A few days ago I ran into a young woman at the pool. Worry is a big word and I did not worry for her, but I wondered if my perception was true. She was a fast swimmer about 16 by my estimate and I mentioned to her she was the quickest swimmer I ever have seen, though she denied it could be true.
Today she was slower in the waters. Our small talk for her probably was unexciting, but in her tired eyes I saw a person so like me at that age I wanted to tell her my life story, teach her all the lessons, but of course, in stead, I let her do her thing. People here at the Y and often on this earth do their thing and sometimes let their thing, the pattern of it sometimes govern their life in a way that is not free.
I asked her for a conversation. I told her I wanted to teach her a lesson, and though she found it odd, she was not concerned. Luckily she had been my student as a sub one time. She took a rain check on the conversation and I let her go, but a part of me was remembering. A part of me was remembering how much pain I went through just after being so much like her.
I had said to her it is ok to slack, but she denied that she tries too hard. She mentioned she seeks balance in parts of her life but pushes harder in swimming and grades and cleaning. But slacking as much as I meant is something that takes years to really feel as an accomplishment. I really am terribly hard working. I was just using the term slack to get to something I knew must be true for her.
In her tired eyes I saw a life that could easily be governed by patterns aiming at accomplishment that never really breath or play or give herself time to feel completely entirely lost but ultimately find a much more true and genuine self. Walking away from the pool I wondered what great and sad things will happen to this girl. I wished her all the best.
Then I trod off into the air knowing more than ever I have something special here in my own life that most people do not see or understand is there. But that is ok with me!
We're getting a little behind
schedule on our firewood cutting.
The Oregon battery powered chainsaw has been my main saw since the gas powered Stihl developed compression problems and had to be put out to pasture.
I don't usually bore you
with too many book posts, but I'm hoping you'll bear with a bit more
publishing news. First of all, if you missed last week's summer sale post, Homegrown Humus is marked down to 99 cents for one more day, you've got two days left to snap up Thrifty Chicken Breeds on sale, Pasture Basics went on sale this morning, and Growing into a Farm will join the 99-cent ranks on Thursday.
But that's not what I really want to tell you about this afternoon. Instead, I'm escaping the world of homesteading for a few minutes in order to share Aimee Easterling's big news. I've been helping Aimee publish her novels through Wetknee Books, and one of those titles is now included in a box set that went on sale this morning. For a limited time, you can snap up all 21 novels for only 99 cents, meaning that even speed readers like me could have a whole month of reading for less than a buck. What a great deal!
The overarching goal is
to help the box set hit the USA Today and New York Times bestseller
lists. We have the first of these in the bag (we hope), but it's going
to take some serious book-selling if we want Aimee to be able to call
herself a New York Times bestseller.
To that end, I hope you'll take a minute to share the news with anyone who enjoys paranormal fantasy. And, if you wrote a review of Shiftless when it first went live, I hope you'll take a minute to copy and paste that review over onto the box set page. Then email me with a link to your review by the end of the day today and I'll put your name in the hat. One lucky reviewer will be receiving signed paperback copies of both of Aimee's werewolf books (or, if you prefer, of The Naturally Bug-Free Garden and The Weekend Homesteader). I hope that sweetens the pot and makes you more likely to spend three minutes at the keyboard this afternoon.
Book sales are what give me the leisure to experiment in the garden all day and share my learnings with you, so I really appreciate your efforts to make Aimee's box set a success.
And thank you so much for bearing with this commercial break!
Every mood I tried
to capture with paint
I learned that some things
are truly impossible,
that the cabbage white butterflies
and the question marks and commas
transform before me
into locust leaves or flakes of frost and snow
everything changes so quickly
that very reason
is why I paint in complimentary colors.
I see red so I paint green.
Nothing remains. We all are shadows
testifying to yesterday.
Between morning and
evening milkings Saturday, I collected my mom and went back in time to
the nineteenth century. The age of steam!
