Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Independence Days Challenge

So this is where we are ...the inbetween. Yes one word. Inbetween. Two words smooshed together to connote the Nearly-there-but-not-yet feel that is our lives. We have a pedestal for the new tub built. But it needs another coat of paint. We have a new propane cookstove but it will be delivered on Saturday. We are working here and we are working there...

So my update will be quick..

Plant: transplanted Evening Primrose, comfrey, rose, lemon balm...

Harvested: Basil, carrots, garlic, onions, black berries

Preserve: dilly beans, frozen beans, peach salsa, dehydrated peaches, frozen blackberries, garlic, dehydrated onions. I am sure there is more but I can not remember. I did make sure to add it to my growing list to the right.

Local Foods: I went to my new farmer's market. Bought fixings for salad. I asked about local food buying clubs and found out about a local food coop that meets at a local grange hall that uses Crown of Maine as one source of its food. I plan to buy a CSA Share at the farmer's market this coming Friday

Eat the food: Can one really eat enough salad?

Waste not: yes we are moving poo. I am adding composted sheep poo to the sheet mulching I am using for transplanting perennials. More and More stuff to the thrift store...YAY!

Want not: We don't watch a lot of TV but we do like a movie or 2 on the computer. We may not be able to get DSL at our new home. As a result we find ourselves spending quiet evenings knitting, reading, in deep conversation and playing cards. It may mean that my posting on this site may change a bit. But that remains to be seen. I love the practice of writing for this space and would not like to see it go. We are exploring options. I have begun to start knitting gifts for winter.

Well, we will be away for a few days and I hope to post again early next week...

Tis nearly there..

Saturday, July 24, 2010

on and on...

Please pay no attention to the messy room;)

We are returning to the balance in our home. The "Tad" settles into his routine. The "mama" is back at her work. Our lines of territory are falling back into place. Not that we are hard fast about who does what, where;but, rather, we return to our strengths and allow the other to return to their's. For me that is the kitchen and my work of putting food by. For Mark, this means tinkering on engines and finding the tools and materials we need for several projects.

When I returned to my jobs I realize that many things have changed.It used to be that I read stories at nap time. I would read three stories and sing some "Baby Beluga", occasionally, I would sing some "Waltzing with Bears". Tad was in charge of bedtime which entailed 2 books and some songs played on the guitar. In the time that I have been at work, "Tad" has read the stories at naptime and I have read stories at bedtime. But I have not had many occasions to sing my standard songs. Today, I found my voice for singing. Still slightly off key but my audience is forgiving as long as I provide snuggles:)

I have also noticed that the busy-ness of our summer has stolen those quiet moments of awe. Bodies have changed. I notice this in the face of the teen that has lost any vestige of baby softness; as his chiseled out features define his face as he enters manhood. Muscles are firmed and his stride has more swagger than I have noticed before, the intervals between shavings are shorter. Evan, too, has grown. Tonight, I was in charge of tub time. The boy enjoys his summer and wears it on his bruised and dirty legs. Those legs are longer. I wonder how pants will fit when it become a cooler season again. In the meantime, I have noticed that he no longer has a body of a toddler. He is longer and leaner. He runs with the confidence of a boy in command of his body, there is not hint of uncertain toddler gait. It is what these critters do, they grow. He is my last baby and he is no longer a wee one but a boy. He wonders at bugs and snakes, rocks and dirt. He negotiates over cucumbers and he has a mind of his own.

The weeks are flying by. Each day is filled with the work of our season. Each year I promise self that the next summer will not be a crazy-busy as the current year. I have visions of quietly and regularly working in the garden, slow days on sandy shores, meals shared with friends and family camping trips. Some summer I am sure we will realize this vision. But for now, it is now. After seeing the changes that happened before my busy unaware eyes this summer, I realized that this is the moment I should be paying attention to. So hard to do and so easy to forget in the flow of tide that this life is these days.

Friday, July 23, 2010

And so it goes....

Yesterday, it turns out, was my last day at work. The big push for picking peas, beans and berries has past. Since Tristan and I were the last ones hired, we were the first ones fired.

It's okay.

But I have sorta mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, we are in the process of moving and every day off from work has been filled with the work of moving. I have not had a sit-on-my-butt day off in about a month and I am plain tuckered out. I have piles and piles of food to preserve. No kidding. I have a pile of onions, a pile of garlic, a 5 gallon bucket of beans, 2 oversized zukes. Local corn is starting to come in and tomatoes too. So, soon the canner is going to be very busy. I still have carrots in the ground here that I would like to harvest before we move. I have a garden abandoned to weeds at the old house and a garden at the new house still to be planted for the fall.


