Thursday, December 25, 2014

An Easy Life

Sometimes I forget why I started this blog in the first place. A few days ago my  Aunt sent me a Christmas card with something written in it that reminded me and I suddenly missed writing here very much. She wrote that she enjoyed reading my blog and that I was good at it. 
I started this blog with two goals: to keep my friends and family abreast of our farming dream and to provide a creative outlet for me. I enjoyed writing and had a suspicion I was pretty good at it. So here's my Aunt telling me that I'm accomplishing these goals. Just the kick in the pants I needed. 
Though to be fair 2014, if possible, was even crazier than 2013. When will I get used to this craziness? I'm pretty sure before too long, I'll be wondering how I ever got along without it. 
I know I know....I keep throwing random photos in here but I took so stinkin' many thinking I would share them with you but never got around to it. 

Some good news: we are finally taking the plunge onward and upward and moving full to starboard onto the farm. Our tiny house out there will soon be occupied. Our big dream out there will soon be realized. Our standard faith soon to be tested. But we believe this is our true existence and weekly the signs back us up. 
Replace 'woods' with 'farm' and that's it right there.

There's that saying that when God closes a door he then opens a window. What the quote fails to mention is that He often shoves you through said window kicking and screaming despite the grace you keep wishing you could display. So, things aren't going according to planned but they ARE going and that is something. 

When I was a little girl I remember this poster in my closet of a girl my age on a balance beam in the Olympics with the saying: "Don't pray for an easy life, pray to be a strong person." Just the other day I overheard a conversation. One lady said she'd been praying to be strong and figured that's why God had been sending so many trials her way. She said she was going to stop praying to be strong and instead pray for an easier life. 
My husband put his hand through a tablesaw in 2013. I prayed to God to keep me strong. Through a loved ones' cancer diagnosis, a loss of income and many trials these last couple years, I never prayed to be a strong person until I was already in the midst of a struggle. 

I really don't think the equation is as simple as that lady thinks. You pray for Z and God gives you X + Y which then = Z. 
We get what we need from God and we hardly ever know what that is. We'll say we know, but then if we were right, no curveball thrown our way would ever surprise us. But guess what? It's not a curveball unless it surprises us. So pray for what you think you need, but be open to what you actually receive. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Our Rain Barrel Runneth Over

A recent installment on our farm is our rain barrel. Situated at the end of one simple gutter setup, it is constantly full with all the rain we have had. I haven't had to make a trip to the creek for water in ages. And while I miss my quiet moments being a 'water bearer', there are so many beds that when they require water, there's really no time to dilly dally.

Have you ever tried drinking rainwater? Our barrel is food grade (from the Coca Cola plant down the road) and we filter the water through a Brita filter before drinking it. Rainwater tends to be more acidic and it definitely tastes a little different but in a good, refreshing, harvesting your own water kind of way. 

Another recent installment is the grape arbor. 
Modeled affer gothic arches, my husband designed this himself including figuring out how to weave the string through a series of holes drilled in the PVC pipes that make up the arches. The Concord and Niagara grapes are planted at each corner and will be guided up the woven string and trained so the harvest can be easily gathered from the inside. It makes our little farm stand out a bit!
And finally......prepare for a cute attack! 
He designed and built bunkbeds for our two dogs and cat. 
Space saver for pets! Kitty will be queen with her palace on top. Short legged doggie goes on the bottom and long legged doggie goes in the middle. Can't wait for them to try 'em out!

Time to turn in ya'll. I will leave you with one of my calendula in bloom. Because wow what a beaut!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Harvest Diary

After enduring a million tiny pricks I came out on the other side of the zucchini beds with this:
Our third basket of zucchini with a couple sungold cherries along for the ride. And oh no what's this?
Found some late blight on our gigantic tomatoes. FIGHT THE BLIGHT! Doused them with copper. 

Fall is in the air today and on the way around I found three Tigger melons:
I saved the seed from these little guys 6 years ago!  They sprouted and are flowering like mad. A nice tiny melon if you don't have tons of room. But the big guys are really spreading:
Pie pumpkin
Delicata honey boat squash
And Cinderella pumpkins followed by
Weee baby acorn squash. Every time I turn around they're bigger than the last time!  And I did manage me some flowers this year. 
Larkspur, one of my favs. 
And Johnny jump ups for nostalgia. 
In a few more weeks things are going to get a lot more interesting around here as the tomatoes, basil and beans start coming in along with all these squash. Farmers market here we come!!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Oh dear; have you forgotten about me?