Back when steam trains were starting to go out of style, the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum
started buying up engines and passenger cars in an effort to keep at
least a few of these old-timey trains on the rails. They renovated the
steam trains, and now you can take short or slightly longer trips behind
a coal-powered locomotive. When I saw that a day trip was leaving from
Bristol (1.25 hours from our farm and a five minute walk from my mom's
house), I was hooked. My summer adventure had been decided!
After enjoying the rush
of watching the steam locomotive back the train up to the historic
Bristol train station, Mom and I climbed aboard and settled in to watch
the scenery pass by. Although we were paralleling a minor highway (11E)
the whole way, it was intriguing to see the countryside from a different
perspective. Even just a few miles from the highway, the landscape was
pastoral, full of cattle pastures, ancient farm houses, and the
occasional backyard garden.
I'm pretty sure I noticed someone emulating Salatin's egg-mobile along with an example of Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening method.
There were blooming mimosas and trumpet vines, one wild deer, and at
least a hundred interested people parked at crossroads with cameras in
hand, ready to record the steam locomotive's charismatic presence (and
to wave us on our way).
About halfway through the
journey, Mom and I decided it was time to explore! So we set out to
walk to the commissary car in the middle of the train, four cars
forward. I loved the gaps between cars, where you could hear the wheels
turning beneath you and felt closer to the world whooshing by outside.
And then, before we knew it, we'd reached our destination --- the tiny town of Bulls Gap, Tennessee. It felt like all 719 residents were involved in welcoming us with a festival erected in our honor. There were tents full of sale items, two museums opened for our perusal, and a delightful bluegrass band playing live music.
Yes, with nearly a
quarter of the town's population living below the poverty line, I'm sure
the goal was to grab some much-needed tourist dollars. But the event
had the feel of a down-home welcome anyway, and Mom and I dove right in.
The museums were a little too packed for comfort (at least for this introvert), but the homeplace of Archie Campbell
was more my style. The house is furnished with period stoves, beds, and
other paraphernalia, and nothing is marked as hands-off. You can play
with the wringer washer and hand-cranked record player and can pick
through ancient packets of flower seeds to enjoy the artwork. If you're
ever in the area, I recommend dropping by Bulls Gap to see for yourself.
Back in the melee of
tents, Mom picked up a book by a local herbalist (which came with a free
plant), and then we marveled over a scene painted on a saw blade. The
section photographed above shows the very engine we rode into town
We were allotted an hour
in Bulls Gap, which was just about right. Although the train folks
kindly provided us box lunches before we reached our destination, I'd
also packed homegrown goodies since I don't trust the outside world to
feed me properly anymore. So Mom and I munched on cucumber sticks,
blueberries, and brownies, washing it down with slowly-thawing jars of
frozen goat's milk. I felt a bit bad for the folks trying to sell us hot
dogs, popcorn, and soft drinks...but, really, which snack would you
And then engine 4501 pulled back into the Bulls Gap downtown and we climbed aboard.
(Here's an extra photo of Mom with her plant in front of the locomotive, just because.)
The ride home was quieter as we all drifted back into the beauty of the surrounding scenery.
And just when I was
starting to think that Abigail would be pissed if I was gone much
longer, we pulled up to the Bristol station in a pounding rain. Maggie
had kindly brought the car down to pick us up so we didn't get soaked,
and she'd cooked up Lamb Chop's right front leg into a delicious supper.
But more on that later since this post is already far too long. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed coming along for the ride!
crayons break every day
if we knew the numbers
we could never play
they don't make crayon boxes how they used to
and have you seen the button jar
maybe you have one
but if you don't there is hope for you still
outside the box there is a human
waiting to export emotion
on some blank sheet
It doesn't matter where you are
how much damage has been done
rich or poor,
surrounded by passengers for a train
or alone waiting for the umbrellas.
Did you teach a child birding?
Did you walk that dirt and gravel road
so your dogs could run free?
