Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Independence Days Challenge, In full swing

It has been a bit of a wet spring. April Showers and all that. Still, there is snow on the ground. It is supposed to rain for the next three days so perhaps the snow will finally be washed away. Because we have had some rainy weather, the sunny days demand great bursts of energy be given to the outdoors. The garden beds are beginning to take shape. The seedlings on the windowsill are reaching above the brim of their cups. Often, I find myself day dreaming over patches of barren soil, just imagining the garden of my dreams, plotting the layout of the herb and flower bed. Ahhh spring!

Plant: spinach, fava beans, peas, beets. Transplanted chard in the cold frame and moved chives. Started elecampane, pennyroyal, hyssop, amish paste tomato.

Harvested: nothing yet, but I saw some dandelions along a brick building downtown the other day. It reminded me to take a walk around our property and look for the greens. The ground is not quite green yet. I also want to check that our wine making supplies are set to go soon. We dehydrate a lot of foods. Both our dehydrators had pooped the bed. So we are trying to decide which route we should go. Just replace the ones we have with similar models, up grade to an Excaliber, or make a solar dryer. All have their advantages and disadvantages. But we should make a decision soon.

Preserve: final count of the Maple syrup was a solid 4 gallons. Some sap had started to ferment. Mark boiled some of this down to use for making a maple beer.

Local Foods: The summer farmer's market opens this week. I am buying eggs from a local dairy farmer. Local meat.

Eat the food: On sunny days we are enjoying the grill. On rainy days we still eat soup.

Waste not: There is a great yard sale that takes place here every year. It is called Kid's Stuff. It raises money for kids to go to summer camp. I have been cleaning out stuff to donate. Building up a good pile in the compost bin. I am hoping the rain will help get its heat up a bit. I will turn it in 21 days. I have saved a couple of pizza boxes from a dinner I had at my friends house to use as solar cookers.

Want not: I am making a list of items I am looking for at the Kid's stuff sale. Ice skates for Evan. Some winter gear in larger sizes. Training wheels for his bicycle. I have an opportunity to ramp up the knitting business and do wholesale. A store downtown is going to sell some of my hats. Set up gutters along the front of the house and moved rainbarrel. Re-caulked the kitchen sink

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Today I am grateful for...

  • hanging out the laundry
  • the slow march of winter's snow off of the garden
  • my neighbor who showed me how to change the drill bit.
  • the guy at Hammond lumber who helped me pick out the right sort of caulking for the kitchen sink
  • My son, Tristan, who has embraced added responsibilities of this year with maturity and commitment.
  • Sprouting tomato seeds
What are you grateful for today?

Monday, April 18, 2011

And then life gets in the way...

So , I have been absent from this space for a while. I am dealing with some life struggles right now that I am not prepared to share. I hope to have an Anyway project update, Independence update and A plant-A-Row update soon. For now, I just need to focus on what is good. I think the best way to do this is to count my blessings.

So, everyday I hope to post a blessing. Some day it will be something that I am so grateful for. Somedays, it will be photos. Somedays it will be a quote or a poem. If you would like to join me in this, please share. I really will find joy and comfort in your comments.

I am sorry for this hiatus from my regular content. The earth is waking from its sleep. There is much that is happening on the homestead. But as I said life gets in the way.

Be well, Karin

Sunday, April 10, 2011

On an early spring day...

I sit at the table on the front porch of my friend's home. This is truly the first spring like weather we have had for a while. For a little while my attention has been alternating between my knitting needles and tea and the small crab apple tree across the street. The tree is still heavy with last year's fruit, now shriveled.

Perched in the tree are cedar waxwings, newly arrived. They sit on the branches; arranged like new leaves of spring, and sing and eat fruit. These little birds congregate to rest from a long trip north.

My attention is back to my work in hand, knit, purl, purl.....thinking , not thinking, smelling the fresh air through the open window, watching a squirrel hang upside down on the lilac bush to raid my friend's bird feeder.


I look up to see the small flock has taken flight in a startle. One member of their congregation not seeing the wall of the house next door. It lays on the neighbors lawn struggling.

I run across the street to check. It is still breathing. Its wings seem fine. It does not struggle as I try to handle it gently to see if perhaps it is just stunned and needs someone to watch over it until it regains its senses. I run back to the house to look up the phone number to the local Audobon Society, when I look up and notice that it has stopped moving.

