Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lettuce Water Rescue

The weather forecast said 100% chance of rain today and they were right. But Beth and I managed to stay dry most of the morning thanks to our greenhouse duties, despite all the drips and leaks that our poor greenhouse is victim to. Beth sowed eggplants and a couple varieties of bell peppers -- purple and brown! I didn't even know bell peppers came in those colors and each is supposed to have a unique flavor. Can't wait. I sharpened the hand scythe (how much I like a sharp blade) and took it too the long grass that had taken over some of the green house corners. I've never sharpened a blade like this before, but now that I've got the hang of it I'm looking forward to sharpening the machete I picked up in Costa Rica. I just used a pretty fine file and worked it toward the blade at about a 20ยบ angle. Okay sorry to get all boring on you. I just really have a thing for sharp blades. Anyways, after that I ventured out into the rain and rigged up a pretty effective tent covering for the lettuce that I just transplanted outside yesterday into the cold frames. I'd hate for them to get hit by the cold. It might even snow tonight. Could get 3-5". We'll have to wait and see. Well, by the time I had it all covered with the help of a large clear tarp, some stones, hay and a few logs, I managed to keep most if not all of the standing water from crushing the lettuce. Hopefully I'll be able to say the same tomorrow if we get any snow. Now I'm in by the fire. Beth made a delicious beef stroganoff. We followed that with one of her homemade lemon tarts and some tea. It should be a cozy rest of the day.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sowing Peas

The rain came down today hard and fast. With winds gusting from the south, slurping down the hill from behind our cabin, rattling the greenhouse, shooing the clouds along. But not before we sowed the first seeds of the year in the garden -- peas. Giant Swiss Snap Peas. And rows of snow peas. Here's something interesting -- a convenient rule of thumb -- seeds like to be sown their diameter deep. So that's what we did with the peas. We planted them 2 inches apart and about 1/2" - 3/4" deep. Bethanie, Bobbi, and Emily were so excited about getting these green little balls in the ground. I was less excited about the idea of planting peas and just excited about planting something. Peas and me don't get along. I don't mean like they upset my stomach. More my pallet. I can't stand their mush. But maybe snap peas in the pod with change my mind this year. I'm always up for tossing aside my old eating habits. So bring it on peas!

We spent the afternoon, after a delicious lunch of shepherd pie (made with organic beef, not the traditional lamb), transplanting tomatoes (dark beefsteak and another beautiful little one with a golden stem) and then flowers that will eventually be forage for the bees. All the while the rains shook our leaky greenhouse as we shuffled from one table to the next trying to find a drip-free zone to do our work in. A beautiful day on the farm. Rain and all. And now I'm going to drink tea and read a bit... maybe study up on my knot tying.

Bethanie watering seedling bunching scallions.

A shot of our greenhouse. Beyond the door there is the heated end.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Our New Home

We arrived at Spikenard Farm safe, sound and, well really, sad to say goodbye to my dad. We'd been staying with him off and on for the past couple months and it had really been a pleasure. He'd made us feel so comfy in his place with a massive inflatable bed that you really couldn't tell was inflatable and with tons of good, healthy food. Leaving his place and going to meet a completely new experience like, eh hem, becoming farmers was intimidating.

The past week and a half, though, has been solidly good. We're starting to feel more comfortable with our roles here and ourselves, and starting to settle in. We have a log cabin and, yes, it is idyllic. It feels very nice to have a place that we know we'll be in for a while, so we have pictures of family and friends tacked up to our bedroom walls, postcards from Europe taped to the rafter in the loft, our books on a bookstand that Bhads built!, the piece of fabric Molly brought me back from Ghana on the table, little knick-knacks we picked up on our travels like the little plastic elephant we found on the streets of Krakow and the nesting doll one of my students gave me, my Baby Jane doll, lots of my mom's stuff that she so sweetly donated. With time, it will feel like home.

So let me introduce a few of our fellow farmers. This is Emily. She's staying with us in the other bedroom for a bit while her yurt is getting a stove. We all love those stoves. She's really good at starting fire in our stove, here. We're doing the market garden apprenticeships, while she's doing the beekeeping apprenticeship. So she'll be here through November, too. She's a sweet gal and interesting to talk to. I'm really starting to admire what the bees do for us. And she's excellent at cooking veggies!

Alex (left) and Bobbi (under) are the other younger couple on the farm, who we found out are also pregnant too! It's pretty sweet having someone to talk to about the joys and the woes and the weirdnesses of being with child. And they both have great senses of humor, so we end up with deep belly laughs when we're around them. We've been helping them with the wood chipper this past week. Well, actually, Bhads has been doing the chipping and I've mostly been hauling limbs and sticks. Yes, a glorified "picking up sticks." Good thing I had so much practice when I was younger.

Sheila is a dog. She lives with Bobbi and Alex and is hilarious. When she greets you, it's with a mix of spazzy energy and meekness. She gets obsessed easily, loves to be squirted in the mouth with a water hose, kills all kinds of small rodents and then leaves them all over the farm, and is in love with Booster. At the moment, she's in heat, and also Booster is without his naughty bits, he still has something in him for Sheila. It's pretty funny to watch them try to figure that one out. But they are the best of friends already and are quickly forming the farm's first pack.

I don't have any pictures yet of Vivian and Gunther, the creators of the farm. The two of them live in the cabin next to ours, and are just lovely people. Vivian is thoughtful and cheery and is so supportive of us already. Just so warm. We actually haven't seen Gunther very much since he's been away. But from the impression we got when we visited here in February, he's very much like his wife in those ways.

We're doing very well. I just had a dinner of peanut butter toast on homemade whole wheat bread with the best honey I've ever had. Bhads is sitting by the fire studying up on knots. He's getting really good at them and has been rigging up all sorts of stuff all over the farm. Booster is on the bed, curled up on a blanket (go figure). And I think I'm about to go up in the loft and read a bit before bed. It's been a good day.


Mister Booster, what's your news, sir?

Well, mister Booster's news is big this time. He's gonna be a big brother! The official word is out: we are pregnant.

Right now we're finishing up the 12th week, the last of the first trimester. It's been a relatively easy first 3 months--minimal nastiness to report. However, feeling like you have 20 lb weights on all your limbs does make the farm work that much more challenging. But we have good boots (we splurged and now look like real farmers). I'm already feeling my energy come bouncing back and I'm looking forward to the majority of my days being bouncy. If you really want to know about cravings, you know, I haven't had them since leaving Tulsa. I was craving Knotty Pine (chopped beef oh-my-gosh-good sandwich) and we did pull off the road for an emergency Piccadilli lunch of chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, mac and cheese (ahh!) and peach cobbler. Since then I've been eating a lot of sauerkraut and pickles, but not really ravenously craving them. They're just good.

So the little one is due September 24th. Don't worry, we have names picked for a girl or a boy; but, sorry, they're secret! I know, we have to be difficult, huh? But you can rest assured, the Bs stop here. We can't be one of those families who have 3 kids and they're named Betsy, Bobby, and Bertrand. We are cheesy, that is known, but you kind of have to draw the line somewhere.

Love to you all!