I find it quite funny, that I have become such a meat snob. I can honestly say that I have only purchased chicken a few times since I watched Food Inc on Netflix. Even then it was begrudgingly. Yesterday as I went to work I informed my 11 year old daughter that she was going to help with the culling today. She said that she knew that this day was coming and was prepared for it. I was impressed at her maturity. I explained to her that John needed her help so that the ducks suffered little to none, It was our responsibility to make sure this is done properly. I have been telling her for the last year when we were very much vegetarians because I could not participate in inhumane raising of livestock. We ate very little meat in the last few years.
It was a lesson she approached with strength and maturity. It will be her generation that relearn a that meat doesn’t come from cellophane packages. Upon reflection of the day, she was very proud of her accomplishment. She helped to ensure that the animals were treated respectfully and lovingly . I am very proud of my children and their leap into this journey with us. I just wish I could convince my sister who lives in ignorant bliss about the protein she ingests.
Farming has quickly become an every moment thing for us. We are in full swing raising the ducks, turkeys, chickens and rabbits, I have grown quite fond of the ducks, I didn’t want to get the ducks and my husband didn’t want to be the turkeys, We decided that we would try both to see which would mesh better with our rabbitry. We decided that we would get a modest amount to experiment with. I have found that, like the rabbits, the animals value is so much more than the food they provide. By creating a comfort for them, the pool, they are creating an ease in our gardens. Providing a source of nutrients to the soil when we dump the soiled water onto our plants. Each day we live more consciously, each day we realize how much less we need to maintain a sense of balance. This summer has definitely been one of discovery.
We are having a wet summer. A very wet summer. I have found that the weather apps have become my closest allies. I found myself growing irritated by my lack of sunny days to enjoy in the garden. I found that we were having so many rain days that I was harvesting on the sunny days and then spending most of the sunny day inside, processing my harvest. Now thanks to modern technology I am better able to plan my days. I still harvest but just before the rain starts, however, I can then feel better about the processing part as it takes place during the rainfall. I am harvesting peas, Swiss chard, rhubarb, spinach and lettuce.
Most of the lettuce I harvest goes to my rabbits. They absolutely love it. We have many baby bunnies growing. The turkeys and ducks seemed to have doubled in size. We ordered 25 day old chicks that will arrive on August 13th. I have been able to purchase fresh berries and have made a total of 18 jars of jam. I am slowly watching our pantry fill up once again. It is great to know that all next winter we will be eating great food.People are purchasing our eggs, laying claims to our extra turkeys, ducks and chickens. Farming has become extremely satisfying. People love to tour our little farm. The transformation of our lawn has become so much more to look at. Our ducks travelling around in a little pack is so entangling. We just cannot get enough of quality hours in the day anymore. We bought a pool for our ducks. They absolutely love it. When asked if we are getting too attached to our animals our answer is no. We made a pack to ourselves to integrity farm. Ducks love water..it only made sense to get them a pool. Their lives will be short but their lives will be loved.
I have to admit I am a bit of a lazy gardener. When I was little one of the things I hated most in the world was having to pick rocks and weeds out of our garden. When we first started to keep rabbits we used to go out every night and pick greens for them. It was a treat and one that they would look forward to every night. We were able to handpick the greens quite successfully every night in about 15 minutes. The critters were happy and we enjoyed spending time with them.
Our broccoli and pea garden this year was last years tomatoe garden. We have a thing for heritage tomatoes and unique tomatoes so the re-seed of our gardens happends naturally. I am a HUGE fan of surprise plants. Often our gardens will re-seed because of our inability to harvest everything on time, and our compost will end up in the garden. That usually means that cantalope, squash and seeded vegetables will randomly come up. I love it when that happens. I let the random tomatoe plants grow. I can sometimes make rows by selectively picking the plants that have decided to sprout into the garden. Often I can work around the other plants easily. By the end of the garden season I will have a whole new garden which will be a complete surprise.
All of the extra plants that I pull out becomes an instant treat for our rabbits. It really is sustainable living with very little effort.
The tomatoe plants are growling freely amongst the broccoli and peas.
We are having a wet summer. It means that our garden is growing very quickly. We are already into harvesting peas, spinach, rhubarb, Swiss chard and radishes. Each day we are eating directly from our garden and each day I am able to preserve some for the winter. I am already a fan of the grocery bill reduction. I am a fan of the less amount of trips we have to take to the grocery store because “there is nothing to eat in the house.” We are looking forward to more peas though. Perhaps in a few weeks I will be singing a different tune when I am having to shell the peas for the winter. I am thrilled by the amount of food we have been able to harvest with such little effort on our part. I thank each and every one of our rabbits for making this organic farm a possibility.