Did you take off your shoes
or replace the bandages to ease the pain?
As long as you are here
waiting for the curtain to draw
moments melting together like hot crayons.
I know you can figure out how to milk the sky.
I know you can do the right thing.
There is never a reason to worry.
Just let music stream
color in the dark bold shapes
rainbows on lenses.
In my recently researched understanding, the phenomena of emergence is this way of thinking about how the whole can be larger than the sum of its parts. This huge simple idea is very close to how my conception of God began to evolve. It is a scientific explanation behind ants and birds making collective decisions in the blink of an eye. Emergence in terms of plants and bacteria also makes up our world. In fact water is one of the main substances that easily exhibits emergence. You know how how bodies are composed of cells (and lots of microbial bacteria)? Well there is something bigger happening than a bunch of cells all toppling on top of one another, more than the order and arrangement. My cells all make up this beautiful person with a name and a personality. Who is Maggie? I am not just the sum of my parts, I am so much more!
In my world, when I started to think about God, I let in huge thoughts like this, that God could be something in the very process of evolution. Then for a while I considered all matter, decomposition and death, as a sweet next step for the human body. We become butterflies and snowflakes. Our blood separates and washes away. Somehow this comforted me. But when I started thinking of myself as a Quaker, I considered their huge belief that we are all children of God, or more relevantly, that we all have God in us. I liked the sound of that because it made all humans equal in a justice sense. But it seems a bit forces and dumbed down to me now. I love the Quaker religion, and there are tons of Quaker scientists, but when I talk to Quaker Friends, I hear things too often in terms of clichés. Even the justice expression "that of God in each of us" seems to me overused because it is not an original thought adding to the conversation each time.
New thoughts matter to me because I want to be excited about what I am thinking from the science of emergence to God.
runner beans are over 7 feet tall.
I'll bet they could go as high as 50 feet under the right conditions?
I often use garden weeds
to hold down newspaper or cardboard kill mulches around berries or to
lower weed pressure under large fruit trees. But the weeds were growing
faster than I could use them in June, so this week I gathered up two
days worth of weeds to make a compost pile.
The photo above shows the pile before I added a bucket of bokashi-food-scraps and another two wheelbarrow-loads of weeds on top. Next up --- daily urine deposits to start rotting down the relatively high-carbon compost pile. It sure was fun to mound up my weeds, so I might make another compost pile next week!
In other soil-related news, Mark had the bright idea of solarizing
the last remaining weed patch within our core homestead. This area gets
mowed maybe once a year, and in between it tends to grow up into
blackberries and ragweed. My hard-working husband whacked the weeds to
the ground and then we laid down a sheet of plastic to see if this
technique can work its magic in an area with much higher weed pressure
than we've tried it on previously.
And now that you've seen
the weediest parts of our core homestead, I'll end with a happier photo
--- the summer's first green beans. Sauted with homegrown garlic and a
bit of salt, they were delicious!
Being granted the right to sit in a nice office with a person who specializes in compassion for an hour every two weeks is something that means a lot to me. Meeting a new therapist has been traumatic for me to many times. So when I lived in Virginia, it was with unbounded appreciation to find a LSW who would not judge me, who looked sympathetically upon my condition, who offered steady insights and helped me think better on my own two feet. For a long time I saw that therapist, crossing state lines to see her, paying unfortunate copays, all in old cars that made me uneasy. When I found out insurance will not cover my seeing her, I did cry a lot because of the loss. I harvested a flower for her office that resembled her artificial flower. Delivering it to her office gave me hope.
My new therapist was a bit of a surprise. After two horrible trial runs with two miserable therapists, I had about given up that found hope. Then a couple leads delivered me to an amazing acquaintance with a practice a block from my house. I spent a huge percentage of our first appointment in mutual laughter, like 50 percent of the hour, head back in laughter, with another person who actually finds me funny. (I feel it is important to say he is a man who is pretty much married to another man, and on this special day after love's victory, he hopefully is technically married.) How wonderful it is to have a platonic person with a shared sense of and apreciaton of my kind of humor! If I was just to remark on the first couple sentences, it would be clear he is a fabulous therapist too. His first words to me were that he doesn't like to dredge up old stuff unless they really need brought up.
