Monday, May 17, 2010

past, present and future

Living on a farm has a profound effect on the way you experience time. Respecting its importance is critical. After awhile, you fall in sync with its rhythms - you wake up one day and find that you know just what's supposed to happen and when.

I must at once look to the past, act in the present and plan for the future. Case in point, I have already planned my fall garden - in May. I know just what will go in, and where, and roughly how much. I've ordered seeds where necessary. This is important here, because seeds for fall transplanting must be started as early as June in some cases (hello, peppers!). Put it off, or get caught off guard, and you've missed the boat. How do I know this? I've done it before. I determine what to plant and when to plant it by looking back - recalling what has worked well in the past, what was a bust, and what may have been a missed opportunity. Time moves quickly around here, and stands still.

There will be some additional expansion of the garden this fall, and that's probably where it will stay for awhile. We've finally gotten a grip on things around here, and aren't anxious to over-extend ourselves right away. There is a temporary moratorium on new projects. As we head rapidly into the dog days of summer, the spring garden is going strong, also marching through its time-honored phases. The onions are done and curing. The Greens Age has passed. We've bid farewell to the lettuce and radishes - we barely remember salad. The legions of squash and beans are upon us now, and tomatoes and peppers are visible on the horizon. I sincerely hope that just behind them, just beyond my sight, are eggplant and melons. They would be most welcome.

We're still contending with a pretty serious snake problem, which means no spring ducklings this year, but for the one - the lonely survivor from the last hatch. He's holding his own. We're fairly certain he's a he. This gives us mixed emotions - if the one surviving duckling were a girl, we'd be thrilled as it would give us another future mother, increasing our odds of boosting the duck population. If a boy, well, then we get to eat it, which was the whole point of the exercise. It's hard to say which option we prefer at this point. Not that it matters - we get what we're given.

Little Bridget is now weaned, and still with us. We're also transitioning the girls to a once-daily milking, so that we may have some semblance of a social life again. Two milkings a day was never part of the plan, but sometimes plans don't go along with you, do they? We frankly can't cope with the volume of milk that two milkings a day provides. A gallon a day for two people? Honestly, even WE can't eat that much cheese. Between the copious amounts of milk and all the overtime the hens are clocking these days, we have the world's luckiest dogs. They know better than to complain about much of anything - they know how good they have it.

I have a bit of garden maintenance to do over this long weekend, but the bulk of my plans involve planning. These are the days when we look back over our year, take lessons from it and decide how to move forward. Each year has its challenges, and yet we come through, always with something to show. The thermometer outside is telling me, "It's time to stop now. Sit down, pour a cold drink and take stock. The cycle will begin again sooner than you think, so make your plans."

That thermometer is wise.


  1. Great post, and I have to thank you, because I would surely have missed said boat! I just started planning which seeds to order last night. I really have no idea, haha.

    How did you know the onions were done? 2 of mine have a little bulb on top of the "chive" stem, or whatever it's called. I think I can save that and use it for seed next year.

  2. The onions are done when the tops start to fall over. Feel around the base of the stem - where the green part meets the bulb - it should weak and sort of papery and will probably be bent over. That's when they're ready. Also, exposing the tops of the bulbs to sunlight will help them grow bigger.

  3. Tara,
    Do you recall how long your onions were in the ground? Our tops are starting to fall over but it seems like we just planted them (but the tops are huge) I know our season is different than yours but I am just wondering if I dont have problem with mine drooping already.

  4. Leigh, I don't recall exactly, but It was around early March, I think. I actually planted onion sets with the intention of harvesting green tops, and wound up with a lot of bulbs in the end just because I didn't pull them up. :) If you want to know if they're ready, dig away some of the dirt from around the bulb and just get a sense of how big it is. If your tops have fallen over and there's a bulb under the ground, they're done.