Long Range Thinking

While planting Korean nut pines I began to think about the long term perspective our project requires. These trees might be productive in ten years. By then we’ll know if we should invest in more trees or mechanical shelling hardware. We also planted paw-paw, hardy almonds, peaches, apricots, persimmons, and more plums. Since things are getting hotter every year the almonds, peaches and apricots are an experiment we think will pay off.

Here is how I’ve thought about the pine nut miniature forest succession. The nut pines are easily sunburned when they are young so I’ve limbed up two Doug Firs in a pasture to give some sun access just inside the drip line. Hopefully this will serve like an eave on a passive solar house letting sun in on winter days and shading when the sun is higher in the sky during summer. I can always add shade cloth if I didn’t get it right.

I then cleared sod just behind the drip line. Rain should be able to ooze downhill from the outer edge.  I left a little wild strawberry. They like acid and won’t compete with the roots of the pines.

After planting the  little guy I topped with compost then cardboard to suppress the grass.


Then mulch with chips from the branches I pruned. This should keep the soil moist and build a “foresty fungus” in the right place.


In ten years three of these guys will be big enough to take over the spot. I left a clear spot at the back of the firs to let me drop them without damaging their young neighbors. We will always need lumber so the big firs will have nursed a new generation and will exist in a structure probably protecting animals.


You may think this kind of long term thinking is a gamble we may never see the outcome of.

Yet…  Three years ago we planted a peach.

And last fall I planted daffodils when L wasn’t looking.

…And today the sun came up, just like we expected it to.

Statistically speaking I have maybe 22 years left so I should have enough time left to see some of these experiments mature.

Long term thinking is as long as your perspective lets you imagine. Some things we do today will be around for a hundred or thousand years, long after our names are forgotten. Some will disappear tomorrow. I’m ok with both outcomes, I like trying.

 

Posted in Farming, Forest Management, Gardening, Sustainability | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Marion Nestle’s “The Farm Bill Drove Me Insane”

