Archive for June 17th, 2009

Independence Days Update: Rain and More Rain

Sharon June 17th, 2009

Sorry, this is a couple of days late – I took Monday off to do something with a friend, and I’m running a bit behind.  Meanwhile, we’ve had, well, rain.  This is extremely good – it was an unusually dry May, and we needed it.  That said, I’m not quite sure we needed it all this week, but what are you going to do.

Now I’m wishing I made “weeded” a category for Independence Days. Not that I’d really have all that much to report, since I’ve been sitting inside watching them grow, but really, I’ve now moved mostly from planting to full-time weeding. Still have a little planting to do too, though.

Big changes around here are that we’ve begun figuring out a plan for a larger goat herd and a larger chicken flock.  We’ve decided we’re going back at least to selling eggs in the spring, along with my herb plans.  So that means more laying hens than the 15 or so we’ve got at present – I’ve got a batch of White Rocks and some Marans arriving in a couple of weeks, and I ordered more Buff Orpington’s and Aracaunas for fall  – our current hens need to be retired.

The barn can handle 50 hens, but we’re adding two new goat does, (and maybe the cute little baby I want for my birthday…hint…hint…Eric ;-) ), and if Selene and Maia kid as expected in the fall, our goat facilities will start to get crowded.  That means moving the hens back up the hill to the stable – they lived up there for a few years, but we moved them down because the steep hill was a bitch to haul feed and bedding up to in the winter.  But short of building a chicken coop (which we will probably do eventually, but not yet), I think it is back to the stable for the chickens, and we’re swearing that we’ll keep the hillside shoveled – sliding down the icy hill while carrying a bale of straw, a jug of water and six eggs, no longer whole, in your pocket is not one of my fondest farming memories.  This mean repairing the stable and getting it chicken tight, and some other odds and ends. 

Otherwise, things are pretty quiet here – Simon and Isaiah are back from four days of being indulged by Grandma in New York City, and we had a great time soloing with Asher and Eli.  Posting will probably be on the light side for the rest of the week – my Mom is coming to visit, Eric’s 39th birthday is Friday, we’ve got strawberries and rhubarb to tend to (and strawberry shortcake to make for said birthday), friends coming to stay for Shabbos, weeds galore, Eric is starting up an online astronomy course, and much else.   

Ok, on to the point:

Plant something: Transplanted some inconveniently placed strawberries, wintergreen, melons, squash, mustard greens, pole beans, turnips, cabbage, nasturtiums, dill, burnet, cilantro, lettuce, orach, sunflowers, summer squash, cucumbers, catnip, borage.

Harvest something: Strawberries, lambs quarters, rhubarb, shell peas, snap peas, beets thinnings, bok choy, chinese cabbage, shepherd’s purse, comfrey (for the goats and chickens), eggs, milk, valerian roots.

Preserve something: Dried shepherd’s purse, dehydrated strawberries, made strawberry jam, dehydrated rhubarb, dried some greens.

Reduce Waste: Planted the last of the sprouted potatoes for a late crop, began cleaning out our room so that we won’t buy things that we already have but can’t find (our room is the worst kept spot in the house – every time we have guests anything that doesn’t get cleaned gets dumped there – I am determined to mend this fault.)  Gave some of last year’s hay to a friend, turned the winter’s hay-bale shelter into garden mulch, began another denim patchwork quilt for boys, actually measured out how much oatmeal for 1 serving for each boy, so that I will stop making too much when I eyeball it, began cleaning out the winter stuff for the synagogue yard sale.

Preparation and storage: Added a few more canning jars to the collection, otherwise, nothing new.

Build community food systems: Nope.

Eat the food – lots of lambsquarters, given the aforementioned weeds.  Strawberries, of course, and rhubarb.  But no really exciting new recipes.  Must work on this.


Day's for Work, the Night's the Time to Go Dancing

Sharon June 17th, 2009

Way out on the ocean
The big ships hunt for whales
The Japanese have caught so many
That now they hunt for snails
My fisherman’s not greedy
He seems content to live
With the sun and the sand
And a net full of fish when the tide turns

Pull on the ropes, Seine haul fisherman
Never catches more than he knows
He can sell in a day;
Pull on the ropes, Seine haul fisherman
Day’s for work. Night’s the time to go dancing – Judy Collins (and Asher’s current favorite song, which is why it won’t leave my head ;-) )

I must admit, it is a really long time since Eric and I have actually gone out dancing.  Now I’ve never been one of those unusually graceful people, but I love to dance, and once upon a time, Eric and I used to go to the occasional club, and even ballroom dancing.  I’m hoping we’ll get back to it one of these days.

Not, however, that we don’t have our pleasures.  There is always so much work to do – on the farm, in front of our computers, with our kids, in our communities that it would be truly easy to allow the work to rise up and wash us away.  Indeed, a lot of the work is enormously enjoyable – we like the garden, we like milking and cooking and sometimes even cleaning. We like the community work, I love writing and Eric loves teaching, and of course, homeschooling and caring for the boys is a job.  And yet, in the aggregate, it adds up some days to feel like a lot of work.

A lot of days, after the boys are in bed, we crash on the couch, each of us reading our respective book.  Occasionally, we watch a movie and do a little light evening work – Eric brushes the dog while I knit mittens, or I pluck the angora bunnies while he oils a tool or replaces a string on one of his instruments.  Sometimes Eric, who is a gifted musician, plays for me, or we sit together and he plays and I sing.  Often we just put our feet up, intertwined and do nothing, quietly together.

It would be easy to spend every evening that way, and it is always tempting, when we are invited out somewhere, to say no.  Going out involves getting the kids in bed early, finding a sitter, getting ourselves cleaned up from the garden and decked out for public.  It involves most of all finding the energy to get up and go somewhere at the end of the day, even if it is just to a friend’s house to play games, out to dinner, or to some social event at a  local pub, much less dancing.  Some days, getting out of the house to play seems like a good bit of work.

And yet, when I go, when I force myself to simply stop, to say that even though I haven’t dug out of the pile of writing I was supposed to do, even though the garden isn’t fully mulched, even though there’s work waiting, even though we’re tired.  Part of it is that community stuff happens at the end of the day, when everyone is a little tired, but still pushes through to end the workday or week with laughter and a beer.   But mostly, it is that time for play is part of the reality of a life filled with work.  If you wait for the work to make the space for you to play, you’ll be waiting a long time.  The only choice is simply to say “ok, I need to go do something fun, much as I like the work, it can’t be everything.”  And so, we go.

One of my summer plans is that Eric and I actually do go dancing at least once.  I know I won’t go out with friends as often as I’d like, I know I won’t have them over as often as I’d like.  I know I won’t make it to every thing.  But I am trying to remember that play is part of what makes work fun.  The day is for work, and at least once in a while, the night’s the time to go dancing.