Thursday, June 1, 2017

Our daughter the duck, and some gardening updates!

Well, the baby is taking a 2 plus hour nap and I'm out of steam for doing work work (my office job, that is) for this afternoon and so I'll see if I can crank out a quick blog update before she wakes and it is time to go pick up her big sisters from their play date and then get working on dinner that we'll enjoy with friends later this evening!

Things are HOPPING around here - well the bunnies are literally hopping. as is our littlest gal now. Jason and I are mostly working as fast and hard as we can to keep semi on top of the growth and new life happening all around us! I just savored my first sugar snap and snow pea today - the snow pea was ready, the sugar snap I just couldn't resist and would have benefited from another day or two. The mulberry trees are LOADED and so juicy that our fingers were purple in short order when we picked a few this morning. I've made vanilla pudding to go with mulberries the girls promise to pick as soon as they arrive home - 1 in the container for every 2 or more in the mouth I assume!

We are still working to get the rest of the garden things planted. It's slow going trying to get all the gardens up and running but we are getting there - it looks like rain may hold off now until Sunday which is likely going to give us enough time to get the last squash and corn in, as well as the sorghum and maybe some dry beans. We got the sunflowers in right at dark last evening and before that our big planting day was sowing potatoes!

That was a pretty exhausting and exhilarating day! In a month from today we'll be having our second wedding here at Tangly Woods (another former student in my program). The couple is spending some time working with us in the gardens this month and also preparing the spaces their guests will enjoy on the special day. We didn't break them in slowly at all as day 1 of them coming out to help was "potato day." It required breaking sod, digging and cleaning out trenches and then the exciting part of using our first biochar in the trenches before putting a little soil on top and then finally the potatoes could go in and get covered. There is no way we would have gotten it done without their help. I went through a few shirts and pairs of socks that day and was feeling some muscles I don't often use . It was fun to work with others and to savor the satisfaction of a completed job at the end of the day. Now we wait and see what impact biochar has on the soil and our potato crop. Exciting!

Jason has hardly been away from the home place except for his little ventures out to Smithland Soccer Complex. He took over coaching Alida's team for the 2nd half of the season, when JMU ended and they lost a whole bunch of coaches. While it sometimes feels a little hairy to fit that in right now, I think he is enjoying it once at the fields with the girls. And seeing how much Kali and Alida are enjoying it makes it worth it. Kali noted that she is a little sad to see this season wrapping up this weekend (while I admit that I'm ready for a break again until fall). They are both ending their seasons strong as each of them scored their first goal (of this season for Alida and ever for Kali) in last Saturday's games. Mom was the lucky one to see Kali's and Jason was there to cheer Alida on - I sadly missed both, but it was fun to hear about it!

Back on the home front we've got chickens running all over the place. Right now there is probably close to 100 chickens of various ages in the composting chicken coop alone and all 4 broody pens in there are full too with hens sitting on eggs! When you go in in the morning the noise of peeping and clucking and crowing is impressive! And watching them all pour out the door or down the ramp is one of my favorite activities. They all seem to be enjoying their lives immensely AND they are providing a very valuable service to us in the process. We've been so very happy to not be finding hardly any ticks this year thus far and we are crediting all the chickens for that reduction! My favorite is to watch a mama hen out and about with her chicks, teaching them the ropes. Pictured here is a mama who was jumping up to get the ripe barley heads and pull them down for her and her chicks to enjoy. Really, who needs TV!?

On Monday of this week Kali had an unusual day. I've asked her to consider doing a guest blog post but to date she has only said that she'll think about it - more or less a polite no! Awhile back she had put "duck coop day" on the family meeting agenda and Jason was worried this was about building another coop. He was both relieved and amused when Kali sponsored her item to say that she wanted to spend a day in her duck coop to see what it would be like. Monday was her "duck coop day" and she spend from the time she was done their morning chores until nightfall in their coop - only coming out if one of us let her AND the ducks out for a little time running around! Jason delivered lunch to her and we all joined her for a picnic supper outside the coop to keep her company - as she was getting a tad bored by that hour, noting that the ducks seem to have more to do in their coop than her. She was hard core too - she took her sun hat and water (no time keeping device or reading material). I would have gone stir crazy!!
Well, I'll end with a little picture of my side kick today! I miss Kali and Alida when they are gone for the day but also relish the simplicity of just keeping up with one kiddo and cherish having a little one on one time with our youngest, as that is a rare occurrence. We've had a fun day in the kitchen and gardens and I guess I must have wore her out - it appears I may have to wake her in order to get her sisters here before dinner! We got the solar dryer out for the first time this year and have a mammoth batch of oregano dried and ready to process. It's good we are about to have everything planted as the harvesting is about to start picking up with berries coming right, peas on the cusp of fattening and the normal trickle of herbs for drying and making pesto with, lettuce and kale as we want it, making tea as often as I can stand to, etc... We have about finished harvesting garlic scapes and I've been able to off load grocery bags full to others to enjoy! Yes, to add to the descriptors I've been using to characterize my life (overjoyed and overwhelmed) I will have to add a third: abundance!

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