Saturday, April 14, 2018

Mid-April is here - we are surviving, even thriving sometimes!

This blog post will be dedicated to our most faithful blog reader/responder: my mom! She just emailed that she was feeling it was about time for a blog post, so here I am! I was starting to feel the same way, and having just downloaded photos I concur that we have generated enough material for one - there were over 125 photos!! That said, the timing for me sitting down to start this is not ideal: almost 9:45 p.m. and Terah and Alida are not exactly getting along very well currently. It's been a big day for all of us, and I should not complain as they just (mostly) did well in a bath together for about an hour. Alida will not make it through much James Herriot reading tonight!

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Here's a few things that some might be interested in knowing about. Hopefully Jason will do a guest blog post before too long, but in case that never ends up happening here's the news: he thinks he may have found pottery clay on our place. To say that he feels pretty excited about that would be an understatement! On a recent office day for me, he and the girls worked some of it up and then while I had some precious alone time in the evening, they made some pottery creations. We'll have to fix our little test kiln in order for him to fire it, but it's a very exciting prospect. I've pictured Jason's little pot below, and will highlight the many blocks of cheddar cheese in the background (I'm happy to note that I finally was brave enough to try a new kind of cheddar that will age 2-6 months - talk about delayed gratification!).
Right now you don't have to dig below the surface to find a lot of exciting things around here. It feels like Christmas every day when we go out and find "new presents sprouting." I munched my first Variegated Great Solomon's Seal sprout the other day, had the first tiny asparagus shoot this evening and the peas are up! There is lettuce sprouting, our cabbage froze, the redbuds are just about to burst open, most of Kali's collards froze, the rhubarb will be ready for picking soon, there are nettles galore, raspberries are sprouting, and there are abundant weeds for the pigs. Have I mentioned how much we love pigs? And how much we love weeding when we have pigs? I am looking for any available pockets of times when I can go load up a basket of weeds to take to our most grateful recipients. Terah is finally not very scared of them anymore - so now I have to be more concerned about her and the electric fence as she is excited about feeding them treats!
There are lots of garlic and onion chives, wintercress broccoli heads and lots of perennial onion seed heads to be using. But it's hard to want to stay inside to cook when the outdoors is beckoning! The other day, however, I did decide to make nettle garlic biscuits and that was a very smart move! YUM!
It's not just plants that are growing. We are enjoying peeking in on the mama hen who is very capably caring for 29 chicks. She is a great mama and I love peeking in and seeing them all around her and sometimes under her with chicks peeking out from under various wings. They are cute and so clearly in tune with where she is and what she is doing. There are four more broody hens sittings on eggs currently.
In contrast to the chicks, the baby ducklings at the arboretum Thursday evening were not quite as in tune with their mama! For our April family night, Kali chose that we pick up burritos at Chipotle and enjoy a picnic and some fun at the Arboretum. We all loved that plan and it was a perfect evening to be outside. We were hoping maybe there would be ducklings, so were very excited to see a mama with 11 small ducklings in the pond. They put on quite a show. They were busy, busy, busy making their rounds. And they are clearly not shy of people. They would come up on the shore and come very close to us. I felt very sorry for the mama as it seemed she was VERY busy trying to keep track of 11 very fast moving curious fuzz balls! As we were leaving around dusk they finally seemed interested in being very close to their mama as we heard loud peeping that sounded very much like "Mama, it's getting dark. Where are you?" Terah was not at all ready to leave as she LOVED the swinging bridge and we all enjoyed walking the labyrinth. The spring flowers were in their prime!
I was proud of us for sticking to our April family night when we had not gotten the potatoes in yet. I think it was very good for us to get to a stopping place, take a break (especially for Jason who has been working so hard in the gardens!) and come back to it fresh the next day. And when we did come back to it we were quite the team! When we are all enjoying working/playing in the gardens together, there is not much in the world I'd rather be doing. Potato planting is a lot about the prep at this point: weeding the area, trenching, adding biochar, adding soil, and then planting potatoes and covering them. They are all in which feels great! And we had more than enough seed potatoes, so I was able to come in from planting and make some potato crusted quiches for our lunch. We have just enough potatoes for another menu or two before having to eagerly wait for this year's crop!
It was good to get the potatoes in the ground because today was not a full Saturday workday. It was the first day of soccer games. Last week's games were cancelled due to the cold and possible snow and this week it was in the mid-upper 70's. Quite the contrast. Kali has games every Saturday at 10:15 and Alida at 1, so we get to go home in between for about 45 minutes. The girls love it and that makes it completely worth it - but it's also exhausting. Terah had no trouble going down for her nap at 2:30! This is Kali's first season on a co-ed team (which is basically mostly a boys' team with her and two other girls). Half of Alida's team are girls she got to know on her team last season and we are again the hub for a group of parent coaches. After a bit of a rocky start, I think we are off to a good start to the season! 
I'll close by noting what a lovely little picnic we had outside this evening together before Jason and I did a walk around and spring tasks list generation (it's rather extensive!). Everyone was so happy to be outside and be together. I felt full and alive and so grateful! I really love this group of humans. As I took things back up to the house, Terah took over photographing the evening. I continue to enjoy seeing the world from her vantage point. I'll include one of her pictures as the last one here. Not bad! Now let's try to get this family bedded down for the night!

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