So, I’ve been a little MIA lately. Last years’s “grand experiment” didn’t go so well and I allowed the demands of my business to distract me from (read: avoid) my failures and to ignore what few successes I did have.
My partnership went bust. My eager and willing associate, with whom I had intended to share the labor and bounty of this grand effort, had medical issues mid season that prevented her from all physical labor and the gym just needed so much of my time…
The hugelkultur beds worked beautifully. The soil we added settled more than expected, but the beds stayed moist with minimal watering.
But the Pet Stop fence didn’t keep the goats out and everything but the basil got eaten. This is through no fault of the fence, mind you. It works beautifully, but the collars need their batteries changed every three months and I was too busy to keep up with it or to develop enough of a relationship with the goats to make them more tractable. Once they realized they wouldn’t get zapped for crossing the boundary the garden was toast. Except for the basil, which grew quite well. Who knew goats don’t like basil? Somebody, I’m sure, just not me. This year, I know where I’m planting lots of basil.
With the goats in the garden I gave up on worrying about the collars, which proved a big mistake. Bronwyn noticed extensive scabbing on Harriet’s neck under the collar. When we finally got it off we realized the prongs had actually punctured her neck. Again, not the fault of the collar — my fault, and mine alone. Once discovered we bandaged her neck and penned them both for a week or two until we felt she had healed enough to free graze again.
And it was here I learned the mistake of building a pen on the side next to my neighbor. They finally complained of the smell and in October I moved the pen to the opposite side of the yard.
Through the winter I occupied myself with my business, my family and firewood.
Now, Spring is calling and I’m answering. This year my expectations are lower, but my involvement is much higher. No partners this year. I’ll do what I can with the time that I have and that’ll be it, but already I can feel the benefit of working with things in their own time at their own pace. The gym side of my business can get somewhat frenetic and I get overwhelmed with sense of what needs to happen NOW. The garden doesn’t work that way and I’ve become especially grateful for it.
Oddly enough, I’ve gotten a lot done.
Planted two fig trees. The soil around my house is mostly red clay. I dug holes twice the size of the fig’s containers and planted them in with a fifty-fifty mix of native soil and compost. I’m worried about one of them as our new German Shepard pup, Pippin, mistook one of the figs as a new play toy. She “pruned” it back to a quarter of it’s original size.
Established the “in yard” garden. When we moved in to this house there already existed two 12 x 12 raised beds bordered by railroad ties. The first spring it yielded a fantastic garden of tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini. The next year we got Olive, our first German Shepard, and I just didn’t feel like fighting her over digging rights. This year I’ve broken the beds by hoe, worked 150 pounds of cow manure into each bed, raked them clean and planted collards, onions, mustard greens and lettuce.
Planted asparagus. I started a new asparagus bed this past weekend. I took 18 seed starts and planted them in a 3′ x 83″ bed bordered by split oak logs I harvested off the back lot last spring. The soil is pretty heavy clay so I amended it with compost and sand.
Sifted compost. If I’m not the best gardener I am a champion composter and this pile has been cooking for two or three years. I’ve a two bin system and I just sift out what I need and throw the unfinished bits into the empty bin. Over the past two weeks I’ve sifted out around four wheel barrow loads to use with the fig trees, the asparagus bed, and to amend and feed various established plants around the property.
Wrangled worms. While I built the asparagus bed on Sunday, Samantha worked her way around the yard wrangling worms from under stones, wood stumps or any other available haven. Her haul? Over a hundred squirming, red, organic tractors that were deposited promptly into the main beds.
Today, I’m sitting here on the couch in my bathrobe, frustrated on day three of the flu, contemplating my lessons, railing at my own frailty and the elusive balance between what I can do, what I should do and what I think needs to be done.
It’s the first day of spring and I’m itching to be back at work, which is good, yesterday just handling the remote to the TV was exhausting. Today, I’m a bit stronger.
This weekend I hope to be even stronger. There’s a lot of bark over by the woodpile that would make good mulch and I have tomato starts I’d like to get planted in the cold frames. Oh yeah, and there’s a gym to run and a family to provide for, hopefully all this effort propels me in the right direction, provided I can slow down enough to see which way I’m going.