I don't know if other people would comprehend our jokes but I will give it a try. For example I was kind of explaining my place in things with a sarcastic joking witty angle of speech and he caught on right away and laughed out loud many times. "Well it's not like I live with my mother. I mean I am rolling in dough. I mean it's not like I had to walk here. I forget which new car I brought this time actually." I must say the irony was dripping out of me and he really got it. I actually checked and he did get it! I said I was a "superior kind of crazy" in this play on grandiose. Sure you'd of had to of been there but these are examples, and the thesis here is: Telling jokes with a therapist my first session is more fulfilling than crying over old pains and basically rocks, especially when I am not the only one laughing. And I wasn't!
I think research should be done on this method of therapy. Crying is a release, but there is something honest and gritty about laughter, and it releases emotions too. Since I cannot have the first good therapist for a while, I just want my readers to know I have found something equally brilliant, something that feeds my soul, and though I may have tears this time around - I am laughing.
I used to write letters
to a few college friends and family members long-hand. The trouble is
that, in this age of computers, writing by hand feels terribly slow, so
we all got behind in our correspondence and began to consider the
letters a chore. Plus, it's hard to fill a letter with unique
information now that I share 90% of my daily thoughts with the world on
Enter the postcard. This summer, I've been playing with these beautiful botanical postcards, dashing off a line whenever I think of it and sending them to all and sundry. Paper correspondence quickly became fun once again!
The first few weeks, it
felt like I was fishing. I'd send out postcards to people I hadn't heard
from in a while...then wait to see if they'd bite. My mom and I soon
settled into a weekly postcard routine, and my grand-niece and
grand-nephew came through with the amusing replies above. Glad I'm not
the only one who likes strawberries!
I know this post has very little to do with homesteading. But the moral is --- if something used to be fun but became a chore, shake it up and make it fun again! And, if you can't think of your own unique spin, you could do far worse than joining me in the summer of the postcard.
One of the most joyful parts of having our herd whittled back down to two is that I can return to morning tethering. I still take the girls out for their woodland grazing in the evening, so now I just tether until Abigail grows bored about an hour into her grazing period. To me, our doe doesn't look full after sixty minutes of tethering, but I have to accept that our goat knows what she wants.
Which isn't to say that
our pair of capricious beasties don't stop for a few more mouthfuls of
succulent treats on the way back to the coop. Here, Lucy is reminding
the goats that the porches (a couple of feet to the left of the photo)
belong to her.
A few mouthfuls of
alfalfa make a good post-breakfast dessert. Then back to the coop to nap
and chew their cuds until after the humans' dinner. Such a fun way to
start the day, with an hour weeding beside the goats!
from last week moved back
into that same pear tree.
Maybe I should've burned them like Sheila suggested, but this time I just walked them a lot further from our perimeter.
The photo above shows the results of two different solarization experiments. On the right, two-week-old soybeans are happily growing in ground that used to be a mass of ground ivy prior to solarization
(begun two weeks before planting). The weeds have nearly completely
decayed into the soil and the soybeans appear to be thriving. There are a
few smartweeds coming up from seeds, but none of the perennial weeds
have regrown at all.
On the left, you can see a newly solarized area, the ground-ivy debris still lying dead on the soil surface. I could have ripped up those weeds by hand, but the bed would have lost all of that organic matter and my fingers would have been exhausted afterwards. Instead, five minutes of work results in richer soil ready for a round of cover crops.