Just sharing this in case you haven’t stumbled across it yet.   I know it’s like “preaching to the choir” posting here but still think it’s well worth sharing.
The farm bill drove me insane
America’s top nutrition thinker tried to unpack the most important food law. It was a mistake.
By Marion Nestle
03/17/16 04:55 AM EDT
In fall 2011, in an act of what can be described only as hubris, I had the bright idea of teaching a course on the farm bill.
For nearly 25 years, I had been writing and teaching about food politics and policy at New York University, and I knew that the farm bill dictated not only agricultural policy, but also such things as international food aid and feeding the hungry in America. It had to be one of the most important laws affecting food systems—if you care about such matters, likely the most important. With the 2008 farm bill up for renewal, I wanted to know more about it, and professor that I am, I thought: What better way to learn something than to teach it?
Big mistake. From the minute I started preparing the course, I could see that the farm bill was going to be too big, bloated and sprawling for any one human mind to absorb, certainly not mine. At one point, I tried to catalog the hundreds of programs it covers, each with its own set of arcane stipulations and invested lobbyists. Beyond the obvious—that its agricultural programs are heavily slanted to benefit Big Agriculture—its details defeated me. My students, most of them enrolled in graduate programs in nutrition, food studies, public health, public policy or law, were deeply invested in farm bill issues but they too were soon overwhelmed. The bill not only lacked an overarching vision, but seemed designed to obfuscate how the programs actually worked.
I came away from this experience convinced that agricultural policy in our country is not only hazardous to public health and the environment, but also to American democracy. Democracy requires informed citizens. I suspect that few citizens, let alone members of Congress, have the vaguest idea of what is in this bill and how it works in practice. Even lobbyists and congressional staff are likely to know only the pieces they are paid to understand.
This is a shame, because the farm bill matters. It is crucial to practically everything about our food system: what crops get subsidized, how much foods cost, how land is used and whether low-income Americans have enough to eat. Whether you are rich or poor, much about your food choices is shaped by what’s in this bill’s 357 printed pages.
Given its stunning importance, you might think it would start with some kind of principle. Alas, you would be wrong. On the first day of class, I asked the students to tell me what they thought a rational agricultural policy should promote. They quickly came up with a handful of goals: provide sufficient food for the entire population at an affordable price; produce a surplus for international trade and aid; ensure an adequate income for farmers; provide farm workers with a living wage and decent working conditions; protect farmers against bad weather, volatile markets and climate change; promote regional, seasonal, organic and sustainable food production; conserve soil, land and forest; protect water and air quality, natural resources and wildlife; and raise farm animals humanely. Taken together, they describe a food system designed to promote the health of people and the planet.
A vision as idealistic as my students suggested would be a tall order by any standard, but the 2014 farm bill doesn’t even come close. If you examine how its incentives line up, you quickly see that it strongly favors the industrial agriculture of the Midwest and South over that of the Northeast and West; methods requiring chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides over those that are organic and sustainable; and commodity crops for animal feed and ethanol rather than “specialty” crops (translation: fruits and vegetables) for human consumption. Because its benefits are proportionate to production levels, it promotes crop overproduction. This makes food hugely competitive and forces the manufacturers of processed foods and drinks to do everything possible to encourage sales of their products. The result is a food environment that encourages overeating of highly caloric, highly processed foods, but discourages consumption of healthier, relatively unprocessed foods.
As a result of today’s intense public and professional interest in food issues, we now know a lot about how social forces drive food decisions. We know that overeating leads down the line to ballooning health care costs; we know that industrial farming depletes the soil and water that will someday be needed to feed our grandchildren. If you were to design a national food policy based on public health, it would be the antithesis of the farm bill. How did this happen? Politics, of course.
THE CURRENT SITUATION can be traced to decisions made by Congress in 1906. That was the year Upton Sinclair wrote “The Jungle,” a muckraking account of Chicago’s meat-packing plants. With an urgency that seems incredible in the light of today’s partisan government, Congress immediately passed two laws dealing with food safety and assigned their regulation to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The USDA put one of its departments in charge of the law dealing with animals and a second department in charge of the law dealing with adulteration of food products. The second eventually became the Food and Drug Administration, which moved its public health functions to the Public Health Service. But USDA ran the food stamp program and, when no other agency wanted dietary guidance, took it on as well, thereby causing endless conflicts between USDA’s historic mandate to promote industrial agriculture, and its newer mandate to advise the public about diet and health. The farm bill focuses mainly on the meat-and-dairy mandate—production of animal-based foods and the commodity crops that feed animals and yield ethanol. For the health and sustainability functions it acquired later—regulation of organic agriculture, development of dietary guidelines every five years (jointly with the Department of Health and Human Services), publication of food guides for the general public andoversight of food assistance to low-income Americans—the USDA can be a most uncomfortable home.
Organic production methods, for example, are not merely an alternative way of growing food. They constitute an explicit critique of industrial farming: They reject chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and genetic modification. For years, the USDA websites included a dismissive disclaimer that organic production methods were no better than conventional methods, despite their well-established benefits for soil quality. It no longer uses that statement, but its Organic Standards Board—which sets the rules for what can be marketed as “organic”—is under constant pressure from large agricultural producers to weaken restrictions on which chemical “inputs” are acceptable; this would allow companies to use industrial methods but sell products at the higher prices claimed for organics. USDA’s attempts to achieve détente between organic and GMO producers have gone nowhere to date.
