The end of May gave me pneumonia. The end of June gave me raspberries, stuff growing from the ground we could actually eat, ducklings, and a broody hen. Everything that happened in between? Let’s just put it behind us and move on.
It’s been a cold, wet spring. That’s what everyone tells me. I wouldn’t know. I’m still new. “It’s a wonder you’ve made it through this spring with such joy,” my priest said last week,”it’s really not like this. I promise.” My neighbors have all been exasperated by the weather, coming by to see how we’re faring the “coldest, wettest, longest spring ever”.
The rain here is like the heat in Texas, it seems to bother the locals far more than the transplants. I’ve yet to meet someone from out of state who hasn’t said, “It’s really not that bad! Why does everyone say it’s so bad!?” or a local who hasn’t said, “Welcome to the Pacific NorthWET!”
If I weren’t a gardener, I honestly wouldn’t have noticed. The blessed otherness of the weather here has been so welcome to our family after a lifetime of oppressive central Texas heat. My kids are thriving in the constant 50 degree days, running and climbing and swinging until they pass out at the end of the day, hair matted with moss and sticks, knees crusted with mud and slug effluence.
Dado built an epic swing that hasn’t killed anyone yet.
This is the whimsical before photo of the “fort tree”. I did not take an after photo because my children’s use of cardboard and blue tarp insulted my aesthetic sensitivities.
Harriet and the chickens finally made peace. Put the kid behind a fence, it all works out.
If I weren’t a gardener, all I would know is that the sun comes up at 4:00am, cheered on by a ridiculous chorus of birds, and stays that way well past my bed time, illuminating approximately 80,000 plants that I can’t identify (yet) but am tasked with caring for before they swallow up my house Planet of the Apes style. Since I am a gardener, I am painfully aware of the weather, and the impending doom of being swallowed by plants, and the fact that if this were the real Oregon Trail we would totally die of starvation. Unless we figured out how to eat the beavers.
Behold, a 36 hour photo essay of that time I thought I could outsmart a beaver:
The garden would’ve been late this year anyway, since I did something stupid with a pitchfork in early March and wrenched my ribs out of place. Only up side to that was the discovery of an 8 year old fractured vertebrae, the missing link in the long saga of my back woes. Story for another day, but the arthritis and general instability of my thoracic spine turned out to be somewhat incompatible with my ambitions as a first year homesteader (and 5th year homeschooler, and 30th year writer).
There have been many other things, a steady flow of house guests, a long trip to help my sister-in-law with her first baby, the uphill march of homeschool, the horror of delayed potty training, and a cluster of infuriating health problems that have made my deep desire to be an excellent farmer and mediocre writer impossible. So I’ve just been an okay farmer and a shitty writer. And that seems to be working out for me.
Dado and Beatrice bend hoops for the garden. She’s very strong.
Seedlings in my ultra hardcore grow room/laundry room. Because who wouldn’t want to fill a room designed to make things clean and fresh with lots of dirt and fish emulsion?
And finally, an adorable, free spirited kid with lots of beautiful and fascinating weeds. Otherwise known as everything that bites me in the ass with my parenting and gardening philosophies.
February was a trickster. I thought I had it all figured out. The grapevines and raspberries were pruned to perfection, the beds, all cozy in their horse manure blankets, got a fresh layer of leaf mulch (well, two of them, the others seemed just fine!). There were days that inched above 50 and the girls insisted it was officially springtime and, though my feet were still firmly planted in thick wool mountaineering socks, theirs were bare. To be fair, back in our homeland, this is when the bluebonnets would be making their appearance, so our internal clocks still chimed with all the alerts of impending flip flop weather.
We graduated our “baby” chickens (which we’d raised in a horse trough in the garage over the winter, yeah…don’t do that) in with the big birds and felt like champion farmers when they didn’t kill each other.
And we welcomed our fourth wave of house guests in four months, while trying our damndest to maintain homeschooling and the appearance that we knew what the hell we were doing out here. It mostly worked.