Archive for February 2nd, 2011

Independence Days Update: Cross-Quarter Day

admin February 2nd, 2011

Today is cross-quarter day aka Groundhog’s Day or Imbolc.  To understand cross-quarter day, just imagine the calendar divided into four parts.  Now quarter it again.  These cross- quarter points are traditional points of reference for seasons and holidays.  In Britain and in warmer places than mine, spring begins traditionally, with the vernal equinox at the mid-point of spring.

Let’s just say that in upstate NY, February 2 does not start spring, not even a little.  On the other hand, it does mark the point that humans and animals both begin getting really annoyed with winter ;-) .  I don’t usually allow myself this luxury until March, but for some reason this year I’m having a little trouble with it.  Meanwhile the goats are just plain cranky - they want grass, dammit.

The good news is that around now is also when I start in earnest getting ready for spring.  First the seed starting begins. I’ve already put some perennials on to stratify and seeded a few early herbs and flowers, mostly just to make the kids happy - they can’t wait to get things in the ground.  We’ve got lupine seedling and yarrows, and tiny sage leaves sticking up.  But the onions will begin in a week or two, as will any perennials I’m starting early for first year bloom, and then we move on to peppers and eggplant, so there’s hope yet.

Meanwhile, Arava and Bast are at least starting to show their pregnancies (they’ll be the first to be bred) and the junior does meet the goat of their dreams in a couple of weeks.  I’m hoping all the information for joining my vegetable and herb plant CSA will be up by the end of next week, and the herb CSA will follow.  We’ve got chicks coming in mid-February (they’ll live by the woodstove for the first few weeks) and will be boarding a friend’s baby goat (she won it as a prize!) soon.  So things are going on under the surface.

Our first home visit from the social worker is Tuesday, so we’re cleaning the house and trying to look like we’ve got our lives together ;-) .  I’ve got the garden calendar underway, and am working on marketing plans.   It is a good time for cutting wood, harvesting barks and enjoying peace and quiet, at least if we ever get any ;-) .

We’ve used up a lot of last year’s preserves and root cellar produce, and more has to be used.  Now is the time when we count jars on the fingers of one hand, and try to save things for special occasions -the last jar of raspberry jam, the last of kimchi, the last of whole tomatoes, the last hubbard squash.  Such things are bittersweet - we won’t miss them once spring comes in but they remind us why late winter and early spring were called “the starving time.”  We won’t starve, but we do feel that it is worth experiencing the sense of not having everything outside its time, and enduring some minor privation.  Still, eating store jam is privation enough ;-) .

Otherwise, we’re mostly dreaming of the real spring - of the days when we start taking daily peeper walks and the first green shoots pop up.  But that’s not for a while yet - under our 18 inch blanket of white, things are waiting, and so are we.

Plant something: Lupines, yarrow, sage, snapdragons.

Harvest something: Eggs, milk, sprouts

Preserve something: Not a thing

Waste not: We’ve been getting rid of some old expired canned goods by mixing them into dog food, otherwise the usual composting and feeding things to other things.

Want Not: Seed orders!!!  Woot!!!

Eat the Food: Lots of veggies getting towards their end, the last of everything.   Lots of stuffed cabbage, too, since we’re on a kick.

Build community food systems: Gave a bunch of radio interviews on food and gardens!  Am arranging a kosher slaughter workshop for my region, and starting up my CSAs!

How about you?