December 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.
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.
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.
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.
*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.