Tag Archives: farm

Weeds and how we grow’em

It’s starting to be crunch time on the farm.  That’s not completely true… it feels like crunch time on the farm for most of the season.  But this is a different crunch time.  If things don’t get seeded or transplanted today (or really, yesterday or last week or who knows when in the past, but really, SERIOUSLY, before tomorrow), they’re not going to have enough daylight hours to ripen all the way to… well… ripe.  So it’s crunch time.  Jer’s been working like mad, while also trying to have a day off here and there, albeit mostly unsuccessfully.

Deadly nightshade – not my picture, because this one has flowered and is going to seed!

I’ve been looking at pictures of where we were at last year, and while we’re still behind, we’re less behind.  What we aren’t less behind on is the weeds.  We’ve tried really hard to stay on top of the weeds this year, especially before they go to seed.  Last year we had a few weeds totally take off, and they became an absolute bane in the greenhouse – there was one nightshade that was especially vigorous.  So this year, we’re on the watch for it, and I don’t think we’ve let any flower yet, much less go to seed.  So that’s good.

Smartweed – also not my picture

Jer’s got a new weed on his radar, and he’s teaching me about it, but I keep thinking smartweed (or knotweed) is the plant he’s talking about, but it’s not, so I need a little more practice.  I had a goal of getting half of my dahlias weeded last week, so that they could maybe, FINALLY, start to flower, and that got done.  I am so ready to start making bouquets that aren’t lily-centric!  I love the lilies, but I’m ready for more choice!

Miss P had her 5-month-iversary this week.  We celebrated by going to the market, but also by visiting with the folks whose house she was born at.  We’re all just so darn grateful for her and her smiles, her gurgles and her snuggles.  She’s a gooder.

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Feelings and how we express them

Little Miss P has a very large head, which I blame wholly on Jeremy.  She also has a very loud voice, but I don’t think Jer can take the credit (or blame) for that one.  That may have more to do with me.  When the little one has something to say, but feels the need not to just say it (with the coos and sighs and giggles that are her language), but to shout it, scream it, exclaim it with a multitude of exclamation marks, we say that she’s expressing her feelings.

Miss P’s new friend

Not feelings of pain or joy or hunger – there are other more recognizable noises she makes for those feelings – but the whole abundance of other human feelings, be they physical (my nose is itchy and I don’t know how to fix it!!!!), emotional (I have a new friend who I can’t get enough of!!!!), or otherwise (FEELINGS!!!!!).  It’s totally acceptable for a 4 month-old to have loud, indescribable feelings.  It’s totally acceptable for a 4 month-old to have most things, really.  Sometimes I wish I was a 4 month-old and I could just shout and yell and exclaim sounds as loudly as possible in order to express myself and my feelings, because there sure are a lot of them right now.

 

June was the month of visitors on the farm.  We had a clan of my family descend for a night, which was lovely.  We had friends from Vancouver, who are moving back to the East Coast, come for 3 or 4 nights.  We had my parents come for almost a week.  And then we had the Wittys, comprised of Witty himself, young Mr. Atlas, and Golds, the friend who spans the ages and the kilometers.

You see, Golds and I met 9 years ago, in Bolivia, at the end of a 10-day meditation retreat.  You can read about her take on it here.  I had a different experience meditating than she did, and while I didn’t speak with anyone, with my words or my eyes for 10 days, I certainly spent time staring around the room, making up stories about the likely non-native Bolivians, Chileans and Argentines.  I grouped the travellers into partnerships, gave them home continents and narratives about what brought them to this small town in Bolivia, the only land-locked country in South America, and to a 10-day silent meditation retreat.  I was wrong on all counts (4 of the 7 were from Australia!  I was the only American, defined here as “from the continent[s] of America).  But even though Golds was from Australia, when we got to talking we found out that this may not be our first meeting.  Our first meeting may have truly been 20 years prior, on the playground of our elementary school.  She had come to Calgary

Stampede times…

during the 1988 winter Olympics, and we’d gone to elementary school together.  Our chance encounter in Bolivia, followed by 3 weeks of Stampede-laden debauchery in Calgary created a lifelong friendship.  Our month together here, as new mamas with happy, smiling, loud and feeling babes in tow, cemented that friendship and I sure do hope that it takes less than 9 years for us to see each other again.

