Continued Establishment

This past weekend was packed with planting trees, planting bushes, moving our turkeys out of their brooder, a surprise birthday party for my Mother-in-Law and Mothers day.

It was a good, good weekend.

Turkeys

Let’s start with the turkeys.  We have two white broad breasted turkeys we bought from Meyers Hatchery.  We brooded them until they were feathered out (when all of their down turns to feathers).

The gobblers in their brooder

Yesterday, Chris built a three sided lean-to for their protection out of scrap left on the property by the last owner, and we moved the turkeys outside into the electro-netting.  Electro-netting is a flexible fence that can be easily electrified to keep out predators such as raccoons, fox, and coyotes.

Now, if you are a fox, raccoon or coyote, I’d appreciate you stop reading.  The details I am about to provide will lead to heartache for me and dinner for you.  So as a favor, please stop.

In our move, we seemed to have misplaced our fence energizer.

This means that during the night, the only thing that is standing between predators and  our little turkeys is a sheet of old plywood haphazardly placed in front of their three sided coop.  We now have sitting ducks, or more correctly, sitting turkeys.  Being so small makes them extra vulnerable.  ***UPDATE*** while I was writing this post, Chris created a door.  Our Turkeys are now safe.

Aside from predator fears (which are now allayed), watching them running around and experience the grass between the clawed toes was so much fun to watch.  They are now hanging out in their lean-to.

Turkeys relaxing in their coop. Fresh water, fresh greens, fresh air. Turkey-ing it up.

The coop was made of trash the previous owner left behind. No trip to the hardware store needed!

Trees/Perennials

We are still filling in our food forest landscape with trees.  We received another Plum, a Golden Delicious and another paw paw.  We planted the paw paw and the Golden Delicious in our backyard orchard, and we added the plum to the front yard orchard.  (as we’re keeping track of cost, each tree cost $18.16, but we already accounted for the paw paw, so let’s add another $36.32 (2 x $18.16) to our overall bill.

We decided to put our fruit trees in two concentrated areas.  This will allow to care for and harvest a bit easier.  We should also be able to fence off and fend of any deer that may think they want our trees or fruits as a nice snack.

Blueberries:

My in-laws gifted us with two blueberry bushes.  What a fantastic present!!  They are large and beautiful.  One was a “Blue Crop” and the other is “Patriot “.

Blueberry plant that was gifted to us is ripening. YUM!

We are planting the blueberries on the north and west side of the strawberry patch. This will allow for the strawberries to soak up all the morning sun, but be shielded from the afternoon sun.  Both strawberries and blueberries like acidic soil, so these berries are happy to be together.

More of What We’ve Planted

We are working to invest in perennials on our property.

In our Stark Brothers order, which included Strawberries, we also bought oodles of other plants.  Including:

  • 1 Bare-root Sugar Maple
    • Why: This is a hard wood tree.  It doesn’t really have a lot of food value, unless we decide to tap for maple syrup (which I know nothing about).  It’s beautiful in Fall and helps to create a diverse environment, as well as provide habitat for whatever creatures.
    • Where: We planted this in our front yard.  Our driveway is pretty long, but you can still see the house from the street, and the street from the yard.  I would like to feel like I live in the middle of a forest. How do you do that?  By reforesting, of course!
    • Cost: $26.99

Sugar Maple

After being planted for about 2 weeks, the leaves are starting to come forth.

