Taking root.

Well, the transition from construction site to home/farm has been swift and merciless… but I suppose we’ve been waiting long enough. We are having so much fun! During the house build I’d feel sad and stressed from time to time, and Jeff was really helpful and comforting with his insight about me. He wisely asserted that I’m best when I have deep roots- I’m happiest with a strong sense of “home” and when I can dig into that, both literally and figuratively. Obviously the house build was challenging for me in that regard, and there was a fair amount of emotional and mental endurance that I had to tap into to get through it. I wondered what it’d be like when we moved, and I had to talk myself out of the belief that everything would be awesome and better the very minute we moved. I’d try to sober my fantasies and remember that wherever you go, your problems follow. Life still has its challenges and I’ll still be me, with all my own unique baggage. However, so far things actually *have* been so much better! And, sure enough, now that I’ve moved in (been “transplanted” even? Is that taking the metaphor too far?) I’ve very quickly settled us- art is on the walls, the house has a feeling of “home” that’s hard to place but very welcome, and I’ve even started making our own butter from the good cream we get. So, here I am, taking root. We’ll see where I end up.

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We’ve also acclimated to a level of activity that I’m hoping will be well suited to our future plans. Perhaps I’m riding on our momentum, and that’s what prompted me to order bees, ducklings, and impulse-buy some baby chicks. And that’s just this spring, in addition to the gardens and just getting settled at home. So yeah. But nothing feels too hard or crazy yet, just lively and interesting. 

15 little chicks in the bathtub in our basement.

15 little chicks in the bathtub in our basement.

Below is a photo of one of our sex-linked roosters. We got all hens except for these two little roos, which you can tell by the white spot on their heads. The kids have been busy naming all 15 of them, but I’ve yet to catch on to them all. I do know the most obvious ones though- our one Isa Brown chick being named “Queen Esmeralda”, for example. 

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I asked the kids to stand for a picture with the chicks, and happened to take it at the exact moment Asa got pooped on. I decided it was as good a moment as any to document!

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Jeff bought another little Isa Brown knowing that it was likely to die. But, we figured it’d be better to care for it and give it a shot. We discovered that it was likely dehydrated, since it’s one of those make-or-break things in chicks this age. If they haven’t figured out how to get water by a certain point, it’s pretty hard to revive them. So, we tried! She drank for a while and was very sweet, but in the end she succumbed. The kids were sad but we got to have that talk… the one about the realities of living a life with lots of other living things. You just get to see more death. It’s sad, but it’s fine also. I’m very very grateful to be able to offer these experiences to my kids. I very much believe that our culture’s view of death is contorted and dysfunctional, and I feel like I’m learning a new way right beside my own children (who I hope will have even better more natural understanding of it all than I do). 

 

I don’t know much about it all, but the little I have picked up is that I think death is good and hard. We don’t have to get relief from the pain for it still to be okay. I’ve learned that we are mostly trained to veer towards the extremes- on the one side to avoid pain and death at all costs and never to see or touch it (and this option is further divided by either hyper-sensitizing it and pretending we can strategically choose life in all cases, or by mindlessly engaging in it as a removed party), and the other extreme is to become hardened and numb. Both of these options are lies, in my opinion. What if we can experience pain and death and just feel it out? What if we can let it run its course through our life as something that belongs to us and holds wisdom and even a key to aspects of our joy?

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Jeff named her “Amy” and she’s buried under our pretty red cedar tree next to the house. Vera has been working on a gravestone for her. I just appreciated holding her and allowing her to spur my thoughts on death and all the animals we’ll likely see cross into that space- either by my own hand or through circumstances beyond my control.

Most of the chicks are perky and growing fast. Really fast. But one little black chick is a bit weak. She’s affected by what’s called “pasty butt” and I’ve had to clean her and encourage her to drink and eat. She’s mostly sleeping, so we separated her because the others aren’t inclined to do much other than step all over her. But she’s chirping and drinking and eating, so we’ll see. 

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I’m really reveling in the beauty of this place. I’m finding that I’ll just be sitting in a spot, still surrounded by boxes but with a view of trees out my window and the whole history of building it in my mind, and I just… blink and have all the feelings. I’m sure some day this will convert to “normal” but that day hasn’t come yet.

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I’ve started my vegetable seeds finally, even if it is a bit late. I am so much less stressed about things in that regard! My “farming” is so much more about just enriching our lives, not about getting everything right or forcing the circumstances. And I think I’m really beginning to live out that belief, not just repeating it to myself when things don’t go well. I really do want what works these days. 

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Anyway, I’ve got many heirloom tomatoes started, plus ground cherries and tomatillos. Over the next few days I’ll finish this phase up, I’ve got peppers, eggplant, artichoke, and some really unique stuff (which I’ll share later) to start.

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Here’s my hoop house/garden selfie. I only just realized that post I linked to had one from 2014. I suppose it’s an annual impulse I’ll just have to oblige. 😉

I don’t feel great about just clearing woods for my gardens (although I do have my spots mostly picked out), so I’ve been grateful for the space out at the cooperative. I get to use a whole hoop house this spring! We are going about it in our usual messy relaxed fashion. I’ve got lettuce, kale, and radishes planted, with the rest going in over the next couple of weeks.

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One of the great advantages to growing microgreens is all the ways to benefit from the “waste”. My gardens are mostly no-till, and so having a good source of compost and potting mix from my spent microgreen trays has been really helpful. I’ve built up almost the whole hoop house with that soil, and now it’s growing a bunch of volunteer veggies from the seed left in the soil from the microgreens. Red kale, daikon radish, red mustard, peas, cabbage, and even a few sunflowers are coming up.

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I’m also much less inclined to mindlessly pull “weeds”, since almost none of them are really classified like that for me anymore. I will definitely pull grass and bindweed out of my beds, but otherwise I keep seeing benefits to leaving them- plus most of them are far more nutritious than anything we cultivate. I actually am planning some holistic weed management this year that the garden-geek in me is kind of excited about trying, but I’ll save that for another post. Below I’ve shown the “weeds” that I’m just enjoying in my hoop house this spring. 

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Some kind of wild mustard/broccoli. Delicious!

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Clover. Great for pollinator and nitrogen fixing. Also edible!

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Plantain, both broad and narrow leaf varieties. Super healing- planning to make some salve with it this year. Also crazy nutritious.

 

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Dandelion! So pretty, good for pollinators, very nutritious and edible from root to flower. Also has a deep tap root which some people curse but I see as a wonderful soil building feature.

Happy spring!

Gracie
Gracie

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Comments (2)

  1. Jgrace

    I love this post. It’s been great to see the transition from Gracified to Polliwog and all the amazing work that’s gone into your house.
    You’ve inspired us to start our own planning for buulding our own ‘kit home’ as they’re called in Australia. A few years down the track, but already exciting! Thanks for your lovely inline example!

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      That’s so great! I’m so glad our work has helped inspire that decision. Do you blog at all? I’d love to follow your progress when you get going and have a way to encourage you!

      Reply

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