The most blatant conflicts of interest, however, show up in the USDA’s dietary advice. For years, the Dietary Guidelines have induced the wrath of lobbyists whenever they implied that eating less beef would be a good way to reduce consumption of saturated fat. Last year, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee caused a firestorm when it suggested that meat-eating was environmentally unsustainable, given the disproportionate contribution of farm animals to greenhouse gases and climate change. Pressure by meat industry lobbyists got Congress involved and forced the USDA and HHS to announce well in advance that the Dietary Guidelines would not even mention the word “sustainability,” as indeed, they did not.
The guidelines do, however, suggest eating more fruits and vegetables, advice that the USDA repeats in its MyPlate food guide for the general public. This guide illustrates the idea that half the plate—50 percent—should be fruits and vegetables. But USDA’s farm bill policies have historically allocated less than 1 percent of farm support funds for promoting these foods, with nearly all of the remaining 99 percent used to support commodity crops. The 2014 farm bill, although increasing allocations for organic and fruit-and-vegetable production and marketing, still does so at a token level. If you were to create a MyPlate meal that matched where the government historically aimed its subsidies, you’d get a lecture from your doctor. More than three-quarters of your plate would be taken up by a massive corn fritter (80 percent of benefits go to corn, grains and soy oil). You’d have a Dixie cup of milk (dairy gets 3 percent), a hamburger the size of a half dollar (livestock: 2 percent), two peas (fruits and vegetables: 0.45 percent) and an after-dinner cigarette (tobacco: 2 percent). Oh, and a really big linen napkin (cotton: 13 percent) to dab your lips.
Recently, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a group opposed to eating foods of animal origin, filed a lawsuit against USDA and HHS because the Dietary Guidelines had dropped advice to limit consumption of dietary cholesterol, for which eggs are the largest source. The lawsuit alleges that much of the research behind that decision was paid for by the egg industry, which obviously has a vested interest in encouraging people to consume more eggs.
If you want a clear portrait of how the USDA’s conflicts shape policy, just compare two of America’s major federal nutrition programs—SNAP and Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC. SNAP is the larger of the two: It provided debit cards for food purchases to 45 million low-income Americans last year, is governed by the farm bill and takes up nearly 80 percent of its funding. SNAP is in the farm bill for two reasons. Along with other food assistance programs, food stamps developed in the 1930s as a means to dispose of surplus commodities. Most such programs are still regulated by USDA but through child nutrition legislation, not the Farm Bill. SNAP comes under farm legislation for the second reason: political “logrolling.” ‘
Since the mid-1960s, the American political system, divided as it is by urban and rural regionalism, hasn’t ensured enough votes in Congress to pass either farm supports or SNAP as bills on their own. Logrolling unites them in a “You vote for mine and I’ll vote for yours” marriage, an unholy alliance that neither Big Agriculture nor advocates for the poor can afford to see changed.
One result is that SNAP, whose nearly $80 billion budget makes it by far the largest of federal food assistance programs, encourages participants to use their benefits to purchase whatever foods they like, regardless of health consequences. Politics makes strange bedfellows, and both the food industry (for reasons of profit) and advocates for the poor (for reasons of politics) want to keep it that way. Perversely, SNAP can even provide an incentive to drink sodas. Because purchases made with SNAP dollars are not taxed, the program effectively reduces the cost of sugar-sweetened beverages in states that tax such drinks. The cost discount doesn’t apply to healthier untaxed foods.
In contrast, the much smaller WIC program provides for purchases of a specific package of foods, all of them healthy. In creating WIC, Congress required research on its effectiveness. This research consistently demonstrated health benefits from the WIC approach, and program advocates have managed to stave off most attempts to junk up the WIC package.
LINKING AGRICULTURE POLICIES to health policies would help to resolve these conflicts, and leading commentators on our food system such as Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Ricardo Salvador and Olivier de Schutter have called on the president and Congress to create a national food policy, something we don’t have—but badly need. They’ve offered specific suggestions for what such a policy would entail. They point out that unless we pay much closer attention to the way agriculture is linked to diet, public health and the environment, our society will continue to suffer from widespread obesity, food insecurity, chronic disease, soil degradation and food safety scares, as well as the abandonment of rural America.
That the farm bill requires reform is a given. How to reform it is quite another matter. In light of the current lack of bipartisan efforts to govern, starting from scratch on the Farm Bill is beyond contemplation. Even piecemeal efforts to tweak existing programs toward fruit-and-vegetable support run up against political resistance. The only hope I see for meaningful change is grass-roots advocacy—a uniting of the many groups working on farm bill issues to create one loud voice for improving the bill, program by individual program.
That’s the real reason I taught the class: to encourage students—the future of American democracy—and future participants in the food movement to get political and advocate healthier and more sustainable food policies.
The food movement has one enormous advantage for anyone who wants to advocate policy change: everyone eats. Food is the easiest way of explaining to fellow citizens how conflicts of interest in federal agencies, corporate contributions to federal officials or food-industry funding of research can affect their lives. Thousands of grass-roots groups throughout our country are working to promote local and regional foods, farmers’ markets, urban farming, farm-to-school programs, animal welfare, farmworkers’ and restaurant workers’ rights, and to increase food security for everyone. These groups continue the long and distinguished history of social movements in the United States, and are part of the tradition that brought us better civil rights, women’s rights and environmental protection. They are our hope for a counterweight to Big Agriculture, although still relatively weak, they are growing in power and influence.
Farm bills are up for consideration every five years or so. We need to start work on the next one right now.
Marion Nestle is professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University, and author most recently of “Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning).”
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Say Goodnight Gracie

