The photo prompt for this week is ‘work.’ Oddly enough, I find myself with time off from work. It has been amazing. Of course, I made a bunch of lofty promises to myself about how productive I was going to be with my vacation.
There is a lot to do around the homestead to make way for summer, some if it has even gotten done. Today, I will write about work without actually doing any but I think I have a pretty good excuse – the snow.
Yes. You heard me. Snow. It’s April 26th.
Without fail, about a week after we think it is safe to reclaim the quarter of the house devoted to plants and put them outside; this happens and we have to bring them all back in. Every time.
I’m going to look on the bright side since the snow actually makes the ‘work’ in my picture stand out even more.
This year we had to wait to doing anything major in the garden because it had to be made safe from the sheep.
Last year, between our late start and the growing lambs’ access to the garden we had a pretty pitiful harvest. We knew that there was going to be a lot of work involved in to get all the animals situated before the planting.
First, the ducks needed a pond. One that we didn’t have to drain and clean. Trust me, this is a must for ducks. We have a marshy spot on the front of the property and with a little poking around found there was a spring down there! With a few days worth of digging and a reused tent canopy, the ducks have there own little pond now. The constant flow of water means its always clear in the morning.
Next, was the dogs/garden. We needed to fence in a huge area around the house in order to keep the sheep out of the garden. This structure doubles as the dog run, finally allowing all the doors in the house to be left open with no fear of husky escape.
Making such a large area dog proof was not an easy task and it is still ongoing. Everyone chipped-in and the snow today actually makes it easier to see all the rock work that went into securing the bottom of the fence.
The sheep now inherited the dog run and are still near the house. This will have to be remedied soon but for now, everyone is adjusting to the new boundaries. Some better than others.
The other day Daisy tried to be spider-sheep and almost climbed over the five foot fence. She just puts one foot in front of the other and waits for things to bow under her weight. She was more than half way up it before I got her off. She bent one of the post badly and we had to drive in a seven foot steak just for good measure.
The sheep are not impressed with the new arrangement. But I love our salvage fence gate.
Nothing like a door to nowhere to spruce up the backyard. Freeloading Rooster was not sure what to think when we put it in.
The ducks are unimpressed with todays snow. They keep going from the pond to the outhouse quack/grunting discontentantly.
I know how they feel.
The fact that they can go from their nighttime pen to the pond reminds me that they need a fence with a predator shelter, now that they have their water source.
In short, more work.
The snow has not made this activity more enticing. The garden needs to be turned but it’s firkin cold out there! Besides I’m doing this…
Most of this last week’s planting had been seed and this momentary freeze shouldn’t effect them too much. The bean tent has moved to the back of the fence and I went a little nuts with scarlet runner beans pretty much everywhere.
We planted peas and some popcorn too.
Our garlic from last year (mowed by the sheep) has come back up and the cross garden patch we seeded last year is looking good but it is hard to tell. There is a lot of time between sow and harvesting. These past few years could not be a better example of that.
I hope to harvest enough beans and popcorn to get us through the winter as these are crops that store well and that we actually eat on a regular basis. We will try to can tomato sauce and tomotillo sauce again this fall. Now that the apple trees are protected from the sheep we can see if this is the year they start to bloom.
People often ask what a makes our house a homestead. Most are more apt to call it a farm or petting zoo, which is fine and not inaccurate. I think it is the intention of the systems we set in motion that delineate a farm from a homestead. A farm produces one or many products for market. Here, we try to cover our own needs without giving too much to any one resource so that we produce waste. A balance must be achieved.
The trick has been adding to the whole without sacrificing a part. It is delicate. Our poor judgement or bad planning have serious repercussions for the animals under our care. Everything pulls on everything else.
We have to stay within the carrying capacity of our land and abilities. For example; any more than two sheep, or anything larger would be too much. They should eat enough to keep the mower off this summer and the ground cover that grows in place of the grass is often medicinal. Moss, Prunella, Plantain, Clover, Dandelion, Violets have all increased on the side lawns.
This is the first spring we have no plans to add any animals to the menagerie, instead we will try to get everything its own space to produce. Boundaries take hard work to establish and maintain but they are the basis for a happy productive web. I can only hope that all our combined work over the last week will help everything grow strong and abundant this summer. I am also prepared for the reverse.
Time will tell what the harvest will yield. Even if it is only more lessons about what not to do, we will have grown from it. That is good enough for me.