Building a Garden

A Day in the Life, Farm Book, How

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A couple weekends ago, we joined a team of volunteers at the Muse to put in the boxes for our vegetable garden and clear out an area that had been fenced off and grown over. I knew there weren’t a lot of kids coming but I think it’s healthy for the Huckleberries to feel a little ownership and responsibility. More importantly, gardening is our favorite!

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Daddy brought the truck to help bring in fresh dirt. Rory brought the wheelbarrow.

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Edie brought get shovel and she knows how to use it.

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We had to rent a trailer to move a ton of dirt to school and then wheel it up to the garden site on the other side of the yard.

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But there’s nothing wrong with wheel barrows.

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It took a long time to get the garden boxes put together and moved up to the right place.

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Now we have a beautiful garden spot and a play forest as well. As soon as the little kids get bored of digging in the dirt, it will be safe to plant seeds!

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Building a Garden

A Day in the Life, Farm Book, How

image

A couple weekends ago, we joined a team of volunteers at the Muse to put in the boxes for our vegetable garden and clear out an area that had been fenced off and grown over. I knew there weren’t a lot of kids coming but I think it’s healthy for the Huckleberries to feel a little ownership and responsibility. More importantly, gardening is our favorite!

image

Daddy brought the truck to help bring in fresh dirt. Rory brought the wheelbarrow.

image

Edie brought get shovel and she knows how to use it.

image

We had to rent a trailer to move a ton of dirt to school and then wheel it up to the garden site on the other side of the yard.

image

But there’s nothing wetting with wheel barrows.

image

It took a long time to get the garden boxes put together and moved up to the right place.

image

Now we have a beautiful garden spot and a play forest as well. As soon as the little kids get bored of digging in the dirt, it will be safe to plant seeds!

Potato Day

A Day in the Life, Farm Book

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Once I was digging the potatoes with my mom.

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Um, my brother was playing in the dirt when my mommy and me were digging out the potatoes.
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I was touching my hands on the dirt when my daddy took a picture. It was soft and squishy like toilet paper. Rocks and dirt and roots and stuff.
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I found a potato in the dirt with my mother. Not very excited. I didn’t know we were not going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Because every year when summer starts we dig out the potatoes at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

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My brother was taking a bath in the dirt. My mom was cleaning my brother’s hands. That’s all for this weekend! -Edie

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Although it was a pretty drizzly, we knew we needed to get the potatoes in for the winter before they got soggy in the ground. Edie worked hard to help sort out the yellow balls from the clumpy dirt. It was the first day Rory tried on his rain boots, and he was not impressed. While we sorted through the dirt, Rory thrashed around the wet sidewalk and figured out how to get his boots off. It wasn’t exactly his happiest moment. As he settled into the weather, though, he crept into the dirt and squished his own little mud pile. Wet, but not too cold, we headed into the mudroom to strip down and pre-rinse for a nice warm bath. -Mama

To Wrap My Baby Bunting In

A Day in the Life, Farm Book

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Long ago we stuck some rabbit pelts in the freezer, and after a week of thawing and rounding up supplies, today was the day to process them. Rory came to help out. We had a reliable looking recipe from Mother Earth news, which gave us the option of using a salty solution of either alum or sulphuric acid… Weirdly, the acid was easier to find and purchase, so we are trying that out first.

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Basically the tanning process involves brining the hides in this solution for a week and a half, then cleaning and “breaking” them: stretching the leather until it’s pliable and soft. It’s not as difficult as I imagined. Actually so far it seems pretty easy, though I’ll have to remember to stir the brine each day.

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Our rabbits are Silver Foxes, a breed developed in the US to mimic the furs of the wild silver fox, which was endangered by overhunting early last century. Apparently many rabbit pelts so closely resemble the fox that DNA tests are required to verify authentic fox furs. No wonder the demand was high; the furs from both animals are quite beautiful. This shot of processing of course doesn’t show off the coloring, but I’ll post a photo of the finished product when we’re done. I’m pretty excited to see how they come out!

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Other cool stuff we did today: Kevin harvested the turkey tail mushrooms…

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Edie did lots of ballet, here demonstrating her second position…

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Baked some French breads…

And built Glinda’s tower for the Oz figures to play in. It’s been a pretty good day.

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First Day of Gardening

A Day in the Life, Farm Book

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It’s been one of those warm snaps where we get a few crocuses opening up and spring suddenly doesn’t feel so far away; although we’re sure to have a few more freezes before spring really kicks off, Adventure Time found us thinking about all the food and flowers we hope will pop up sometime soon. Edie picked out a “garden girl” outfit. I expected to stick Rory in the backpack for a little rest, but he beat me to it and took a nice long nap in the nest.

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Since we weren’t sure how long he would sleep, and we didn’t have much of a plan, and it’s too early to plant seeds outside, we decided to prep one of the front beds. After swinging through the yard for tools, we scooped up some poops from the bunnies to fertilize our chosen garden bed.

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Bunny poop is great for gardens, especially because it doesn’t “burn” plants fresh the way other manures can. We used Edie’s rake, Kevin’s welder, and my trowel to clear out some gnarly dandelions and grass patches that had taken hold since last summer.  As we worked, we remembered our last real garden day together when I was so pregnant, I couldn’t reach to seed the middle of the beds. The stuff we planted that day hadn’t done so well. In fact we have yet to experience much real success gardening.

For a long time I have always assumed that I would eventually be well enough resourced and coordinated to take my kids on more or less daily excursions, as I was required to do with my preschool class in Seattle. The benefits for  kids in a class setting was fairly obvious; children get exposed to the world outside the classroom and have a chance to work out their energy in ways besides destroying things. Supervising children on a playground is actually easier in a way than keeping them off each other in the classroom.

However as I’ve delved deeper into Unschooling literature over the last few years, I’ve questioned and shed a lot of the expectations I was accustomed to as an early childhood educator, and I’m not sure why it took me so much longer to question the daily bustle goal. I guess I was just so bad at actually accomplishing it that my ideal image was never really challenged. The season we entered as a family when we came home with the new baby has been one of energy and initiative for me- thankfully, since life got so neglected and out of control during my pregnancy that I am still digging out of that hole.  Today for instance I was putting away laundry and realized that a stack of clothes for sorting had been there very nearly a year. Now, I’m able to keep on top of routine chores, chip away at backed up projects, and even make daily time for something a little exploratory and unusual.

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A big part of the excuse for not “getting out of the house more” has been our long term car-free lifestyle, which has vascillated between voluntary and less voluntary. Sometimes I’ve been super proactive about bussing and walking, and we have always had generous friends and family offering use of their vehicles when we really needed it. This year is a new season for us; I expect to buy a car sometime in the next month. So, with ready access to wheels, will we finally be able to sign up for all the activities and plan all the outings I’ve looked forward to all this time?

Yes and no. I am relieved to look forward to a summer that we can run out to a beach or forest whenever we like, for foraging or just to explore the natural beauty of our exquisite region. But I think for me the daily outing has gone the way of the phonics coloring page: it’s fine to pass the time and sometimes may be just the practice a child needs to clarify a specific concept, but there’s really no obligation to schedule it every day.

Instead I’ve been focusing on the value of sinking in to home life and the comfort of rhythm. I’ve been considering how to isolate what is healthy and lovely about the busy activities we chose, and find a way to include that in our home life. How can we suck the marrow out of life without giving up all of our peaceful days?

For now, we’re settling in, sinking roots, condensing. We’re gardening, painting, cleaning out, and reading up. We’re asking friends over and sticking close to home. It’s a good place to be in the soft dead of winter. Perhaps another season, it will be time again the expand, unfold, and bloom.

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