A Place For The Future Past


Beets and Babies
June 25, 2007, 3:56 pm
Filed under: Community On The Earth

Last week we harvested beets, pulling several pounds worth. The beets Em cooked and canned; the tops I blanched, divided into baggies and froze. A few beets I snagged from the cookpot and chopped up for killer borscht (served warm or cold). We peed bright red for days. The only problem with the borscht was I didn’t make enough, it seemed to melt away as we were all dipping and tasting, snagging a mug here and a bowl there.
Today I made a huge pot of it, hoping to be able to freeze some of it — if we can keep our purple-dyed paws out of it.

Spinach has all bolted, and the old plants cleared to make room for growing eggplant and cauliflower. Some of the growing thyme, basil and sage have been moved out to the little kitchen garden with the wooden bridge. There it joins rosemary, winter savory, lemon balm, mint and dill.
Tomatoes are setting fruit and onions are growing rapidly, as are the leeks and bush beans Lettuce will be soon past its prime, soon it will need clearing and their beds refortified and resown.

In the forest, foxglove, daisy and columbine are blooming, with a very few remaining iris. During a trailclearing session was discovered an orange tiger lily, hopefully there will be more. And wild rose is everywhere, Em has so far been thwarted by the quickly changeable weather in gathering petals — best done on a hot day after a hard rain, the scent is best then for beadmaking. Hopefully today will be the day…..

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In the barn, all babies are eating well and growing like weeds — which is cutting into the milk-for-cheese supply. But soon weaning will begin in earnest, already some of the mothers are starting to cut off their kids after a few moments, and the kids are nibbling at hay, grass and mash. In the house, Wikka and Winnifred are doing very well, little Winni is a far cry from the glassy-eyed rag doll she once was. Still the tiniest, she is gaining on the others in size and strength. Wonka has been getting leash lessons in anticipation for his grand entry into the Pe Ell Fourth of July parade (yes I must make a little goat sized costume). He has already made a few forays in to town with Em and Red, causing quite a few second and third takes. Ladies have been known to leave their registers and customers unattended to come out and gush over the little guy, who is fast gaining the reputation of being quite the ladies man. We occasionally have drop in visitors to visit and look over our “operation”, but no fear — Em has been keeping a spotless barn, and the manure gets raked regularly and put into the gardens and compost piles — next years’ gardens should be double the size and scope of this year……

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Inside, one of my biggest challenges has been to create a working space that helps to keep me on task — previously my sewing area has been a tiny cornet of the living room. However I have come to realize that such a strategy has kept me from my machines — it’s too tempting to follow the call of the outdoors and grab a shovel or loppers or rake or reins and leave my workbasket untouched. So a large area facing the windows and the unparalleled view of the giant maple tree has been commandeered and is slowly developing into a work area. I will just have to make the effort at keeping my projects neat and put away when not working, so it does not get out of control. Easier said than done when my usual method is to work at least four projects at any one time…..



Triumphs and challenges
June 17, 2007, 3:25 am
Filed under: Community On The Earth

Thirteen babies — eleven in the barn, two in the house. Callie, the last holdout (and a first freshener) decided to have hers at 6am instead of sensibly, in the midafternoon like everyone else. And she had three, a boy and two girls. But as she was having the third she laid on and squashed the boy, who had come first. Very sad.

Afterwards, she was cleaning and cooing and apparently nursing the girls, but at some point in the night she decided that this nursing stuff was just too weird and stopped feeding them. Come morning they were cold and unresponsive, laid out flat in the pen. So, into the house they came for emergency revival and care. The spotted girl (Wikka) bounced back and began to eat with gusto, but the tiny one (Winnifred) remained in serious shape for a few days. Now, a week later and she’s finally up and behaving like a goat — even though she’s still very small. Instead of bleating like her older sister, she peeps — or rather meeps. Very cute.

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The deer are getting bolder, coming into the garden yard and poking around brazenly (the former owner Mr Carl had given up on having his vegetable garden — where the greenhouse now stands — because of the deer coming right up and munching veggies). Day before yesterday Em was standing on the porch and watched as a BIG buck came up to the greenhouse and peeked in the door (which we keep ajar during hot days) — he was clearly remembering good things to eat in that very same location years past. He turned to look at her, they had a staredown for a minute or so (she didn’t move for fear of spooking him THROUGH the greenhouse), then he casually turned and walked away. I see does all the time, and a doe with two babies were visiting the horses yesterday. Very interesting!