I've been pretty
tentative with my solarization experiments so far because I initially
didn't buy into the technique. But with so many successes under my belt,
I asked Mark to buy me another roll of clear plastic and am preparing
half of our brussels sprouts beds using the lazy-gardener method. The
photo above shows a bed that used to be weedy lettuce (full of red
clover), which I scythed, then topdressed with soiled goat bedding, and
(after the photo was taken) covered with a sheet of clear plastic. I'm
excited to see what the soil will look like in three weeks when the
brussels sprouts are ready to go into the ground. Maybe solarization
will become my fast-and-easy soil prep step in future garden years?
I paint because there is something about painting
that beats talk therapy, writing, and sometimes even trumps swimming.
I paint because Jamie said I look to the birds and I should paint the birds
and I never have ever caught one and a bird is to be free.
I paint because I CAN mix colors but I often chose not to.
I paint to see if my Mom knows which way's up.
I paint because my sister said I could have that one thing.
I don't paint.
The brush manipulates its way into my hand,
color slaps onto its tip
and art steals my heart so it pours on out.
Like a bucket of water on an ocean of waves,
like a bucket of water on an ocean of waves!
your chance to snap up four of my ebooks at a dramatically reduced
price! You'll need to mark your calendar, though, to catch each sale on
the proper day.
I start off today, June 24, with Homegrown Humus marked down to 99 cents.
Tomorrow, June 25, I'll bring you Thrifty Chicken Breeds at 99 cents.
We'll take the weekend off so you have time to digest this week's cheap books. Then next Monday, June 29, we'll jump back on the sale bandwagon with Pasture Basics marked down to 99 cents.
And we'll finish our sale next Thursday, July 2, when Growing into a Farm is also 99 cents.
As a side note, if you want to be reminded on each of these sale dates, you'll see my books in Buck Books' daily newsletter during this time period. Click here to subscribe and find lots of other 99-cent books too!
Finally, in case you're interested, I'm currently hard at work on The Ultimate Guide to Soil, which will reach you in ebook form this winter and in print form next summer. One of the holes in my rough draft is container gardening --- I haven't done much of it but know that many people only have space for a few pots on their patio. If you've got some great photos and tips about container gardening that you'd like to share, I hope you'll take a minute to email me back and I may include your information in the final book.
Thanks for letting me take a day out of my usual round of gardening geekery and goat gallivanting for a bit of shameless self-promotion. I hope you enjoy the books!
High Board Winner
Swan Dive Swan Dive
Cracked Broken Spine
Bored Emergency Room Workers
Heal Heel Hell Hole Only Only Time
Blame Guilt Agony Why?
Waiting Patience Patients Who Am I?
Crack Sound Trauma
Fear Of Water
Fear of Heights
Fear of Liberated Rights
Time Heals Whole
How Suture Spine?
Disbelief In Time
High Dive Anguish
Ease In Swimmer
Time Does Cure
How do you inspire love?
Do you get love by giving?
About ten minutes ago I figured out the answer. When your heart is broken, give it away. When your voice is strained sing a lullaby. When you are starving give food. When you feel forgotten remember.
Give give give.
One thing not many know or understand: hate and love are the same thing, strong emotion. The switch to both of them are deep in your heart. You are the only one who can work that lever.
So be a lover.
Anna has gotten so good at scything I decided to put her in charge of
our little hillside near the gully.
I think it's one of those occasions where the scythe is less calories burned compared to holding a weed trimmer at that angle.
As an omnivorous
homesteader, there comes a time when you have to put your money where
your mouth is and kill that animal. For our first trial with homegrown
red meat, we opted to take the halfway-house approach and drive Lamb
Chop to the butcher. But I'll admit I still shed more than one tear over
Honestly, I'd thought the
hardest part would be getting our buckling across the creek and into
the car, but he's used to following my lead. Yes, Lamb Chop and his
mother (and Artemesia) cried as if the entire world was on fire as I led
him away...but once I paused and let our buckling nibble on a mouthful
of leaves he forgot all about the herd in a heartbeat. Instead, he
followed me agreeably, submitted to being hoisted across the creek,
hopped up onto the tarp-covered backseat with a bribe of alfalfa
pellets, and then simply lay quietly with my arm across his back for the
Only when we emerged from
the car did he balk, and that was merely because the world was big and
scary with a highway only a few yards away.
