Friday, July 31, 2015

Creepy Guy Antics

Last week, before we knew Ethan would be sent out-of-town for work, we had separated Flora and her calf (who ended up being called Ninja - he was always hiding somewhere.  More than once we thought he was lost).  The other cows were right on the other side of the fence for a few days, so Flora didn't mind being separated (and besides, her grass was nicer and she didn't have to share).  But Explorer minded.  You could tell it bothered him that she was on the other side of the fence.  He spent a lot of time at the fence-line if she was near there grazing.

I was walking up to get the goats one day when they were like that.  Flora was intently cropping grass.  Explorer was just hanging around, watching her with his "Hey, baby, notice me" eyes.  Flora ignored him and turned and walked towards me.  As she went Explorer stared intently at her butt while she walked away.  Maybe someone was going into heat, but I realized he was staring at all the cows' butts with the same "creepy guy stare" you would expect at the downtown plaza!  It's amazing how many testosterone-driven creepy guy antics you see with the bucks and bulls.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Passionfruit Farming

"We got here at the perfect time," Ethan said when we arrived to do the chores.  "We missed most of the rain."

It then proceeded to pour for hours.  I've never seen the paths become ankle-deep creeks with tiny rapids before.  It felt like we got four inches in an hour, but it was more like an inch and a half.  Very wet.  The goats were miserable and shivering, and wouldn't follow me at first to come down and be milked.  Rain paralyzes them under the trees like that (I don't blame them), but Matilda didn't seem to mind.  The wet steamed off her back while I was milking her.  The goats all took a REALLY long time to finish their milking ration.  No one wanted (understandably) to leave the shelter of the milking shed and get under the dripping trees again.

I discarded my shoes and went around barefoot - they are useless when it rains like that, because they just slip off my feet.  There's a risk of being stepped on by the cows with bare feet, so I was extra careful around them.  I need to get a new pair of boots.  I stopped wearing mud boots when I was pregnant with Clothilde, because they made my feet hurt so much.  Ethan's boots took on several cupfuls of water while we were out there.  I didn't even bother getting out in the rain to wet the udder rags - I just hung them on the fence, where they soaked themselves.  Luckily I had the presence of mind the other day to put a towel, a spare dress, and a waterproof blanket into the car.  The children just left their clothes in the truck and played naked in the rain the whole time.  When I finished milking, I found them lounging on the hay in the barn with the blanket.  We ended up nice and dry on the drive home.  Ethan made use of the towel, but he always forgets spare clothes somehow.

Day before yesterday, when it was NOT raining, I found dozens of ripe passionfruits in the garden.  You have to wait until they fall off the vines, so it involved a lot of blackberry scratches and ploughing through fire ant-ridden weeds.  I ate a few before alerting the others of my find, to make up for the hardship.  They are so good!!!  Even though I found a basket full, none of them made it home.  There were suggestions of converting the whole 40 acres to a passionfruit orchard.

Years ago I had transplanted some small vines around the orchard that never did very well.  I thought they ought to do well, since they are a wild plant, but apparently I can even kill wild-adapted plants.  This year, to our delight, they began coming up all on their own in the garden beds.  Instead of weeding them out, Ethan trellised them.  While they certainly needed more weed control around them, they loved the compost beds, and the vines are covered in fruit.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Another Goodbye

We said goodbye to Stripey and Nougat this weekend.  It was sad - Nougat was the first baby goat born on our farm, and Stripey was there from the beginning.  We got Stripey right after we got Ellie, our first goat, because she was so lonely.

Last year Nougat had a really bad case of mastitis.  Her udder is very poorly attatched, and one side was dragging on the ground even before Twilight Sparkle was born.  She would not let me milk her or treat the infection - she just kicked the crap out of me and it ended up ruining her udder.  She shouldn't be bred again, and now that we have our little buck Night Hawk, we had to find a new home for her.  And she was really mean, too.  I was always worried about her hurting my children.  Recently she put a hole in one of Mirin's t-shirts with her horns.  She pushed Rose around when Rose was trying to feed the goats peanut hay as a treat.  She hurt Clothilde's arm through the fence from knocking her with her horns.  She was the queen and had a big attitude.  They are going to live with a lady who has several acres of brush for them to eat, so I know they will be happy.  For now we dropped them off with our friend Denise (who we got Night Hawk from.  She used to be our post lady!).