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The shop continues to chug along, but a shift will be happening soon — school events will cease and summer activities continue, including weddings and fairs. But now my summer duties (Seattle Knights and Camlann) are kicking in and taking over more precious hours of daylight. Actually, Camlann has taken them all over with rehearsals after work three nights a week and soon weekends (Saturday and Sunday, last seven weekends of July and August). Gas is still a concern, with the price hovering around $3 a gallon. At home, we struggle to keep on track with new projects — such as raising baby jumbo chinese ringneck pheasants, they are in the horsetrailer which has been converted to the need in the aviary. And the problems. Tractor is down, and there’s something killing the chickens, we suspect big raccoons feeding families. So projects like clearing new areas and settling up round pens and building quaint sheds and huts is taking a backseat in the ever changing list of priorities. Very challenging.

Solstice is but a day or so away — the longest day of the year, very wonderful……



goat cheese and greens
June 5, 2007, 12:14 am
Filed under: Community On The Earth

Yesterday Judith and Terry and their two youngsters came over to spend a few glorious hours — the kids immediately began exploring (after looking over all the goats and feeding Wonka) while the grownups visited. We discussed upcoming workshop ideas — spinning would be an obvious first as we have locals as well as Judith’s crowd who are eager to have a country retreat class — as well as planned for the local blackpowder group to come down and help transform a sector for private events…… We feasted on fresh garden salad and beets and beet greens with Red smoke-roasting a pork roast with potatoes… They went home with a gallon of fresh goat milk, a huge bag of lettuce and a fresh ball of goat cheese — and a promise that they’ll be back for a campout later this month. 😉

Today dawned cool and showery, a welcome break after such hot dry weather. I was able to get more potatoes planted as well as the outside tomato beds going (those with Em’s help). We are trying an approach I have been studying, laying black landscape fabric across the prepared bed, then planting the tomato starts in holes cut into the fabric at intervals. It should warm and mulch the soil as well as control the weeds and control tomato blight — a problem I was plagued with at the Algona place.

The corn is coming up, and the grapes are sprouting like crazy. It’s time to place the squash and pumpkins and cucumbers……In the forest two more flowers have been discovered — blue-eyed grassflowers and yellow evening primrose. In the garden the roses are in bloom, and delphinium, lavender, devil’s tears and daisies, petunias and carnations and lobilia and love-in-a-mist and poppies and columbines and honeysuckle….



LOTS of baby goats!
June 3, 2007, 3:44 am
Filed under: Community On The Earth

As of this moment, the count stands officially at ELEVEN baby goats, with one last doe yet to kid.  All births fairly simple except for one — Frakka had one big boy (Wonka) that did not get out easily — when finally born, she immediately rejected him. Emilie did a heroic job in bringing him back to life…. He had been stuck for so long his little jaw was out of alignment and his face swollen.  We used a baby medication tube (it looks like a miniature turkey baster) and fed him a teaspoonful of goat colostum and milk at a time.  Now, two weeks later he’s a boisterous bottle baby and doing great!  He even is teaching the other babies that bottles are good things 😉  While the moms are out at pasture we feed them a diluted milk mixture, Wonka is first in line to eat and the other babies got the idea very quickly 😉

Where the future dairy will be (just south of the barn) Emilie has created a marvelous sitting area that Mom travels out to sit and watch them play and bounce and run and bounce and jump and bounce oh did I mention they BOUNCE??? Like they are wearing springs on their feet!

Let’s see, Lana was first (William and Winston) then Lulu (Wendy and Wanda) then Frakka (Wonka) then Frikka (Willow and Whipple) then Penny (Wascal E. and Wabbit) then Lucy (Whisper and Wuanita).  Lastly will be whatever comes out of Callie.  Unfortunately Lady and Vicki did not take this time around…..

and….the first batch of fresh goat cheese has been made and sampled, yum!

My sister Jenny came for a ten day visit and it was too short a time to have her.  She was able to look about and see all that’s underway but most importantly was able to visit with Mom and see she’s doing well. 

The aviary is now ready for the arrival of the jumbo chinese ringneck chicks — who unfortunately their shipment was delayed two weeks because of the hatchery’s computer screw-up ;-(  Two weeks later will come the guinea chicks.

The bit of land just east of the house is getting a facelift into a delightful fairy bower and kid magnet 😉 Emilie has done a fabulous job twining branches and clearing brambles…. The year round spring was cleaned up and flow was restored to the lower pumphouse, enabling us to irrigate with springwater (and save on wear and tear of our master well and pump).  This is a good thing because the days are already hot and very dry — and the growing gardens are thirsty.  Salad, anyone?

In the forest the most wonderful discoveries have been made — little meadows and glens, and multitudes of wildflowers — white daisy and red columbine and purple iris and pink wild roses — enough roses for making lots of rose beads…trails continue to be cut through the woods, fresh deertrack is everywhere…..

The beeboxes have been sorted out and set up, awaiting their first residents…..

The lower pastures and meadows have dried out, leaving the most wonderful areas for camping and playing — we eagerly await the first of many many events…..

The wood for the yurt floorplan is almost all together — soon, it goes up!  HOORAY!!