Sunday, May 15, 2016

In the Garden ~ Week of May 16

Though our weather is winter coats one day and t-shirts the next, the longer days have made the early garden very happy.  One of the baby hickory trees burst all of its buds on Friday.

We were able to begin transplanting the cooler weather crops from the basement into the garden.  Both Storage and Napa Cabbages, Brussels and Broccoli went in and then were quickly row covered to aid against the dreaded root-maggots that can plague these crops.  We began the early row cover last season and our plants were all beautiful and healthy, so we are hoping for similar success this season.

The peas are all emerging.  B planted them extra thick so that we could have some to add extra sweetness to our spring salads.

The horseradish is peeking through (foreground) and you can glimpse the ever giant mega rhubarb in the background.

B gave the girls expanded access to new pasture on Friday.  They were a bit reluctant to cross the line where the fence was previously, but once they did, they were happy to snack on dandelions and trot around snorting happily.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

In the Garden:: Week of May 2

This time of year things change so quickly.  We had rain all weekend, and the long sustained drink coupled with longer days have the flowers blooming and the pollen flying.  More and more we are starting to work on outdoor tasks.  The pool has been opened, chemicals adjusted and now just needs a good cleaning.  Unfortunately some four weeks later we are still waiting to hear back from the contractor who is bidding our deck.  Hopefully this project can still be completed this season.

We had our first asparagus with supper last night and the spinach is robust.  Sidney found a fantastic recipe for a asparagus, spinach and fennel soup that was delicious!  Everyone loved it, except the boy who grumbled at the vegetable based meal (there was sausage on the side for his benefit), but I did notice that despite his grumbles, every drop was eaten.

More and more there is green in the garden, and the flats in our grow room in the basement are just bursting.  We know we must remain patient until closer to the end of the month before much of it can go outdoors, but there is a constant pull, especially after a supper made mostly of our fresh beginnings.

The lilacs have just begun to bloom, which means regardless of temperature my kitchen windows are open wide so that I can enjoy the sweet smells for the oh too short time it lasts.

B was off yesterday, so when I got home form work we had a few errands and then after school he and Sidney went for a ride.  It was late in the day when we got the notification that our bee packages had arrived, and there is a limited window to pick them up.  So off they went while I worked on above referenced soup, to get our bees.  Now all of those flowers will truly be happy.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for Zen #atozchallenge

As April draws to a close, this teeter totter that we have been on, while still rocking seems to be finding some homeostasis.  Much like the crazy fluxes of our Wisconsin weather, as my lilacs start to open and the peonies send robust shoots up, there is the hint of soon a warming into Spring.  The expected rain is starting to fall and going over the list in my head is not a stress, it is simply that, a list, that I know will get accomplished in due time.  As I close out this A-Z Challenge I do so in a moment of Zen, one that I will hold onto as long as I can and hope to be able to tap into and return to when needed.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for Yawn

the windmills of La Mancha, Spain

The week is winding down, and though a busy weekend awaits, it is a good outdoor kind of busy with soccer games and garden and household tasks.  Maybe it will be intermixed with a family game or movie, some reading and grabbing a bite to eat out.  Even a busy weekend is a relaxing change.  It is less regimented by the work and school requirements of the week, and there are fewer have to get done's.  Tomorrow also marks the end of this Blogging A-Z challenge, and with that, I can stretch out stifle a little yawn and relish in a writing undertaking completed.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for Xander #atozchallenge

Whew, X was a tough one, and I was scrambling a bit, until my mom said "what about Xander"!  Well there it was.  This is Xander, our overly confident 18 pound farm poodle. We work closely with a wonderful rescue organization at work and he was evacuated from a puppy mill.  At 10 weeks old B did heart surgery on him to close a hole in his heart and from that time on, he was ours.  He has always been full of energy, and like many smaller breed dogs, thinks that he is three times his size! He never shies away from keeping the livestock in line or running the fences on patrol :)

Several years ago Xander was also diagnosed with Addison's Disease, which in a nutshell, is adrenal gland failure, is little body cannot keep up with cortisol production so he does not deal well with stressful situations.  He is managed well on medication and for the most part, certainly does not let anything slow him down.  In our household,  he bosses around Emerson, our boarder collie, but is pudding in the hands of our five pound kitten, Juno.  They wrestle like they are both canines, and many a time Juno comes out on top!  I took this picture last weekend he was covered in dry leaves and dust from patrolling under the porch.  He was just out and about in the sunshine watching over the homestead, as any farm poodle would do.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for Wellness #atozchallenge

It is funny how things in your life just come full circle, especially with mothers and daughters.  But it also seems that some of the age old resistances minimize from one generation to the next.  When raising kids, maybe we start from that place of additional insight from day one based on our experience, or maybe it is just an evolving collective consciousness over time.  When my mom first began her journey into trying to support and heal herself as she began living with MS some 35 years ago, she looked to natural solutions.  She began yoga, educated herself on Chinese medicine, vitamin supplementation, acupuncture, QiGong, Ayurveda, etc.  My pre-teen self was exploring my own way, and in typically rebellious nature was less than open to all of this.

Fast forward to present.  We moved to our homestead to teach our kids about their food sources, to respect more free play, and try to experience life separating, if only a little, from the constant day to day pressure of the society we live in.  As an adult I absolutely love yoga, strive for natural cleaning solutions and am a DoTerra Wellness Advocate.  After an eighteen month journey learning, experimenting and experiencing I am feeling strong enough to begin to teach and share what I have learned about how to use essential oils to support our bodies' own natural systems. This is especially important because the outside factors that passively effect our health when we do not even realize it continue to grow. I have learned that the marriage of traditional medicine and the 'old ways' lead to a whole person approach that is necessary today.