Retuning to the bird I find it dead. I pick it up in gloved hands but I can still feel its warmth in my hand, its small body so light.

While this has all gone on the wind has changed direction, clouds have filled in the blue spaces.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mucking About

I woke this morning to a small body snuggled up to me. His small hands search for warmth under my arms. From the the other room I hear Mark start his bath, I hear the dog's tags jingle as he wanders around the house trying to find a sunny spot on the floor to settle. Evan rouses a bit more, leaves the bed and returns with a book for me to read. I fumble for my glasses as I begin reading a story about John Henry. " he was a hard driving man".

Once my feet touch the floor the day begins. Just like that, I am thinking about what time we should leave the house, what items should come with us. How will I arrange the driving back and forth that has come to define these days in town. I try to think about what chores I can ask Tristan to do before he is gone for the day; try to convince a small person that he should leave the comfort of his pajamas; try to fit in that second cup of tea I know I will need to just get through this morning.

In the background of this scene is a pan of syrup on the stove "finishing". There are seedlings on the windowsill. Cat nip, feverfew, horehound have sprouted. A fresh crop of spider webs have sprouted in the far reaches. A collection of lady bugs, recent inhabitants of Evan's bug box, beetle around the interior surface. They look so busy, like they have important places to go. But really they are just wandering around in circles....

Breakfast is served, mud boots are donned, we take to the path that leads to our car. Evan grumpily adjusting to the fact that he will not be towed in the sled along the mud path up to the car.

We are still waiting for Spring. By the calendar spring began a while ago. The build up to this season is built on dashed expectations. Snow had so much romance when winter promised quiet snow bound days. At this time of year it is a cursed element. When I see water falling from the sky, I want it to be wet. I want it to wash away. I want it to cleanse the dirty crust-snow away. I want it to make mud. I want it to reveal grass and soil. Alas, I do not make the rain, I only shovel the snow.

These are my thoughts as I drive the long two miles down our dirt road to the pavement. Mud season takes on a whole new meaning when you live on a dirt road. It is not only something that resides on rubber boots, gets painted on your clean going-to-town pants; it is the last challenging remnant of winter.

I am nearly to the pavement. Along the edges of the road there are small avian bodies flitting from mud to bramble. For one moment I catch a glimpse of red breast. Spring may be a fickle temptress but she does give us signs of hope.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Independence Days Challenge..the in between time.

So yup...it is April 4th and if feels like it is March 4th. It is a chilly morning. Friday, we had nearly a foot and a half of snow. But this past weekend was gloriously warm. Rain is predicted for this week, so, fingers-crossed, the garden should be revealed. With the lingering winter it has been hard to even think about the lists of things we need to do this year. However, in the hope of spring, we are getting some things done.

Planted: Cabbage, feverfew, bee balm, celeriac, cat grass.

Harvested: maple sap

Preserve: over 3 gallons of maple syrup, chicken stock. I freeze chicken bones and some veggie scraps. When I have enough, I boil it all down with some sea salt and lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. We are moving out of soup season. My hope is to have a good supply of chicken stock for next winter.

Local Foods: Local meats from our local feed store. Local eggs... hopefully soon, we can have some of our own chickens again.

Eat the Food: I am trying to use up some of the crazy amount of chutney I have in my pantry. Tonight we eat local porkchops with cranberry chutney. As we can up the maple syrup any extra that will not fill a complete jar goes into the jar that I am working from. So I have been using maple syrup in the weekly batch of granola that I make. I have been using it as the sweetener in the bread I make. We also have been eating a fair amount of pancakes; using up lat years raspberries.

Waste not: The usual composting, recycling. I have started going through the dresser drawers to thin out outgrown winter clothing, relegate some things to the rag bin. I am also thinning out some books and posting them on Paperback Book Swap.

Want not: I picked up some boxes at the cooperative extension for testing the soil. I put in a wholesale order at Peace Fleece. My big guys have not had a new sweater for a few years. Evan will need a new sweater next fall. So next Christmas they will all have a new warm wool sweater. If I get started now I should be able to have them done by the end of the summer. I made Evan a couple of pairs of pj bottoms. I contacted our local Adult Ed about teaching knitting next fall. They were very interested and I will hear from them in August when they write the new catalog.