Friday, April 29

Husbands

I don't want to be one of those people who complain about their husband as if they were sure they could do a better job without them. I am lucky to have such a wonderful man in my life and I can only wish that any of you who have not already found the homesteading man of your dreams will have good fortunes coming your way.

That said, I want to re-visit the word "wonderful". Roy is wonderful - 98.9% of the time. He is a hard worker, a great father, and a great provider. However, husbands can sometime do really damn dumb things.

I'm not talking about the little things that annoy every wife like muddy shoes, leaving the cap off the toothpaste or wet bath towels hung on the back of a wooden chair. I am talking about the things that really turn a home upside down for a little bit.

Please don't worry, everything is ok. I have yelled plenty. I have just been reminded of something I used to live by - you never REALLY know a person. I have become so comfortable after almost 12 years of marriage that I have let all my little protective walls come down. And that only leads to getting knocked on your butt a few times. The question is, do I want to invest in some new cement and bricks or do I want to risk being on my butt once and a while?

Tuesday, April 19

A Little Break

Being totally overwhelmed by spring chores, toddler care, being pregnant and other things, I am going to take a little break from the blog. Not for very long, just until I get caught up.

Stay with me!

Thursday, April 14

The End of the Trumpet Vine



Trumpet vines are beautiful things.

When we moved here there were two growing on the big old barn, one on each east-facing corner. They take a little while to get going in the spring but once they start, they seem to bloom overnight. The humming birds love them and the starlings that build nests in the eves of the barn roof use the branches when they come in for a landing.

It's pretty to look at growing and blooming up the sides of the barn and repeated requests from Roy to take it down were totally ignored by yours truly. His argument was that is was growing into the metal track that the barn doors slid open and closed on and it kept knocking the doors off when we tried to open them.

He is just being picky, I thought.

Then we had the roof on the barn re-shingled and the roofers said "You should take that vine down. It is getting big and growing up under the eves and such."

They just don't appreciate the beauty of a good vine, I thought.

The vine kept growing and expanding at a fast rate and last fall the one was spreading to cover over half of the eastern-facing side of the barn. The one on the other corner had been "pruned" by Roy.

Last April I knew, and admitted to myself that things were getting out of control.

As much as I loved the vine, it had to go. Pieces of barn wood started falling off after being pried loose by the vine and I could see it starting to grow up and get into the cracks in the stone.

So last weekend we got the saw and cut the very thick bases of the main vines. Roy proceeded to take them all down, having to get out the extension ladder to get all of the bits. (Roy hates to get out the extension ladder, so that tells you how much he wanted to get rid of this vine).

I still have all those roots in the ground and we will deal with them as I start more cleaning out of the gardens. (and maybe I will let one little vine grow just a little).

Wednesday, April 13

Worth It

When I was in the basement hooking up the grow lights a little while ago, Roy came down and asked me if I really wanted to have a garden this year. His argument was the time and labor involved, and being able to do the work with a toddler and being pregnant. I was kind of shocked in that he is always the one going on about hating tomatoes from the grocery store, and given that I was about to start my tomatoes, this was kind of ironic.

I asked him if he wanted pesticides in his tomatoes and he said no. I asked him if he wanted to have them ripen in the vine instead of in a truck en route from somewhere in California. He said no. I asked him, even though we like the farmers market, would he rather buy tomatoes that may or may not have chemicals in them and pay a lot for them. Again, he said no. Then I asked why he was even thinking about not having a garden.

We got into a conversation about how much it costs to run the lights and the water to take care of the garden and the time and effort on my part to tend to the garden. I understand where he is coming from with this but I also know that if I order the seeds from a place that I trust, and if I grow those seeds in soil that I know is not chemically treated or contaminated, and if we can have these healthy, sustainable food items from our own back yard, it was worth the cost of the lights and the water.

Plus, I enjoy it. I really enjoy gardening. Every season I am still amazed that a small envelope of tiny little seeds can produce pounds and pounds, of, well, produce.

