Mar 6, 2009
The spring planting is officially underway! I had good intentions of getting those peas in earlier this year, like February, and it is now March...but I feel good because last year it wasn't until April and the year before that in May! Needless to say, the year I planted peas in May was completely ridiculous, since they wilted in the 90 degree heat as soon as they were about 12 inches high! I blame that season on the fact that I had a 3 year old and 1 year old and still had not regenerated the brain cells lost in childbirth. My best friend is only into her 2nd season gardening and had her act together, peas and all, before me...the nerve! Anyway, after a week of sub-freezing temps and snow, we woke up this morning to a beautiful day, with highs in the 60's, and set about soaking our peas. By afternoon, the kids were placing them gently, or should I say "chucking" them into the bed willy-nilly and getting as dirty as all little boys should be! They are very proud and made sure I grabbed some shots of them planting the first crops of spring. Here they are in all their glory-
We also are finally seeing bulbs! I had never planted bulbs before, so last fall I ordered a bunch and Loch and I dug them all in, not really knowing what to expect...well, a few are up and I have no idea which ones they are or where the next one will pop up! I didn't make notes on this particular venture, so all I know is there are a bunch of alliums somewhere...and "some other stuff". It's fun every morning to "walk the estate" and look for these surprises! More photos to come on that...
We are finishing up readying the rental property this weekend, we have new tenants moving here from WA next week, so I may not post again for a few days. A busy weekend filled with boring painting and cleaning up, but eagerly awaiting the return of rental income!
Mar 2, 2009
On a separate topic but still relating to our little "homestead" and our attempts to live more responsibly, we took a trip to the farm this past weekend! I was lucky enough to be able to find a sustainable farm within an hour's drive from us to source humanely raised meat. Being raised in Minnesota and actually living on a farm as a child, it is a subject close to my heart. I believe that we should all find a way to clean up our habits when it comes to purchasing food for our families. I know that financially it can be tough to practice what you preach in regards to food, but it's important to try on some level, even if it's just with making an attempt to buy locally to reduce transportation fuel consumption. We try to first grow our own veggies, then supplement that with local items in season at the farmers market, and now have found a sustainable, humane source for beef, pork, chicken & eggs. By the way, these products will become more widely available and affordable if we as consumers demand them, so ask your local grocer to carry them!
Anyway, on Saturday my husband and I took the kids out to Full Quiver Farm in Suffolk, VA to pick up our first meat order. The selection varies according to time of year, but we were able to pick up some great pork roasts, bacon, and fresh eggs while we were there, and put our deposit down on a share of beef when it becomes ready later in the spring. They use a local abbatoir for their pork and beef and slaughter their own chicken and turkey, all of which have led "happy lives" on pasture instead of spending their lives in a feedlot. The farm owners were friendly, helpful, and proud of what they do there and the kids had a great lesson in where their food comes from. The boys also had a good time petting the goats and seeing the baby chicks that will be their future dinner!
I will admit it was a little difficult explaining to them the process about where meat actually comes from, but we read a few books about it, and I can now show them pictures of feedlot animals and pastured animals and they can pick out the differences and also tell you why one is a better choice than the other. There is no way this Minnesota girl would ever go vegan, so my method is to be a responsible carnivore and support local, sustainable agriculture. If you are interested in a great book about the subject, check out author Catherine Friend's book "The Compassionate Carnivore" , it is a great source of info. For fun, check out her book "Hit by a Farm", a great read about moving from the city to start a new life on a farm. Yes, I may be biased since she lives about 40 minutes down the road from my parents' farm in Minnesota, but her books are easy to love, witty, humorous, and truthful, and she presents information in a very non-judgemental manner. On that note, she also has penned some children's books as well, one of which was the first book my son read aloud to me all by himself! I am now headed into the kitchen to make eggs and bacon using our newly acquired farm-fresh ingredients - I will let you know how they are!
What a weekend! Our weather was the worst kind for attempting to get excited over gardening outside. A nor'easter blew in bringing with it rain, cold, extreme winds, and now on Monday morning...SNOW! This is a rare event here so at least the kids enjoyed it!
Last week was my first time starting seeds indoors. I thought this would be a more cost effective way for me to have more heirloom tomatoes this year and would be a fun project for the kids as well. The first seedlings peeked out from the flats on Sunday-Day 6 and by this morning included 9 Brandywine, 3 True Black Brandywine, 3 Black Krim and 3 Black Pearl. As exciting as this is, I am worried about the dreaded damping off and check on them more often than a newborn! I have also started peppers and eggplant but those are expected to germinate later than the tomatoes. I broke down last week and bought a heat mat and light for the flats. I originally intended to reuse some rope lights I had under the flats but found the temp of the soil climbing out of control, even after using spacers. Now I just watch and hope that my kids don't play "musical plant markers" and render me speechless when asked "what kind of tomato plant is that one?"!
This year I am raising the number of tomato plants from 6 to about 20 so it could get amusing come summer to watch me trying to harvest them all. I just started preserving by freezing last year and will be adding canning to that this year, and hope to have enough to sell at farmer's market as well. I will be growing all the standard veggies such as peas, beans, etc. but have noticed a real deficiency in quality heirloom tomatoes available at market. I harbor no hopes of actually making any money of course, but if I can involve my kids actively in the food growing process and have them see the end result at market, I think it will be well worth it!
While we're on the subject of kids, don't mistake me for one of those moms who is involved with my kids on every level and constantly teaching and playing...I have found myself deficient in the ability to play Legos and do art projects for hours on end, so I just decided to pursue the hobby most suited to the inclusion of kids! This is the easiest way to snow your kids into thinking you are having a blast with them...make them join in on your hobby for a change-they see you in a different light when you are doing something you really enjoy!
Mar 1, 2009
Well, here it is....welcome to my empty blog! That is about to change. I had a thought while talking to myself last night, and imagined a place where I could rant about what excites me, the things that I love, and wouldn't be interrupted by a 4 year old asking for a snack. It occurred to me, this place exists! And here I am. Forgive me for taking a little extra time to get the blog up and running, but in between taking care of my childrens' demands it will happen! I am a mom to 2 young boys and have been gardening seriously for about 3 years, and with each year that my children grow more independent I have been getting more involved with my hobby. This year brings new challenges and demands upon my time, due to my husband Charlie's upcoming deployment to the Middle East. My hope is that I can accomplish more this deployment than the last, and that my accountability to this blog will help me do that! I believe that it is important for kids to see and experience the joys and tastes of a home garden, just as I did growing up, and while being a military family presents its own set of difficulties due to locations and transfers, it can be done! Please bear with me while I set up the page with photos and posts, and check back, I would love to hear from other moms and how they get nature into their kids' diets!