Circa 2008

So those are some of my feelings… feelings of gratitude for having these delightful and joyful people in my life, feelings of incredible love when I see Miss P flapping her arms in delight when she is in the presence of her buddy Mr. Atlas, squeaky feelings when I see Golds dog-paddle at the beach on her last night here because the tidal flats go on forever and she doesn’t want to (rightfully so!) scrape herself on the sharp barnacles, but also feelings of sadness because these friends have just left us to continue their year-round jaunt.

Other feelings have to, obviously, do with my daughter and the relationships she has and the relationships she’s changed.  The relationship between my mother and myself, the relationship between Jer and I, and her relationships to all of these people I love so dearly.  Those are big feelings.  Those are shouting really loud feelings.

 

And then there’s these other feelings.  You see, our neighbours and closest friends on the island, are moving.  Not far – Google Maps tells me it’s 5 km and a 7 minute drive away – but far enough to not be drop-by neighbours… This family is a huge part of our Denman Island community.  They feed and water our chickens and garden when we’re away.  We share groceries, meals, and tea and cookies at least once a week.  I was so excited to know that Miss P was going to grow up next door to their lovely daughter, who would teach our girl to tromp through the woods, bounce on the trampoline and pick the best strawberries.  I have a deep respect for the choices this family has made and the people that they are and I’m supremely bummed that they’re moving.  I’m doing my best not to be like Miss P and shout and scream these feelings, because this is really not about me my feelings (I’m not the one moving, after all), but sometimes I wish that my girl and I could just switch places for a moment so I could shout and yell and get a bunch of these feelings out (and maybe cry a fair bit too), and then I’d feel better.  For now, I’m “holding it together”, trying to help them as best I can, and maybe by this weekend, when their house is no longer “theirs” in the legal sense of the word (it’ll be theirs for a LONG time, and not just to me… in describing our house, I still use the previous owners’ names, 6 years later), I’ll have my first little (or big) fit of feelings, and start to move on from them.

Not a farmy post at all.  One day I’ll give you a real farm update.  This month has just been about so much more than the farm…

Friends at the beach

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And that, my friends, is a wrap

This gallery contains 34 photos.

That, my dear friends, was a doozie of a farming season.  The last farmer’s market was yesterday; our last CSA box went out on Tuesday.  We just harvested the last of the corn and tomatoes to process for winter, and … Continue reading

Grateful, even with the bucket

I told people over the weekend that I was done school.  They thought that meant I was done my Masters.  That’s not what it means.  It means that I’m done for the summer, and that’s not even true.  I have to edit a colleague’s paper, and then read over how she’s edited mine (but at least I have a good first draft, which is 11 pages more than I had yesterday!), and then I have to edit my ethics application, and THEN I’m really on summer vacation.  Then I have 2 courses, some research, and a thesis to write, and then I’ll be done my Masters, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  First I get to go on summer vacation.  Granted, I’ve done lots of summer vacation things already this summer, but mentally, emotionally, and physically (I was living in Nanaimo for the most part dammit!) I have definitely not been on vacation.  Jeremy can attest to that, but he probably won’t unless I’m not around, because he might be a little afraid of my reaction.  I can’t say that I’ve been the most patient this month (even though I used to say that patience is for chumps, I didn’t mean that being patient with your friends or partner was chump-ish… I just meant that you shouldn’t wait to do things because waiting is dumb).  I can’t say that I’ve been especially thoughtful this month (although I did knit Jeremy an entire surprise sweater, which is pretty thoughtful.  And which really hurt my wrists, which makes typing 11 pages in a day hard.  Dammit again).  I can say that I swam almost every day this month, that I spent time with my flowers every chance I got, and that I was almost always grateful for where and how I live.  You would be too, I think.  Except for maybe the toilet part.  I don’t think everyone would be grateful to give up their flush toilet for a bucket.  I can’t think of very many who would be, actually.  I certainly wasn’t initially… but I am grateful that I don’t use gallons of clean water every time I pee.

