Something to grow on

For Rowan’s birthday, we had intended on giving him a Mountain Ash Tree, better known as a Rowan Tree.  It was ordered weeks before the big day, but unbeknownst to me the delivery wouldn’t be untill after our last expected frost date (June 6th! Oh My!).  While the tree would have been safe much earlier, we had to wait.  This weekend the skinny little two leaved sapling finally arrived.  The four of us scouted out a lovely spot where the tree could branch out to its hearts content and we could see the beautiful little red berries every autumn.  Rowan was pleased with his birthday tree and Miles was overjoyed to help.  We are hoping for a nice open grown climbing tree one day.

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There is something very permanent and comforting about planting a tree.  When I was born, a magnolia tree was planted in my parents front yard.  When they arrived home from the hospital with their little baby in arms, their house was scattered with pink balloons, some tied to the spindly little magnolia.  Every spring my parents call to tell me about the tree that comes into bloom first.  It is a very special event.  Three full moons in to our new home, a garden sowed, a tree planted, a season passed, a new one begun and this place really feels like home.

Another flock is settling into their new home too…  

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The babies have joined the layers in the coop.  This morning, the first morning of all togetherness for them, much to my surprise as soon as I sleepily swung the door open the fluttering wings came flying at my head raring to get out and find some morning goodies.  They came so fast and furious I had to duck!  Nothing like 23 chickens flying at your head to get your day started.  There are still some kinks to work out in the new sleeping arrangement…(they don’t quite know their home yet… we spent quite some time chicken wrangling last night),  but in a few nights I believe things will work out quite nicely.

Oh yes, things are coming together around here.  Our to do lists are matching the length of the day (very long!), our weekends are full, marshmallows are being toasted regularly and we are all generally quite thrilled with our day-to-day.

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Happy Monday!

the green grass grows all around

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The grass is so green these days sometimes I envy the cows for their fiber chomping stomachs.  The leaves are like suncatchers, little stars of new life filling up the forests canopy.  The wildflowers are becoming so plentiful I can’t keep up on trying to identify them all, and our days are spent outdoors from sun up until sometimes well after sundown.  And the garden, oh the garden is not ceasing to amaze me.  This inherited, cherished spot has a new surprise every walk I take.  Like my mama, I like to start my morning off with a cup of coffee and a walk through the dewy garden to see what I can see.

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After letting the big chickens out, and gathering the baby chicks and putting them in their fenced in area, I like to feel the morning light on my face.  The boys like to join me.  The cats trail behind, and the dog… oh the dog.  Since we brought home these multi colored egg laying hens we have noticed a steady decline in the number of eggs we were getting.  I was so confused, thinking perhaps it was due to them laying in odd places, or that two are very much broody having to be heaved off the nesting boxes several times a day, or maybe a critter stealing was them?  And then the culprit showed her smart little face.  Cloud, the tiny wonder, has been carefully carrying the eggs to a safe hideaway where she would down at least 3 a day.  No wonder she has not been eating her supper.  But oh her shiny coat….

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(Miles new job is walking her in the morning… while the hens to their thing… a job he very much enjoys)

The new vegetable garden is fully stocked.  I was over zealous I am sure, disregarding my earlier promises of starting this year off with hops and lavender only, considering how busy our new addition will make us later this summer.  I planted sweet peas, two types of lettuce, spinach, kuri squash, butternut squash, watermelon, zucchini, asparagus, carrots, kale, watermelon radishes, pole beans, onions, potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, catnip, sorrel, some different herbs and a small cutting garden.  Whew.  It was a very, very, enjoyable process and we all love to study the earth for any signs of sprouting through the day.  The fence is in the works, and let me tell you, it is going to be a beauty.  This man of mine has been working so very hard.  If it’s not a broken washer, or a new part in a car, it’s the fence or the coop or a tree.  Since graduation, I believe his schedule has been stocked two-fold.  But, truth is he loves it.  We both do.  This is what we have been waiting for, for so very long.

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On sunday Miles and I found a good-sized patch of the beautiful and patiently awaited ostrich fern, better known as the fiddlehead!  We indulged tonight with gusto.  All four of us.  It is quite exciting for a person of any age to eat something so asparagus-y delicious and all curled up adorable that they paid not a penny for and plucked off with their own little fingers.  Today we plan on going back for more, perhaps enough to stock the freezer a bit too.

