Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Charting the New Course

It's been a little more than a month since I stepped away from my desk and my commute to be closer to home and see what would happen.

Since then I've cultivated various patches of beans, swiss chard, onions, carrots, and beets. I've helped harvest three kinds of kale, two kinds of beans and parsley, sweet basil, potatoes, beets, four kinds of summer squash, broccoli, and dug carrots for this first time. I've snipped so many different types of lettuce that I can't keep track of them, fennel, radicchio, endive, chives, arugula, sorrel for a lettuce mix that also includes an assortment of edible flowers.

Peaches, blueberries, raspberries red and black, and mulberries have been jammed and canned to sweeten our winter. Zucchini pickles sit on the counter and on the shelf. Cabbage is turning to sauerkraut to grace our table later in the season. Basil and parsley are pesto in the freezer, and more is to come. I've made my first sun tea - rosemary, mint, and fennel - to enjoy with dinner or sip on a hot afternoon.

I've thrown hay on hot, dusty evenings, and tried milking a goat - twice - with little success and lots of laughter. I've helped cull a sheep herd, and found it hurt my back and heart to do it. I've cultivated a corn field with a horse, and chased a barn cat until I caught it.

Each day I check our pear tree even though I know they won't really be ready until sometime a bit later. I water the new damson trees and native plants I've added to our hillside. And I monitor the progress of our fall crop of kale, calabrese, beets, and beans. The cold frame design doesn't exist yet for them, but necessity is the mother of invention. The popcorn is coming along nicely, and I look forward to picking and drying it.

I did think there would be more reading, writing, and reflecting on life, liberty, and my pursuit of happiness; however, I think I've done what I needed and wanted to do with the time given me. I've begun to wonder if I'm following some inner call. I find it easier to say no to things I don't want to do, and be aware of the compromises I make. I don't think either of those is bad. Being cognizant of the latter is helping me understand how the former works out for my time here.

What the future exactly holds for a "career" remains unclear. What is clear is that I no longer want to do things that I don't enjoy or make me into someone I don't like. Whatever it is I'm meant to do (and I'm sure it's going to be a selection of things) is close. I can feel it, and I'm excited.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Recent Project

Our good friends over at Frog Holler Farm are hosting Holler Fest this weekend - a three-day music festival featuring some terrific local artists - and the whole neighborhood is gearing up. From peach cobblers, to pounding nails for the stage background, building an outdoor shower, to making signs, it's all beginning to come together. We're pretty excited about it!

Nearly a month ago or so while weeding one of the patches we talked about the festival while we worked. We brainstormed ideas for workshops that might be of interest to folks wanting to take a break from the music or entertain their kids. Face painting, bubble wands, and a drumming circle were all mentioned. I suggested a nature walk where plants and trees were labeled so folks could either guide themselves or be guided at set times.

Well, I've walked the trails a few times to choose what's most interesting. The woods and rolling hills that comprise the farm in part present a stunning variety and beauty. I swear something new blooms or sprouts every time I go by. Oaks and hickories abound - full of acorns and nuts that a primal urge makes me pocket - along with a bevy of native grasses and flowers. And there's poison ivy, a little bit of ragweed, and a few invasives that folks should know about, too. Mostly, though, it's a grand show and this is close to the best time of year to see it. (No offense to those spring ephemeral fans!)

It's been great fun trying to figure out exactly which goldenrod is in front of me or exactly which kind of oak. (There's one tree/shrub that is still giving me a bit of trouble, but I'll find out eventually.) I am certainly no expert, and anticipate that folks in attendance will share their knowledge with me as they go along; however, I feel like I've learned so much. My good friend Sybil lent both her time and a portion of her library to this endeavor, and that has just been great. I felt a bit geeky out there in my socks, sandals, and silly bandanna poring over the Peterson guide, then the plant, then the guide, then the plant, and talking to myself the whole while! But it is so much fun!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fall Planting

For the first time I've managed to plant a fall crop! I removed the pea vines and their trellises, and the onions practically leaped out of the ground in their fatness. I spread a good thick layer of compost and composted manure and then double dug it in for good measure.

I hope to find a fledgling crop of lacianto kale, calabrese, beets, and beans in a bit of time. These I hope to cover up for the winter along with the other half of the same bed that is currently home to curly kale, flat leaf parsely, and a ton of swiss chard. Harvesting our own winter greens will perhaps be a reality this year!