All of these things may be too much information.  The sunset’s really pretty right now.  I’m going for a sunset stroll.  Look at the pictures.  You’d be grateful to live here.  Even with the bucket.

My top 10 Spring Break activities that actually happened

So I’ve been writing this post in my head over the past few days, while weeding the strawberries of nettles (I am, by no means, against the nettle plant.  I am, however, against all sharp and spiny and stingy [not stingy as in miserly, but sting-y, as in nettle-y] plants interspersed with my berries or my flowers.  NOT FAIR.), or while formatting pictures for this poster I had to do for school, or while driving up and down that island beside this island.  So I have ideas about this post, but they’re all pretty meandering.  I would not be surprised if the post is the same, even if it makes a claim to be a list.  Just thought you should know.

Climbing rose

Climbing rose

Kerri’s top 10 Spring break activities that actually happened

10.  Finishing my poster.  I had to do this poster for my Master’s.  It took way longer than I thought it would.  I finished it.  It was pretty.  It felt good.  Now I have this poster that I spent 2 days making and I don’t know what to do with it.  I guess there is always the woodstove.

Baby asparagus.  Only 2 more years!

Baby asparagus. Only 2 more years!

9. I got my haircut.  I’ve been wanting to cut my hair for a long time.  My mom told me not to shave any parts of it.  Then she said that I shouldn’t listen to her.  So I didn’t.

8.  Weeding the strawberries of nettles.  Also the blueberries of wild blackberry.  While I, for the most part, enjoy weeding, I especially enjoy weeding when the roots are really long and tangly, and the ground is pretty soft, and the weeds themselves are pretty big.  I like getting a big pile of weeds without a lot of work, especially when a significant part of that pile is root mass.  I get enjoyment out of it similar to the enjoyment I get when I pop an awesome pimple.  You should try it sometime.  The weeding part I mean.  We have lots of blackberries you can try it on, anytime.

Tractor sign.

Tractor sign.

7.  Beer on a patio.  In the sun.  A whole lot of years (6?  7?  I don’t remember) Jer and I went on our first date on Easter weekend.  We had beers on a patio in the sunshine.  A seagull shat in my beer.  Friends joined us and things got raucous.  It was an amazing day.  This was not that, but it was beers, on a patio, in the sun, with friends.  In April.  Win.

Jeremy made me alder buttons for my sweater.  I win.

Jeremy made me alder buttons for my sweater. I win.

6.  Fancy cocktails with friendfamily in the city.  I like fancy cocktails.  I like beer too, but fancy cocktails are special, and when we were in Calgary we went out with my cousin to a hip place and got to pretend that we weren’t bumpkins for a few hours, and there was a painting of a turtle in a suit, and we drank cocktails with names like “The Dirty Pigeon” (with tamarind and a salty cucumber!) and “The Meat Hook” and “Corn and Oil” and it was a lot of fun.  It made me feel young.

I made me a sweater.  It's orange.  It has handmade, homegrown buttons on it.  Seriously.  I win.

I made me a sweater. It’s orange. It has handmade, homegrown buttons on it. Seriously. I win.

5.  Rock and stick throwing parties.  When we got our land stumped last year, a bunch of rocks came to the surface.  Some sticks too.  Then Jer bought a tractor.  Rocks and tractors don’t get along so well, so I decided to have a rock and stick throwing party.  I thought friends would figure that I wanted them to work for me for free.  They didn’t.  One of them even googled “rock and stick throwing party” before deciding that it was probably a weird Denman Island thing, and hoped that it wasn’t going to be too competitive… I think it’s awesome that my friends trust me enough that I can host a work party with an unclear name and they’ll come and work… before going to the beach and drinking beer in the sun.