  • 2 Elderberries (Adams and York)
    • Why: I planted these are the old house, and had great success with them.  They turn into bushy plants with white flowers and medicinal berries.  The birds love it.  I plan to add the other two cultivars Stark Brothers has available.  I couldn’t find any real difference between the York and the Adams.  I’m not really sure what the difference is, aside from the name.
    • Where:  I planted this out back of our porch.  We have a beautiful view of a valley, but I don’t really get to see the little song birds flit around.  I hope that by giving the birds a place to congregate, I can see them play from my kitchen table.
    • Cost: $8.99 and $11.99 for a total of $20.89Image may contain: cloud, sky, plant, tree, outdoor and nature
  • Chicago Hardy Fig
    • Why: Because, YUM! We planted this at our old house and hand a harvest of 5 figs the first year, and over 50 by year 3.  Fresh figs in a store cost about $1/piece, so this tree paid for itself, quickly!
    • Where: I planted this between the two elderberries.  A nice little place for the birds.  The birds left the figs alone at the old house.  Let’s hope they do the same here!
    • Cost: $21.99
  • Hall’s Hardy Almond
    • Why: this is starting to sound like I’m on repeat,  but it’s true! We had this tree at the old house, and it did really well. It didn’t bear fruit (nuts, actually) while we lived there, but the flowers were beautiful.  Chris and I drove past the old house, and saw the Almond Tree in full bloom.  I went home and ordered this.
    • Where: Out front of the house
    • Cost: $29.99
  • Paw-Paw (Pennsylvania and Seedling)
    • Why: I want to taste a Paw-Paw!  And Stark Brothers didn’t have many left.  It takes 7 years for a tree to bear fruit, so we wanted to get these in the ground ASAP.  We bought 2 Pennsylvania cultivars and 1 seedling.  The seedling will work as a pollinator for the Pennsylvania.  We will continue to add varieties as time goes by.
    • Where: We are starting a small orchard so that we can effectively fence this off from deer pressure, if that becomes a problems.  While it’s good to have similar species spread out to avoid a total wipe out due to disease or pest infestation, having similar plants with similar needs together allows for easier care and harvesting.  This is an area where I’m stepping away from a Permaculture ideal to move towards my own simplicity.
    • Cost: 2 Pennsylvania Golden Paw Paw (2 at $18.16) and a Seedling ($26.99) for a total of $63.31
  • Asparagus (Purple Passion from Stark Brothers and Jersey Knight from a local nursery)
    • Why: this is really simple.  it’s because I love asparagus and because I like to try new things.  So purple asparagus.  SURE! I bought the Jersey Knight Asparagus because that’s what the store had.  The crown were a little sad, but I was able to plant six crown total. The Jersey Knight gives good yields and is heat and cold tolerant.
    • Where: In our asparagus bed.  We have it heavily mulched with wood chips.
    • Cost: Purple Aspargus ($14.99 (better qulaity and more crowns)), Jersey Knight ($5.99) for a total of $20.98
  • Beauregard Sweet Potato (not perennial, but I bought this from Stark Brothers)
    • Why: Sweet potatoes are amazing and super healthy.  See my post here.  Clearly I’ve had them before.
    • Where: They came super early and cannot be planted until the ground has warmed up.  Probably June.  I’m not sure where their final place will be.  To store them until planting, I put them in a quart Mason Jar.  The spruced right up, and have roots that are starting to sprout.  We’ll see how it turns out when we actually plant them.
    • Cost: $31.99 for 25 slips

Sweet potato slips biding time until it’s warm enough to plant them in the ground.

  • Bubblegum Plum
    • Why: I like Plums, and the name!!!  I have another plum tree ordered as a pollinator.  It should be here next week.  At that time, I’ll update you!
    • Where: In front of our home.  It seems to be doing well.
    • Cost: $29.99

So far, we’re really enjoying building our food forest. Its been rather expensive thus far, but we only have to plant these trees once, and we should get to harvest from them for years.  Perennials are also better for your environment, as it is a steadfast habitat for critters in the soil and above.

 

Strawberries of 2017

When we moved into our cottage (aside: Yes, I want to call this a cottage.  It is 1200 square feet with two bedrooms, one bath and NO STORAGE), I wanted to focus on the inside of the home and really make it ours.

In our old house, we did NOTHING inside and spent hundreds of hours installing chicken coops, chicken runs, turkey coups, gardens and trees. When we got ready to sell, we painted, installed new carpets, and made the inside shine.  I decided the new cottage would be different.  We would put our mark on the inside of the cottage.  After all, it’s on the inside that counts, right?

And we did.

Kind of.

We painted everything in the cottage except for the bedrooms.  And it looked great. But it’s been almost five months, and the bedrooms have yet to be painted. And then we stopped.

Now, I have 22 chickens ordered, two turkeys in the brooder and various things planted and planned to be planted outside.  So you can see I didn’t quite learn my lesson.  But the soil calls me,  having a part in creating my own food is so wonderful, and helps to make me feel connected to the real world around me.  I also feel like it’s making my place in space a little bit better and healthier, as far as the environment and soil is concerned.

For my record, as well as (possibly / hopefully) your enjoyment, I’ve outlined what, where, why, and the cost of what I planted. As I will being detailing our adventure thoroughly, this will be a series of posts.  Starting with our Strawberries.

When:

We  planted these on April 29 and 30.

Where:

I used the garden bed that was established by the previous owner to plant strawberries.  This bed is optimally placed.  It has perfect Southern and Eastern exposure and is shaded from the afternoon sunshine.

I have heavily mulched the bed with straw and wood chips.

 

75 strawberry plants of three different varieties: Sparkle (25) , Honeoye (25) and Ozark (25).  These came in the “All summer long” variety pack from Stark Brothers.

