Happy Friday, everyone. As promised, I’ve been working on a beast of a post about homeschooling, but there’s so much to include! I’m hoping to find some time to continue work on it later this afternoon. This is the busiest time of the year on our small farm. After a long and relaxing Winter, and a gloriously long and mild Spring, it feels a bit like you are being shot out of a cannon, but it is good.
We have a small operation here at Arabella Farm, and we keep it that way intentionally. There’s always a temptation to get more animals or build more gardens or add new: ponds/tree houses/bird feeders/ fencing/ vegetable varieties/ bee hives/ barns/ hobbies.
We add small projects on little by little, but we are always very cautious not to overload ourselves so much that we take away from the things we also love doing as a family (meeting new people in the community, going to all the events at our church, relaxing at night together, dining out at new places, local adventures.) We try to keep a healthy balance. Sometimes we are good at it, sometimes we are a work in progress.
For now, we are enjoying our bursting garden and all the veggies and herbs we know will soon be harvested. We expanded the garden by 6 feet this year and moved our composting location to directly next to the beds.
We planted about 30% more vegetables this year on a rotation so that we will hopefully have 2-3 really good crops of some of the varieties we use regularly. We also hope to be able to share our bounty with our church family. We have been taking our chicken eggs to church each week in a basket and putting a sign on them that says, “FREE” and it’s making some people really happy. That makes us happy.
I’m hoping this year that I will perfect (or at least improve) in my canning. I am going to make several varieties of pickles and dilly beans. I want to try pickled onions and lots of tomato sauce and salsa for the year.
Sean is one of the most industrious workers I know. When he doesn’t know something, he heads to YouTube or asks a local farmer. He rarely buys something to solve a problem, choosing to walk around the property for something free that might work. When he fails he doesn’t get mad enough to quit, only irritated enough to keep trying (except with building fencing to keep the chickens in. He’s hopeless at that and he wouldn’t mind me saying it.) He has failed at things, only to think about it for a solid year and come back the next year and make it work. He has taught me to be better at that.
He has built our entire garden, researched so much about each vegetable, found his favorite fertilizer, has specific ways he trellis’ our tomatoes, is in the process of mulching around the entire area plotted, figured out a way to use an old, discarded sink as a washing station by the onion bed, made a harrow out of wood palettes and old grating…..and the list goes on.
Sometimes I give him a hard time when he’s explaining his ideas because it seems easier to buy whatever he needs, rather than build it. But he does it anyway and almost every time he not only saves us money, but has the satisfaction of knowing he learned something new and shows his wife she shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss his creativity (although he never acts rude about it.) Anyhow, I’m proud of him. And even more proud because he’s not proud of himself. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him bring up our garden or any projects he has worked on, unless specifically asked. He just goes about his work quietly. He’s quite a guy.
While we try and keep it simple around here, we are trying a few new things this year. Firstly, I’m learning about strawberries and how best to grow them after failing miserably last year. Secondly, The girls and I have decided that one week this summer we will be working on a project where we identify all of the song birds on our property and their calls (is that what you call their tweets?!) When Sean and I sit on the porch we have been able to count at least 9 specific and different bird songs, so we are going to try and figure out the birds names and match their tunes.
Thirdly, Kensington is very much attached to learning about and growing flowers. She has multiple books about the meanings of flowers, how they grow best, and where to plant them for best care. She takes such good care of her flowers in the greehouse in her room and it’s been really enjoyable for her father and I to watch this organic desire sprout.
We have a structure out by the garden that the previous owners used to house their goats/donkey and it is currently used as a sub-standard potting shed (more like a catch-all for junk lying around.) Sean had a wonderful idea of stripping the sides and roof and making it into a large greenhouse for our family and for K’s flowers. She was overjoyed at the thought!
We had to be realistic that it would be a lot of work and, “You know….daddy does have a full time job” and all that, so it might take a year or two to finally strip it, clean it, wrap it, get it ready for potential harsh winters and windy/stormy hurricane seasons….but we will certainly work on it. Slow and steady wins the race (or at least enjoys it more and doesn’t burn out as quick, right?)
Days on the farm are wonderful and it keeps getting better. We will likely never be on the front of a farming magazine or featured homesteaders at some fancy conference…..but we sure are enjoying the quiet times together, up on our hill, at Arabella.