Literally. Over the last couple of weeks I have been going out, for a few minutes initially, but slowly building up to a goodly amount of time, and pulling grass and weeds out of our garden plots-to-be. We are blessed with good soil here and haven’t seen significant rodent diggings, so our plots are in-ground. We prepared them about as far down as our boxes were deep in CA. Major differences include an abundance of earthworms and a paucity of rocks. Weird! I remember being well into the 2015 growing season before I found my first earthworm in CA. Anyhow, yesterday we planted fava beans (Elijah’s request), peas, beets, carrots, spinach and lettuce. I stayed out a bit too long and ended up sunburned for the first time in I can’t remember how long, but it is supposed to rain all week and I wanted everything to be able to take advantage of that and not go in a week later and require handwatering during sprouting. It is really funny not to have to have weeks of bed-building, and soil mixing and moving (not to mention months of deer fencing installation) preceding planting. My fingers are emphatically crossed as we head into the growing season that this will do and that we can get some home-grown something this year.
Isaiah has been hawkishly watching the free offerings online. He was terribly disappointed last week that neither Elijah nor my husband would take him to pick up a free pile of coal (for blacksmithing), but he managed to get a ride this week to go pick up some free fleeces. He had spun and then knit himself an earwarmer a couple of years ago, but ended up leaving it in someone’s car this fall. Now we have four garbage bags full of unwashed, uncarded, completely raw wool in the garage and he could knit us all union suits. Isaiah’s a fun fellow…and incredibly excited about his score.
The sheep that the fleeces came from were a variety called Navajo-Churro. They are supposed to be very, very hardy, as in, not needing any shelter at all ever. Being barn-less and needing to have animals on the pasture for at least four months out of the year in order to maintain its agricultural status (and agricultural tax rate) we are wondering if they would be a good choice. Research required. My husband really wants to get a steer or two out there. While I really like the idea of raising our own meat, our fences are far from Joseph-proof and the discrepancy between a steer’s size and Joseph’s wisdom and obedience level makes me nervous. We shall see…
Early this week I sent off the forms that will officially make us fully and completely goat-less. It was rather sad and of course inspired me to start looking for new ones, but the reality is that as long as we are barn-less, we must also be goat-less. Nubians, at least, need nighttime overhead covering and good shelter for kidding.
Despite not having much in the way of livestock, we ended up having babies anyhow. A cat adopted us (Joseph named her “Num”, his word for the sound she makes) and a few weeks ago when the kids were in the garage, she was in a little niche where we keep the mop and Bethel heard a high-pitched meowing. She looked at Num and her mouth wasn’t moving. She had had four kittens, one died at or shortly after birth, and the remaining three are all girls. We named them Elsie, Lacie, and Tillie. We got Theo and Thea as kittens back in OR, but they were already weaned and well into the twitchy, hunter-instincts-awakening phase. I have learned that kittens before that point are very sweet. The kids think so too and I had to start making threats to get them to keep them outside as I kept finding indoor children reading books with sleepy kittens on their laps. Cute and picturesque until my cat-allergic family members can no longer come to our house!
It is nice to feel somewhat more normal. This has been a very long year.