Without much prodding, our kid followed me into the slaughter room. Then I took off his collar, and we drove away.
(That's when I cried.)
And, yes, the truth is
that I let myself love our first homegrown kid a little too much. Even
though he'd started harassing Artemesia (despite never quite finishing
the job) and headbutting my legs when we walked together (in jest...he
said!) and gnawing on my yoga mat (even though I continually pushed his
nose away), I nicknamed our buckling Choppy and scratched behind his
horns and let him lay down beside me as I read. Yes, despite protestations to the contrary, Lamb Chop and I were friends.
I expected Abigail to cry
all day after losing her kid, but the coop was ominously silent after
Mark and I got home. And I'll admit that I dreaded my usually
lusted-after evening grazing session that day --- I halfway expected our
doe to call me a murderer when I came out to play. Instead, she was
ready to eat, only looking up twice to call out Lamb Chop's name before
putting her mind back to the serious business of grazing.
It was quieter in the woods without Lamb Chop present, but more peaceful too. And I learned at dusk that our buckling had been getting two thirds of Abigail's daily milk. Choppy, I thought we'd agreed to go halfsies!
Which brings me back to
the reality of homesteading --- if you want milk, there are offspring
about once a year and 99% of the boys are really only good for meat.
(The world would overflow with wethers in short order if we castrated
all the males and tried to give them away as pets.)
So even though I shed a tear when I said farewell to Choppy, Mark and I still felt like we were doing the right thing. Next year, I'll probably be a little more distant with our kids...and maybe they'll be a little less magical in response. But as Tennyson said (about something else entirely), it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. So, for this year at least, I wouldn't have changed a thing.
We lost power yesterday about
an hour before sunset.
It only took a few minutes to hook up what might be the best DC fan money can buy.
I have tried several battery powered fans and this one is in a class by itself. The battery I used was from the old truck we took to the crusher over three years ago. I was surprised it still had enough charge to last all night on low...maybe I could've increased to the next speed without draining the battery.
I feel like such an
amateur at beekeeping, even though we've kept hives for six years now.
Which is my way of saying --- I messed up.
When I visited our bees a few days after our swarm-prevention split, I was pretty sure I knew which hive had kept the old queen. And I was 100% sure that the queen-right hive had swarm cells in it. But, I left the extra queen cells alone because...what if I was wrong about that hive having a mature queen? And what if I killed all of the colony's new potential queens and the whole hive bit the dust?
I should have been brave, though. Because one of those queens hatched out Friday afternoon. As a result, a tremendous mass of bees rose out of the hive with the old queen, sat for three hours on a very tall limb, then flew away. The photo at the top of this post captures the swarm when about 70% of the bees were still in the air, if that gives you an idea of how many bees flew the coop.
Which isn't the end of the world since the swarm's old home now boasts a new queen and at least some workers to carry them through. And the break in brood cycles is a sure-fire way of lowering varroa-mite levels. But it also dramatically lowers our chance of honey this year.
Now both mother and daugher hive are back on the sugar-water wagon for the foreseeable future as they raise new queens and get their feet back under them. Hopefully they'll at least go into winter as two healthy colonies...and by this time next year, the bees will be back in Langstroth hardware so I can manipulate them more easily and prevent future swarms.
And maybe in another decade or so, I'll stop feeling like such an an amateur apiarist....
It's a long shot...but we decided to try to propagate some Chicken of the Woods pieces in a bowl of wet corrugated cardboard.