I love Stark Brothers for two big reasons.  The first reason is that they have the BEST descriptions. I’ve done research on certain varieties that I’ve found on other website and local garden centers.  I’ve found that the Google machine seems to send me to Stark Brothers page first. Secondly, I have an account on Stark Brothers.  This keeps track of what I bought and when. When deciding what to buy, I was able to access my account and see what I planted at the old house.

Back to the planted strawberries.

Cost:

I chose the “All Summer Long” package because it was on sale.  And I thought it would be nice to have strawberries all summer long.  I bought 75 bare-root plants for $18.16.  This was part of their anniversary sale and they were founded in $18.16.  If I would have bought each variety by itself, each order of 25 bare root plants would have cost $14.99 for a total cost of $44.97.  My savings: $26.81.

What:

The first variety I planted was Sparkle, a June Bearer.  Per Stark Brothers’ website:

Shining taste and appearance. Medium-sized fruit has outstanding flavor whether they’re enjoyed fresh, frozen, or in preserves. Plant are productive and easy to grow, bearing reliable crops of deep red berries even in northern gardens. Escapes frost injury. Cold-hardy. Ripens in late June. Self-pollinating.

Sparkle Strawberry

After that I planted Honeoye, another June Bearer:

A hardy, consistent producer. This vigorous plant bears crops reliably, with good runner production. The strawberries are delicious fresh, frozen, or in jams and wines. Cold hardy. Ripens in June. Self-pollinating. A licensed variety of Cornell University.

Honeoye Strawberry June Bearer

And finally, my “everbearing” variety, the Ozark Beauty:

Enjoy fruit and a protective ground cover. In addition to keeping weeds at bay, this everbearer produces wave after wave of sweet, delicious, scarlet-red strawberries. In our test plots, this is one of the hardiest, most vigorous, heaviest-producing everbearing strawberries. Cold hardy. Ripens in early summer and continues to fruit until first frost. Self-pollinating.

Ozark Beauty Strawberry

Why?

So, uh, have you tasted a strawberry?  Well, they are delicious, especially eaten directly from the plant, slightly warmed from the sun.  YUM!

I’m also planning on making Jam from it for my kid’s peanut butter and jelly.

How are they doing so far?

It has been just under a week since we planted the strawberries, and I think they are doing pretty well.  We had almost a full day of perfect rain for the garden.  That light rain that soaks deep into the ground an nourishes the root systems of plants.  Our strawberries have turned from brown to vibrant green.  I think they are settling in quite nicely.

 

 

Our New Place in Space (and other Updates)

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned.  It has been over one year since I have posted.

Here’s what’s going on in my world:

We recently purchased a new property.  It is lovely.

  • 4 acres
  • Flat (oh, I don’t have to contend with a hill when making design plans!)
  • Beautiful View
  • Cute, small, simple house

Did I mention the view?

Okay, I guess you have to see it!

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You can see three miles into the distance.  And when fireworks go off in the valley, you can see those!

I know in a past post, I declared that I was D-O-N-E with all this DIY.  Well, in order to sell the house, we needed to rip out the garden.  I also went all-in on work.

Well, all work and no play makes Julia a dull girl.

I missed getting my hands dirty.  I missed growing my own food.  One full season away from anything agricultural showed me that.

And now, I’m working on cultivating this piece of flat land.  And I’m doing it more simply, and I’m not trying to do it all.  All at once. or All by myself.

I am doing this one step at a time.  I’m using some more conventional methods.  And my husband is walking arm and arm with me.

I’m sharing this journey so that I have an online record of where the property and our family has been, I want to see where we end up.  And I’d like you to join me!

I’m also intending to keep track of yields and what, when and where we’ve planted things, along the the results.

Wanting Opposites

In my last post, I discussed one of my favorite writers, Daniele LaPorte and one of the excerpts from her book :  The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul  She had so many wonderful thoughts, exercises and writing prompts.  I really enjoyed it and still do.  In fact, I bought a copy for one of my friends.

In that same book, she lists some of her desires.  From wanting to shave her head and also wanting to have long beautiful hair.  Who hasn’t desired opposites?  My big opposite desires are the freedom of being tied toanything, and my agricultural, living of the land simply dreams.  In the same vein, but opposite. This is the duality I have always and will always feel.  This tug I’ve never been able to fully reconcile.  Quite frankly, I doubt I ever will.

