28 November 2011

Playing Catch... Up

I know it’s been quite awhile… sometimes I get so tied up in the living that I fail to find motivation for documenting said living. Then I usually go overboard & post a lot… then I take another hiatus! Don’t worry, I can catch you up pretty quickly. I have a habit of starting to type up posts and then never hitting the “Publish” button. Here are a few of my thoughts over the last few months!

This summer was hot. And dry. And hotter still. So hot that of the few tomato plants that managed to flower, fewer still were able to set fruit. Save a few, precious cherry tomatoes, the remaining flowers either withered and fell, or the small tomatoes that struggled into existance split due to the lack of consistant moisture. Oh, and we are competing against all the other creatures trying to survive this weather- my garden being an oasis for them as the only fairly green thing that sees watering as often as possible. The good news is that chili peppers, banana peppers, jalapenos and basil apparently don’t mind the heat one bit. The biggest surprise has been the ground cherries. Though the fruits are smaller than I was expecting (so far, only enough to taste while weeding), the plants that I thought had died in a late frost came back with a vengence to nearly overtake the bed (and the basil!). The corn didn’t make it- I can’t even find it at the farmer markets this year, though the corn earworms made a nice meal of it while it lasted (I will have to try the mineral oil trick next time!). It sure did look pretty waving in the wind, though. Especially after it tasseled. Even after it turned golden brown, I was sorry to see the giants go as we made room for fall plantings.

I am so thankful that I could turn on the hose and water the garden, though our water bill was very reflective of the increased usage. I am thankful for the scattered thunderstorms that only spilled 1/16th of an inch of rain on the garden, but literally lowered the outside temperature 40 degrees to a nearly “freezing” seventy. We took advantage of the cloud cover to play at the local park and enjoy snowcones. While I very much wish we could support a majority of our diet with our garden (and hope & pray to someday!), I am thankful that we still have grocery stores (both organic and conventional) to supplement our meals when the ground is parched and the skies are barren. I am thankful for the extreme luxury of air conditioning. I would fear for my children’s lives in this heat otherwise.

The newborn goats that we had put a down payment on did not survive their first day in the brutal summer heat. I cried. A lot. But I know that God’s timing is perfect and we were faced with a few financial struggles at summer’s end that would have made it difficult to care for even the two little goats we planned on welcoming home. We are looking forward to spring and another try at some “real” farm animals, as there are more Mama goats already carrying babies! Baby chicks will also be arriving this spring, and I cannot wait to have our own source of organic, pastured eggs!

I am thankful that the weather finally turned cooler as fall arrived. Now, in late November, we have finally fallen out of “severe drought” status. We have had some gorgeous days to enjoy time outside, watch the lettuce flourish, and finally see some hard freezes. We have enjoyed breathtaking scenery as the leaves changed. Another gardening year has been put to rest- we ended up with a bumper crop of hot peppers and basil, with a small bucket of green cherry tomatoes that ripened slowly on the counter over the last few weeks. I used to wish that it stayed warm year round, but now that I have started gardening, I look forward to the quiet rest that winter brings! God has truly blessed us and has seen to our every need. I am reminded yet again how much hard work “homesteading” is, yet how rewarding it can be as well- especially the small victories! It is easy for me to get overwhelmed, but something in me won’t let me quit. Being able to survive & thrive in an increasingly unstable world requires vital “old fashioned” skills that I am afraid will be lost just when we (or our kids!) need them most. It is a very humbling endeavor, and one in which I am constantly reminded that my real strength comes from God alone and not my fledgling skills!

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