came home
  • lawn mowing has begun in earnest
  • the pool has been set up, leveled, and filled.
  • Ellen’s memory garden (the pollinator garden) has been reseeded and we’ve noticed new growth
  • all the trees lived and all the fruit trees blossomed
  • there is new gravel on the driveway and up by the mailbox
  • we payed off one medical bill

April (week 2) 2019

 

Garden bed 2: squared up, turned over, and planted with: kale, turnips, lettuce, radishes, lettuce, carrots, and zucchini.

Garden bed 3: squared up, turned over, and chopped up. I haven’t it planted it yet.

Yard: lawn mowed for the first time. Yearly planning for plantings (trees, fruit, flowers) completed.  I’m starting to see seedlings in Ellen’s (pollinator) garden. The peach, apple, and cherry trees are all full of blossoms. We moved 14 blackberry babies from the main rows to a third row and started them around the main yard fence.

Rabbits/Chickens: Hlao-Roo is eating pellets + hay + grass + willow. We went to get the other rabbits, but they didn’t have more ready to go. We’ll try again in a week or two.

 

 

April (week 1) 2019

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Garden bed 1: dug, chopped, and planted. This is an older bed and just needed an easy turnover and to be squared up. This bed has: kale, turnips, lettuce, radish, lettuce-2, and peas.

To the south of garden bed 1 is garden bed 2. It will get turned over and planted in April week 2. We will continue to dig and plant a bed each week as weather and other tasks permit. We have 5 more easy beds to turn and 4 more difficult beds to do.

Chicken/Rabbit Run: posts are in and framing has started. This will be slow as we are just doing a bit each payday.

To the south of the chicken yard is our second compost area. Right now it’s mostly cardboard, sticks, weed stalks, and some food waste. It will fill in pretty quickly with soil, grass clippings, weeds (from weeding) and rabbit manure/waste.

This week also saw the pool area re-leveled and the pool set up, Ellen’s memory garden weeded, and a shopping trip for organic seeds.

We do all our gardening with hand tools, organically, and with a view to restoring the soil so that we may use this smaller area to grow more so that the majority of our land is left to wildness.