Category Archives: Homestead

And so it goes

Every so often, I look at this blog and wonder if it’s worth the bother. I think my life must be terribly uninteresting and the failures here at the homestead have far outnumbered the successes in the gardening realm. Still, on the rare occasions that someone does come by, as my aunt and uncle did this weekend, and looks at the place with their eyes instead of mine, it reminds me that being too close to something can give you tunnel vision sometimes.

So here’s what’s been going on around here of late, beyond the workaday crap that made August a hellish month, stress-wise – a month in which I managed to lose eight pounds, dropping me to 100 even. I’m working on keeping the needle there and climbing, and thus far, the “keeping the needle there” part is working out better than the “climbing” part.

I had worked my ass off to prep a bed of corn, which started out well.

Very well.

And then, there was zero rain. None. Zilch. Nada. So I was trying to water. Then I had some kind of animal run through this back side of the plot – probably the damn dog next door, who is forever running all over our property. And then these critters showed up, along with the corn earworms.

I don’t think I could have done enough to turn that plot into arable soil that would sustain growth to maturity. Between all of those factors, the corn withered, and eventually had to be cut down. A total loss of the time and effort spent.

I’d put in a line of limas, which I hate, for other people to eat. Out of eight seedlings, two survived. Neither has put out any beans as of yet, although they both have flowers.

I had also set up several cucumber plants, of two varieties: picklers and lemon cukes. One of each survived, and this lone pickler, along with one lone lemon cuke, are the output so far.

Continue reading And so it goes

Work in progress

When it all comes down to it, life is just a series of small steps on the way to somewhere else. It’s never as simple as, say, telling someone you’ve bought a house. What you’ve really done is saved up the money for it, decided what you want, scouted properties, negotiated the deal, signed a thousand pieces of paper, taken the keys, packed and unpacked, sorted things over, and then started the things you want to do. But it’s much easier to say “I bought a house.”

In the same way, it’s easier to say you’re improving the soil on the property. What has actually happened is that you’ve looked over the soil, discovered that fill dirt and sand from other lots was dumped on yours, dug down a foot or so in various places looking for the real soil you know is there, tested the soil, brought in a ton of topsoil and compost, and sweated your way into what is the beginning of returning the top layers of nothing to a form that is rich and loamy and beautiful for growing Stuff.

Continue reading Work in progress

Visitor to the estate

“Look out the window,” my mom shouted to me. I looked, saw nothing. “You won’t believe this!”

I was unable to figure out what in the world she was talking about – after all, my view out the window includes the pool area and some of the patio, and other than the heat waves radiating off everything, there was nothing extraordinary going on out there.

So I thought.

Continue reading Visitor to the estate

Leaving your mark

You should always leave your mark on the world, even if it is meant to be fleeting and ethereal.

After the rains came and went, I walked the property in bare feet. I finally killed my old boots a couple of weeks ago and haven’t replaced them, and sometimes you just need to feel the dirt and sand squish between your toes. This footprint lasted a couple of days before it finally vanished into the soil completely.

Life goes on, and my sister the vegetarian requested sub rolls so she could make her veggie subs for lunches while she attends classes every single day. I’ve never made sub rolls, but that doesn’t really stop me from doing much of anything, so I took my tried and true italian bread recipe and adjusted it.

Individual balls of dough, each around four ounces.

The rolls, formed and proofed.

Fresh from baking on the stone.

Cooled, ready for immediate use and also for freezing.

The Boy tells me today I need to make baguettes for french bread pizzas. Hey, I said, there are these rolls in the freezer that haven’t been used yet…

Gonna be a hot one tonight

Throughout May, there was always a fire burning somewhere in the general area: the huge fire on the GA border that jumped down into Florida, smaller fires in counties around us, a fire in the uncleared area at the commerce center about eight miles away, and at various other location, in various sizes. Late one afternoon, looking off into the distance, we spotted the distinct plume of another brush fire. This one, though, was only about 4-5 miles away, and the wind was blowing in our general direction.

I couldn’t resist. I grabbed the camera, jumped in my car, and went off to find it. Didn’t take much work to do that, since I could already tell where it was.

It was described as a “small but fast-moving brush fire” on the news. This road has houses on it, and when I got there, at one of the last houses on the road, a woman and her kids were sitting on their front step. On their roof was a sprinkler, wetting down the shingles in case the wind picked up embers and tossed them there. The end of the road was closed, but no one was evacuated and the fire was contained very quickly, thankfully – so quickly, in fact, that we never even received any ash falling on the property, as we have with other fires that have burned in the area.

Barn-raising in modern times

We’ve all seen the movies where someone is putting up a barn and the entire community comes out to help get the structure built. In most of the films I’ve seen, that community is either homesteaders out on the plains of the wide open west or an Amish community. In both cases, the men did all the manly man stuff and the women made lunch and brought them water. It took a day (or two), and in the end, the farmer or homesteader had a nice new barn.

Continue reading Barn-raising in modern times

Big sky, little town

Today is a gloomy, gray day, with rain threatening, and completely unsuitable for working outdoors. Of course, since we are getting into the rainy season, each afternoon has been turning dark and stormy, with rain coming down in amounts anywhere from sprinkles to downpours that result in visibility reduced to halfway up the front of the property.

When the rains came after a couple of months of no rain at all, we were happy. It saves the trouble of watering, and the ground definitely needs it. But there are Issues, as we say. And we’ll get to those. First, we’re going to back up a bit, and wander back into May.

It’s a (very) small town here. Small enough that the actual town in which we live doesn’t have its own post office. The nearest PO is in another pretty small town.

Continue reading Big sky, little town