On extended absences

P1110221December flowers (calendula, good for hand cream) inside a snow-surrounded greenhouse #2

Ah, wherever have I been?  I have noticed that most blogs which go dark do what I just did:  no warning, just a waning quantity of posts and then poof!  no new posts.  For most bloggers, the end is unintentional.  I am not quite sure if I wish to end FGtW, but I have not been keen to post to it.

To answer the question, I have been where I have always been.  We have added homeschooling to our list of daily tasks, and like most start-ups, it has been overwhelming, mostly because nothing else in our lives has changed and we still have the same holes to dig or get out of every day.  I will say this about choosing to school one’s child fully at home:  It feels complete, full circle.

P1110206Sit and spin a while with us (Daughter’s Lendrum and my Ashford Traddy.  Dyed wool at right above blending hackle…lots of low-tech fun).  The front porch has become a fiber haven.

With the turning of the calendar pages come harvests made and plantings begun.  The garden calendar is as cyclical as all others.  Sometimes I flatter myself because I have been able to eke out larger harvest windows for many things (via season extension or milking through or even leaving a light on in the coop for three extra hours of ovulatory trickery in the egg birds) but most days I understand that these tricks, these hoop-jumps, are less time-saving than lifestyle-making.  I couldn’t HAVE a year-round CSA without the greenhouses, a traditional dairy calendar says I would be done with milking* about now, and no extra light means two eggs a day, and not thrice that.  It is simply a matter of commitment.  I want this so therefore I need to put the work in to make it happen.

P1110217Chickories and lettuce in the newest greenhouse

So when visitors marvel at the amount of labor they perceive is required to keep this place afloat, I kind of snicker inwardly.  I realize that, partially, it is the infrastructure that confounds them.  It sure looks like a lot of gardening, and wow, three goats a-milking?  And I will admit that often I am very tired.  But really, I have a secret.

Truth be told?  Global warming has saved my ass on most harvest windows.  It sickens me, but it is true:  the usual cessation of farm-related tasks that attends winter has simply occurred later and later each year.  We only just harvested our honey** this week:  the kitchen remains quite sticky.  And I finally cleared out the oldest greenhouse on Saturday.  On that fated day, baskets of green and hot peppers were pulled from living plants, forty pounds of sweet potatoes were unearthed under fading vines, and about 250 pounds of curing squash made the wheelbarrow commute from greenhouse to root cellar.  These tasks (honey harvest, pepper/sweet potato harvest and curing squash) should have been completed in October, not mid-December.

P1110209Livvy checks if the fence is live (it is) while T-bell and Cricket look on

So, sure, I have figured out some tricks.  I think most of human innovation involves some risk-taking, be it on a personal scale or a more species-wide one.  I still think high-nutrient food-growing is a terribly important thing, that our current system of growing food is horribly broken, and, if one is willing to risk it, a person who grows food for her own family’s consumption can scale up to year-round, then scale up to growing for others.  It really is not that hard to do once you have mastered the basics.  If I, with my rather limited time, can produce enough food for six other families on top of what I already grow for us…well, you get the picture.  Doing so, however, might not allow for much blogging time.

But I am still here.  And the gardens still grow.

P1110204Yarn fun

*we now have three goats:  T-bell, Cricket and new girl Livvy, a prima donna of a purebred doe.  I have elected to not breed them this fall, and instead continue milking them.  T-bell has been milking continuously since Jan ’10.  Of this writing, I get about 9 pints per milking.

**we have four hives this year.  Of the four, two are healthy and two are not (probably need to be replaced in the spring).  We leave them their honey through the winter, taking the top super off…four supers are about four gallons of honey, in this, an awfully stressful, year.

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33 responses to “On extended absences

  1. So pleased to hear from you, El! I have missed your posts. Glad your back.:)

  2. El, so glad to see you back! Seems like a lot of blogs have gone quiet lately. Especially the most interesting ones. I’m going to read all your goat posts now. That’s our spring project.

  3. Glad to hear you’re doing well! Blogging is a lot of work, but I really enjoy yours. Hope you’ll have some more time now that is seems winter is here for real.

  4. Nice to hear you’re all okay and the snow is falling on the blog again!

  5. Missed your posts! But completely understand life taking over. I always enjoy your long, thoughtful posts, and the photos :) and I do always marvel at how you get it all done (does she live on 4 hours sleep? I think to myself).

  6. Yay!

  7. I have really enjoyed following, reading and learning from you over the years. And I’ve missed you during this silence, however, I am just so happy about this post because you are living your life and in such a beautiful and deeply earthy way. Right on! Happy Solstice and New Year to all of you.

  8. To quote Brad; “Yay!”
    The silence was a worry, and I’m so glad to hear all is well, El.
    I look forward to reading your posts again, if you can find the time and energy.

  9. Oh El, I’m so glad you are not only surviving but thriving! I am just getting into spinning so your wheels have me foaming at the mouth. I have to admit it is a relief to not be milking the goats right now (I chose to not milk through this winter) and there is not one spot on my five acres in sun this time of year so winter gardening is something that needed to start during high kidding season for me (I had 10 goats born here last year!)

    I agree that once you have the gardening thing down for your family it is not a leap to grow for others. I’m just still trying to get the gardening thing down up here in the woods. The long drought extending into non-existent fall sickened me as well. It will be interesting refiguring gardening. I tried to hedge my bets with both cool season and warm weather things last year only we had two summers and two a fall in June and July so the winter crops bolted and the summer ones struggled. I think I may need to concentrate on kale. I would love to hear how the weather changed what you’ll be planting next year, even though we are in totally different climates (and more importantly) sunlight hours. xo!