 Catching them was tough.  Stripey doesn't like us very much (he was never very friendly).  We got Stripey first, because we knew he would be impossible to catch if he saw Nougat go in the dog kennel in the back of the truck.  Ethan heaved him into the back of the truck while I worked the gate and door of the kennel.  Night Hawk managed to get tangled in the fence and be a huge pain in the process.  Nougat was easy to catch (she is very friendly - to grown-ups), but getting her up on the truck bed was very hard.  She had to be got up in stages (she's a rather curvy lady these days).  Of course Stripey got out when we were trying to put her in.  He dodged around us and leaped off the back of the truck.  Ethan football tackled him, and he gave an unhappy bleat.  We finally stuffed them both it.  Even though it was a very large kennel with plenty of room for both of them, Nougat hogged more than half of it (that's just the way she is.  I know some people like that, too).

The children had all been left with my in-laws, so the drive to Denise's house was very quiet.  There was no one screaming and there were pauses in the conversation.  It's always kind of surprising when that happens.

When we got to Denise's place, we found that she wasn't home.  She said she might have to make a run into town, so we parked in the shade and waited.  All her dogs came over and barked fiercely at us (we also got our Pyrenees herd guard dog, Belle, from her).  After awhile they got used to us and we wandered back to see how the piglets we had traded for Night Hawk were doing.  At first a few of the ugliest goats (the LaManchas - I can't help thinking they look like they have a birth defect with no ears like that) came forward.  One was very friendly and kept trying to eat my toes!  The Nubians came out after - Night Hawk's mama was there.  She was very friendly and insisted I scratch her back.  His sister came over and nuzzled my knee.  All kinds of weird little chickens ran out of a shed.  There was a big rooster with no tail scratching alongside a bitchy-looking hen with ruffled feathers.  She gave him a big peck on his butt and he jumped and squawked.

More and more goats came out of hiding places.  A big dumb-looking goat was standing halfway out of a children's playhouse.  A fainting goat with two little twin kids (black with one white spot each) was there.  She made a big fuss when the dogs ran by.  A Dexter calf was there, moping around, and even a small cracker calf with a mean expression on his face popped out of somewhere.  Ethan tried to scratch his back, but he wasn't friendly at all.

As Ethan described it, it was like a cross between Noah's Ark and a clown car.  More and more animals showed up.  Denise showed up, too.  She had picked up a new piglet from her neighbor, so Ethan helped unload it.

We asked her about the cracker calf, and she told us a funny story.  She said he had just been weaned off his bottle, but he still liked to go around and suck on things, even the "male parts" of her new dog, Baxter.  The problem was, Baxter liked it.  He would go over to the calf and lift his leg up.

There was a little goat hanging around the cracker calf.  Denise said the goat had somehow bonded with the calf, and they were always together.  Even if it was raining, the goat would be out in the field in the rain with the calf, not under the trees with the other goats (the cows don't mind the rain).

We unloaded our goats into a little pen next to the buck run.  There were some Jersey cows and four bucks in the adjacent paddock.  Night Hawk's daddy was there.  I was pointing out how pretty he was, but as soon as Ethan looked the buck started doing his gross peeing-on-himself thing and we had to advert our eyes.  Bucks are just like that.  There was an ugly little fainting goat buck with the grossest, dingy-white beard that was yellow at the ends from pee.  As soon as Nougat and Stripey were unloaded, all the bucks came over and stuck their tongues out at them (it's a buck dominance thing).  We said goodbye (it was about to rain) and left to do the rest of our chores (and get soaking wet).

The goat herd seems so small now!  When I went to milk them yesterday, I kept looking behind me, feeling like some had gotten left behind.  May is vying for queenship now.  She's been very aggressive to everyone, but surprisingly little April has given her the most trouble.

