Tag Archives: farm

Report cards for brunch

It’s taken longer than I expected to get to this place… the place where I’m ready to share.  June was hard.  Harder than Junes normally are, and I didn’t even have to write “real” report cards.  “Real” report cards make everything hard, even spring, with its flowers and salads and colours and birds and long, long days.  This June eclipsed any report card.  This June ate report cards for brunch – the kind of hungover brunch that happens after a wedding, hours later than you should be eating, with terrible coffee and gross food and screaming children… not a nice brunch.  Not a nice June.

I was really hopeful that July was going to be better.  And don’t get me wrong.  There were parts of July that were awesome.  There are going to be more parts of July that are going to be even more awesome.  There are just other parts of July that are stupid and dumb and that are no better than a shitty June.

BC teachers are still on strike.  Doesn’t look like this is going to change any time soon.  I still don’t have a job.  Doesn’t look like that’s going to change either.  There you go.  June sucked, July sucks, let’s get on with all of those other things.

We had WWOOFERS.  They were awesome.  Jer and I wrote a list, like we often do, but this list was not a normal list.  Almost every single item on this list got crossed off.  That was astonishing.

I drank beer in the shade of a beautiful porch with a great friend.  I had coffee on a sunny patio with another friend.  I’m selling flowers, and we’re selling vegetables, and I’m knitting all of the things.  My gladiolas are blooming, my sunflowers are blooming, my sweet peas are going NUTS (if only you could smell them).  We’re eating garlic and potatoes and zucchini is starting to come out of our ears.  I have brown-eyed susans and broad beans and beets and kohlrabi.  My neighbour has raspberries and she lets me pick them.  Then she lets me eat them.  I’ve given up showering and my feet are filthy (these are both highlights, not lowlights, for all of you “city” folk).  The hammock is up and I had a beer in it this afternoon reading a summer book.  Our baby chickens are getting bigger and we built them a run.  We’ve gone canoeing, and we’ve gone swimming.  I’m going to Hornby tomorrow with friends and Jer and my dog and I’m going to swim in the ocean.  I spend time watching soccer and I only feel small amounts of guilt.  I cracked so many hazelnuts I got a blister.

I think I just wrote all of those things to prove that July really isn’t so bad.  There were just a few bad moments, and they’re hard to forget.  From here on out though, it’s all the good type of brunch.  More pictures soon.

They're 3 weeks bigger now...

They’re 3 weeks bigger now…

First carrots!

Chicken run

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The chicken that would not die

You’ve all heard me talk about our neighbours.  They’re all kinds of awesome.  All kinds, I swear.  A couple of weeks ago they had a chicken who was going through a rough time.  She was blind in one eye from some kind of infection, and the other chickens were giving her a run for her money (the term “henpecked” comes from somewhere and it sure isn’t pretty).  She’d lost half of her comb, and her skull was visible in parts.  Our lovely neighbours asked if we’d take her for a bit, to give her a reprieve from their birds who knew her place in line and were relentless in their attacks.  Of course we agreed, and for a couple of days “Scabby” lived in our house.  When our neighbours found out that “Scabby” wasn’t well enough to live outside with our other birds, they took her back and built her a lovely pen.  They brought her over a dog house and made her feel special.  Her comb healed over, her skin closed up and her feathers started growing back.  We even decided that maybe we shouldn’t call her Scabby, so kind of renamed her Sorrel, but I don’t know if that’s really going to stick.  A nickname’s a nickname, even if it’s not a nice one, right?

*Yes.  All of this mimics schoolyard politics, nicknames and all.  Yes, I feel emotional about it.  Yes, she’s a chicken and I eat chicken.  What’s your point?

Anyways, we ended up taking Scabby/Sorrel back last week.  Chickens shouldn’t be all alone and our birds didn’t see her as the recluse nerd who deserved to be locked into her own locker.  We were still trying to figure out how to encourage her to be social with the other birds, but she was a bit of a recluse.  She may just have been smarter than them.  She is a Houdini, and never ever seems to be in the pen, but is out wandering the garlic or the potatoes or the kale.  We’ve never actually seen her escape, and none of the other birds get out.  She’s just kinda like that.