 My daughter, who is an avid chef in training has become very focused on seasonal, local, natural, whole foods and how superfoods assist and affect health.  Though in true teenage form she does not listen to all that I am trying to teach her.  However, as mentioned earlier, the resistance is less than what I felt when I was her age.  She feels more comfortable researching on her own and re-wording or correcting me where she deems it necessary.  That said, she is more than willing to try what I tell her about, and for the most part, ultimately returns to it later on.  Everyone's journey into wellness is unique, personal, and embarked on for different reasons, though initially it can be overwhelming, as you gain confidence it is well worth the trip.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for Variety #atozchallenge

Variety is the spice of life right?  One of the most stunning things we encountered while in Spain were the beautiful markets.  As we grow most of our own food, eat fresh while we can, try to store as much as possible, cook with wild abandon and were at the end of Winter at home, these 'merkat's' were complete eye candy.  There was everything from farmers market style groceries, to sushi, tapas, and anything else you could imagine snacking on.

The variety was both intriguing and dizzying.  The best part was we simply sampled our way through, and for at least two of our meals that is exactly what we did!

These meals were as fresh as can be, prepared in their most basic form; olive oil, lemon juice and fresh herbs. We could travel from booth to booth with a glass of wine or beer in hand and simply immerse ourselves in the variety laid before us.  Of course, the meal ended with a bag of hand dipped truffles, what else?

Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for Up #atozchallenge

U is for in...In the Garden the week of April 25th.  Our weather as always is up and down.  But what is pushing up through the soft earth is amazing.  Cutting back our mammoth rhubarb severely last seems to have worked.  It is throwing up more shoots that we can imagine.  Since the stalks off of this plant have traditionally been young and tender at the size of B's arm, I suspect we will have surplus up for grabs!

The garlic is growing literally before our eyes, and this weekend the storage onion starts went into the ground.

We also cut the lavender back to the ground, no small task with 25 mature plants, but this years harvest promises to be as large as ever!  Though the sun-chokes have not emerged yet, we prepped the area in front of them for spring sugar snap peas.

Oh, and B got the potatoes in.  Though they are not up yet, we have had tremendous luck with the layering technique.  Simply plop them on the ground and cover with a layer of straw.  As they come up we will layer compost and more straw to continue to bury them as they grow.  This allows for very loose soil and a simple harvest!

Though our plan was to move asparagus this past weekend, with everything else on the to do list coupled with a full soccer schedule it did not happen.  Now with these crazy on again and off again temperatures, it has grown like crazy over the last few days.  So this year we will remain upbeat and eat a final batch from this patch :)
I got this post in just under the wire!  Do you have anything coming up in your garden yet?

Saturday, April 23, 2016

T is for Take-Aways #atozchallenge

This morning I went to an event put on by a friend of mine called Nourish.  It was focused on wellness; incorporating mind, body, your environment and stress reduction.  We covered everything from what we put in our bodies and expose them to, to how setting priorities will also ultimately relieve stress and give us peace of mind.  There are a couple of important things to remember, especially with the competitive nature of the society that we all live in.  First, everyone is on their own journey and at a different place on the path at any given time.  Secondly, comparison is the thief of joy.

My biggest take away from the morning was that truly we are all in that different spot on the path.
We focused for a few minutes on setting three main priorities in our life.  An important part of this is learning to say no.  We were to write down things that inspired dread vs. joy and to start to consider eliminating those things that do not support our priorities.   I spoke earlier in this A-Z Challenge about detours.  Just over a year ago I came to one of those detours and quickly learned that based on my priorities that I had to say no.  It opened up the room necessary to Nourish those priorities.  As a result, today I did not have anything to write down in that area.  That made me feel a little uncomfortable, until I'd had some time to think it over, then the word take-away came to mind (a 'T' word no less!).  My biggest take-away from the morning was that truly we are all in that different spot on the path.  Even though I had nothing to write down in this area, no person is immune to needing adjustment while navigating their path.  Today's event assisted with another phase and something that I have been trying to be more conscious about, self-care.  If we do not carve out that space for ourselves, we will get lost in the commotion of day to day and potentially lose sight of those ever important priorities.

Friday, April 22, 2016

S is for Soil #atozchallenge

We collect all of our fall grass clippings and leaves (no small volume on six acres) and those added to the pig and chicken litter and household scraps make up much of our compost pile.  It is turned throughout the off season and watered if necessary depending on our weather.  Then over this time it breaks down into a rich soil that we use to amend garden beds at the end of the season, as well as top dress new tender plantings during growing time.

As with most springs our weather is unpredictable, with warm temperatures last weekend, a moderate week, cold and blustery today, and 75 expected for Sunday.  We just learn to roll with it, and today and tomorrow it is the perfect time to take care and adjust one of our legacy plantings, our asparagus.  A few stems are just poking through, and this is reportedly the perfect time to transplant if necessary.  When we planted them seven or so years ago, we cleared a grassy area between the barns.  As we dug, we realized it was very rocky, and probably part of an old driveway.  We worked at it, amended the soil and put them in, but they have never really thrived.  So we are now going to take advantage of the hugelkultur that Brian build last year to transplant the crowns.  A fitting task on this Earth Day


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