Monday, July 27, 2015


I've been feeling very quiet lately.  And there hasn't been much time to write.  Ethan was out of town last week, we had all the chores to do ourselves for a couple of days.  But home school planning is mostly complete, there's one garden bed built for fall, and we all survived - except Mirin got rolled up in the truck window by Clothilde.  He was okay, mostly just angry.  Perhaps a good lesson not to hang his body out of the window while the truck is on.

We have wasps living in the gate to the orchard.  Rose and I both were stung by them, just walking by the gate after it was open.  They stung us in the same places - ankle, and leg.  The strange thing was that it made our legs cramp up.  I think it was mud-daubber wasps, and they paralyze spiders so I wonder if their sting has neurotoxic chemicals in it.  I'm glad I wasn't a spider.

I've been trying to keep my kids busy this summer.  Last summer I ignored them and hoped they would play creatively.  I think they would have if my parents didn't live next door.  Instead they went and bothered my mom and had big tantrums and fought with each other.  They were very bored, and their way of doing something about it was to stir up all kinds of trouble at my mom's house.  It was a hard summer.  This year we are going out to the libraries (it's too hot and awful at the parks).  It seems to have helped, mostly, although we had a big scene in the parking lot last was extra embarrassing because a dad with two young boys had just parked in front of us and gotten out of the car.  They stopped to watch the unfolding drama.

1.  "Hold onto Clothilde while I unlock the car," I say, unlocking the car.  I am ignored, and as soon as the doors are unlocked, the big kids pile into the car.

2.  I heave the books into the car and run after Clothilde.  I manage to catch her by one arm just in time as she makes a mad, desperate dash towards danger.  Mirin hits the automatic lock button while I am gone.

3.  I tap on the window and ask Mirin to hit the Unlock button.  He ignores me.  Rose unlocks the back door for me.  Gratefully, I reach for the handle.  Mirin hits the lock button before I manage, and I am locked out again.

4.  Clothilde starts jumping and dangling from where I am holding her arm, trying to slither away again.  I tap on the glass and ask that the doors are unlocked.  Rose reaches over and unlocks the door again.  Mirin locks it with a smirk on his face.

5.  "Fine, make everything really hard!" I say, and fumble with my keys in one hand.  I find the right one and unlock the front door.  I reach for the back door handle....Mirin hits "lock" again.  He looks immensely pleased with himself.

6.  Rose comes to my rescue, and unlocks the door and holds it unlocked.  Mirin hits lock as I try to open the door, pinching her finger.  I fumble with my keys again.

7.  Rose hauls off and whacks Mirin in the face.  There is horrible screaming that can be clearly heard outside of the car with all the doors and windows closed.

8.  I finally find the right key, and unlock the doors.  Mirin sobbing dramatically.  I say, "Rosie, no hitting!" and bundle Clothidle into her seat.  Dad with two boys hurridly guides them away.  He gives me a sympathetic smile and wave of parental solidarity over one shoulder.

9.  Mirin howls as I drive through the parking lot.  I try to be diplomatically sympathetic, but that obviously isn't sympathetic enough.  It quickly becomes Kid Thunderdome in the back seat, and I just try to ignore them and drive safely.

10.  We arrive at home with everyone screaming.  Ethan is home from his trip!  Children pile of of car, complaining about everyone else.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Calves Are Out

The calves are out on the line we call the "goat wedge."  I think we wanted to have the goats there on a more permanent basis a few years ago.  I guess we should call it the "calf wedge" now.  They are extremely happy to be off of hay at last.  We were trying to train them to being moved with cross-fences, but they just busted them all down and are eating on the whole line, the bad things.  I am trying to tame them by bringing a little peanut hay every day and standing around while they eat it.  Everyone except Sappho is fairly friendly.  Even Lichen will try to eat out of my hand.  Nutty is like a huge, over-enthusiastic dog when I come over.  He only thinks about his stomach.  How unfortunate that he will never be a milk cow!  And the girls are so stand-offish and flighty,

April is still getting her head stuck in the fence every day.  Every damn day.  But then again, how are we humans so different?  Don't we also make poor decisions every day that have obvious negative consequences?