img_2394Another lesson learned the hard way – you need to test the electronet fencing often. Although I was checking the fence line on a periodic basis for debris buildup (the coop is in a heavily wooded area and the girls like to kick stuff up around the edges), I hadn’t been checking the strength of the charge very often. Unfortunately one of my poor little chickens had to suffer a coyote attack to remind me.

I had just come in the house (the dog ran in with me) when we heard the chicken’s calls of distress. I opened the door and Magpie bolted out. By the time I got my boots on I could hear Magpie in hot pursuit of the predator in the woods – well beyond her radio collar range. When she is amped up like that she doesn’t feel the shock as she crosses the perimeter.

I found five of our twelve birds in the woods and quickly shooed four of them back into the pen with our rooster Jose’ and the rest of the girls. The fifth one was deep in the understory and wasn’t coming out. It was Gracie, one of my Buff Orpington/Barnevelder crosses.

I eventually flushed her out and that’s when I saw why she wouldn’t come out. Her whole side was ripped apart. I got the rest of the birds into the coop and locked up and  took Gracie into the house to assess and clean her wound. Holding her in one arm, wrapped in a towel while I ran up and down the stairs wrestling around to the first aid supplies and an infirmary put together was another painful reminder that even though it had been four years since we had had an injured chicken, I really need to keep these things on hand for just such an emergency. Gracie was a trooper (more likely she was in shock).

Once I had Gracie set up, I went back out to see what the hell it was that happened. The fence was in tact, so how did five hens get out and one seriously injured? I got out the voltage meter and could barely get a pulse. The recently purchased replacement energizer was plugged in and blinking, so what the heck? I walked the perimeter of the line closely inspecting it and found at least ten different sections that were chewed almost through on the forest side of their run.

I also found the scene of the crime – Gracie’s feathers were everywhere along a path in and next to the electronet fence, then in the woods on the edge of the yard, then back into the yard and ending in one of my raised beds where I could clearly see it was a coyote. I could also see this was where Magpie met up with the coyote and chased it into the woods. Magpie had saved Gracie. Good dog Magpie. Bad human L.  Magpie is supposed to be outside guarding her chickens but I indulged her and let her come in with me for a bit. After all, I thought the chickens were protected by the electronet fencing…

Someone mentioned it was whelping season and so the coyotes were getting more aggressive. With the weakened charge in the fence nothing stopped this coyote from jumping in, grabbing a chicken and jumping out. The other hens I found in the woods must have been startled by the intrusion and flew over the fence.

