Thursday, July 15, 2010

Life in the Country - All Sweetness and Beauty?

A mixed up post here for sure.

I finished up "spar varnishing" the 110 v-groove boards for the ceiling of the porch. What a job that was. Here they are on the ceiling of the porch. You can see Rory behind the fir beams working on the tippy top of the ceiling. I love how they look. I think it was worth the hours and hours of varnishing.

On the east wall of the porch, I had to cover up the junction between the old house and the new porch. I chose 1 x 12" pine boards to be nailed horizontally. After they were up, I put on two coats of semi-transparent white stain. I'm hoping the knots will show through soon. Looks just like I wanted.

In preparation for the upcoming "Flower Celebration" Class August 14/15 I decided to make my vegetable garden partly into a cutting garden. My plan is to have lots and lots of different shapes of annual flowers to inspire the attendees on their quest to knit and crochet flowers. I purchased six packs of many kinds of flowers and planted half my veggie garden to the flowers. In a few short weeks, there should be lots and lots of blooms for bouquets. Here's what some of the rows look like now.

I use a technique for weed control which seems to becoming more popular. I call it cardboard and mulch and for me, it was all free. About 2 weeks after I planted my garden, I went into heavy duty mulch patrol. The weeds were growing fast. I left them all where they were (you heard it - I didn't remove any of them) and covered them with cardboard boxes from the windows I purchased for the studio. Using a utility knife, I cut the boxes into 3 foot wide pieces. I spread them over the weeds which were about 4" high between my rows. Then, I begged two giant round bales of hay from last year's crop from The Farmer. I broke them down (a big and messy, dirty, dusty job) and lay the hay in thick piles on top of the cardboard. Voila - no weeds. It took me two full days of spreading mulch but now I will barely have to weed at all - only in the rows where the mulch didn't go.

We have a well and a few weeks ago when it hadn't rained in a while, I was fretting about my plants. I never water our garden with water from our well because I would rather use it to do the wash and run the dishwasher. Our neighbors happen to have a free flowing spring in the woods near their house with a hose hooked up to it. The Farmer and I drove the farm truck down there and let it drip into an agricultural water tank which we use to bring water to the sheep out in the fields. It took several hours to fill but later that night I was able to water my garden. We repeated the task 4 more times so that plot should be good for awhile. I noticed that the tomatoes and the squash really responded to the gallons of water I poured by bucketfuls on them.

We've been toiling at the sunflower field in the heat. It is coming along but it is constant work. Several of the rows The Farmer planted are in dire need of weeding. It's a daily chore which we are finding it difficult to fit into our lives. If we weed the rows just once, the plants will shade out the weeds and in September there will be a field full of flowers. Here's what it looks like now.

Man, it is overwhelming to think about weeding this thing. We'll do our best....

The other day I heard an ad on the radio sponsored by CISA. I listened as a woman farmer described her day in an upbeat, jovial saccharin sweet voice. She gets up, waters her 17 sheep and lambs, feeds the chickens, gathers the eggs.... You get the picture - all sweetness and light and beauty. Yeah, yeah.... Oh to be a Farmer, what a wonderful, relaxing job taking care of cute animals that never get eaten or leave the farm, never get sick or die, always look pretty...... It kind of made me barf, to put it bluntly. Farming isn't all pretty pictures nor cute animals, nor sweetness and light. It is hard work getting dirty all the time, dealing with so many things that nature throws at you. Okay - off my soapbox for now...... Just had to get that off my mind. Support your local farmers if you have the chance. They work very hard to bring food to your plate.

A parting shot of Julia's Playhouse Door with her initial "J" written out in Olympia's Felted Flowers. Thanks for all the orders you guys! Hope you are having fun with the pattern which you can buy in my Shop HERE.

ONLY THREE SPOTS LEFT in the August 14/15 Knitted Flower Celebration Class At The Farm. Check it out here. It's going to be a great time.

Gotta go get painting the walls in the studio and then pack up the truck for the Northfield Farmer's Market.
My dial-up connection is down AGAIN - happens every summer - something about the bees building nests in the telephone lines. Aaaaahhh, life in the country.


Patricia said...

We have had a hot dry summer. No rain in June, but buckets full for two days, and hit and miss at that! don't know if we will even get produce from our garden!

Melissa Morgan-Oakes said...

Everybody loves that romantic farmer image. I say "Come clean my barn if you want to experience the romance for yourself".

Happy Hens Farm said...

I use a variation of your mulch system. Instead of cardboard, I use strips of old carpet, cut to fit between the rows. They came out of our basement, but I think sources of old carpet are abundant. In the fall we roll them up and store them in the carport. After 5 summers, it is still going strong. I use straw over the carpet instead of hay. I had a problem with weed seeds from hay. No weeding for me!

Diane H K in Greenfield said...

We've been using thick layers of old newspapers donated by the neighbors, with straw on top. I give the neighbors some vegetables in exchange for the newsprint and everyone's happy with the arrangement.

I wonder who voiced the CISA spot you mention. It's such a myth, the idylls of the farmer, but it persists. Unfortunately, some farmers unintentionally perpetuate the myth because they present only the good stuff to the general public. I guess they don't want to scare them.

Readers of my LiveJournal have been subjected to the very unpretty side of small-scale farming this year, as I've lost livestock to unexpected, ugly circumstances and described it as happened. I'm sure it's been a shock to most of them. But it's real life.

Good for you, Kristin, for keeping it real.

Sasha said...

My partner and I have recently bought a block of rural land and are slowly paying it off and building our future there (no house, fence or anything - building it all from scratch) so I find it incredibley useful, inspiring and grounding to read the honest and up front blogs of farmers and land-owners such as yourself - Thank you!! :)

katiegirl said...

The CISA ad was right to be upbeat. Who wants to buy local if all their local farmers are whining about how much farming sucks?

Kate G. said...

Once a week I drop by to catch up on the posts. I don't know how you do it, Ms. Kristin, but I'm so glad you do. Lovely to see Olympia's Lei is up in pattern form and inspiring to read the garden and shearing notes.

I don't know how you all do it, but it's obvious your farm gets a truckload of work, all of it spread around with love.

Unknown said...

Well, the letter J on the playhouse door got me (since it happens to be my daughter's and my initial too) and I have downloaded the pattern. They are so cute and the combination is even cuter. Thanks!
PS - we have a farm behind our property so we see first hand the hard work that goes on, and we certainly appreciate it. We also have a lot of wildlife on our property so we enjoy the beauty and magic as well as the cruelty of nature. It is a wonderful world!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your beautiful work. Farming does certainly require hard work...almost all the people I knew (children of suburbia) who did in the 70s it's interesting to see a new crop of young folks getting into it. (Not me--I live in small town and like to travel so my dogface is responsibility enough. But I admire you for your life. Take care, Ann

Anonymous said...

The felted flowers are just beautiful. Thank you also for pointing out that it's not all romance and sweetness having a farm. Hard work which I do appreciate!

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