This past week has been so busy.  My hands never did not have something before them that needed immediate attention.  Laundy, butter, skimming cream, washing jars, pickling, cooking, pulling big kids apart from fighting, catching Clothilde on her tricycle before she gets runover, laundry again.  Busy, busy, busy.  And on top of that was our homeschool evaluation.  It went very well, even though Mirin forgot all the math we've ever done.  But I doubt the regular-schooled kids could really remember exactly what they did beginning of last school year if you asked them in the middle of summer vacation.

I am really loving the reading that has come from planning 5th grade.  Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, India and Babylon.  The Egyptian math book I got is incredible.  I can't believe they don't teach it in regular schools!  Multiplying and dividing by doubling and halving.  You don't have to know all the times tables up to 10 or 12.  Just adding.  It's faster, easier, and makes more practical sense.  It's a different way of looking at how the numbers work together. 

I am finally learning something about Zoroastrianism.  It's life-changing.  Where was this my whole life?  It had such an influence on the major religions of the world.  Why do they always talk so much about Greece in history class, and only barely mention the Mesopotamians who had such a large impact on the Greeks? If you don't come out of school with the idea that white people, especially Americans, were the greatest humans on earth, then you must not have been paying attention.  I love how my 9th grade "World History" class was primarily about Europe and the US!  (The poor teacher's aid in that class even had a lesson centered around the idea that cucumbers originated in England!  They did not.  They are from India, but she didn't believe me at all when I raised my hand,  and of course the other students just thought I was stupid for disagreeing with the teacher).  At least I can broaden my deprived education a bit this way, even if Mirin won't remember it for the next home school evaluation (I think he will actually like it a lot).

All week I've wanted to write here, but there was just no time left in the day.  I am now worrying about the winter garden.  I know I can finish planning homeschool (I hope) by the time we're supposed to start home schooling again, but I'm not sure about the fall garden.  I had another big, ambitious garden plan drawn up in the spring when the weather was fine, but now I am feeling daunted by the 90 degree weather and lightening storms.  I'm not sure how I will do them both. 

Right now I am working on home school during times when I don't really have time - outside being bitten by mosquitoes and watching Clothilde ride too far away on the pink tricycle (curse the thing!), at the library while my kids play the stupid games on the computers there (they aren't interested in the books - we have books at home.  They just like the screens because they aren't allowed to play on screens at home.  At least it's cool in the library and there aren't mosquitoes - usually).  In between milking the goats.  Yes, I read and write things down in between milking the goats, while they are still eating their milking ration.  I give them a little extra than they need, and they are certainly getting fat, so maybe I should cut back.  But I need the time.  There's just not enough time!

Thursday, July 9, 2015


I have been writing less, mostly because I have discovered that sitting by a computer makes me feel awful.  I feel bad for all the people who spend many hours a day in front of these machines.

April has been getting her head stuck in the fence almost daily (twice one day).  Her horns have grown, and now they are the perfect shape for getting stuck.  The first time it happened, Twilight Sparkle got really excited because April is her major rival, and started thrashing her, shoving her with her horns, and even goring her belly.  I was milking, but ran over to rescue April and found that she would not cooperate with me enough to allow her head to be pushed back to get her horns through, so eventually I gave up and left her there, at the mercy of Twilight Sparkle.

Another time, it was Nougat who was thrashing her.  I did interfere then, because Nougat is a dangerous goat (she put a hole in Mirin's t-shirt with one of her horns!  We are looking into finding another home for her - she is friendly to adults, but not to children).  I still could not get her horns out, so I threw peanut hay over the fence to distract the other goats and give her a chance to get free, which she eventually did.  Two seconds later she was bleating her head off - she was stuck again, and again refused to cooperate.  I was done milking and brought the rest of the goats back to the pasture.  I started milking Matilda and tried to ignore the pathetic bleating.  Ethan heard and ran over to rescue her.

"April's stuck!" he said as he charged to the rescue.  "Didn't you hear her?"

