Spring

The sun has finally decided to shine here in the soggy Pacific Northwest and it feels wonderful. I just thought I would share some of the stuff we’ve been up to while I’ve neglected to write.

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We built some raised beds. We planted asparagus in two of them and some potatoes that we had left over from last year in the other two. The asparagus is making a straggling start but the potatoes are going gangbusters. The potatoes were an unplanned exercise in seed-saving. I didn’t even think about it until I was checking plants today but we grew those potatoes last year and now we’re growing a new crop. Awesome!

We also got two new Langstroth hives going. I added another deep box to each one yesterday. They seem to be going strong. The different hives make it much easier to check their progress. So far no signs of Varroa mites. Knock on wood. I also discovered (thank you YouTube) that punk wood makes a most excellent smoker fuel. Punk wood is that spongy, rotten wood you find on the forest floor, the kind you can crumble in your hand. Pick it up, put in the barn somewhere and let it dry. Smolders forever.

We’ve been walking in the woods a little this spring – mostly because it’s been too soppy to do anything else – and it’s always an adventure. The pink flower above and the berry below it are wild raspberry. The mass of golden flowers is Oregon Grape. So far I’ve not been able to beat the wildlife to the ripe fruit but I’m going to keep an eye on them this year and see if I can finally taste them.

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I got a wild hair (hare?) and decided to try carving a goose egg. The only tool I have is a $9 Dremel knockoff from Harbor Freight but it was still fun and a hobby I’m thinking of continuing.

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Speaking of goose eggs, ours are finally starting to hatch. We’ve got three goslings so far. I don’t know how many will actually hatch because the two geese that sat decided to sit on the same nest. If you can get used to the noise I would say that geese are probably the easiest, cheapest livestock we’ve tried so far. The vast majority of their diet is grass and they basically keep themselves. We built them a shelter but they only used it for nesting. They certainly don’t mind being out in the rain. We’ll see how it goes when winter rolls around.

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And finally, this little lady showed up today. This is Tilly the cow. She’s a four year old Jersey. She’s open and dry, meaning she’s not pregnant and not giving milk. That’s okay. I wanted to have her for a while before breeding her.

I can’t believe we have a cow!!

She’s halter trained and also pickets which is good because our fences are still not complete. Next week I will use electric fence to make her a paddock off the barn so she doesn’t have to be tethered all the time. Although, I must say there is something romantic about staking out a small house cow and moving her throughout the day. It’s one of those rosy, probably not too real, romantic images from the past.

Did I say I can’t believe we have a cow?! Well I can’t! 🙂

I think that’s it for now. Waiting for Tilly’s arrival today has just about worn me out.

I hope you are all doing well.

-J

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Eggs Must Be Gathered

Despite all the chaos in the world eggs must still be gathered. Seeds must still be planted. Wood must still be cut and joy can still be found.

Even when I can’t find the energy to write in my farm journal the coop must still be cleaned and the grass mown. I still find the pink blooms of wild raspberries on my walks in the woods and I still wait with piquant anticipation on the arrival of goslings.

This weekend will extend the berry bed to enclose the new gooseberry and currant plants. We will buy and install bird netting because birds don’t follow politics.

The elk still appear on my morning drive to work.

I am so thankful for the things that must be done, they pull me up and away from the steady stream of bad news. They don’t replace the needful drumbeat of action but they temper, somehow, the berserker urge – like a large anchor on a small tempest tossed boat.