On the very last day of school my “farm boy” son was taken to the skatepark. We had a skateboard. They had been to the skatepark before. They were a lot younger then and since we moved to the county, there are many more exciting things to do. Like ride his four wheel bike and bicycle.
Pre-teen fearlessness was not his friend as he stood on the top of the skate ramp. The skate board slipped out from under his feet and down he went. Unfortunately my son now has to spend the summer on crutches. I have lost my farmhand for the summer. It pains me to have my young son in such pain and agony as he gets used to his new reality for the summer. We have found that the animals who have comforted us so much over the years are still providing the comfort where desired. The first night home we allowed the dogs to come up and sleep in the living room. They obligingly lay at his side to keep him company. We are grateful to every single one of our animals. More so as each day passes.
The Pokey puppy was my absolute favourite book when I was a child. I wanted a speckled puppy my whole entire life. While we were raising the six children there was not a whole lot of room for dogs. In 2008 I suffered a tremendous loss of my brother through suicide. I ached so completely I could not ever imagine how I would be able to continue. On the day after his funeral a friend asked me to take Brandy as she was working full time and had no time for her. I looked at the beautiful dog. Placed her at my feet in the car and came home with her. I honestly was looking for a distraction. I knew she was high energy. I got more distraction than I could have ever imagined. Two weeks after we got home she gave birth to 11 pups. I needed her in my life. I needed her to help me find a little relief in the tremendous sadness I was feeling. I found homes for all the puppies by placing them on our front porch. People would hear of the porch puppies and come and ask if they could have one.
We had Brandy exclusively for the next year. Without my conscious knowledge, I yearned for a companion for Brandy. Around the anniversary of my brothers death. Off to the pound we went and Libby we seen. Crouched into the corner of her pen. She had lived the first two years of her life inside a cage. It was hard to leave her there as they had to spay her before we could take her home. She was a challenge though. The exact distraction I was looking for. I did the same the next year and then the year after that. Sadie and Bently were my last two distractions. I finally caught on what I had been doing. I was trying so hard to fill the very void that was left in my heart. I now have four of the Pokey puppies. My daughter tells me that I need one more to finish the book. Maybe someday but for now I have all the pokey puppies I can handle.
My husband is a young man of 46. He has had grey hair the entire time I have known him. He recently decided to let it grow and grow and grow. A sharp contrast to the clean shaved face and head he sported last year. My husband loves his animals. There are some who try to bond with us and there are some we try to bond with regardless of their protests. We have a flemmish giant nest at the moment. They color is Chinchillia grey. We have been trying to get this color dominant on our farm as it was the original color of our first buck. The other day he was playing with the bunny as we were trying to get a picture of it and he placed it beside his head. He said, “I think he likes me, he’s got the same color hair” We laughed and enjoyed the moment of joy that the bunnies bring us. There are more and more moments of just joy in our lives.
The other day a friend of ours was visiting. We walked him around our yard and showed him all the different projects we have on the go. We have a huge tomatoe patch, three different types of peas, broccoli and cauliflower, giant pumpkins and a few others. We have many transplants to go into the ground. He asked what they were and my husband said that they were watermelons. He looked oddly at us and said, “Why would you go through all the trouble of growing your own watermelon when you can go to the store and buy them for $4.00?”
My husbands answer was “Don’t tomatoes that you grow taste a whole lot better that the ones you can buy in the grocery store!” He agreed and they continued on the tour.
My answer would have been a little different. My quest to grow my own watermelon is to put seeds back into watermelon. Some of my fondest memories as a child was getting a huge piece of watermelon. Having a contest as to who’s piece had the most seeds. To see who could spit the seeds the furthest. I think it became a quest when my children asked “There are seeds in watermelon?” I now have a mission. My kids will know that there were seeds in watermelon. That apples that taste the best are the ones with the brown spots. That a tomatoe can be red, yellow, pink and almost every shade of red on the color wheel. I am starting a u-pick so other kids will know as well. I am not sure when I realized how important it was to grow different strands of food. How our selection is so limited when its comes to food in the store. How tomatoe sandwiches just do not taste the same anymore. Everyday we are working, every day we are saying..our Yardin is soooo much more than a garden.