spring of plenty, part 1

it's summer. how could i leave you for two months? there's been a lot of living packed into that time, and while the stubborn moments of don't-want-to-work seem so long, the days themselves are flying past and i wonder at the gift, burden, potential of each frickin morning that keeps coming up so fast. my quality of life has inched up steadily since spring, has skyrocketed since the spring of last year. there's a lot i'd like to share... i will even add pictures for you. if you want a fuller view of my spring, check out my flickr album, spring 2012.

here, to sate your two-month-hunger, are some abbreviated journal entries with photos...

got the solar shower set up... this makes life way more comfortable when it seems like every day i end up covered in dirt, chicken grime, building debris, sweat, and bugs. as it gets hotter i switched from lavender soap to peppermint. i also skip the towel and air dry for those few blissful moments of coldness. the handle on my shower broke, so i reinforced it with bits of bamboo that were sent along with baby plants to stabilize them in the mail. the shower hangs from a huge oak tree just over the fenceline. i have a lovely view while i bathe.

started building the chicken tractor. the chickens are in a temporary coop in the empty side of my compost bins for now, thoroughly chicken-wired in to protect from the coyotes, raccoons, and possums that come to sniff around every night. i'm proud that the tractor is actually looking like a functionally built thing, and am terrified to continue and find that it is Not functional. it's nearly impossible for me to work from plans or others' designs, and building from scratch is not something i have experience with. i tend to guess i'm on the right path when i'm moving in the direction of my fears, though, so... onward. eventually.

brown recluse in my tent. saw one last spring, this is the second. by the time you read this post i will have seen NINE in my living spaces. i killed one after it repeatedly evaded capture. all the others were carefully caught in jars and relocated, most after being spoken to soothingly and being told that i didn't want to hurt them. i hear they are becoming more populous in this region, so at least it's not just that poisonous spiders love Me in particular... and while they're beautiful, i would rather not share living space with them. at least they are generally open to negotiation. having light in my not-bug-proof shelters often at night seems to draw them, so i look forward to having actual shelter soon.

this was an off-cut to level one of the osage posts that holds up my cantilevered summer house. i think it looks like an owl, so she has become my osage owl guardian goddess. she watches over the summer house. so far no big injuries. one day maybe i will carve her a body and big sweeping wings.

 the summer house! it has posts, and joists, and a pallet wood floor, and pallet framing... starting to look like a building. holy crap. one day i will have a house, and it's happening NOW.
my friend sylvia once again sat down to guide me in learning to spin on a spinning wheel, and this time i actually Got it! i filled up this whole spindle with her support. it's a mix of different wool, just various bits of what i had carded already when we went to the local fiber guild meeting to play. now i'm keeping my eye out for a way cheap old spinning wheel, and considering trying to build my own, so that i can make use of all the fleeces i've gotten on sale that i want to turn into practical clothing.

my friend rejoice finally made it out here for a long visit. today we harvested two baskets full of cleavers from the creek bottom to chop and mash (with rocks!) and strain into cleavers juice for medicine. there are so many useful things growing wild on the land, i could make something every day and use a plant for nearly any ill i encountered. i've also been leafing through my neighbor's great reference books on uses for medicinals, notes on preparation, etc. it feels incredible to be able to heal myself and my friends when they come by and aren't feeling well.

rejoice is picking ticks off franny. she calls them 'bugs'. i call them all sorts of nasty names that i won't repeat here. i've fallen into her habit of teasing franny when she comes running back to the shed after a romp in the fields... "did you get all the bugs franny? don't come back until you got ALL the bugs!" my dog is the best at harvesting the bugs. rejoice sometimes picks them off of her three or four times a day. luckily we do not get as many bites.

these are my redcaps. i just brought them over from yarrow homestead, my neighbors, who brooded them with their own chicks. now they've moved into the mulch-bin-coop temporarily. they're supposed to be great foragers, super hardy, and decent either for eggs or meat. i have a fantasy of one day brooding them in nest boxes in the trees of my forest garden, and letting them roost and reproduce on their own, with no coop or tractor, just wild chickens on the land, and i will just harvest what eggs i need. and they will eat ALL THE BUGS.

the chicken tractor is finished! i love the way this side of it looks, like a little house. i used basically all salvaged materials - lumber that a neighbor was throwing away, a door from rabbit cages that i demolished in a local barn, chicken wire that a neighbor didn't need... the only new parts were some wire that i had on hand and a few i-bolts that i also had on hand. and yes, that door is a perfect size because sometimes i have to climb in there to gather eggs or mess with their feeder. i look pretty goofy, but it works. and for someone with no building experience and not working from plans, OR having a mind for engineering, i think i did an alright job. hopefully my next tractor will be better.

the chickens won't be in here forever (forest chickens!) but it gets them out on pasture, working up garden beds for me. i think they like being in here. they get all that sun! and weather protection too. and i get to watch them out in the field. they are cute and silly. it will be better when they can fly around all day, though. that is so much fun to watch... i had no idea chickens were so entertaining. i don't think i'll ever desire a tv again.

i scored this bag of fleeces from a local farmer through my neighbors, who also bought a bag. there's at least 20 fleeces in there, all of spinning quality (not super nice, but still very spinnable). once the summer house is a safe, enclosed space these fleeces will become the stuffing of my new mattress, and i will sleep on them until i have enough junky wool or goosedown to make a proper bed. i got rid of the twin bed purchased at an auction because i don't want commercially produced chemical-laden creepy bedding on my land. wool ought to be a good step up from a straw mattress that most average folks used back in the day.

harvesting radish seed from plants that overwintered in my gardens. it feels good to be saving seed from more and more things each year. one day i won't have to buy seeds anymore, and my pantry will be full of home grown, nourishing foods all year round.

practicing writing with a quill on some letters to friends. i'm down to one and a half functioning ball point pens, and don't intend to buy them again. so it's time to bust out the calligraphy ink and a quill that i made out of a peacock feather two winters ago. this definitely takes practice.

okay, this is way long and i still have a good handful of pictures to share... see part 2. <3