Saturday, June 30, 2012

The best laid plans, part 3

The last of the garden pics, I promise!  Well, for now at least.

I planted more flowers this year, figuring that I might need some cheering up this summer.  Asters, carnations and marigolds.

Blue Lake bush beans.

Roma and San Marzano tomatoes.   In a wild and probably useless attempt to avoid fungal issues with my tomatoes this year, I did several things.  I bought seedlings rather than start my own, I planted the tomatoes about 20' from where I had them last year, and I didn't plant any potatoes in the garden.  Last year it seemed the fungus (blight or wilt, whatever it was) started in the potato patch and spread into the neighboring tomatoes.  This year I had the hubby till up a strip of the yard, on the other side of the house from the garden, and I planted our potatoes there.  So far, so good.  No yellow leaves, no brown spots.  Fingers and toes crossed.

Rutabagas and black beauty zucchini.  I think the zucchini might take over the swedes.

And raspberries!  Loads of raspberries.  Not enough for jelly, but plenty for fresh eating.  The darker yellow they are, the sweeter they get.  At some point the resident bird population in our grove is going to get wind of the raspberries in the garden (if they haven't already), and it will be an all-out skirmish to see who can get to the ripe ones first.  Perhaps our outdoor cats are keeping them at bay.

And to end with, a few kid photos.

Benjamin had his tonsillectomy on the 13th.   The operation was done in St. Cloud, a three-hour drive from our home, so we spent the night before in a hotel.  Here the little guy is, splayed on the hotel bed playing on a DS.  We had a lot of fun that evening, having dinner with my brother and his wife, doing some shopping and playing games.

It took about ten days before Benjamin stopped feeling pain from the surgery.  He and I slept nights in the den because he would wake up screaming in pain in the middle of the night.  Even if I woke him up myself to take the pain medicine, he would still start yelling right away.  During the day he took his pain medicine just fine, and for the most part was okay, if a little lethargic.  Now he is (thankfully) back to normal, eating and playing and talking as usual.  We'll see this winter if the tonsillectomy makes a difference with his respiratory issues.  I certainly hope so.

Grouse had a doctor visit the other day as well, nothing serious.  I took him out for breakfast afterward at Java Jules, a local coffee shop.  He got chocolate milk and Belgian waffles.  Nothing like a jolt of sugar first thing in the morning.

The coffee shop has regular art displays from local and non-local artists.  This month's display was the junior duck stamp award winners.

Graham was pretty amazed that this artwork was done by kids his own age.  I told him that if you like to do something, you practice and practice and you get better and better.  I was hoping to plant a seed in his brain, hoping that he would start thinking of something he liked to do, and become determined to practice at it until he got better.  Not sure if it worked, but we'll see.  I know from my own childhood that sometimes it's the subtle seeds sowed in a child's mind, that grow steadily and bloom into the largest flowers later on in life.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The best laid plans, part 2

Sunchokes, aka Jerusaleum artichokes.  Last fall I traded some of my purple chokes for a friends' white variety, so this fall I will have a multi-color harvest.  Now I just need to find someone with the tan kind, and I will have the full sunchoke spectrum.

Two full beds of Calabrese broccoli.  I am on the look-out for an open-pollinated variety that forms one large head in early summer, rather than a smaller head with more offshoots.  I want to harvest and freeze most of my broccoli all at once, rather than battling cabbage worms all summer long.  This seed I bought from Seed Savers Exchange.

Two of the plants are heading-out, but the heads are only about six inches wide.  I was hoping for something larger.  We'll see how the other plants do.

Bull Nose Bell peppers in the front, yellow storage onions in the back.

Blue Solaise leeks, Winter Density lettuce, one row of celeriac and a patch of flowering arugula.  I really like the winter density lettuce.  It is the crispest romaine lettuce I have grown.  Of course that's not saying much, since I've only tried about four different varieties of romaine so far.  Not as crisp as grocery store romaine, but infinitely tastier.

My sad, sad garlic patch.  Foolishly I neglected to keep this patch watered during the dry spell we had in early June, and many of the stems turned yellow and dry.  Since then I have been watering them diligently, but I figure about half of the plants have already died.  I must pull one of them up to see how big they are.

The best laid plans, part 1

The plans for this year's garden have changed several times over the course of this spring.  In March, when thoughts of moving were far from my mind, I had large patches of tomatoes and beans and peppers, enough for lots of canning and freezing all summer long.

When news of my job insecurity came to light, I realized that I might not be here to pick beans and tomatoes and peppers several times per week.  My plans shifted more toward spring veges that could be eaten fresh or frozen, and fall veges that could be ignored on a weekly basis for harvest later in the fall.  If we did move, we would likely keep this property until fall.  I could come back here once a month or so for harvesting potatoes, pumpkins, carrots, rutabagas and onions.