See?  Homemade sweater, homegrown buttons.  Orange.  WIN.

See? Homemade sweater, homegrown buttons. Orange. WIN.

4.  Planting all of the flowers.  Well, not ALL of the flowers.  But lots of trays of the flowers, and 2 50-foot rows of the flowers, and there are still all of the flowers coming in the mail.  My lilies are dividing and conquering and growing tall, and my starts are starting and they’re coming.  It’s going to happen!  Be ready for all of the flowers!

"Goats, eating fire-starter".  Almost "Goats, on a fire."

“Goats, eating fire-starter”. Almost “Goats, on a fire.”

3.  No diggity by a campfire.  In harmony.  On an acoustic guitar.  That is all.

2.  Hiking in the mountains.  In the sunshine.  On Vancouver Island with a friend and in Canmore with my mom.  To lakes.  In the sunshine.

The rhubarb is growing!

The rhubarb is growing!

1.  Not working, and especially not commuting.  Do you know how much time I would have in my life if I didn’t spend 5 days a week going to work?  I could ACTUALLY plant all of the flowers.  The blackberries would be exiled to the fences.  The nettles to beyond the fences.  I would knit all of the sweaters and blankets and shawls and hats and socks.  I would hike all of the mountains.  I would drink all of the cocktails and sleep in for all of the mornings.  Until at least 7.  I would miss my job, as I do (a little) right now, especially after drinking all of the cocktails and buying all of the yarn for all of the sweaters.  I would miss my job, but one of the best things about having a job is the days you don’t have to go.

This carrot top was haunted.  Naturally.  As in we didn't carve that face.

This carrot top was haunted. Naturally. As in we didn’t carve that face.

The problem with fantastic plans

Jeremy left today to go to Powell River for his uncle’s birthday.  We’d decided a while back that I would stay behind, do the market, hang with Mia and get some quality alone time in.  Sounds like a fantastic plan.  I think it was probably my plan.  Totally fantastic plan.  I often come up with these “fantastic” plans… plans that would be fantastic if everything went the way I imagined in my head.  I imagined a leisurely Friday harvest in dappled sunshine.  I imagined the perfectly clean vegetables in perfectly clean bins in the creek, waiting for me to wake up Saturday morning and load them in the perfectly dry truck.  I imagined coffee and cake.  I imagined knitting.  I think I always imagine knitting.

* Please realise that there is no cake, and there is rarely cake on Saturday mornings.  Also, please realise that the vegetables are NEVER perfectly clean, nor are the bins, and the truck is never either perfectly clean NOR dry.  I don’t know which set of elves was supposed to ensure the plan went off as I imagined, but they obviously didn’t get the memo, because…

There was no dappled sunshine.  That’s really where everything started to go wrong.  There was rain.  And not just pitter patter rain.  Torrential downpour rain that caused everyone I know to wake at midnight and question whether we were finally being invaded by whomever invades our nightmares.  This wasn’t an August rain.  This was a January rain.  Jer and I weren’t expecting a January rain in August.  The truck’s windows were all open.  The tailgate was down.  The hammock and pillow were out.  So were tools, and bins, and bikes, and boxes of canning, meticulously labelled.

Now don’t get me wrong… we needed the rain.  The veggies needed the rain, and Jer and I needed it.  It makes going away (both him this weekend, and the two of us together on Tuesday) WAY easier.  It makes the trees happy, and it makes our fellow islanders who were running low on water breathe a little easier.  It’s good for the birds and all of those other critters.  But it bloody well sucks for harvesting, and it sure made a big old mess.  The house is FULL of stuff in various stages of drying.  The truck is soaking wet, and will hopefully dry out before winter.  I changed my clothes 4 times today.  The first 3 sets are lying in a pile in the laundry room.  I kept thinking I was done harvesting, but the harvest just didn’t want to end… especially after Jer left.  Now I just hope that it doesn’t rain at the market tomorrow, because that really isn’t as much fun as… well… as the market in the sunshine.

