We have enjoyed two play dates recently with Ivy. Those are always fun evenings for all of us. We've hardly spent any time indoors on either occasion. The concrete pad has definitely been a good investment - it was almost worth it just to see Terah riding the tricycle and pulling Ivy behind her. SO cute! It's been prime picnic weather - cool evenings, not too buggy yet and the fire ring is the best sandbox ever! I'm happy that this year we are not just doing picnics when others join us, but we have been eating outdoors much more frequently than other years. The new picnic table in the shade has been a big bonus
What I'm savoring these days is asparagus! Our old patch is in full swing - giving us a nice mess every other day to saute with garlic or cook up with eggs, nettles, onion and garlic. Our newer patch is well just that - still relatively new and giving us a few spears here and there. The fresh spring foods have felt so delightful this year. Right now we are enjoying so much bounty, so many gifts of this piece of land: onion and garlic chives, perennial onions, peppermint, applemint and lemon balm teas, locust flowers, fennel, dill, spinach, lettuce, anise hyssop. lambs quarters and amaranth, stinging nettle, basswood leaves, beet green thinnings, and of course asparagus. AND the strawberries are just starting (Terah found so many today she started putting them in her pockets - not the best idea but they were still enjoyed).
Ok, so now that I have shared some good news, I cannot put off any longer the potato update! Here photographed is one of the very few potatoes that sprouted. Yes, that is right! Soon after the girls and I planted the potatoes without Jason, we got more and then more rain and our potato patch had running water in it! Below you can see the trenches where our potatoes were planted and were, probably at the time of this photograph, rotting. We filled in the trenches with dirt to soak up the water but alas other than a small section at the highest part of the patch, the first planting was a loss! Didn't exactly build my confidence in managing a large crop planting without Jason, but I know in my head that it had nothing to do with our planting abilities and everything to do with the fact that we have springs coming up in our potato and garlic patches this year for the first time ever!
Ok, let's circle back to something going well. We have a lot of chicks running around with mama hens right now and more hatching all the time! The broody pens in the compost coop are all filled with hens sitting on eggs and in the arch coop there are five broody hens all trying to share a nest - it's rather crowded in there and difficult for Jason to collect eggs having to reach under and around five broodies. :) Chick hatching never seems to get old for this family. We did have one sad situation where we tried to introduce incubator-hatched chicks to a mama hen that had hatched some under her. We missed the window of opportunity for her to bond with the new ones and for a day or two we were rescuing the chicks as she rejected a percentage of them.A recent highlight was a date evening where Jason and I enjoyed a hike to Hensley's Pond just the two of us! It felt so good to catch up and spend some time reflecting on our two decades together as we anticipate celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary this week! As we approach our anniversary, I feel so full of gratitude for the ways we have grown together over the years - I know I loved Jason on May 15, 1999 but that love feels so much deeper and fuller and more beautiful now!One of the surprises of the journey is that sometimes the most beautiful times have come after some of the most painful. Somehow our capacity for grief seems to mirror our capacity for joy!
We have gotten so much joy watching our amaryllis bloom this year. We got seeds from our neighbor, Robert, before he died and they are now such a wonderful reminder of his presence in our lives.
So we made it through April and the busiest week of my work year. We definitely needed to take a silly family photo on May 1 - which was right in the middle of my stretch of 8 or so full work days in a row! I still haven't fully recovered since there is just one week between graduation and when our Summer Peacebuilding Institute starts (tomorrow!). But I've been grateful for a few days at home this week to catch up on what is happening in the house and the gardens. The presence of my parents, and then especially my mom for the days leading up to graduation, was a stabilizing presence for the girls and so helpful to me and Jason.
And graduation went well and was so meaningful - a reminder of why I continue to want to invest some of my time and gifts into my work at the Center for Justice & Peacebuilding. It's definitely a highlight of the year for us to host the graduation party at our homestead on the eve of graduation. It feels like a gift to have so many amazing people celebrating together in this spot that we call home.
Speaking of pigs, that is another update from the last post. NO piglets. BUT we are up one pig. Yes, we bought a boar. The "teddy bear" boar we borrowed is now a bit older and has most likely now impregnated his first sow. The people that cared for him are moving and wanted to sell him. We couldn't turn down the opportunity to buy a boar of great disposition, delivered right to our pig paddock. So he's getting settled in and as of today we combined him with the females - he's very pleased, they are a little less sure. We have been "living into" this decision so not everything is figured out - like what we will do if we have 2 litters of piglets in the fall when folks aren't as interested in buying piglets. We may have some things to figure out down the road, but it felt like a risk we were ready to take (I think...).
So, I don't often remember to take before and after pictures in the garden but this week I knew we were going to have a pretty impressive outcome from our weeding in the onions and shallots. So here you are! We saved this particular job for a day I was home and could prioritize gardening!
Behold the onion patch before weeding:
It was my favorite kind of weeding - predictable, simple, with very dramatic visible effects. We had enough weeds to mulch the middle paths. Yay for keeping the organic matter right in the gardens where we want it!
Ok, I think my foot (now leg) rub is likely coming to an end shortly. Terah tired of it long ago but I think Alida could have a future as a massage therapist. She's good! But she does like to chat with me while she works, so I haven't had a lot of focus as I've typed. But it was worth it...
Just a few things in conclusion. Morning chores continues to be a shared thing and that is exciting. My enjoyment of chores has stuck. And some mornings we'll all be out there together - Kali doing her duck chores, Alida taking care of her chickens, Alida as someone's side kick, me doing chicken/pig chores and this week often Jason scything. That is my favorite way to spend our mornings - outside together.
And, finally, this week is the week! We hope to get most of our main garden plants in - tomatoes, peppers, basil, and sweet potatoes. We got a bunch of seeds in this past week: trombone, cucumbers, and okra. Hoping for some sunshine after a couple rainy days! Looks like sun will be coming our way here before too long (amazingly the girls' soccer schedule has just dodged the rain for the most part and we've all been enjoying the season)! So once we get past the night predicted to go down to 38 degrees, I think we'll feel ready to risk entrusting these little plants to the soil!