Until today, when she wasn’t wandering and wasn’t clucking around with the other ladies either.  Until today, when the remains of a white chicken was dropped, unceremoniously, onto our neighbours’ yard by an eagle.  Until Scabby/Sorrel couldn’t be found and was determined to have died as she had lived – free.

Until she was found, hours later, wandering the garlic.  Free.  Alive.

I don’t know where this chicken got her lives, but she’s certainly got lots of them.  And I’m sorry for whichever bird’s life ran out today… maybe that bird lived happily with it’s compatriots and was ready to go.  Who knows.

Here’s a picture of a flower and our 2nd CSA box of the year (it has garlic scapes in it!).Gaillardia

Box #2!

Options if I’m unable to find a teaching job next year

1) Knitting

Broken seed stitch socks

Broken seed stitch socks

Featherweight cardigan

Benefits include the fact that I do this anyways and that I can literally (not figuratively, I promise) do it with my eyes closed.  Drawbacks include the fact that I refuse to knit with crap yarn, so would spend all of my earnings on more yarn (this is what I do already with all of my earnings from knitting).  Additionally, even if I knit 24 hours a day, I don’t think I could even make enough money to buy dog and chicken food.  Maybe I should go to the Equator and run on a beach ball at 1000 miles an hour, because then the sun would stop moving in the sky.  Maybe then I could knit fast enough.  (I was listening to a Radiolab podcast on the way to work today… did you know that every day is 54 billionths of a second longer than the day before?  This is officially the shortest day of the rest of your life.  Huh…)

2) Flower farmerGaillardia - not another word for a yucky stomach illness

Iris, but not the grape kool-aid kind

Tree peonyThere’s lots of benefits here too… like the fact that I own a farm, that I like to get my hands (and feet for that matter) dirty, that I love flowers and all things colourful, that our bees are all dying and could use all the help they can get… the list can go on.  I’m trying my hand at this too, but with one farmer in the family who needs a farm enabler, I’m not sure that farming flowers is really going to help this situation.  We live on a small island and we’re not really equipped, especially the way that BC Ferries is going, to expand our sales off island.  And some people here like to buy our vegetables, and I’m sure some will love to buy our flowers… but lots of other people here like to grow their own, so I’m really not sure that this is the way to financially support us.  It sure does make me happy though.  Maybe less so when it’s raining out.  Or the deer broke through the fence.  Or when there’s too many thistles and blackberries and prickly things.  Or when thrips eat all of my gladiolas.  I don’t know if I’m emotionally tough enough to be a full-time farmer, come to think of it…

3) A herpetologist

Snake eyeballs Inside-out snake skin 35" longI don’t actually want to go back to school to study snakes, even though I think they’re incredibly cool and I love that they eat critters in my garden.  Mostly I just wanted to figure out what the word was for a person who studies reptiles, use that word, teach it to you and show you these pictures of a snake skin that I found in our garden, full with peeled-off eyeballs and everything.  It was still moist when we found it, and the snake was nearby and super shiny.  Plus, I don’t know if the government, or anyone really, funds herpetologists any more than they’re funding education…

Any other clever ideas out there?

It’s hard to weed with your eyes closed

I was lying in bed early this morning, wishing that I was sleeping, trying really hard not to think about how I don’t have a job for next year and failing miserably.  I decided, as I have many times in similar situations, that I really need to start meditating again.  I remembered the place I was in in the spring of 2008 and how 10 days of silence, attempting to clear my mind and feel everything in equanimity changed that place.  I remembered the peace and the feeling of satisfaction that spread through me.  So I sat up and spent 10 minutes trying to find that place… then I heard the coffee percolating downstairs and whatever clarity I was muddling towards vanished and was replaced with the fog that precedes my morning coffee.  So I got up and drank my coffee and forgot about meditating, and about not having a job for that matter.