I have piles of boxes and a stacks of paper with all the stuff I need to take care of in order to move.

And yet when the farmer said that her payroll was getting too big and she would only need a few of her more experienced farm helpers, I felt let down. I knew, by my own agenda, that the job could not last more than another month. I knew that I was getting tired of waking before my alarm clock at 5:30. I knew that I was lying awake at night wondering how I was going to juggle my work schedule with moving in August. I knew that I was missing my role as homemaker. I knew that my hands craved knitting. I have 2 new babies and a birthday in my family and I have not made anything yet. I knew that I missed posting on the blog on a regular basis as I had to prioritize what I could do with what I wanted to do. I knew that I was daydreaming about January. Remember January? January is when I write about snow, hand crafts and the soup de jour from food stores? Ahhh it is a glorious month...

But I loved that job. Hard work and all. I loved feeling like I was part of a greater process. I know more about how local food gets to the table. I have an enormous amount of respect for the farmers that grow our food. The folks I worked for were right there in the field with us weeding and harvesting and they have been doing it for 30+ years. I loved the fringe benefits of surplus produce and gleaning. My freezer is nearly full. I loved the quiet of the work and the intermittent chatter I could have with kids half my age. I loved the paycheck. It wasn't much in the grand scheme of our finances but it felt nice to contribute, in a different way, to our family's goals.

Today was my first full day off. We woke early and headed out the door to glean 10 gallons of beans from the farm, a parting gift from the farmer. We came home and put 5 gallons in the freezer. I filled one dehydrator with onions. I baked bread, made a quiche from our own eggs for dinner, I started to consolidate the piles into piles to be moved. I swept and vacuumed and added an inch to a sock that had been abandoned in my knitting basket. This is my work now, my noble pursuit....

Friday, July 16, 2010

This moment....

A Meditation on Raspberries

These days while I am at work on the farm I am picking raspberries. Big Big cultivated raspberries. Not the shy wild berries that I pick on our property at home that hide under thick leaves, but, big buxom in-you-face berries.

It never fails to remind me of the cycle of the year that when raspberry season begins I wax poetic. Snippets of lines run through my mind as I quietly set to the task of picking one small fruit jewel after another. This year is no exception, except that I am not just picking for my own freezer every other day but I am picking for the farm now.

There are three long rows of berries that I have begun to know intimately. The first lower row has a hornets nest in the middle of it. So all the berries surrounding the nest are left unmolested for the hornets peace. This row has a later variety that are just coming on. The fruit is firm and plentiful. The middle row has been heavy with berries for weeks, the south side is heavier with fruit than the north. There have been some mornings when after picking the row it seems that the fruit is ripening behind us and we need to go back and pick again. The last row has a lot of new growth and we have to dig into the row to find the fruit. But we are never disappointed.

With all the sun and heat we have had over the last two weeks the fruit is ripening early and fast and it can be hard to keep on top of all the picking. Today I was on the middle row picking not just the pretty fruit, but the ugly step sisters too. This fruit was not for sale in the farmstand but used for baking pies that will be sold in the farmstand. This sort of picking does not provide the sense of satisfaction that picking for the stand does. The stand berries are picked into half pints. Each berry box a picture of ruby fruit wealth. For pie berries I pick into quarts. I often put my hand on squishy berries. I pick off the little inch worms that have taken up residence in the berry. I pick the young beauties but I must also pick those entering middle age with a touch of gray and then pick the gray off. All along the way I am hounded by the moldy old crones who lament their misspent youth. Such is the life of a berry. Youth is fleeting...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Independence Days Challenge, In the thick of it all.

Well, Friends, I would like to share that we are at the moment in our move where something that we needed in one house was at the other house. I would like to say that this marks the half way point of our move but alas we are slowly moving our belongings into the new home. My work schedule fills 4, sometimes 5 days a week. On very warm days we only work half days. We are trying to get out to the new house every weekend and one or two days during the middle of the week. To say that we are busy seems like a quaint idea I ponder sometime in January when cabin fever sets in. This life we are leading now is some other thing.

This is not to say that we are not accomplishing what we need to do. Mark is rebuilding a bathroom wall before we install the bathtub. Tristan is dismantling an old shed so we can re- use the wood to construct small temporary shelter for the sheepfor the winter while we ponder the design of the barn we will build next spring.. I am cleaning many years worth of spider's webs and mouse poop.