Of course we were out of the fence mending materials that came with the electronet. I then remembered I had used it up after Magpie chewed the unplugged fence to bits when she was just a pup, so I had to run out for more. With no stores nearby that carry that stuff I had to improvise with M’s help via text. The hard lessons were starting to pile up around my head.

I bought a spool of thin copper wire and tightly wound it around each frayed part of the fence. Voila! Back up to 8000+ volts.

20160202_211622000_iOS

Back in to check on my patient, I discovered that my quickie infirmary was not going to work well. I had placed Gracie in a pet carrier with some straw, food and water. In order to tend to her wounds I’d have to reach in and drag her out and that was just not going to do. I ended up having to take out the eight screws that held it together so I could lift her out without touching her wounds.

Luckily we have a spare bathroom not used very often. I filled the tub with straw for bedding leaving space at one end for her food, water and grit. I put a lamp in there so I could dim the lights in the evening and the morning as the vanity lights are pretty bright.

img_2387

When M came home he gently pulled her ripped and torn skin back over her exposed flesh as best he could while I held her and then we tacked the skin in several spots with super glue. She had two deep puncture wounds from the coyotes teeth and a section of exposed flesh in those areas we couldn’t get the skin back over. I cleansed her wounds and treated them with Vetracyn twice a day (BTW – the spray gel works really well for this sort of thing). We tried bandaging her with a variety of materials over the next week, but she pulled everything off.

The wound after one week

The wound after a little over a week and it looks one thousand times better than it did

From the time of the attack Gracie never stopped eating, her eyes were bright, her comb and wattle continued to stay a vibrant red, and her poops were healthy. We were very hopeful she would survive but M was prepared to put her down if it started to look bad. After a few days of positive progress, I started to take her out to the pen daily for supervised visits with her peeps while I did my chicken chores. If any of them looked like they wanted to start picking on her or pecking at her wounds I just brought her back into the house. She did try to dust bathe once splitting the wound open and filling it with dirt, but I washed her down in the sink, cleaned the wound up and she seemed to do ok.

After a week she started to come out of the bathroom and hang out with us, the two cats and Magpie. The cats were a little concerned at first, especially Harlie who was pretty worried I was going to love that chicken more than her. After a while they were eating snacks together – well, more like Harlie wanted to take Gracie’s snacks away. Gracie seemed to tolerate Harlie and not get freaked out. Magpie was also a little confused about having a chicken in the house at first, but she quickly adapted and gave Gracie her space.

img_2371

After two weeks, the wound was healing nicely and feathers were starting to grow back. Her puncture wounds were slowly healing from the inside. Our neighbor is a wildlife rehabilitator and came by to check Gracie’s progress. She thought the wound was healing well and that Gracie looked healthy. Whew – at least we were successful in mitigating the damage. We just need to improve our safety precaution skills.

I decided Gracie was ready to get back with the flock full time. I sprayed the exposed area with that blue stuff to camouflage her wound and left her in the pen all day.

20160217_181413779_iOS

Since no one tried pecking her wounds I left her to spend the night with her peeps.

Good night Gracie…

20160209_195308334_iOS

Posted in Chickens | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Time to Go to Bed

It has been a while since working on at the farm felt like an act of actual farming. Now that we have a fenced area and easy access to water we wanted to get it into production as quickly as possible. L has been sprouting trees from seeds and prunings we have both been collecting and they need a place to grow unmolested by our deer friends. She also has gobs of seeds from previous plantings and the “flowers” in seed form I gave her last Valentine’s Day.

Nursery Beds
Mirroring the cistern the circle ran into our big compost pile… so a lot of the back fill needed to be done by hand. L needs to ice her back today. The cages at the bottom of the garden got pulled and we are looking forward to our big fruit tree order coming in the next few weeks.

Waterlogged alder goes in the bottom of the shallow trench.  This is sort of a instant-mini-hugel bed. They need to be deep enough for small tree tap roots . The wet logs should help keep the soil moist during our dry summers.