"I know, I know," I said over my shoulder, trying to avoid Matilda smacking me in the face with her tail, "It's the second time today.  I'm hoping she'll figure it out this time."

She didn't.

It's the grass on the other side of the fence.  It's too tempting and delicious.  SO much better than the grass in the fence.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Homeschool Planning, And An Honest Review of Christopherous Curriculum

This has been so occupying my waking thoughts and life (and also sometimes my dreams), almost all I have been able to think about since getting home was this fall's homeschooling.  Second grade, fifth grade, and now turning three, Clothilde will be old enough for something to keep her occupied.  A challenge.  I have been drifting around in the clouds of trickster tales, animal legends, stories of saints and heroes, ancient mythology, decimals, and botany.

It's exciting to have a challenging project to work on, but it is not healthy for us.  Everyone is so freaking needy all the time.  The laundry is piling up, the clutter on the coffee table is getting dangerous, Ethan's used coffee cups are stacking one can do anything for themselves, and with me in la-la land, it's a disaster.  Big kids alternately fighting and whining, Clothilde being a danger to herself and others on the new pink tricycle.  Things are not usually this fractious.

 Ethan gave me a pathetic look when I opened my copy of the Ramayana to peruse through on the ride to the farm (one of the few times during the day when Clothilde is safely restrained in her carseat and no one is climbing on me - I can tune out the screaming and fighting in the back seat and focus for once).  I said, "What?" and he said, "Aren't you going to talk to me?"  He said he felt like he was single since I started planning homeschool.

I said, "Oh no, not you, too."

It's hard to be needed so much, although Clothilde informed me last week that she is NOT my baby - she belongs only to the boobies.

I am about to go into detail about homeschool, and if you're like anyone else in my family, that will inspire you to groan and stop reading.  Just a warning.

I tend to be on the "very organized" side of homeschooling.  It didn't start out that way.  I have been judged heavily by unschooling parents for this, but I have found it easier to pass our homeschool evaluation every year when I have everything documented and written down.  (I really don't know how they manage, but they were from North Carolina where the laws are different).  Every summer I plan out the homeschooling schedule for every day of our school year.  It is immpeccably documented, so there can be no question about not doing "enough."

I have every year invested in the Christopherus curriculum, a Waldorf-inspired curriculum for homeschoolers, except this year I am skipping buying the fifth grade one and am creating my own.

The things I really like about this curriculum:  

The helpful "don't panic" advice for schooling multiple children of different ages, the kind tone of the materials, the active math suggestions, the Stories of Wonder, the schedules to get me started, the inspiring excerpts from Steiner and other visionaries of education (it was a great, gentle beginning to Waldorf education), the creative approach, the songs and games.

I am not buying a fifth grade curriculum this year, but am working to create my own because:

-They hiked up their prices again, and I think it is already very expensive, especially the way they mark up the math workbook materials so much.

-The amount that is packed in to just a few days can be very overwhelming - for example, the study of Egypt, Babylon, India and Persia is only four weeks (only one week per culture).  Then they rush on to Greek Myths.  I just don't feel like we can really deeply enjoy the ancient mythology in that short of time.  If there was one thing I could choose about Waldorf that really annoys me, it's the shallow understanding of different cultures. (I have personally heard an emminent Waldorf-education speaker steriotypically catigorize all the native cultures of both North and South America as if they were one and the same!).

Also, because Greek myths and Geometry are taught at the same time, and I know Mirin will not be ready to breeze through that, we are saving that for next year.  This will allow us to really sink in and enjoy the ancient myths, and allow for him to really grasp all the math he learned in earlier years, fractions and decimals, long division.  I know he will need more than three or four weeks to work on all that.

A few other things that have bothered me about Christopherus:

-The curriculums also have many spelling/grammatical errors that I am always noticing as I read through them.

-I really don't like a lot of the stories that are selected for their materials, or the writing tone they are written in.