Not knowing what would happen, I ended up with a compromise between the staying-garden and the moving-garden.  Enough tomatoes, beans, peppers and zucchini for fresh eating but little for preserving.  Enough pumpkins, potatoes, and carrots for eating and storage, but not at the expense of the fresh summer veges.

This picture was taken on the 12th of June, just 17 days ago.  It is amazing how much the plants have grown since then, as seen in the photos following.  Regular waterings and sunny days have really given the garden a boost.   You can see the six new raised beds.  I love them.  I have no scientific evidence to say whether the veges in the beds are doing better than those outside, but just the aesthetics of the wood pleases me.  I like the definition between bed and pathway.  Yeah, I'm a bit retentive that way.

Jack o' Lantern pumpkins, from 8-year-old seed.

Generic slicing cucumbers.  The lemon cucumbers I planted in May didn't germinate, so I ended up buying a few random seedlings from a nursery bargain bin in mid-June.  Only four plants, not enough for pickling (which is fine since last year I pickled enough cukes to last us five or ten years).

Royal Purple Pod bush beans.  I never realized that purple bean plants had purple stems.

Sugar Pie pumpkins, plus a few volunteer cantaloupe in front from one of last year's fruit, which must have been left in the garden over winter.  I must pick these volunteers out, since I already have enough cantaloupe planted in another bed.  My kids love cantaloupe, but unfortunately all of the fruits mature at the same time.  You end up with twenty cantaloupe to eat over the course of two weeks.  Well before the end of the two weeks, my kids are sick of them.

Hales Best Cantaloupe in back, a few basil plants in the middle, and kohlrabi in front.  This is the first time I've grown kohlrabi.  I like watching the bulbs form.  I always thought they formed right at ground level, but these are forming an inch or so above the soil.  Maybe they will expand toward the bottom as they grow.  Otherwise, wouldn't the stem below break under the bulb's weight?

Sugar baby watermelon, from last year's saved seed.   I wish my kids liked watermelon more than cantaloupe.  The watermelon harvest is more staggered, not so all-at-once.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Decision made

Yeah, it's been awhile.  Sorry about that.  The kids got sick again in mid-April, a doozy of an infection lasting several weeks over the three boys.  I swear next fall I am going to neti-pot, musinex, eucalyptus oil, zinc and vitamin C the heck out of my family at the first sign of a sneeze.  Whatever it takes, I am on it.

Benjamin's asthma doc decided it would be best if he had his tonsils out.  It will open up his airway and reduce the number of URIs he gets.  Kinda scary, but if it helps in the long run, great.  Of course I have been reading all about tonsillectomy horror stories on the internet, like any anxious mother worth her salt should do.  Right now the surgery is scheduled for June 13, but I will probably need to reschedule, because of ...  a decision we've made.

A decision we've been forced to make, really.  My job is likely to disappear in the next year or so.  I can't really go into the details, which would involve me cursing a lot.  I'd really like to, but I won't.  In any case, in April I was "warned" that my position was "on shaky ground" and that "something is going to happen" before the beginning of the next fiscal year.  Of course, back in February when I asked whether my position was in any danger of being eliminated, I was told 'No.'  Nothing like a cold dose of ambiguity to start your day.

So, I have to transfer.

Openings in my department pop up every few months or so. The whole hiring process takes about four weeks from the first day the position is posted.  So, that's four weeks of not knowing whether you have the job or not.  Four weeks of not knowing whether you will get to pull up stakes and move quickly, or whether you will have to wait for the next job that opens up.

The not-knowing thing drives me crazy.  It's hard to make plans, not knowing where we'll be in one month, three months, six months, etc.  I applied for one opening in late April, made it to the interview, but didn't get it.  Another opening was posted last week, and I sent in my application.  I'll get a call later this week for an interview, which will probably take place sometime next week.

The new job will mean more money, which is good.  But it means leaving a home and a community we love.  It means pulling the kids out of school and having them leave all their friends.  We've already sold the goats (to a farm three miles down the road), and I will have to find a home for the chickens.  And we will have to sort through everything we have accumulated in our ten years here, figuring out what to pack, what to toss, and what to give away.  (Garage sales don't work very well when you live ten miles from town.)  It means finding a temporary place to live in a new town.  It means getting approved for another mortgage, finding and buying a new home, and then trying to sell this house.  When I think about all of it, I am overwhelmed.

So, blog friends, that is why I haven't posted in so long.  Lots of changes in the air, lots of uncertainty.  And being the control freak that I am, I don't do well with uncertainty.  I'm trying to be very Zen about it.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  Unless we are incredibly lucky and find another fourteen acre farmstead to live on, I will have to rename this blog.  We are trying to be optimistic.

Like I said, it's the not-knowing that kills me.  I feel like I'm in a holding pattern, circling above the airport waiting for clearance to land.  At this point I don't know when we'll land, and I don't know where we'll land.  I just hope I don't run out of fuel.