With the cooler temperatures it has been really nice working outdoors. We are getting new beds ready for the winter garden. I will be planting peas, turnips, beets, greens, and more cabbage. The fall crops I planted earlier are coming up well. Hopefully we will be harvesting honey in the next week or two, so be on the lookout at the market for it. If you have never tried real raw honey, you will be amazed!
We have been researching the best way to proceed with the Canada thistles on the property, and looking at the research online how to address them organically. Their roots can go down 4 feet, and any piece left will continue to grow. If you pull them up and dry them, they can still resprout, and even herbicides will not kill them for good unless you use 24-D (yikes!). Some organic methods include lots of repeat tilling and use of cover crops. You may see improvement in three years! We have kept them relatively under control in our gardens by hand pulling, but we are looking for more efficient methods in our larger growing areas. We are interested in cover crops to smother the thistles but don't want to do lots of tilling because of cost and concerns about soil health. So we have decided to use the goats more intensively for thistle control, along with the chicken tractor. Brian has been building fences and goat shelters in our growing areas this week. We also decided to get two piglets, which will arrive in September, so Brian has been figuring out how to house and fence them. We hope to use them for tilling, and we are all very excited. We will post updates as they come.
Brian has been laying tile in the kitchen with recycled tile from The Rebuilding Center. It is way nicer to walk on and looks great, but now I think I will have to do more mopping! I have been doing more plaster as usual.
I am still trying to balance the house building with animals and gardening and mothering, but everything is being taken care of, albeit imperfectly. I am also trying to maintain the gratitude I feel for the life I am living, even when the work is overwhelming. I have a lot to be grateful for. In the evenings I take our dog up the ridge behind our house and from the top I watch some amazing fiery sunsets to the west in the coast range, and some beautiful, yellow, full-moonrises in the east over the Cascades. I love watching the plants grow and ripen, especially the fruit trees. This year we will get lots of apples, asian pears, european pears and even some peaches! Being with all the animals is amazing, although challenging at times. The goats are so smart and full of personality, but they can be really stubborn! Our children are so wonderful and full of life, and we have a great, supportive extended family we see often. We are able to grow the majority of our food and sell the excess in the community.
Often when I tell people about what we are doing: strawbale house, solar power, small organic farm... the comment is "That's always been our dream!" I feel like telling them there are times it feels very difficult. I think about hand pumping our water, spending a winter in an uninsulated space heated only by a woodstoove, having to pull a stuck kid from a momma goat, or dealing with the hundreds of small crises that seem to arise in daily homestead life (our 7 year old broke his wrist this week!) But also I am struck by how great it is that we had this vision for how we want to live our life and how lucky we are to be working towards it.