Sometimes I fry biscuits just because my mom used to sometimes fry biscuits. This takes patience and courage. Patience because too high a temp will leave you with a charcoal crust. Courage because you’ve got to use a lid and the condensation you will see dripping will engender horrible thoughts of soggy bread. But don’t despair, if you persevere you will have little nuggets of golden deliciousness.
Lately though, I feel as if idle hands are a sin. Recently while puttering in the garden I had the thought that I should occupy my hands as much as possible with work that adds to my household.
Since then I’ve kept a stash of scrap material, scissors, needle, and thread in a drawer in the end table next to the love seat where I sit to watch television. This quilt is paper-pieced in the English tradition. It’s very easy but very time consuming.
Each little hexagon is a small piece of fabric folded over a paper template and basted in place.
Then each of the hexagons are whip stitched together.
It’s a lot of small steps but not complicated.
I don’t know what the future holds for me or what it is that I am working through but at least I know that I will have a quilt (something beautiful?) at the end.
At roughly $95 an ounce you would think you could get rich growing Saffron. Probably not gonna happen. Saffron is the stigma from the flower of the Saffron Crocus. Each flower produces only three of the tiny filaments and each one has to be harvested by hand. It takes about an acre and several hundred thousand plants to produce one pound of spice. That’s only $1500 an acre. It’s not a winning agricultural strategy.
But we’re going to try growing our own anyway.
We ordered bulbs from the Dutch Grown catalog and they arrived a few days ago. The instructions said to plant them as soon as they arrived. Well, we couldn’t really decide on a spot in our tiny yard. They need rich soil that is well drained. Rich soil we got. Well drained? Well, that’s a rare commodity in the Pacific Northwest. What we did have was some lumber from some crappy shelves my husband had removed from the utility room recently.
This is the Himalayan Blackberry, or as I like to call it, the Kudzu of the Northwest. Several years ago this non-native bramble found its way into Washington state and now covers practically every non-mown square inch of land. We looked at a house here where the backyard was seriously, no lie, so packed with these things that you couldn’t go in.
This is my husband picking said blackberries while we were out riding bikes on the edge of town. I think he’s so hot when he’s out foraging food. Hahaha, he will kill me when he sees I’ve posted that he was “foraging food.”
I didn’t feel like digging out my water-bath canner so this is the pot with a folded tea towel in the bottom that I used to can the delicious black jellied bounty. One of the greatest and most discouraging myths about canning your own food, especially high acid food like jellies, jams, and pickles is that it is difficult to do and requires large amounts of equipment. It doesn’t. If more people would learn that this is not true the world would be a better place I believe. It’s tough to be mad at the world when you’re licking sweet blackberry juice off a spoon. I mean really.
My dearest friend said to me the other day that after reading some of my recent posts it seems as though I am settling in here. I can see how it might seem that way. The yard, the garden, all the improvements we’ve made to this humble dwelling would suggest a certain attachment. But the truth is I’m not settling in. I’m still very much unsettled. Things could change of course. I’ve got an interview for a position with the same company at a different site next week. That alone could make a big difference. I could come to realize that my kids really are grown and capable of being happy and healthy with me in a different state. But none of those things are true right now.
So why all the effort on the house and the garden?
Well, the house thing has become habit I think. This is what… the third house we’ve remodeled? I think that if we were to move into a “ready to live” home we wouldn’t know how to act.
The other though, the garden, the dehydrating and canning, the planting and long term planning – that is the result of learning. I’ve been sporadically reading Joel Salatin’s You Can Farm and one of the things he tells would-be agriculturists is to try it where you are. He’s pretty blunt and says straight out that if you can’t do it where you are you probably won’t be able to do it when you finally find that perfect little country place either.
He’s talking about creativity of course. No one could possibly expect me to be able to raise miniature cows in this 55+ mobile home park. That would be insane. But if I can’t grow carrots here in a small patch I definitely won’t be able to grow them in a market garden somewhere else. If I can’t find some creative way to market what I do here then the most likely outcome at a bigger place is not being able to do it on a grander scale. Get the picture?
So I’ve begun. It’s that simple. And if tomorrow the opportunity to move back home should present itself I will walk away from all the work and not be sad at all because it’s the work, the effort, the learning, THE BEGINNING that is important.
However, the truth is that opportunity may never materialize so I’m through waiting on perfection to shake my hand and say, “Let’s get started.” I’m starting now and perfection will just have to hustle his ass and catch up to me.
Finally got the garden space reorganized. It’s my little bit of bringing order to chaos. I now have six 7′ X 2′ beds to grow in instead of one 3′ X 6′ bed. Even though there’s more growing space the overall footprint is smaller. If you look closely you can see the new sod I added around the edge of the area. Beginning with the bed closest to the lower right corner of the picture the beds contain: 1. Carrots. Two different kinds (I can’t remember the names and it’s too early in the morning to dig out my garden journal haha). One kind is a medium length carrot and the other is little ball shaped carrot that is popular in France. 2. This bed gets its reddish hue from the newly emerged beet sprouts. 3. Cauliflower – Snowball? 4. This bed is empty in the picture but I’m going to put out spinach seed sometime today. 5. Mix of cauliflower and broccoli – Packman 6. Broccoli – Packman The production I get from these beds will depend on the weather we have over the next few weeks of course but at worst the plants should at least over-winter and give me an early spring harvest. Temps here are pretty moderate in winter. Rain, it seems, is the big challenge. We will see what we will see.
Iused some of the myriad paving stones in the yard to make a raised herb bed. We’ve got Basil, Chives, Rosemary, Sage, and Thyme. I’ve always wanted an herb bed and always had some kind of reason why I couldn’t have it right now. Well, I have it now. 🙂
You can see the height of the herb garden in this picture. You can also see that there is more work to be done. Isn’t there always more work to be done? I’ve got to figure out something to do with the stacks of pavers that are STILL there. The last owner was a big believer in pavers!
And then there’s this. This volunteer tomato plant just sprang up in an odd place in the yard. Of course it’s the tomato that is growing the best – much better than the two hybrid plants we bought because they were supposedly perfect for the Northwest. This plant is maturing late so it’s a toss up as to whether we will see many of these tomatoes on a plate but if we can nurse it to ripening I’m going to save some seeds for next year. And that my friends is all the news worth printing this Sunday morning. Hope you have a good week.