But,  in these opposites, I see similarity.  I see that I crave a life of simplicity, semi-solitude, and quiet.  Give me organic acoustic.  I want the Bow and Arrow vs the rifle.  Give me the Kayak vs the motor boat.  I feel myself tense when I enter a city.  My deep breaths are met with the sourness (ugh, Philly in Spring will make you eyes water).  When I drive into the country, the mountains, the valleys I can breathe.  The crick in my neck loosens and my heart can beat fully. I feel home.

I think within these opposite pulls, we need to find the similar thread, and I think this thread is part of the fabric that makes us us.  The Sarah-ness of Sarah, or the Julia-ness of Julia.

One day I may find myself living in van down by the river or climbing crag moving with the seasons, or I may find myself on a small permaculture farm  tending to my roots.  I may also be working for a corporation BUT I’m sure I’ll always crave wide open spaces.  I’m sure I’ll always dream.  I’m sure I’ll always come up with wild ideas and I’m sure I’ll always, always be changing my mind.

Comfort comes from seeing the consistency of my wild dreams.  It makes me feel not so much like a flailing teenager.  It makes me feel like my pendulum of desire is no longer swinging as wildly from one extreme to another, but quietly swinging back and forth like a porch swing in a spring breeze.  (Please note: this breeze is decidedly in the country and NOT in any major metropolitan area)

Inspired

Creators and Consumers

Innovators and Copiers

Actors and Audience

I think we all land in  both categories at some time.  We have to.  But some people create, innovate and entertain more often than others.  They can’t help it.  Their wheels are always turning, innovating.  And the aim of their creation reaches so much further than just any single object or idea they put in the world.

One of my favorite writers, Danielle LaPorte (DanielleLaPorte.com) strings words together that make me feel, make me think in different ways and opens my mind.  I’m consuming her stuff, but it also makes me want to create.

She tells a story a two of her friends in The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul, Lance and Louise.  Louise loves Lance, Lance doesn’t quite feel the same vibe for Louise.  So, in a very romantic movie kind of way, Louise approaches him about her love one final time.  And like the lyrics of a song, the words in this story play in my mind over and over again.

With heart in hand and Cabernet courage

Geez.  I can feel that.

Her selection and ordering of words make me feel.  Who knows if that was her why.

She also describes her desires in another section of the book.  She wants to “make things that make people want to make things of their own”.  With that single line, she inspired me to want to make things.  To be a creator.  To be part of the makers, not the takers.

And when you make things, and yes, that means you.  If you are reading this and you want to make something, please do.  And in your doing, in your making, in your creating, you inspire the hell out of me.

Do you tell awesome stories around a campfire? You know the kind, every time you tell the story, it gets more entertaining (but maybe less true?).

Do you sing songs, play guitar, draw, make videos or build with legos?

Thank you.  You make this world so much richer.  You make me want to create.

Creative Inspiring Home:

When I walk into a house filled with creative souls, I can feel the inspiration.  There is a house in particular that comes to mind.   I walk into that house and the inspiration is oozing out of every wall.  The walls are filled with art, books, music and movies.  The backyard is filled with native plants that harbor wildlife, and are beautifully arranged in a calming flow.  It makes the small backyard in the middle of suburban insane-sameness feel like a safe quiet heaven.  And then there is “The Fridge”.  Oh The Fridge! It is filled with quotes, some cartoons and some pictures.  An hour could be spent ( dare not say wasted ) enjoying the collage of creation.

This heavenly house is far from being featured in the most recent architectural Digest, or the most recent Home Decor magazine.  But when you walk into this house, you know who lives there.  You feel them.  You feel their appreciation of beauty, of family, and their humor.

And do you think when the owners of this house were hanging pictures, arranging pictures and stacking their shelves with books – everything from Music Appreciation, Children’s books, Art books, Fiction, Gardening- Belle from Beauty and the Beast would be elated) do you think they ever thought I would leave that house wanting to make things of my own?

No! but creativity is contagious. It makes your cells vibrate in a different, almost primal way.

And I don’t necessarily think it needs to be shared.  Unless you want to.  There are many words I string together on paper.  Many scribbles I make, many silly stories that play out in my head.

I throw most of them away.  (There are parts of my life that I am unapologetically, furiously attached to, I sometimes work on unattachement in other areas).  Why did I create? Who did I inspire?  No one.  But it let me enjoy my human experience a little more.

It allows me to feel a little differently.

So please continue to create.  Whatever it is, in whatever way it is.  Just let yourself come alive in that very special way that only you do.  Because when you do, you inspire me.  You really do.

Thank you.