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There isn’t a lack of things to do these days.  I feel like if I don’t consciously think about it I will do nothing to prepare for this sweet little baby that is getting bigger and bigger as we speak.  There is knitting, and a dream of a quilt, and sorting clothes, trading in the car for a (gasp) mini van, and washing diapers… and well I have ten weeks to go!  There is still time.  Or at least I keep telling myself.

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Everything is happening so fast these days.  I want to hold on to these bugless, crisp, sunshiny days, with a sweet baby tucked inside me, two amazing little boys full of life and energy, and a very hard working partner by my side.   I don’t want them to end.

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make it 10 percent.

Listening to an NPR segment yesterday about the tragedy (in my eyes… and the eyes of many) with Smithfield Ham , I came to one conclusion from the one detail that stood out to me the most.  It wasn’t the CAFOs that are destroying the landscape and the identity of the animals inside them, it wasn’t the ignorance or inclination for us as a species to turn the other cheek on the thing that makes us human in all the best ways which also happens to be the exact thing that keeps us greedy and foul, it wasn’t the declining quality or the inferior taste or even the idea of shipping to a foreign nation who has much looser regulations and in turn may possibly lessen the structure of our very own laws that are meant to keep our environment somewhat intact, but a simple solid statement that hit home.  That made me realize in order to reverse the madness, we do in fact have the power.

Americans spend 6% of their income on food.

Six.

I have long prided myself in spending $100 dollars a week on our grocery bill, which has been coming out to be much much more than 6% of our income.  It has not been easy, and I will admit, with an honest heart, that I have inched it up a bit (but not much!) since moving to Vermont.  The options around here are just too tempting to resist.  I mean who could?  Maple syrup in bulk?  I simply fill my jug.  I have no choice.  Regardless, in order to maintain a local diet but keep a rational budget it is essential to write out a detailed list of what you will eat, what you need, the items in your pantry that need restocking.  It is important to eat much less meat than you may be accustomed to.  It is crucial to cook.  Nothing complicated, but you just must do it.  Everyday.  Several times a day.

Simple meals are being forgotten.  The tender lentil, the versatile black bean, the protein packed garbanzo all in their dried form cost less than two dollars a bag and will feed a family of four for days.  Mix in the staples of life; garlic, good olive oil, vinager, eggs, crusty loaves of bread, and you are set.  Last nights leftovers easily slide into this morning’s breakfast with only a slight tweak, todays lunch is simple with things already cooked up and supper can easily be transformed.  Imagination and confidence are all that is necessary to proceed.

Eat this way and you will, not maybe, not hopefully, but you will be able to afford the only option for sustainability, which is eating local.  As local as possible.  For as much as possible of your entire diet.  Without the efforts of all, the big greedy companies will win (though will they really?), and the rest of us will suffer immensely.  Already our bee’s are ceasing to exist, our gardens are tainted with gmo’s that have had absolutely no worthy studies indicating that they are in fact safe for consumption for humans and animals and for our most precious family member of all: mother earth.

Make this choice.  Eat local.  Buy less clothes.  Spend less on toys and other unnecessary goods packed into wal-marts and home depots.  Save yourself from the average of 4% of your income going towards healthcare and eat real food!  Real quality local food, prepared by a human.  And if for no other reason do it because the taste is unequivocally superior.  It is an effort.  At first!  But once you get in the groove, it’s no problem at all.  You will be meeting friends at your csa, you will be comparing ways to shell your fava’s on a discussion board, you will be sampling your ruby red strawberries that are dangling from pots hung all over your porch, you will be tasting the broth you made from the succulent chicken down the road and a single tear will roll down your cheek and you will take a knee for it will be so damn delicious.  Well, maybe thats just me.  But, I promise it will become habit if nothing else.

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Oh I am missing me some hale bopp… We must get our new coop in order!  Buying eggs at the lawn mower shop, while they are fantastic, just isn’t the same…

I know I am not telling you anything new.  Mostly this is a healthy reminder to myself to stay the course.  I will admit it is quite easy in these parts to accomplish this goal, but I most certainly have lived where it took quite a bit of effort to find even the most basic ingredients within a reasonable radius.  So, either way- happy eating to you, and good luck with whichever route you choose!

masters of their own domain…

…and I get to tag along.