Sometimes I get so
engrossed in the minutiae of homesteading that I forget to share the big
picture. So here's a disjointed post with a few photos of last week's
triumphs. Above --- the forest garden weeded and mulched, with tomatoes,
sweet potatoes, and butternut squash thriving.
completed...and three baby seckel pears discovered amid the foliage! I
guess that late frost didn't get quite all the blooms (although it did
twist the developing fruits a little).
Another happy surprise --- our hazel bush
is completely loaded! The only troubling fact? For the first time ever,
squirrels entered our yard last year, as evidenced by the dozens of
walnut seedlings I've been pulling out of various parts of the garden
this spring. Will the tree rats get our delicious nuts?
In the vegetable garden,
we're starting to hit the stage where there's so much produce that the
freezer and larder are slowly filling back up. The newcomer this week is
baby carrots, which I pull out to thin the beds. Nothing like carrots
to remind me of how much our soil has improved over the last nine years!
I hope you'll take a step back from frowning at the weeds and pests today to enjoy the beauty of summer. Now's a great time to take pictures so green they'll make your eyes pop in January. Happy solstice!
This is the first year we're growing mangel beets to feed our goats this Winter.
We harvested our cabbages
in three sittings this week because our bushel basket would only hold
four or five heads at a time. Plus, I learned that the goats will eat at
least some of the outer leaves, but that they're more interested if I
only bring up half a wheelbarrow-full at a time.
We'll eat some of these cabbages right away, then will freeze some and store some in the fridge to be added to harvest catch-all soup for winter. Unfortunately, despite last year's experiments with lactofermenting, we haven't come up with a fermented cabbage recipe that we enjoy.
On the plus side, goat cheese seems to feed our guts with the same bacteria and fungi you'd get in sauerkraut, and Mark notes that his tummy feels better this year than ever before. My stomach, on the other hand, never needs any help, presumably because of those gallons of dirt I ate as a child.
We had a problem today with
some aggressive hornets on a pear
There was a short debate on who would suit up and move the nest.
Anna wanted to do it but I had to pull the Head of the Household card and asked her to take pictures from a safe distance while I snipped the problem limb and threw the whole thing over a hillside.
I haven't seen a single tent caterpillar this year, but the fall webworms (Hyphantria cunea) have come to visit our farm for the first time ever. I'm not glad to see them.
Like tent caterpillars,
webworms hatch out in large groups and then spin webs around themselves
to protect their tender bodies. Since predators can't easily get to the
caterpillars inside, the insects make short work of leaves within their
webs. In our yard, the webworms have invaded the red raspberries,
elderberries, pears, and hazels.
The good news is, clipping off the affected limb and throwing it over the hill seems to do a pretty good job of protecting the plant in question. So I guess webworms are more of an annoyance than a scourge. They would have been even less annoying if I hadn't waited two weeks to identify and deal with them, afraid that a new and terrifying invasive had come to call!
The last trouble we had with
the ATV was it not going into All Wheel Drive.
We took it into the local mechanic and he figured out that the battery was too weak even though it started up on the second try.
It's been blazing hot, with highs in the mid nineties. So, after supper, the goats and I head to the creek for a cool-down.
I jump in one of the deep
holes while the herd looks on in horror. Actually, on day one, all
three goats ran up and down the bank and cried, "Please get out! You'll
drown! Or the alligators will get you!" No matter how much I explained
that naming one of our wettest areas "the alligator swamp" was poetic
license, they wouldn't calm down.
On day two, Artemesia was the only one worried about me, though. And by day three, the whole herd just quietly grazed along the shore, although my favorite little doeling did keep her eye on me the whole time. I guess it's handy to have a goat lifeguard, even if the water is less than waist deep.
By the time my core body
temperature has cooled down sufficiently to make life enjoyable again,
the goats are deep into their grazing cycle. This week, they're spending
their days in our poorest pasture, which wasn't even grazed by chickens
last year and which runs out of goat-friendly greens after about day 1.
I want the goats to keep depositing manure there, though, so I bring
tree branches each morning and drop by with cabbage and carrot leaves
midday. Still, by dinner time, the goats are hungry.