We have no shortage of windfall alder at the farm slowly decaying on the forest floor and giving back it’s wealth of nutrients. I adore the smell of rotting alder but sometimes the logs and big branches get in the way, so I push them together in piles to use for just this kind of reuse.

Masonry string using the cistern as the center point made easy circle making.  You might see the board with our nail in the center over the cistern. The next outer circle will be an arbor for kiwis with raspberries on the inside. This photo is pointing south, so we will have made a little sun trap. The two center beds with tall asparagus and artichokes will provide shade from the western sun on the eastern bed, the nursery. We may need to add a little shade cloth on our nursery during the summer to help mitigate sunburn. The western bed is slated for hot weather plants like tomatoes and peppers for now. We’ll “observate” to see how things work over the next season and iterate.

When it is all done the path will wander past the cistern and pass under the big kiwi arbor. (Can’t see it? It is in my head still, big as life.) It should look nice and have a pleasant “reveal” as we walk through to the lower gardens.

Liberal sprinklings of chicken manure. This will be slow to combine with the carbon… but should work eventually. The sod we separated goes leaf side down next. More nitrogen and organic matter for our little plants.

Then we back filled and dressed the whole thing with a few inches of compost.

At the end of the weekend we had two big beds put together.

Mycorrhiza
While I was out scouting for wood I also ran into this interesting fungus. When I first saw it I thought it was hoar frost. When I sent my pic to Facebook friends one person figured it out… The rare and elusive Ice Flower or Cotton Candy Ice. It was everywhere on the forest floor. This little guy is about 6 inches long. Mycorrhiza are so important to healthy trees so I’m happy to bring a little of our forest into contact our plantings.

Next week, transplanting trees, moving raspberries, and staking our the kiwi arbor. I like having a plan, (thanks to L.), and I like how the space is starting to dictate how we use it. Organically.

 

Posted in Compost, Construction, Farming, Gardening, Homesteading, Permaculture, Sustainability, Water Management | Tagged | 5 Comments

House Bound

I hurt my back lifting heavy fence posts the first weekend in December and was in pretty excruciating pain for a while. Unfortunately M had just left for Kansas for a week to attend his step-father’s funeral and to help his brother square things away when the pain started. I couldn’t sit down or lie down so there was no sleeping let alone getting into the truck and driving myself to the doctor.

I have a bad habit of grinning and bearing it but after five days of no sleep and constantly shuffling around the house 24 hours a day in a stupor I clenched my teeth, fought back the tears and drove myself to the doctor. I took the prescription meds although I really hate them, but at least they knocked me out enough to sleep an hour at a time before the pain would wake me again. M came home a few days later – thank goodness. He is an excellent caretaker when I am sick or injured and I was even more grateful to have him home than usual.

The timing of my injury and M’s Kansas trip made for a very low key Christmas with regard to “preparations” but surprisingly it turned out to be quite lovely – in fact we both have dubbed it our favorite Christmas together so far. It was also the first day my pain was manageable so I could relax and enjoy it. Thank goodness our larder was full of good things to eat and drink, and since Santa shops early there were still plenty of presents under our makeshift Christmas tree.

20151221_010051304_iOS

Stocking stuffers are our favorites and tend to be food oriented. It’s a good thing since there wasn’t much done in the holiday baking department this year.

20151225_164429397_iOS

With all of the time spent at home recovering but not being able to sit or lie down for very long, I had to find ways to keep myself busy.

I finished a sweater I’ve been picking up and putting down for quite a long time for M. I worked on it while standing at the dining table. The cats decided the sweater needed a little more texture and so did a little “weaving” in of their own every time I walked out of the room.

20151208_170358134_iOS 20151208_175447446_iOS

He cleans up pretty well, doesn’t he?

