I really thought I was going to miss the internet more than I do. It reminds me a lot of when I quit smoking. I couldn’t imagine life without that need. But then I quit and, while I still miss it, I’ve adapted well to the feeling of clear lungs full of oxygen and a life unburdened by the constant tug of that addiction. It might seem a bit drastic to tie those two things together (smoking and the daily use of the internet), but it’s really the closest comparison I can think of. When I’m home now, I inhabit this space, it’s just me and the things around me. This place has got a clarity that frees me from the incessant noise of the limitless information offered. That screen is a window into everything and nothing, it feels like to me. I don’t feel like an absolutist by any means, despite what it might seem, although I do find that people prickle when the technology is criticized. I understand that almost nothing is entirely good or bad, and these things can be used for good. But I don’t feel like the solid criticisms of the internet and that kind of tech are socially acceptable, which puts Jeff and I in an interesting position. It’s fine, I suppose. We own our own choices and it’s not as though we are telling other people to give these things up. However, I do feel that it’s a strange world we live in that radicalizes a “back to the land” approach- that simply not opting into certain high-impact technologies is the extreme choice, rather than the opposite. It’s such an interesting time to be alive.
All this to say, I like the decision we made to ditch the internet. It made some space in my life that I really felt like I needed. It’s been 6 months, and I feel like I’ve been detoxing a bit. I’m reading more books, I’m getting to know this land and this house, and in many ways I’m enjoying a bit of personal quiet after what feels like a very noisy few years. I really feel like the only casualty has been my ability to easily write here. However, I’m an adaptable sort. Many of my close friends know that I readily rearrange things to better suit the needs of the space. People would walk in my house to find the whole place flipped and changed. I’m generally not as attached to the specifics as I am the mission. So I’m brainstorming my needs here, figuring out how to rearrange things. I thought I would write more when I went out to coffee shops or something, but that hasn’t delivered or always been timed right with my available creative energy. Plus, Ypsi is a small enough town that I often get caught up chatting with people I run into, which is fun. So going out isn’t reliable… but I knew I could always write at home, when the mood strikes, offline. Except that wasn’t happening either. *Then* I realized a big barrier to my writing was that I didn’t have a space to really do it in my home. I kept my desk in a dusty spot in the basement amidst the microgreen stuff and a mess of toys. Not exactly the most peaceful and conducive environment for doing the kind of reflecting I want to when I sit down to write. Seems obvious, but it wasn’t to me. Yesterday I had a spurt of that rearranging energy and I got to work on my bedroom. I lugged dressers and moved books and carried that desk up a couple flights of stairs and here we are!
So here I sit, at my desk under gentle light in a space that feels simple and clean and my own. The kids are currently having a dance party below me ala a blaring “Kidz Bop” CD and I can hear Jeff outside on the tractor… but it’s actually working! I’m writing! This is a good sign. I’m using my phone as a hot spot, which may be a concession I make so long as it doesn’t use too much data. Details. Anyway, I really want to get out of this perpetual catch-up mode I’ve been in, but I think I’ve gotta do one more quick one to catapult me out of it. Here’s (hopefully briefly…) what we’ve been up to over the past 6 weeks or so:
We are working and playing hard, most of the time. I have been sincerely grateful lately that I get to spend my days doing work that feels relevant and keeps me active and outdoors, snapping pictures of tomato hornworms or of Milton pushing a puppy in a wheelbarrow. The happy bits really help to balance out the challenging bits.
Food piles made from all the good food grown around me are also a thing that I’m routinely grateful for. Like this one, pictured below. I’m pretty sure this was some kind of a veggie cornmeal fritter thing that I topped with duck eggs and hollandaise… mmmm.
I turned 32 in late August and then a week later Jeff and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary. That’s right. ELEVEN. He’s still pretty much my favorite, and I think he still likes me too. I am immensely grateful for this as well. <3
Then there’s more photos of life, because yes. I totally gawked at these two during their mating ritual, and tried to stick around long enough to watch her consume his head (if that even is a real thing… is it?), but I couldn’t stay long enough to document it. Mantises are amazing and beautiful to me. I liked seeing the differences between the male and the female, too.
The ducks started laying! And oh my, do they lay eggs. I think I’m often getting better than 1 a day from each of them. We are swimming in eggs. These ducks like to bury their eggs, so every couple of days I’m out in their house digging for treasure.
I’m chipping away out at the Cooperative, continually working to set this thing up right. All in all, I’m really happy with what we’ve all accomplished. I plan to build up the website soon so that people can see more of what we’re up to out there.
I got a pig’s head from my friend at the market, and I hope it will be the start of some continued use-the-whole-animal practices. I’ll spare you the photos until I do a more dedicated post on that, but below you can see how big this thing was. I had to buy a huge pot to fit the thing, and the lid wouldn’t even shut. But, it definitely produced enough food for several meals, and I’m happy to have used a part of the animal that isn’t normally utilized these days. So delicious too!
My houseplants were super sad over the past couple of years. Apartment life plus neglect, they were almost beyond saving and I thought about just starting fresh with a lot of them. But I put them outside this summer and, despite the occasional chicken attack, they recovered! I really believe that rain water holds some kind of magic. I have resolved not to water them with tap water, I’m going to catch rainwater for them and see how they do over the winter. Anyway, never assume a farmer can actually take care of a houseplant.
I’m really loving the fall. Fungus is really happening right now, all over the place.
Speaking of the chickens, our roosters have recently experienced a surge of roosteriness and become a-holes that kick us when we walk near them. It hurts! And is extremely startling. They are ninjas, for sure. I really hope this is just an adolescent surge of some kind, because it really won’t do. They could really mess up a small kid! Or break bare skin. But they are still pretty glorious, from afar. And they really do protect the hens.
Jeff finished the battens on the east side of the house. I really like them!
We put new greenhouse plastic on our microgreen house to prepare for the winter. This will be the first winter I haven’t moved them entirely inside. I really prefer natural sunlight and outdoor air to the finicky indoor environment we have to create and maintain. I feel like supplementing heat is going to be better, but we’ll see! It’s an experiment.
Flynn is wonderful. He’s a lot of work, but we are getting into our groove and having breakthroughs all the time. He’s growing really fast. One of the things I really miss about Maya is how in sync we were- we snuggled all the time and there was such ease. Flynn is such a bundle of energy, with a mouthing/chewing instinct that is super intense (herding breeds can be harder in this way), but lately I’m starting to enjoy a little more low-energy bonding with him. This morning he actually snuggled us for a while and didn’t bite us compulsively! It was kind of a big deal. I’m also loving how smart he is. I have learned that he will never be obedient. He’ll decide to cooperate and work with us, if we earn his trust, and vice versa. I love this, because while obedience from him would feel easier for now, it won’t ever deliver the way that I see the stuff that he’s got inside him working for us in the future. I just see the wisdom in earning his favor, not demanding it. Isn’t that what we’ve got to do in all good relationships? I am really seeing the potential for years of a really unique partnership between us. My buddy.
Paw paw season. Mmmm. I planted 5 earlier in the year in our woods, and I know that at least 3 survived! Soon we’ll have them every year in abundance. I love this fruit. Also doubles as antennae.
Just a few more pictures that I think sum up this time of year for me.