-It is very Christian, although that is also part of just Waldorf stuff. (it is "Christopherus" or Christ-bearing, after all)

-When I first turned to Christopherus, Clothilde was about to be born, and feeling daunted by doing Kindergarten for Rose and Second Grade for Mirin, I wanted something that would just tell me what to do every day because I knew I wouldn't be able to even think about it.  I was very disappointed that Christopherus didn't do that, and it was very stressful the first year (but now that she is older, I appreciate the flexibility of the materials - it just wasn't what I was expecting).

-That first year I didn't have much time to go through everything before the school year began, and I felt like we should get started.  I just read the stories how they were presented in the Animal Legends and Saints and Heroes lesson books, and Mirin didn't like them very much.  The story of Rabia, for example, talks about how holy she was and how she hardly ate and slept with a rock for a pillow.  This is the high point of her story.  Mirin burst out, "That sounds horrible!" and I had to laugh and agree with him.  St. Basil was really the only story I enjoyed very much.

For Second Grade this year I am only using the barest suggestions from the curriculum - mostly the math ideas and the schedule.  I also used one trickster tale Christopherus provided.

Inspired by my working-single-mama-and-Waldorf-homeschooling friend Jean, I researched different saints and heroes on my own.  I wanted it to show some strong female characters, rather than the male-dominated booklet the curriculum provides.  I found the book The Giant at the Ford by Ursula Synge to be a good resource, although I ended up only using the story of St. Christopher.  The stories are written in a heart-felt, inspiring style, unlike the disappointing Stories of the Saints book that was so highly reccommended by the curriculum.  While it has lots of stories, I really didn't like the style in which they were told, and so many were about the "good" work of furthering the power and control of the church in Europe, which was such a historically negative thing, I could hardly read them.

The Saints and Heroes (or Heroines, actually) I chose for us were:

Liu San Mei the Maiden of Songs, St. Christopher, The Legend of Lucia Zenteno (a lovely story), St. Martin (and I based my story on the one given in the Christopherus first grade curriculum - I really liked it, although I made a few stylistic changes), Granuaile the Queen of the Seas, St. Odilia, Wacu and the Eagle, and Brigit (the goddess, not the saint).  I like that they are from all different places and situations, and St. Odilia was from Alsace, where we visited in France (besides being a wonderful father/daughter story).

My old copy of Fearless Girls, Wise Women and Faithful Sisters was invaluable.  I also was pleased to discover a book called The Cow-Tail Switch of wonderful West African stories on my bookshelf.  I have no idea where it came from, but it was there for a really long time.  Another great book I discovered I owned, Beat the Story Drum of Nigerian folk tales offered some good animal legends.

I bought a copy of Jakata Tales and was disappointed to find most of them really heavily promoted vegetarianism (I found several very nice stories, though).  I was also burned by a purchase of The Barefoot Book of Trickster Tales.  Despite the glowing reviews, I didn't like a single one (ok, maybe I am just really picky).

For Fifth Grade I am turning to Jamie York's Making Math Meaningful to help plan our math lessons.  I have found the suggestions very similar to the Christopherus curriculum's for each grade, and there are even more ideas in Jamie York's book.  To go along with the Ancient Mythology block, I am getting Count Like an Egyptian and Claudia Zaslavsky's book Math Games from Around the World.  I have found including math games to be very motivational for actual math practice, something that has been difficult at home for us.  It's a totally different dynamic than a bunch of kids at school all sitting down to worksheets together.  Besides the obvious practice benefits, it will tie in nicely with our Ancient Mythology blocks.

Ancient Mythology is essentially our Language Arts for 5th grade this year.  There are four different cultures:  Ancient Egypt, Babylon, Persia and India, and I am using the same time blocks as the second grade Language Arts to make my life easier.  For Babylon we read Gilgamesh the Hero (keeping the Jakata Tales in mind, I checked it out at the library first, to make sure we liked it.  It's great).  I found some amazing ancient Mesopotamian recipes (like from excavated clay tablets, but adapted for the modern cook) here.  And there's a fun cunieform resource here.