An article in the Oct/Nov 2010 issue of Mother Earth News has a quote that kind of sums this up for me. It is from an article called Create an Edible Landscape by Rosalind Creasy "Food from your yard requires no shipping, little refrigeration, and less energy to plow, plant, spray and harvest the produce. You know which chemicals, if any, you use. Fully ripe, just-picked, homegrown fruits and vegetables, if eaten soon after picking, have more vitamins than supermarket produce that was usually picked under-ripe and is days or weeks old when you eat it."

Kind of makes it all seem worth the work.

Monday, April 11

So Much To Do.....



Yesterday was a good day. An offer for all-day child care was gratefully accepted and we set to work on various house and yard projects that needed attention. Roy spent most of the day pressure washing the lead paint off the front porch. He had spent house scraping and removing what he could, mask on and giving strict orders to stay away from the entire front yard. He is quite fanatical about lead paint. The pressure washer took care of dust and helped make sure the porch was clear of chips, and I think Roy just loves using the thing. Now the porch is ready to repaint and it looks a lot bigger without all my "outdoor decorations" on it.

My day started with a tour of the yard to assess the damage and prioritize my projects. I started by the pine trees and noted that our brush pile has outgrown the area we designated for "brush pile." The neighbor and his tractor can push the pile into the woods and we can let it rot and compost without having it spill over into the yard.

I also noticed the gray and white feathery remains of what was once a bird, who met an untimely, unfortunate and probably most unpleasant death recently. Nothing but a pile of fluffy feathers.

Leaf raking is on the top of the list as we did not get it all done last fall. All of the garden beds have accumulations of dead brown leaves which will all be raked shortly. a few of the flower gardens will be taken out this season and their contents replanted in other gardens. I was a bit too ambitious when I put them all in and through endless weeding and trying to mow around them, I have a few that can go back to grass.

The main chore was to till the vegetables gardens and to mix in all the composting straw and chicken poo that was cleaned out of the coop from this past winter. Now the gardens look ready to plant and I may start the onions today or tomorrow. Before tilling I managed to save some wild strawberry plants that seem to just come up where ever they feel like. I may put in a raised bed just for strawberries since they spread and annoy me.

Much more to do but since I am just about over the morning sickness, it seems possible. And the seeds are germinating fast that I expected! The broccoli and tomatoes are all sprouting which makes me a little scared. I dread the thinning process and having the plants ready to go before the weather cooperates.

But if that is the worst thing that happens for a little while, I'll gladly accept it.

Thursday, April 7

Better Late Than Never

I finally got my tomato, pepper and broccoli seeds started the other day, a little late but I am sure they will be ready to transplant when the time comes. Cheese was very curious about the whole process since I decided to do this particular starting on the kitchen table, with plenty of old towels of course. She was mostly into observing and supervising until she just couldn't help it anymore. Here she is "re-planting" a section of Roma tomato seeds.



All the cats are always interested in the seed process every year. I have my grow lights safely locked in a small basement room which holds the furnace, which provides some heat since it still kicks on a few times a day. And the "Seed Starting Room: NO Cats" sign on the door should be enough to let them know they are not allowed explore.

This did not stop Cheese one year as she managed to eat the tops off of all my pepper sprouts.



I got everything downstairs and set up, but could not manage to find my spray bottle. Turns out Roy had used it over the winter to mix some orange-smelling cleaner for the pellet stove window so I was off to the store to get a new one. I picked light green since I thought it might inspire the plants to grow faster.

Here is what I have started so far:
Sweet Pepper
Hot Pepper
Red Pepper
Calabrese Green Broccoli
Beefsteak Tomato
Roma Tomato
Brandywine Red Tomato
Sweetie Cherry Tomato
Sungold Select Tomato

Wednesday, April 6

44 degrees and raining

Although the calendar on my wall says it is April 6th today, the temperature and weather in general does not seem to know that it is supposed to be spring. Chilly, windy and now it is raining, and I am seriously wondering if I can handle any more of this questionable weather. I do have a few things popping up in the yard and the garden and their light, bright green shoots are giving me reason for hope. Looking out in the garden and seeing them among last falls unraked leaves and the brown and dead mess of things that did not get cleared out before the first snow fell - it is just what I need. The morning sickness is finally starting to taper off - slowly - and I am getting a little energy back. So much so that I managed to start seeds the other day! Let's just make it to Easter and hope the sun shines a little before then.