So I settle onto my yoga
mat with a book or a notebook (depending on my mood) and relax for an
hour or so. I know when each belly fills because the attached goat
drifts back to visit with me, and make trouble (Lamb Chop) or act cute
Of course, the herd isn't ready to go home until the herd queen is 100% full. So when Abigail makes an appearance and decides head butting is more fun than eating, I pack up and we walk back down the driveway to our core homestead.
The goats scurry
alongside with little or no verbal prodding, Artemesia often right at
heel with her ears perked back to make sure I'm still coming. The other
goats are less concerned about a human's presence, so they just make a
beeline for the coop where the deer flies they've accumulated will be
confused and will soon fly away.
And that's my post-supper
goat hour in a nutshell. The only part I left
out is the frolicking leap of goats 1, 2, and 3 down the hill at the
beginning, during which time they really do appear to be clicking their
heels together in joy. I'm still working on catching that on camera, so
you'll just have to imagine goat glee at 6 pm today.
Broke down car - WAlmaRt market side -parking lot bonsai oak tree -
sitting in a patch of dry moss - until a rock - a fossil catches my eyes -
what's this impression doing - here forget momentarily - long stretches -
just feeling fossil - as reading all world's books - all moments collect -
THIS WHOLE DAMN DESERT - parking lot - food-less grocery store -
my gas tank? my spirit? MY MEMORY OF LIFE LARGER THAN ME?
may take ages - listen the pavement - until pubic blades of thirsty moss -
listen ages longer - let the heat DANCE and SING - passages of desert bibles -
take the moment now - feel this mercy pleading growth - pray you last as long.
Got a few more beds of garlic harvested today before it got too hot.
For the past three years,
by this part of June, I've been keeping secrets from my husband. I'd
come in for lunch on Mondays disgruntled and would dread walking down
the tomato row. That's right --- my weekly pruning sessions inevitably turned into a game of fight-the-blight.
It's been drier this year, but based on neighborly reports, I think the real reason blight has yet to hit our farm is because I paid the big bucks for blight-resistant tomato varieties. I've been cutting off lower leaves so they don't drag on the ground, but otherwise have nothing to do during my Monday sessions except tying up stems that have grown a foot or more during the last week. Never mind the eventual yield, those pricey seeds have already paid for themselves in anti-depressant effect!
of the new tomato varieties act just the way you'd expect, but Plum
Regal seems to be a little odd. I've grown determinate varieties before,
but none have topped out so short --- right around knee high. To keep
the plants growing, I've taken to leaving the suckers in place since the
main stem seems to have already achieved its preferred height.
What's with the nasturtium? It's just another burst of happiness in the tomato zone this year! I planted our 2015 tomatoes in old hugelkultur beds, and one spot contained relatively unrotted wood that made it hard to dig tomato-planting holes. So I instead filled that gap with nasturtiums, borage, zinnias, and chamomile. It's fun to have a colorful collection of flowers in between two of my tomato plants!
"brown ocean" cyclone headed this way http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=3020
Plus: Perhaps my tomatoes won't dry up while I'm off camping. Minus: Camping...
Well, not the literal last
push, but I've caught up on as much backlog as
I can (142 messages remain) and spent today developing a few final features
before tomorrow's release.
Some of the newer things displayed by
git annex info were not included in
the --json mode output. The json includes everything now.
git annex sync --all --content will make it consider all known annexed
objects, not only those in the current work tree. By default that syncs all
versions of all files, but of course preferred content can tune what
To make that work well with preferred content settings like "include=*.mp3", it makes two passes. The first pass is over the work tree, so preferred content expressions that match files by name will work. The second pass is over all known keys, and preferred content expressions that don't care about the filename can match those keys.
Two passes feels a bit like a hack, but it's a lot better than
making nothing be synced when the a preferred content expression matches
against filenames... I actually had to resort to bloom filters to make the
two passes work.
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