April, 2010

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chicks, May Day party, egg-cetera…

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Man-o-mighty, our hens have been laying a dozen eggs a day!  The eggs are super colorful and neat.  I love filling up a carton. They look like the color of rustic, chipping paint you would see on the wall of a room in an Anthropologie catalogue; with earthy, worn hues of blue, rusty-orange, light beige, and brown.  Perfect little smooth orbs of color with the most amazing substance inside.  The yolks are orange, like really deep, rich orange.  They are little nutrient bombs, and our hens made them.  The boys love eating them too, which makes me feel so damn 'homestead.'

We've been using the word homestead as an adjective for a long time.  Whenever we do something really hardcore or over-the-top pioneerish we say something like, "damn baby, that's so homestead of you." Andy started a list of the more homestead things we've done, such as squatting to pee into a chamber pot at nine months pregnant--like, thirty times a day. Andy's recent best has been smoking a skunk out of a culvert.

Raising chickens and eating eggs  isn't really all that homestead, I guess, since a lot of people have chickens, but I'm still insanely impressed with us. Anyway, we have a ton of eggs that we can't keep up with. Hard as we try, we cannot consume a dozen eggs a day.  So, we've been giving some away, AND we have been packing some up in cartons with nice homestead labels to bring to the Co-op, where YOU can buy them!  There's even an extra surprise in each carton. I'm not going to give it away here, but you should run down and get a dozen to see for yourself.  It's kinda like opening a box of cracker jacks to get the fun prize inside, only this surprise is way better.

And yesterday Andy and Asa brought home four new baby chicks!  Little black puff balls, they are Black Australorps, and they are cute as a bug's ear.  And wouldn't you know it, they picked up eight more today, of differing varieties.  So, we now have a dozen baby chicks chirping in our bathroom.

It's fun to have babies in the house.  Asa and Axel want to hold them all the time, to the point that we have to actually schedule "quiet time" for the little ladies lest they be mauled to death. Last night at 1:30 am, Axel woke up after tossing and turning for a bit, and said "bathroom."  I thought he had a stomach ache and needed to go to the bathroom, but after a few questions, I realized he wanted to go visit the "babies" in the bathroom.  At this point, our conversation had woken Asa up, and he wanted to visit the babies too.  So we all sleepily stumbled into the bathroom and looked at the babies all huddled together in their box.  When we returned to bed, everyone fell asleep contentedly.

We are holding our annual May Day Frolic this Saturday from 12-4!  We even have a maypole to frolic around.  And we will have a few kids' activities going on.  It's potluck-style, so bring a dish.  Should be a hoot.  Hope to see you there.

So much happens in a day…

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

In the space of one day here on the Homestead, we often grapple with concepts like new life, death, weather systems, predators, good guys and bad guys, and planting seeds.  And in between those big concepts are tons of other smaller life experiences.

Today we dug in the dirt, turning  it over, preparing beds to plant our seeds in.  In the process we played with a lot of worms, and fed some to the chickens.  I ate some dirt too.  I read in my gardening book (Organic Gardening in Cold Climates, by Sandra Perrin) that in the old days farmers used to taste their soil to see if it was good for growing.  If it tasted sour or bitter, it was no good.  If it tasted sweet,  it was good.  So, yeah, in the spirit of the Homestead, I ate some.  And, it was sweet with a hint of garbage-y-ness to it.  Awesome.

We found a dead bird, and contemplated how it died.  Maybe it fell out the tree?  Maybe another bird got it?  Maybe it got sick?  We decided to dig a hole  and bury it.

Someone asked me recently if after living here for the past two and half years, the romance has worn off.  My answer was no: in fact, it feels more romantic the longer we stay.  Each season I get to know the Homestead a little better.  It really does have such a long and beautiful story, and I've only scratched the surface. My happiest moments happen on days when we have nowhere to be but here.  I imagine we are living a hundred and twenty years ago, fighting predators that threaten our livelihood, and planting seeds hoping against all odds that the grasshoppers, birds and burrowing rodents don't destroy our crops before harvest.

Root Cellar magic

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

We have been one sick family for the past two weeks.  Dang.  Asa spent the night in the hospital with viral croup, Axel has been goopy from almost every orifice for the past week.  I lost my voice and couldn't swallow my throat hurt so intensely bad, and poor Andy got weird blisters on his feet, hands and mouth (hand/foot/mouth) following a fever.  Uggggitty uggg ugg.  Good thing the rainy not-so-nice weather made it easier to be ok with staying in bed.

Speaking of rain, I was feeling a little panicky about our lack of moisture this year.  We needed rain, and rain it did.  So much so that it filled our cistern with gallons of water.  So satisfying to know that we have a little surplus of water heading into spring.  I'm sure the experts are still in a huff about the lack of moisture, and saying how dry our summer will be, and forest fires blah, blah, blah....gloomy doom doom. I'd rather be happy that we got some rain, and worry about fires when/if they come.  Thank goodness I am not an expert on anything, too stressful.

Surplus and food storage got me thinking...

We recently got word from Bob, that we are recipients of a grant that will pay for re-stabilizing our collapsed 120 year old root cellar. This is very meaningful indeed. We are about to embark on the largest garden we have ever attempted, which in theory should provide a ton of food. This said  food will then make it's way to the ROOT CELLAR! And, don't even get me started about the apples from the orchard! We will actually be able to eat food that we grew all year.

This is very exciting to me, as I have always imagined that I was supposed to have been born a hundred years ago, when people did actually know their farmers, and actually grew a lot of their food.  And they ALL had root cellars.

I remember my grandparents' root cellar. It smelled like dusty, over-ripe apples, and was really creepy. Super damp and cold, with piles of sand in it. My grandparents told me that's where the sandman lived, which added to the creepiness because I was young enough that I believed them. All of the food my gram canned and all of the root veggies and apples were down there.  It was part of their life, not a novelty like it is now.

I'm dreaming a little dream that we will be nestled into our cozy little cabin this winter,while snow falls outside, eating pickled beets and applesauce from the root cellar.  Magic is what that is.