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.
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.
The ducks have officially moved outside. They live with the little rabbits now and are loving the companionship and fresh greens that they are getting daily. We have a little splash pad in the pen so they can be ducks.
We are Christmas tree farmers so we used one of our stands that display the Christmas trees on our lot as a roost for the turkeys. They immediately caught on what to do. This picture was taken on the second night that they stayed outside. I wish I would have gotten a picture on the first night as they were all in a row and facing the same way. The turkeys are really growing on me. Their pen is located right beside my driveway and they run the length of the driveway as we are driving out. It really is funny to watch.
We are eating quite a bit from our garden and farm right now. Last night I calculated and found that our entire meal may have cost us $2.00. I did purchase a $0.77 cucumber as they are not in season right now and the rest went towards the cost of the ingredients. My kids are complaining less about eating a salad.
Rhubarb crisp..devilled eggs and rabbit chef salad.
It all seems like a good idea. The farm to provide us with meat and veggies.. We put in our gardens, we started our seeds, we now have rabbits and turkeys and ducks and chickens. Our farm has turned into a full time job, rather quickly. All of a sudden we realize how on earth are we going to have the time to do everything and pay the bills. So our farm had to multi task as our rest and play in our work, rest, play, repeat..family words to live by.
We no longer have a whole lot of time for Facebook, or cleaning our house, or go to bed by 9:00, or watching Netflix. However, we are realizing that as long as we all pitch in, everything seems to get done. Our farm work double tasks as our relaxing time as well. Playing with the turkeys and rabbits is entertaining and fun. We had to picnic on the front deck the other day because the table was covered in transplants. We had the worse rainstorm I have ever witnessed an hour later and I had to rescue my plants. Our kids were forced to go outside to round up the ducks and the turkeys. Their stories were so much more memorable than the kids from school who talked about watching the storm out the windows.
Last night as I was walking across our backyard I seen a stray baby bunny about the size of an egg. It was close to my sons four wheeler which has a tarp draped over it. I bent down and wondered how on earth this hairless, egg size baby bunny got ther. It seemed looked after, it was plump and robust. I got my husband to move the straggler to a nest of like size baby bunnies. I was still wondering how this bunny got to this place.
A few weeks ago we had a pen of rabbits break free. We had retrieved most but some of them are still running free. I checked under the tarp and found a stray nest. Actually two stray nests. The mamas were not to be found so we put the cover back down and left them alone. Entertainment does not cost us a penny. Although my son will not be able to use his four wheeler for awhile.
I look forward to the day of our u-pick vegetable garden dream. When we can farm ALL day and pay our bills THAT way.. I love love love this lifestyle. Work, rest, play, repeat..
My husband has a screen saver on his iPod that implies that you have to decide what it is that you want. Write it down and make a plan, and then work on it every single day. I am reminded that in order for this to work we must still find our balance. To have room for work, rest and play.
We have decided to make the front of our house a u-pick organic vegetable garden. I know the reality of that is going to be a few years down the road, but I do see it happening. We had an acre of grass. Now we still have about an acre of grass, that we let grow very long, to cut it down to use as mulch to kill some more of the grass. It is a process but it is starting to take shape. I am certain that over the years we will have the gardens that we envision. I do see the progress of our efforts though. We have a yard full of animals and we are already harvesting, lettuce, radishes and Swiss chard from our garden. I already have seen the savings on our grocery bill.
Through it all, we still must remember to find our balance. There is endless chores to do on our micro farm. We could work sun up to sun down and then still worry about what is still left to do. I do know that my outside chores became suddenly way more important than the inside chores. My children now have to search for the clean clothes from a pile rather than retrieve them neatly folded from their dressers. We have learned over the years that -that is ok, as long as we have time for work, rest and play.