  10. So happy that you are back (no pressure though). I do a blog too and the same thing happened to me (life, work, etc). I enjoy your honesty, sense of humor and style of writing. Your blog is a fun read!

  11. Feeling a little ridiculous, fearing the worst, almost started calling Michigan hospitals. Glad you’re back. Thank you.

  12. I was just thinking about you the other day and wondering how things were at your homestead.

    I’ve noticed that a lot of “our cohort” of bloggers – folks who started blogging around 2008/9 – are petering out on the blogging front. Life happens, we run out of things to say, the topics that used to be new and exciting and *I just have to share this* are now so de rigeur that there’s no urge to write about them. Or there are just more of them, and writing about every damn thing you did just becomes too much of a drag.

    So, cheers! Your blog will remain in my feed reader, and if you write, I’ll read. And if you don’t write, enjoy all the other things you’re doing with your time! It’s one of the most precious things we each have – right up there with health, love, and clean water.

  13. I was just thinking about you day before yesterday, I’m glad you’re back. You have your priorities straight. Keep up the good work.

  14. I understand how daunting it can be sometimes to blog when you don’t want to, but it’s really good to hear from you El! Even if you don’t post that often, keep all of us updated with your projects! I love hearing about the greenhouses… since I can’t have any of mine own here! Hee hee.
    It’s wonderful all of the little changes you’ve made too, and how The Girl is now at home~ What a lovely decision – she’ll be a very smart and well knowledged little lady under your guidance!
    And Livvy! Hiya new member to the family! /waves

  15. Glad to hear from you! Welcome to the homeschooling world. Hope you post now and again -

  16. Nice to have an update, glad you guys are well. Congratulations on your decision to homeschool, it’s the best decision we ever made as parents (that said, my daughter just decided to try school for grade 10!). I also seem to have hit the blogging wall; I spent so many years dreaming through my blog about doing the homesteading thing, but now that I’m doing it, there’s not much time for documenting (and there are others doing a much better job of it anyway!). You’re one of those others, so I hope you’ll continue to update us now and then. :)

  17. hmmmm…. maybe a photo album… the periodic postings of, you know, stuff. :-) you’re usual cool stuff. words not required. we could all learn to compromise out here…

  18. your cool stuff. Why can’t I go back and edit? Sigh.

  19. oops, left my comment on the wrong post. ahem, great to hear you are doing well! sounds like you have your hands full with lots of awesome projects. Thanks for the update, I always enjoy getting a glimpse into your world. Very inspiring. Take care!
    Warmly,
    Molly from DogfightCove

  20. Good to hear from you El. I certainly missed your updates.

    Are you still working full-time while homeschooling? Wow; you can pack a lot in a day!

  21. So happy to see this today, I missed your posts too. Glad that all is well.

  22. El! Glad to see you back here! I’ve been wondering. I missed you and your updates. Sounds like things are rocking along up there, busy as usual, or maybe more so.

    Just wanted to say Hey! from LA (Lower Alabama), where it’s finally getting cold, and we have TEN BABY BUNNIES!!! (our first litters, can you tell we’re excited!!)

    jules

  23. I, too am glad to see a new post from you. As the garden season winds down I feel a terrific letdown that just won’t go away. I have been able to work a lot longer than usual, yes it stays warmer later but it still gets dark so early.
    We love to read your adventures with your greenhouses which is what I wish I had to continue gardening into the snowy time. I am planting bulbs in pots to have something to look forward to in spring.
    Yes, the yarn looks a good thing to work with in the cold weather.
    Stay well.
    Chris

  24. Merry Christmas, so happy to see you post again.

  25. Good to hear from you!

  26. El – so glad to know you weren’t blogging for all the “right” reasons: because life’s full, not because of sickness. You’ll post when you post, and I’ll love reading whatever you post. But if you don’t post, you don’t post. But even if so…. please, please, don’t take your blog down!

    Climate change is good for something (figs! pomegranate! lettuce with barely any cover in December! planting in February!) but not for others: no maple sap to draw, increased summer heat stresses plants and reduces fruit production, less rain and when it comes it’s torrential…. Sigh….

    Wishing you and your family a peaceful joyful winter, full of fascinating new endeavors.

    Warmly – Sylvie

  27. Isn’t spinning the most relaxing art form? I’m glad all is well.
    Happy New Year.

  28. Happy New Year! What email can I reach you at? I had a question. Sent you at email…not sure you got it : ) Hafiz

  29. I saw an older post you made about Fr Miceli (which made me laugh because I also dated one of his favorite RA’s and he took a like’n to me as well). I though you would want to know he passed away 12/9/12. We always send him a Christmas card and we just received a note from his niece telling us he had died. She said he was not ill long. He had just celebrated the 60th anniversary of his ordination in August.
    Catherine

    • Thank you for letting me know about Fr Miceli’s passing, Catherine. (I googled him and was actually kind of surprised how high my dumb little post came up in Google’s search–I had buried my discussion of him in the comments after all–but reading his obit and going further in the search itself brought up a few forgotten and happy memories.) How sweet that he cultivated a wee vineyard in his post-retirement years! My memory of his wine was that it was cultivated from his two small-ish but well-tended vines right outside his window at Cavanagh. *My* long-ago RA boyfriend lived right next door to the man so I had many, many conversations with Father. I really liked him, old-school virtues and all, and he liked me even though I was probably as polar opposite to him as I could be. That in itself tells you what kind of man he was. He will be missed.

      all the best to you, fellow alumna

  30. I hope you still post every now and again! I enjoy stopping by on a slow afternoon and seeing what you’ve been up to. Love the goats too! YOu have always been inspiring.

  31. I confess to also enjoying the effects of climate change, with the rather enormous exception of the hurricanes we seem to now get at least once a year.

  32. Seems like has done a very help on your gardening.. Cool.

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