I ended up in the garden, and wandered around aimlessly for a bit.  Jer was gone for the morning, and as I haven’t been around a lot lately, physically or mentally, I am not sure of the priorities.  I know that blueberries are to be dug, I know that everything is to be watered, I know that lots of things are to be seeded or transplanted, but I don’t know what or where or how to do it so that it doesn’t have to be done again.  So I sat down to weed the onions.  I pulled grass and buttercup and thistles and bindweed, and I did it slowly and peacefully (if one can call causing the death of many living plants peaceful).  I got dirt under my fingernails and between my toes and it made me feel better.  Not all better better, but some better.

I went to get a massage recently because my carpal tunnel, caused by treeplanting, compounded by knitting, revigorated by gardening has flared.  My massage therapist asked me what it feels like when I stop knitting and stop gardening.  I looked at her questioningly… stopped knitting?  Stopped?  Like took a break?  I knit when I read, when I play cards, when I’m sitting on the ferry.  Sometimes I knit at red lights.  Stop?  It made me think about whether I glorify the act of being busy, but I don’t think I do.  I choose to do slow things, like knitting and growing organic food.  I choose to sit on my bum and weed onions by hand.  I choose to do lots of things that keep me busy, but they’re meditative for me.  I don’t know if actual meditation – the kind I did in Bolivia, sitting still for an hour to clear my mind – is what I need.  I think I just need to get dirt under my fingernails every day.

Here’s some pictures.

The pictures pretty much tell the story of our lives lately – it’s been hot, so Jer jumped in the pond.  Some plants are doing well, but it’s hot and dry, so lots of others are struggling through.  The kale’s not so juicy, and the salad greens are confused.  We had our first farmer’s market of the year, but for a long variety of reasons we didn’t have many vegetables… so we made jam.  Frogs are filling up the pond, and that’s about all of the exciting details!

Disasters, of the chicken and wardrobe varieties

When we were in Tofino, a couple of our neighbours did a fantastic job of caring for our chickens.  One of them happens to have chicken-in-danger radar.  I thought it was just for her chickens – she would wake up in the night, knowing that there was a raccoon nearby ready to attack.  Ends up her radar transfers to our chickens as well.  3 days in a row we had a hawk in our chicken yard, trying to pick off the birds.  Somehow, all of our chickens were well and accounted for upon our return.  We didn’t see the hawk.  We still haven’t seen the hawk.  Jeremy saw a hawk today, but it wasn’t attacking anything.  We have, however, lost (as in they’ve disappeared, without a trace, and without losing very many feathers) 3 chickens.  Both of the Boots fellas… Boots, and Boots V 2.0.  Also one of our black laying hens.  And Jer’s favourite bird was attacked.  It’s living in a box in our house right now.  It smells like sick chicken and I don’t like it.  We don’t know if a hawk attacked the bird, or our dog (she’s done it before, but only once), or a raccoon, or something else… I’m pretty convinced that it’s a hawk right now.  Anyways, the rest of the birds are on pretty significant lock-down unless someone’s outside with them.Chicken in a box

My grandfather refurnished a family wardrobe for us last year, and it was supposed to live in our bedroom, but no matter how hard we tried it wouldn’t go up the stairs.  So I filled it with yarn, and it hung out in our kitchen for a while, but the plan was to move it into our spare bedroom and get rid of the ugly particle board wardrobe that was in there.  But in order to get the ugly one out we had to take it apart.  So we did.  It’s in pieces outside.  I didn’t even think about whether the wardrobe would get around the corner.  It did, but barely.  I didn’t think about whether it would make it through the door.  It didn’t.  Not even after we took off the door and the doorframe and put a couple of holes in the walls.  So now the wardrobe, still looking like a yarn store and pretty as can be, is back in the kitchen, and the spare bedroom seems a lot bigger without an ugly, yet somewhat useful, wardrobe.Wardrobe disaster