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So graciously I spend my days quietly camouflaged in the background, making a peep only when undeniably necessary, contributing as little as I can in order to allow thorough investigation and wonderment for my boys.  I hover about clicking my camera and clacking my needles only pausing for the occasional, “I wonder”, or “I see”.  Gathering provisions and supplying proper gear tends to be more in line with my job description these days.

While I of course can’t resist the morning dance off’s (especially since my youngest seems to have quite the twinkle toes) and always have a say in the design of a proper fort; mostly I feel these little sprouts of mine do best and learn best when left to tend to their own business.

While there is no preschool vision on our horizon, lately I can’t help but think what sort of classroom these boys spend their days in despite a lack of four walls.

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This sort of classroom.  This one of dewy mornings, and early evening crescent moons, of sticks and moss, dirt caked fingernails, the chattering of squirrels and moles and chipmunks, of teamwork and fights and cuts and bruises, of wagons and bikes and brothers and of course chickens.  Always chickens.

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This one suits them just fine for now.

This world is a thing of pure amazement.  My mini Zen Masters point it out to me daily.  

Flying the coop

While I certainly can’t say that a forty-five minute bout of chaotic soccer with Mama by your side is considered independence, it is something now isn’t it?  In my eyes it is blissfully sad and still, I am mourning the happiness from our sporty evening.  Oh it went something like this…

4:45- I was pondering a six p.m start time in a town about 25 miles away… and exactly how to deal with the impending meal.  In my mind a little peanut butter and honey, some leftovers of butter beans and rice and a bunch of snacks to and from would suffice.  Of course time slipped away, as it so often does, tying shoes and finding shorts, changing diapers, and chasing dogs and before I knew it, it was 5:20.  We had to go!  And how!  So, I hoisted the boys over my shoulder and made the mad dash.  I remembered the snacks were still in the kitchen so I headed back.  I plopped down the littlest boy on the one tiny stair that goes to the entrance of our house and hoped and hoped Miles didn’t wander while I jetted in as fast as my mama legs could go to retrieve the cups.  I swiftly made it back just in the knick of time to watch Rowan teeter off that step and take a good tumble onto the ground below.  I picked him up and rocked him silently cursing myself, when the dog escaped and the words I hoped I would never have to hear seeped out of Miles lips, “Rowan fell into chicken poop.”  Oh dear.

5:22- I buckled Miles in.  I gathered up the dog.  Took my stinky but calm baby indoors to clean him up.  I managed a little positive affirmation in between sighs of exasperation and a few hidden chuckles as well.

5:30- On the road.  We were going to make it, and I was determined not to let on that I have a deeply ingrained fear of arriving late.  Surely you can imagine the tension I create in my brain when arriving mere minutes late?  It is frustrating and I hope that I can knock it off one of these days.

6:01- Success.  It was a bit farther that I had imagined, but I see parents with little ones in tote scurrying to the field.  We manage to form a little huddle (a sports terminology I picked up tonight… clearly I have not been active in team sports so far in this life) and I stared at my shoes with Rowan in the backpack and Miles clinging to my hand.

6:10- Turns out the lot of us were waiting in the wrong location so I had to toss Miles up over my shoulder once again and bounce the two of them across the parking lot and onto the adjacent field.  Someone threw a soccer ball and some impossibly tiny shin guards our way and hollered at us to form a line.  A line?  A line.  3 year olds lining up.  I had to giggle.  Most of these kids had probably never heard of such a thing.  Or at least mine had not.  I hustled him this way and that, while the other parents did the same.  There was an onslaught of photography going on.  I refused to join the pack for some odd reason.  I suppose I figured the shots would be better in a few weeks when they got in the swing of things.

7.  The overall feeling was relief.  We made it.  Miles was happy.  Who cares if he refused to attempt the “soccer dance” (what they make you do if you touch the ball with your hands).  I had to stare down a little girl (a foot taller than Miles) who marched up to him, stomped her foot, and announced, “I am bigger than you.”  Come on girly, he makes up for it in style and charm.  Don’t you know nothing?

Ok, I suppose I took a couple…

Ah… so starting the age of planned activites is not something I feel completely ready to embrace.  I beleive this will be the only thing interupting our calm, quiet, subdued afternoons.  And it turns out, those are just the way we like it.  So long as you can through in the occasional soccer dance of course.