 

 

Special Suffering

I will be boldly attached.
Buddha said that suffering comes from attachment.
It does.
He was right.
But my bliss comes from my attachment.
My attachment to my husband, my child.
I will never ever be unattached.
Take that away, and I am what?
I am experiencing less than my human experience.
My child cries in pain, and I think my heart will not survive.
My child professes his love.
My heart flies to the heavens.
So fuck you being unattached.
I would not want to live without that special love, that special attachment,
that Special suffering.
that Special Suffering is part of my human experience.
So I gladly sign my self up to Suffer in a very Special way for those that I am mightily attached to.

80% Done is 100% Incomplete

80% done is 100% incomplete.

That thought quote has two effects on me:

  1. It makes me want to complete things that I’ve started.
  2. It makes me not want to start as much for fear of not finishing.

I generally find quotes  insprirational and motivational, but I also feel that quotes like that can pull me two ways.  The quote can inspire me, while also leaving me feel completely and utterly overwhelmed.

Another quote (from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book: Big Magic);

Done is better than perfect.

Ugh.  That makes me feel two things: inspiration and revolt.  Done is better than perfect.  Okay, that makes me want to get some shit done.  But then all I have is completed shit.  That is not very appealing to me.  Neither is the idea of an endless cycle of perfection which this quote aims to disrupt.  Where do you draw the line?

So how do we keep the fear of creating crap balanced with the fear of creating nothing?

Well, we start creating.  We start making what we feel we are good at.  Or what give us joy to create.  And we be honest with ourselves.  I mean really honest.  We need walk the line between having pride in our work and being paralyzed by perfection.  We need to work on our creation – be it a visual creation, the stringing of words, writing code for a coputer program or hosting a sales call.  And by continuing to work, we will continue to get better.  So we don’t have to start at perfect, or even good.  We need to start.

Then we continue. We work.  We get better.  When do we declare a project done?  We declare it done when we realize that the extra amount of time we would take to perfect it would be better spent creating our next work.  We declare it done when we know that is good. When we take a deep breath and realize that it’s time to walk away.

At that  point, put your lovely creation out into the world, or put it away.  As long as you keep moving, you will keep improving.  The things you create will become better.  Here’s a secret: they will never be good enough.  There will always be a better way you could have drawn the line, written those words, or delivered that speech.  The personal and creative growth comes from continually trying and honing yourself.

Thank you.

Life is a Highway

Song lyrics.  Great Song Lyrics.  Great Song.  Now here’s my take:

Twice a week, I drive to a train station about about 50 miles away.  Sometimes it takes me an hour, sometimes it takes me much longer. When it takes me longer, I can usually blame one or two causes: accidents or road work.

The road work has been an on-going project for over a year.  It has been expensive, time consuming and a pain in the butt.  The traffic patterns are confusing, and merging on to the highway adds an addrenaline spike to my drive home.

But when the road has been widened, the lanes are smooth, and the workers and their machinery move to a different project, I’ll forget about all the inconvenvience.  If the road was built well.  If it wasn’t, if one part is missing: the angles of the ramp were mis-engineered,  or the road is bumpy, I’m going to remember the awful time I had commuting from work.  I’m going to think about how that whole load of crap we had to deal with was a waste of everyone’s time and money.

And what would be the worse case in road work: the workers keep their equipment there, no new work is getting done, but all of the inconvenient pain in the butt road work is there for drivers to contend with.  YUCK.

So here’s my point: Life is a Highway.

We undertake self-improvement projects that are sometimes exhuasting, or just make us incredibly uncomfortable, because positive growth is work and the process sometimes sucks.

But much like highway work, it will make our travels better in the end.  We will enjoy the fruits of our labor, and forget the pains of getting there.  BUT if we stop halfway through, don’t clean up our project, nor do we make any effort to learn from our shortcoming, we just made everything worse.

So take on your self-improvement projects.  If not, you’ll be working with dirt roads that are impassible in any sort of inclement weather.  But make sure you keep you eye on your progress, so as to not ruin traffic for no reason.

 

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

Honor Your Darkness – A Poem

Honor your darkness,

Your shadows,

Your depths.

Honor the place in you that only you know about.

Honor the place that you fear.

Honor that which is in you.

For within the depth of the darkness,

We find our light.

We know not what light is,

Without the dark.

We know not elation

Without the needed tribulation.

Not all of it is Rainbows and Starlight,

But without the rain,

we have no rainbows.

Without the dark of night,

Stars are invisible.

So honor your darkness.

Honor the genesis of your rainbow.

Honor yourself.

Inside.

Outside.

All sides.