I am unpacking many boxes that were packed over a year ago. Feels like Christmas as we unwrap ceramic crafts from Tristan's early school years, unpack boxes of books I have missed dearly, reconnect with some teacups that were my grandmother's. All these things were packed away when we put our house on the market a year ago, in order to make our home as generic as possible for potential buyers. While sorting and unpacking, I am also finding that I have the chance to really get rid of stuff I no longer need. Our old home was small, our new home is small too but is designed in a way that the space can be used more efficiently if I can keep the clutter to a minimum. Tristan has captured the spirit and has decided to pack those things from a younger age away into storage.

Evan, on the other hand, is struggling a little with the pace. Everyone is busy, there is confusion over which house is home. Mark is going to take him to the library story hour tomorrow and then visit the beach at Sebec Lake. He needs a day off...Come to think of it..we all do.

Onto the update...

Plant: nope, not yet

Harvest: swiss chard, basil, garlic, raspberries, eggs

Preserve: 5 quarts of raspberries, 5 quarts of peas frozen

Local food systems: Well, I would like to say that I am supporting my local food systems but really it is supporting me right now. The farm I work shares excess. So one week I was given a large quantity of broccoli, another week I stayed late and picked 4 quarts of raspberries for the farm and four quarts of raspberries for my freezer. It is nearing the end of the season for early peas and I was given a large paper bag of peas for free. I am so grateful for this bounty as my own garden is woefully neglected. I have nearly reached a financial goal so that I can buy a csa share at a local organic farm at the new town.

Eat the food: Most of our meals consist of sauteed veggies and pasta these days. It is quick filling, does not heat up the house too much. Given the lack of cooking zeal I am experiencing I have not had any troops revolt at the dinner table yet. I would also like to add that because of the heat we are cooking many foods on the grill. Last week Mark made meatballs for spaghetti on the grill. Adds a nice flavor.

Waste not: Big de-clutter effort. I am using the boxes from moving to kill the sod and sheet mulch new garden beds at the new house.

Want not: Mark is scything the area for the new veggie garden patch. I am sheet mulching where we will have a perennial and herb garden. We are saving the wood from the old shed and the bathroom redo for temporary animal housing. I am researching plant guilds for fruit trees as a method to reduce the work and chemicals needed in orchard care.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Independence Days Challenge..or is that interdependence?

First, because I have been so busy there are a couple of links I want to share with you. The first link is just wonderful. Meet your farmer Farmer. These videos are just wonderful. A true slice of the food and farming tradition I am so fortunate to have access to.

The second link is more sobering but I think equally important. Stoneleigh is one half of the dynamic duo who write for the Automatic Earth, a finance website that addresses the broader issues of peak oil and climate change and how they are inter-connected. I really think she has a great understanding of what we are facing and she does a fine job of distilling the issues down to its basics. She also gives some great advice. Well worth finding a cool corner to listen to it.

As for life here at the mobile farmlette-stead, it is still busy. The garden is just a mess. There just isn't enough time in either place to give both gardens the full attention they need. Work has picked up a lot. However, after this week, the old house should look like it is missing furniture and the new house will have a new bathroom wall.

But I am still trying to keep the IDC going. I figure that even if I am not doing as much as I may have done last week, checking in here weekly at least keeps me on task.

Plant: nope

Harvest: oregano, broccoli, peas, scallions, yarrow, swiss chard

Preserve: 14 quarts of broccoli and 1 gallon of strawberry wine.

Local food systems: we brought home gleaned potatoes from work and I was given a bunches of free broccoli from work.

Eat the food: broccoli, scrambled eggs with swiss chard. local steak on the grill and boiled new potatoes.

Waste not: still making piles for the thrift store

Want not: Tristan found a metal scrap pile on our new property. He has been sorting some of it for is own uses but we may be able to get some roofing for our coop in the new place from the pile. I am making another rag rug from scraps from my winter rug endeavors.

I am going to add a to-do list at the end. While working in the fields I think of things I would like to do and then I forget.


I need to buy a couple of small bars of bees wax the next time I go to the health food store. I want to make a salve with the calendula, comfrey and plantain that are available in the garden.

I need to get another peck of peas from the farm. I think we may be able to glean from the field and get a better price, so I need to check on that.

I need to buy a bottle of cheap vodka for tinctures

pack pack pack move move move....swim:)