Blogging is one of those things that my fingers itch to do sometimes but instead I end up scratching up more soil to plant more veggies.  That's the way isn't it?  Blogging is a discipline.  Farming is a discipline.  Matthew Kelley says the amount of happiness you have in your life is in direct proportion to how much discipline you have.  Think he's right?

The winter was long, as I'm sure you well know.  We hit the ground running on February 22nd and planted kale, lettuce, beets, carrots and a few other things in our little cold frame which had black plastic over it since last summer.  Think having black plastic down for 6 months kills all weeds?  You'd be wrong! Our arch nemesis, bindweed, is one tough cookie. 

 Basil! These are 2 ft tall now

We have had lots of reasons to be thankful this year. Retired neighbors who enjoy helping out in exchange for gas money, or strawberry rhubarb pies, or fresh zucchini and radishes. We are quickly learning that the generosity our neighbors show is not a one time thing. It's constant and comes with no strings, the way sincere generosity should be. Below is the area our neighbor plowed and disced for us so we could plant our three sisters mounds. 

The three sisters beds just before planting

And after

The corn in the center, pole beans outside that and squash in the edges. These are all about a foot tall now. We used sweet corn. Our friends came out for a day and with pleasant talk and fellowship, helped us plant all the mounds. 

The lovely little garden cart hubby made. He's very handy!
Completed strawberry beds with completed blueberry bed in the background. 

After all this success we got down to serious business with our building projects.  We finished the outhouse, a neighbor moved it over the pit (yay!) then we finished our little cabin by hanging the doors and making a couple stairs for it.  We now are staying in the loft inside for many days at a time while I work my job and hubby and I both work the farm.

Baby zucchini now look like this

My family came out in May for a few days and helped us out on the farm.  It was good to see them. They mowed and weeded and we had some fun too!

They helped us with the greenhouse.  I have a greenhouse now; can you believe it?  I can't.  It works very well and it was designed entirely by my husband to get the most light.  He done good!!
The completed greenhouse

We recently bought two small Meyer lemon trees and they and out goji berry live inside right now. I am itching to get in there and organize. 

On Sundays we go foraging. So far we've harvested numerous medicinal herbs, rushes for baskets, choke cherries, black raspberries, wild raspberries, ramps, tiger lilies, bee balm and blackberries.  There's so much food out there!
This black raspberry patch is on our farm and kept producing more and more. Great year for them!
Our elderberries flowering, it's their first year!  Tiny harvest this year but oh the smell of those flowers is my favorite. 

The following are random flower photos from our farm. And that does it for me folks. I will try to post more often but ya know, the life of a farmer can be unpredictable!  Enjoy and God bless!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Farm Life in Training

A very strange thing has been happening over the last few months. First it started with the water heater leaking. Next, the water pipes started leaking. Then the boiler stopped working. Now, I know what you are thinking: what hardship! I prefer to look at things another way.

To start with, getting hot water has become a chore. Or has it? We turn the water on at the valve in the attached garage, come inside and fill up three two liter bottles, a basin at the sink, a stock pot and usually the kettle, then we go back out and shut off the valve. This all takes maybe five minutes. Hardship? Or training for a farm life where water will be fetched from am outdoor well, saved in buckets and a pitcher with a basin. Almost exactly how we will be living soon.

Then there's getting hot water. Surely very easy though time consuming. Simply setting the stock pot to boil, waiting and then dumping it in the sink to wash dishes once it is hot enough. Or for a bath, four pots of boiling water dumped in the bath tub, add cold 'to taste' and soak. Hardship? Or training for a farm life where getting hot water will either involve boiling water or sun warming it in the summer. Again, almost exactly like how we will be living soon.

And finally, heating our home. The boiler has to have air bled from the line daily and sometimes two to three times a day. This involves going out to the attached garage, playing with some water and air valves for a couple seconds, then closing things up. It also involves checking the thermostat periodically throughout the day to see if the boiler needs tended to, tended, like you would the flame of a wood stove. Hardship? Or training for the farm?

It took a little time for us to see things this way. First it was annoying, then it was novel and now it is simply normal. Why not get everything fixed you ask? Well, true we may have to eventually. We will be selling this house this year and some things will have to be fixed to make it marketable and some will not. In the end, these little inconveniences have boosted our confidence that not only are we doing the right thing (I rarely think things are coincidence), but that we can figure out ways to make things work, plumbing or not, boiler or not, hot water heater or not.

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