The luck of the person-sewn mitt

I’m really lucky.  I know this.  I feel grateful for it.  I work really hard, and I do my best at most things, and I try to be good and kind and fair (but sometimes I fail), so I deserve some of the things I have.  But I am also lucky.  I am lucky enough to have a fantastic job, and a lovely partner, and an amazing dog, and a farm and a pair of beautiful person-made (I was going to say hand-made, but she used a machine, so I don’t know if that’s appropriate.  I’m not a quilter.  We’ve been over this before.  Anyways, they were made by a person, and I know her name, and she doesn’t live super ridiculously far away, even if she lives in Alaska) from vintage fabric oven mitts.Pretty mitts.  I know – who cares about the job and farm and dog and partner if you can have beautiful oven mitts.  And I don’t really know how I got them.  I saw them on facebook, and then found out they were made by this woman who’s coming to my little island to teach a quilting class, and then I asked her for some, but then she told me that she was doing a trade with my amazing neighbour… who then proceeded to give them to me.  See?  Lucky.Really pretty mitts.

A friend of mine came over for dinner the other night and said that she’d made 2 resolutions for the year.  1 was to fix everything.  I don’t know why one would need a second resolution if the first was to fix everything, but one may need more than a year.  I’ve tried to keep my resolutions more simple (and achievable, but I’m not pooping on anyone’s parades).

1) 15 minutes of cleaning per day.  Putting away laundry and dishes and general tidying doesn’t count.  Washing the stairs, clearing out old boxes and scrubbing (half) of the tub count.  So far I’ve done it every day.  If I last another 30 days or so I’ll have reached the whole house.  Maybe.  I’m trying.

2) I want to knit a marathon.  I don’t need to buy a marathon of yarn (although the thought of it kind of makes me want to try, but then I start to feel dirty and consumer-y and I don’t like it, but I like the pretty yarn, so we’ll see).  Some super inspiring ladies I know ran a marathon last year, but I don’t like running and it doesn’t feel good on my knee, and I like to knit, so I’m going to knit a marathon instead.  So far I’ve knit about 300 yards.  Only about 45 825 yards to go.  Uh oh.  Maybe this goal isn’t so realistic.  Drat.  Well, I’m going to try?

I had to go to work today.  I like going to work.  I don’t like waking up at 6 am when it’s dark out.  I also don’t like going to work when there are exciting things happening at home, like the tapping of the maple trees.  If only there were more daylight hours in the day… although today there was almost 12 minutes more daylight than there was on the solstice, so that’s nice.  I wish I had enjoyed those 12 minutes a little more…

Each of these 4 L jugs full of maple water will make approximately 80 mL of syrup.

Each of these 4 L jugs full of maple water will make approximately 80 mL of syrup.

Sometimes it drips.  Sometimes it drools?
Sometimes it drips. Sometimes it drools?

Dusty Road Craft Collective

It was the Denman Island Craft Faire this weekend.  Jer and I participated in the Faire a couple of years ago, when we first arrived, and didn’t really understand the caliber of the Faire.  Last year I was too busy knitting sweaters for loved ones to knit small, sellable items for strangers, so we abstained.  Our dog chased our neighbours cat up a tree...This year we decided to share a table with our most loveliest of neighbours, and it was awesome.  Our table was overflowing with beautiful things at the beginning of the weekend, and was pretty sparse by the end.  Cutting boards, pizza peels, mustard, oat cakes, biscotti, sundried tomatoes, chickens, bags, purses, clutches, knitting, stuffed owls.  We had.  All of it.  And we did it with friends and we were successful, and I felt validated as a crafter.  Awesome.  AND our neighbours were still willing to sit at a table with us and sell our things after our dog chased their new-to-them cat up a tree.  He came back down all by himself.  We did apologize…

Freebie snow day walk with my dogPlus it snowed.  And I got a snow day.  The Friday before the Faire, someone decided to grant me the freebiest of freebie days.  I’m pretty lucky.

Pizza peels   Booth #9!

Owl clutches, cutting boards...

Stuffed owls!