India is next, corresponding to the Saints and Heroes block.  We read a children's version of the Ramayana, stories of Krishna and Ganesh, the tale of Savitri.  I am waiting on a copy of Shower of Gold to find some other female-centered stories (to balance out all the warrior stories).  We will end with the story of Prince Siddhartha (I really like this version as a kid's version).

These are not stories I am familiar with, and I am in love with their incredible heroes, gods and monsters.  For working with this block (in addition to writing summaries of the stories in an illustrated Main Lesson Book), we will work with yoga, Mehndi, Batik, and Indian cooking.

Egypt is next, and I really like the books suggested by Christopherus:  Voices of Ancient Egypt and Tales of Ancient Egypt.  For this block we are going to attempt making paper.  I have an ancient set of Fun With Heiroglyphics from when I was a kid (good, because aparently the new sets are crummy and cheaply made) we were going to get out.  We are going to skip the commonly suggested on the internet mummy-making Egypt activity.  It's kind of weird to wrap rubber chickens in toilet paper, and honestly it's not the most exciting part of their culture anyway.  (It's interesting to note that many of the homeschooling Egypt resources also tie in with Biblical quotes about Egypt - I find that amusing.  It's like the Roman accounts of the Gauls).

 Last is Persia, and I am still planning this block.

Science for 5th grade is Botany.  After reading a bit about Charles Kovacs' book, I am skipping it and getting out my books by Stephen Harrod Buhner.  I think he "gets" plants better than anyone else I know of.  It isn't Waldorf like Kovacs, but the understanding and depth and world-view is so much better.

This block is still in the works, but ideas are:

Daily plant journal (what's blooming, what's ripe, what's dying, what's new)

Own garden plot/helping with seed starting/ seed saving (lots of botany here)

A Plant Family book

Thursday, July 2, 2015

In The Garden: Looking On The Bright Side

It's so fun having a baby goat around!  Yesterday after I milked Matilda I was sitting in the grass waiting for Ethan to finish milking Geranium.  He browsed around and then sat right down beside me and chewed his cud as if I were another goat.

Well, it's Thursday again, and Night Hawk is cute, but it's been awhile since I mentioned the garden.  The truth is, I'm disappointed with this year's garden.  I did not have time to really care for it properly, and now it is becoming frustrating to walk around in it.  It is wild, jungly, rambling.  Bugs are rampant.  The squash are dying.  Rabbits run away from me into the tomato hedge.  Instead of killing myself in the heat to try to fix what is at this point an impossible mess of weeds, I've decided to let it go and focus on the fall/winter garden instead.

It's been a fairly good garden, despite the lack of care:

 There are watermelons, if you can find them....

 The massive Thai basil bushes smell wonderful, attract lots of butterflies, and are very pretty....

We are at the point of the summer where the early stuff is dying back - say goodbye to summer squash, cucumbers, and cantaloupes.  Say hello to long beans, okra, eggplant, malabar spinach, and the last of the tomatilloes and ground cherries.

My mom, long accustomed to grocery-store cooking, was very unhappy that the summer squash is over.  I had been trying to get her to eat it before when there was so much, and she wasn't very excited about it.  Last week she was looking through the garden and made exclamations of sorrow over the dying squash plants.

All of us, raised on grocery stores, are not used to that.  It's supposed to be there all the time if I want to buy it, right?  That's how satisfying gardens are - you get all you can eat all at once, and then the dance of the garden moves on to other things.  The squash and Roma beans have faded out, and we're waltzing with eggplant and long beans now.  And now I remember years ago when Rose was picking limas in the garden with me and she turned and said, "Mama, your garden is just like a grocery store!"

Her words went straight to my heart, the love.  Yes, and what are grocery stores other than an artificial garden?  We take our baskets out and bring back things for the kitchen.

 Okay - there it is - my garden.  It's an awful picture, but it's really not much more flattering in real life.  This is the best part of it, too.  I have to tiptoe down the paths. 

Here's the other side of it.  Night Hawk is a good companion - sometimes.  It depends on what section he's in.  Among the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and tomatilloes, he's an angel.  He nibbles weeds and fertilizes.  With the spinach, beans and sweet potatoes, he's a menace and has to be carried out.