I was thrilled late in the spring when a little squash followed a flower on one of the stems of the plant that had started as a seed in the palm of my hand. I watched it grow and imagined the butternut squash soup I’d make in the fall-one of my most favorite meals. Except that after a bit, it quit growing. Since this was my first go-round with this kind of squash I tried patience. Today, I noticed the stem it was on had totally dried and shriveled, so I picked it. A teeny tiny butternut squash, suffering from failure to thrive. My glasses provided a sense of the size of my squash. It’s cute. It’s the right color. It’s just not enough for a demi-tasse of soup.
I have some more research to do (I welcome any and all suggestions). Next spring, I try again.
I despair. Plain and simple. I despair watching the world burn. In these strange, apocalyptic times when all our denial, our willful ignorance, the thousand and one ways we’ve minimized the reality of Climate Change are now visible to the naked eye. Yet, lightning bugs still fill the yard as dusk deepens into night. The hummingbirds are already eating voraciously; in another month to six weeks they will start their annual migration to South America. I looked up in one of the trees in our courtyard at church and saw a beautiful young hawk, sitting on a branch look bewildered, still figuring out this business of being a predator. And when I walked out to the compost bin with the seeds and skins of all 24 lbs of tomatoes I used to make a dozen pints of tomato sauce, I stopped to check my cantaloupe. I had read one of these melons is ready for picking if you give a gentle tug and it comes right off the vine. I tried it.
Yes. Yes it does. Tomorrow for breakfast I will feast on this beautiful gift of the earth.
It’s been a hard couple of weeks at work. I am pretty wiped out. After I got home from work and the worst of the day’s heat had begun to dissipate, I did that thing of heading to my garden to check on my babies, my pride and joy.
First, I noticed some orange poking out from the ground. I pulled a bit and there it was: the first carrot I was able to harvest. In March, I had scattered little carrot seeds in a special seeding medium. About 5 days later, watched seedlings emerge. Six weeks later, I carefully planted the ones that had grown well in the ground. I was not confident at all that there’d be anything to show for that effort–we have had no luck with carrots before. This one is cleaned and ready to go into the salad I will savor tomorrow night when the Mallowman and I celebrate our anniversary.
Then, I checked on three babies I’m holding by breath for, as they continue to grow. They’ve got plenty of maturing left ahead and I know how unpredictable the weather has become. Growing things does not mean there’s any guarantee. Nonetheless, every day they continue to do well is a good day.
Some of my planting has not gone so well. A fennel plant didn’t make it. An orange bell pepper plant hasn’t died but it suffers from failure to thrive. Of course, this is what the garden is all about and tonight, tired, hollowed out as I feel, that handful of produce I’ve been responsible for and has been doing well brings real consolation. And promise.
Our two horse friends, Gus and Jack, no longer live with us. Their humans decided they were finally at an age where tending to horses was simply too tough on them and a young family with children would welcome the horses with open arms. It was a sad day when they were loaded into their trailer and headed down the road to a new life. My dad would have been heartbroken and so was I, not just for my own self, but on behalf of my dad who loved those horses dearly.
Their departure has brought a lot of changes–M, their person, and we, had worked out how to share the pole barn so the two horses could have a paddock of sorts, where they were fed, where the farrier could tend to their hooves and the vet could also work with them, but especially Jack, who suffers from equine COPD. Gates and partitions, equipment and hay are all gone now. The little space where M kept the feed and other supplies for Jack and Gus is now empty and we are looking at how to covert it into a larger, safer chicken coop and yard for the our girls, who are aging now, to have more space to enjoy the last years of their lives. We are also looking at getting maybe as many as 10-12 chickens next spring–though no rooster!!!
And of course, the fields on either side of the house are empty now. We’re planning to allow our current vegetable patch to lie fallow next year and put down our spring garden in the east pasture. I’m squirreling away money so my part can have raised beds–these knees and hips do not appreciate a bunch of kneeling to weed! There’s a lot of space to take care of (about 3 acres) and I keep telling Sherod some pygmy goats, a mean white goose, and a donkey, would offer yet more entertainment and keep the fields from getting overgrown. I have visions of little ones wearing PJ’s like these on Christmas morning!
All that is fun to dream about and in the meantime, Sherod plowed a swath of land close to the house in late May and scattered a bunch of wild and sunflower seeds. They are flowering now and the patch almost shakes with the buzzing of our bees early in the morning. This picture captures a tiny bit of the beauty they have brought to our home.
And then, there are the bees. Sometime they annoy the heck out of me. I go by the hive on my way to take garbage out to our dumpster. I have been seen running like the haints are after me when the bees are upset and cranky and decide to dive bomb me.
The hive is a collaborative venture between the Spouseman and two neighbors and friends.Today, they gathered around a centrifuge to collect the first honey. The colony has thrived on our land for over a year now and the honeycombs were rich, rich, rich with honey. There’s plenty left and more will be produced during the rest of the summer and early fall to keep the colony going in the colder months.
The three guys share the honey in equal parts and we got the first installment of our allotment this afternoon. Another moment, even in the midst of the bleakness of most days now, when “my cup runneth over.”