Saturday, November 25, 2017

So, anyway....

Yeah.  It's been a while.  My new job got me busy and a lot of things got away from me.  I'm not selling at the market store anymore.  I've decided to step back from some of the plans I had in order to make good on some promises I made to myself.  Chief among those was to simplify my life.

Simplify?  Oh how naive can a grown woman be?  In this day and age, simplifying is just not possible.

I'm not producing for sale on purpose anymore.  But, I am still working towards subsistence, self-sufficiency, and sustainability for my own home and life.  We have quite a pantry going.  The rabbits are adorable and productive.  We are planning a coop of hens for eggs next year.

Oh...speaking of rabbits, in June we bred Jane Doe.  She had a litter of seven.  These are the two that survived to leave the nest box:

Right out of the nest box.

Also right out of the nest box.
They were the cutest things ever!  They grew up fast and were due to be sent to freezer camp in September.  But, things got a little hairy.  (hee!)

I have long been of the belief that solid application of my personal animal husbandry motto, "First they are cute; then they are tasty", was absolutely required in all instances of meat rabbit breeding.  Face it: all animals are born cute so their own parents don't kill them.  They are cute just long enough to get old enough to take care of themselves.

WAY too cute to eat just yet.



Very close to the 12 week window and a very proper tasty size of five pounds and no longer nearly as cute.
So you can see for yourself that rabbits follow the cute-then-tasty plan as expected.  But, for me, they re-enter the cute stage at a certain point.  That stage starts, apparently, sometime near 20 weeks of age.

Guess how old those little bunnies are right now? 

Yep. *sigh*

We went out there with murderous intention.  We wanted rabbit in the freezer and we were bound to have it!  Except the young'uns out there have taken on the cuteness that their parents had when we first got them and brought them home.  The white one in particular has captured my heart.  We have been unable to bring ourselves to do the deed.  We waited too long.

Now it's too late.  Far too late.  So late, in fact, that they now have names.  The deed is undone.  We are attached.

Meet Grace and Janet.  Grace is the white rabbit (get it?  Grace Slick...White Rabbit...har) and Janet is the black rabbit (she has the one white foot sorta like Michael Jackson's one white glove, except she's a girl, so Janet).

Janet?  With one blue named Janis and the other named Jane, naming another doe 'Janet' isn't confusing AT ALL

Utter lunacy.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Five More Minutes


The other day, as I was lying in bed hearing the alarm on my phone beep, I suddenly had a vivid memory of my Mom waking me for school.  She would stand at the top of the stairs and knock on my bedroom door.  Invariably I would ask for five more minutes and dose off again immediately.  Eventually Mom would have to leave for work and she'd come all the way into my room, call me by my middle name, and stand there with her arms crossed until I threw back the covers and dragged my sorry, teenaged behind out of bed.  

Fine. 

When she turned to leave the room, she would sometimes have a slight smirk on her face.
Something like this.

I knew she remembered how it felt to be a teenager.  I sometimes thought she got a bit of pleasure from it although she would deny it with a smirk.  I can't begrudge her that smirk.  After all, I've done some smirking in my time.

...and something like this.

Over the last few years, I've discovered that not everyone has had a solid relationship with their Mom.  There are several people in my social circle that do not or have never gotten along with their Mom.  Some simply never had a relationship at all.  Some have had outright estrangement.

What I'm trying and failing to say is that I feel lucky to have had a Mom who would give me five more minutes at least three times every morning before school.  Not everybody got that.  I did.  I was fortunate.

Today marks the second anniversary of Mom's death.  Ironically, I have found myself completely unable to sleep another five seconds much less five minutes this morning.  But, as I laid there awake with my eyes squished tightly shut, I kept on thinking (maybe wishing a little), "Just five more minutes."

What I wouldn't give for five more minutes.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Sitting Zazen Among the Onions



Those are some weedy onions.
This is probably going to sound crazy.  But, I'm used to the stares and finger-pointing now so it's okay.

I like to sit in my garden.  Literally sit in my garden.  On the ground, next to the onions, on a small cushion I purchased just for this exact use.  I like to sit there and pull the weeds out of my garden one by one.  When I run out of weeds within easy reach, I scootch my cushion along the path and weed some more.

My husband finds this all quite ridiculous.  I find it relaxing.  Sitting amongst the onions and cabbages is calming.  They are endlessly patient as I tease the bindweed out from around stems and uproot the pigweed and black nightshade pretending to be a pepper plant.

More onions with fewer weeds.

I pull the weeds.  I listen to the wind and the birds.  Cars go by on the street.  Trains roll by on the tracks horns blaring at the crossing.  Children ride bicycles or skateboards or those crazy hoverboards down the hill chattering with each other and laughing. And yet, I calmly sit with dirty hands and extended posture as I stretch to reach a weed just barely at my fingertips trying hard not to lose my hat or get a muscle cramp.

Happy onions.  They really seem happier once I've pulled most of the weeds.
There is a smell in the garden.  The smell of the earth and of growing things and of things rotting back into the earth.  There is a complete cycle there.  A cycle of birth, life, maturity, death, and the waiting for rebirth.  All of these things I ponder as I pull the weeds and clear the way for my desired plants to flourish, and therefore, nourish me in body as well as spirit.

My very first cabbage.
I've grown a lot of different things in my gardens over my lifetime.  In good times and bad, my garden has been my sanctuary.  It is a portal of sorts for me.  A portal to a very special and spiritual place that I just can't find any other way.  It is like brushing my fingertips against some divine being...being in the presence of something bigger than myself.  Sitting in my garden, the world shrinks down to a tiny place where there is just soil and weeds and pulling and scootching and more weeds with a constant undercurrent of my thoughts.

Zen.  It is very zen.  It is all so temporary and yet it is all so constant.  The garden is my constant companion.  Even in the dead of winter, the garden is there waiting for me.

The first harvest of the season.
It calls me and I go.  I grow the things. I watch them sprout and grow.  I tend them and they bear fruit which I consume and preserve for later consumption.  I share the bounty with those around me.

But, if I'm honest with myself, even if there were no bounty I'd do it just the same.  For me, the act of gardening is more than the sum of its parts.  It's more than a means to an end.  It's a life-giving process.  It's a part of something bigger than me.  Something that accepts me as I am...even with all the scootching on cushions and weed pulling and funny hats and contortionist poses.  It fills more than just my cupboards and my stomach.  It feeds my soul and fills my life with meaning.  I belong there.

Me and some of the tomatoes.
Kinda swell picture of the okra in the early morning.
The absolutely enormous flower of a volunteer squash vine.  This flower was at least 8 inches across. I can't wait to see what kind of squash grows from it!

The first broccoli of the year.  It was tasty in stir fry.