 

The plight of the summer squash

There’s a jokGarden camp-oute that goes around our island (I must have heard it over a dozen times now, from over a dozen different people), and probably every other place where most people are growing at least some of their own food – that the only time of year you have to lock your car is in the height of summer, and it’s not to keep your loose change or smelly gumboots or bag of dried fruit that’s been baked every day in the hot sun safe.  It’s to keep your neighbours, near or far, from gifting you their surplus summer squash.  I experienced this first hand growing up in the suburbs of Calgary, as we had a small garden plot on the south wall of our house.  I Strawflowers and cornflowers, hanging from my ceiling to dryremember growing rhubarb and strawberries and beets.  I remember growing zucchini, and I remember my father giving them to me and asking me to go knock on our neighbours’ doors to profer them up.  I think he may have been afraid to go himself, as he would have come home with his arms full… it’s harder to say no to a cute little redheaded girl than to a full-grown man with a zucchini the size of his arm.

I’ve known about the ferocious growthCornflowers of zucchini and it’s kin since I was a child.  I’ve known about it’s reputation, but our zucchini didn’t grow that well last summer, and one of our farmer friends happened to tell us that his most financially productive crop, when the amount of time spent weeding and pruning and tending and babying and harvesting is taken into account, is summer squash.  So when Jeremy planted out his first tray this year, and asked me whether he needed to plant any more, I said “Sure!  We’ll just pick them small!  They’re delicious!  I love zucchini!”

Remember.  It was March.  I hadn’t had a summer squash in going on 8 months.  Remember.  Our squash had a terrible year last year.  Remember.  I didn’t grow up on a farm.  I only ever had 2 or 3 plants as a child.

I didn’t remember all of the warnings I’d been given.  I didn’t remember wandering the block as a child, gifting these edible clubs away.  Leek flower, going to seed I think Jer ended up planting close to 40 plants.  You should SEE the zucchini we have.  And only 2/3 of the plants are producing.  We are going to be eating zucchini in everything.  Our chickens are going to be eating zucchini.  Our neighbourhood chickens are going to be eating our zucchini.  Our dog is going to be eating zucchini.  Our fellow islanders had better be locking their car doors or they will be eating (or composting) our zucchini too.

It’s not actually that bad.  Yet.  I still love zucchini.  I’m still willing to eat it every day – grilled, stir-fried, on pizza, grated, in cake… but I am a little worried about when we miss a picking or two.

Summer sunflower, complete with beeOn a completely separate note, my flowers are ROCKING and they make me happier than even I thought was possible.  I’ve been perusing these flower blogs, and I read something interesting on one of them… it talked about how we need to change the concept of flowers as being something indulgent.  The world needs flowers.  We all need flowers.  The joy I get out of walking by my sweet pea patch or smelling them on my backsplash, washing the dishes is incalculable.  Every time I see the explosion of colour from my zinniaZinnias I feel the urge (and often succumb to it) to call Jeremy over to show him.  I had no idea how happy my flowers would make me.  I had no idea how much of a difference it would make to my kitchen to have a bouquet in it every week that came from seeds or bulbs I (or my mother-in-law) planted.  Flowers are no longer an indulgence to me, no more than coffee is (Jeremy says that he thinks of coffee as a pretty sweet indulgence… I think he’s crazy, because indulgences aren’t for the everyday… but we’ll just disagree on that point) – they’ve become part of my everyday… and one of the parts that makes me happiest.

Pattern - All About Love Yarn - Handmaiden Casbah in Amber

Pattern – All About Love
Yarn – Handmaiden Casbah in Amber