20151217_195017892_iOS (3)

I knit a couple of hats using leftover yarn from other projects. I leaned against the kitchen counter to knit and read my patterns from my laptop perched on top of the toaster oven. My usual monochromatic tendencies seemed to have been affected by the pain meds…

20151217_195112855_iOS 20151229_234922085_iOS

When M came back from Kansas we made bacon, sausage and braunschweiger

20151224_234832929_iOS20151225_000041238_iOS

with a very attentive audience

20151224_234806088_iOS

With the Foodsaver Santa brought us I vacuum packed it all and decided to organize the freezer.

20160106_010043000_iOS

I made new spice containers and organized the cabinets.

20160115_182410076_iOS

I started some apple/ginger sauerkraut with my new fermentation kit. I have a large crock I usually do this in but really like having the ability to do small batches in mason jars.  This way I can experiment with flavors and not feel obligated to eat 4 gallons of something that turned out to not be my new favorite thing. The large jar contains orange peels, rosemary and vinegar – I’m steeping it for about a month to make my own citrus cleaner concentrate thanks to my new favorite book The Hands On Home written by Erica Strauss (thank you Santa!) who also has a great blog M and I both follow Northwest Edible Life. I HIGHLY recommend both even if you aren’t in the northwest. She is HI-larious and seriously makes home-keeping fun!

20160115_183058289_iOS

Being the bartender in our house and a life-long passion for making “concoctions”, I gave M a gift bag for Christmas with all of the ingredients he needed to make his own tonic water – another great idea from nwedible.  It turned out super delicious and well worth doing if you are a Gin & Tonic fan, which we are thanks to a local organic distiller here on the island for turning us into gin fans. One sip at a pork butchery workshop and spirits tasting was all it took to convert us.

M replaced the section of rope the kitties had shredded to pieces on the scratch post he made them when they were kittens about 8 years ago. He also recovered their hideaway with fleece.  Siena is quite content to hang out in there and watch the birds eat from the feeder he got them for Christmas.

20160115_193729048_iOS

Despite the painful start to our holiday season, it turned out pretty well in the end. We spent some relaxing time together, made and enjoyed delicious food and libations, as well as checked a bunch of things off of our home “to do” list.

Posted in Charcuterie, Cooking, Homesteading, Larder, Sustainability | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Partners

We took the weekend to scout locations for kiwi and to complete some fence details for our crew. After the logistics were complete we set to work chipping and preparing our timber chestnut plot for enclosure and mulching to slow down the canary grass. 

 

 
Up to now we let the grass grow tall as it seems to protect the little trees from sunburn and encouraged them to grow straight from the competition. Now under cardboard and wood chips it should break down and give nutrients to the soil. We added jingle bells to the trees in hopes that it will spook the deer until we return to finish the job and enclose the little area with a bit of fence. Trees require long term thinking.

I looked up while gathering deadfall limbs and prunings to see L chipping at a steady pace. After weeks of back pain she is doing better but I don’t trust her stoicism. I said “let me get that” twenty or more times. I’m over protective, my brother calls it “mama bear”.

Having a partner who wants the same goals is amazing. I feel lucky. Seeing her chipping away gave me a rush of love, appreciation, and a feeling that this farm could have easily been a one sided venture where one of us wanted it more than the other and the other was just going along with it all.

The list is slowly getting checked off. The line items that take multiple weekends to finish stare back at me in protest, or is it defiance? There’s that gate to be built and I need to figure out how to make a circle…  not because it is necessary but because it will please her.

Posted in Farming, Forest Management, Sustainability, Tree Care | 2 Comments

My Beautiful Organizatrix 

We made a few chalkboards. I’m not a fan of white boards since they stink, there’s a lot of plastic that goes in the trash, and they eventually become unerasable.

We hung them up, then I came home to this.



The scraps of molding I had laying around worked out well, and now meal planning seems quicker. We do a fair amount of planning nearly everything at the dinner table.

Food and love are deeply intertwined here. That list… Yeah it’s fuel… But it’s a lot of love too.

Posted in Larder, Sustainability | 5 Comments