Full Steam Ahead!

Full Steam Ahead!

“The way you do anything is the way you do everything” Martha N. Beck

Getting back into the swing of farm life is more challenging this time around than when we had our organic CSA in Los Lunas, NM. Back 8 years ago, we spent the first six months rehabbing the house (it was a real shit hole!) and then started doing earthworks and planting trees. A little garden in front, fruit trees to anchor the different growing spaces and that was about it until the following year when we laid the work for our farm. I didn’t have work outside the home so I could concentrate on planning and getting seeds and trees. All our time from morning till night was spent advancing our goals. We learned about life and death on the farm. We also learned about loss. About who we could trust and who we needed to avoid, it happens with families. But no matter who we slice it, we have always done things the same way.

The saying, “The way you do anything is the way you do everything” applies so fittingly to me in my daily life. I don’t wait for things to manifest before I’m willing to make something happen. I keep moving, keep striving, keep motivated. It’s in my nature. I still wake up amazed by all the life growing up around me. Berries ripening, invasive plants I try to become friends with, small critters who live among us curious about who we are. It’s how I do life…every day.

Back when we operated Luna Hill Heritage Farm, I ran around all day trying to get everything done. Animals to feed and care for, plants to harvest, seeds to sew, weed pressure, bug pressure, making meals, homeschooling, spending time with my family, trying to maintain friendships.

Can it all be done?

Yes. But there needs to be balance. Daily. If our lives are consumed with putting out fires all day long, that is how our lives will be. One big knot of worry and chaos. I know I always bite off more than I can chew, but this year I’m learning to pace myself.

The list of things that needs to be done in this place grows by the day like a hungry monster. I need to constantly re-prioritize everything according to what’s going on, especially since this time around we are also building our coffee business. With our coffee company in its first full swing of commercial coffee orders coming in (we put our business in a time out while we got settled), weaving in chicken feedings and watering my little seedlings get shifted a bit.

Here’s a list of all the things that need to be accomplished before we can even start our market garden. My hope is to have our first fall crops in the ground by mid-July:

  • Horse tape needs to be finished
  • Brush around tape needs to be cleared
  • Move horses onto pasture full time
  • Chicken coop/compost run needs to be completed
  • Set up feeding and water station near the coop for chickens and ducks
  • Move chickens to the new coop
  • Turn compost piles
  • Install a permanent tomato bed on the west side of the compost chicken run and plant tomatoes (by mid-June)
  • Make new soil from compost for market garden
  • Finish adding old manure to market garden beds
  • Finish forming the market garden beds
  • Weed the market garden
  • Purchase 150- 1/2″x10′ PVC, 10- 1″x10′ PVC, and rebar to create low tunnels for market garden beds
  • Purchase 6ml greenhouse plastic for market garden
  • Purchase two bolts of tulle for market garden
  • Purchase 100′ hose and high-velocity sprinkler for market garden
  • Purchase 4-way splitter
  • Purchase pond liner for the duck pond
  • Put up new fencing around the duck run and pond

All that has to be completed by mid-July if we’re going to get crops in the ground for the fall. All the warm season fruits and veggies are in the teepee greenhouse waiting for when it will be safe enough to be planted outside. I would like to get them in the ground by mid-June the earliest. We’ve learned living in the high desert that warm season crop seedlings become desiccated by our dry winds, have to tolerate high fluctuations in temperature variations between daytime and nighttime, and can be hit with an unseasonable hard late frost. In my experience, it has always been more than one late frost. The high desert is not the easiest place to grow food, but once you learn how your area of the high desert functions, you can plan accordingly.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when planning a garden is believing that because it might have been unseasonably warm one year or for the last 10 years, that everything will be okay and you can start planting those tomatoes in mid-May. If those crops are covered at night and for freak weather events, then yes, by all means, get those babies into the soil. For me? I’m not so quick to do that. This is our first year growing things in the Gila Forest. The microclimate here is beautiful but just as unpredictable as a college kid on spring break!

Our ongoing holdup at the moment is the chickens. They’re everywhere and until they are contained fulltime in their new space, my hands are tied and I’m limited to what I can accomplish.

I’ve had a few plants sitting outside and so far the chickens haven’t bothered with them. Honeysuckle, trumpet vine, Spanish lavender, and rhubarb. It would be a different story, however, if I were to put them into the ground! The first thing those chickens would do would be to scratch and dig at the base of the plants. They can’t do that when the plants are still in pots. So I wait and work on the endless list of other things that also need my attention. Like property cleanup, cutting down dead trees and branches, painting and rehabbing the business hub, chicken proofing my coffee roasting area. That one was big! I thought I was going to go on a chicken killing spree when they got into the area where I roast coffee and crapped all over the floor. Something about the new set up made them say, “Hey! This is the PERFECT place to throw a party and crap all over the clean stainless steel table and floor! Woohooo!” Yeah, it took me an hour just to clean it all up and sanitize the work table. Then I chicken proofed it. My insane need for cleanliness when it comes to my coffee roasting area almost sent me to the loony bin. We also learned that you can’t leave the door open to the business hub because the chickens will walk right in and make themselves at home. Oh, and forget trying to work with any kind of tools. One of the chickens decided to make Dom’s tool area the perfect place to sit and learn how to build something. I think she’s was mostly entertained by Dom’s work habits. I find him highly entertaining and watch him often. Maybe the chickens got that from me?

Yeah, they need to go into the coop!

“The way you do anything is the way you do everything.”

What are the things you do on a daily basis and end up being the way you do everything in life? What is the reoccurring theme? Are there things you wish could be different? I know I’m always working to improve daily habits. I’m my own worst enemy at times. But still, here I go…full steam ahead!

Beginning the Next Chapter in Our Lives

The next chapter in our lives is forming, and as I look back on all we have been though over the last six years, I say “hell yeah” its time for a juicy new chapter! When a family loses everything they own, it can tend to leave a hole in the soul that isn’t easily filled or healed. Family heirlooms, things you thought you’d pass down to your children, baby pictures, and small treasures created by little hands that made me cry because they were so precious are gone. Among my destroyed treasured possessions was an irreplaceable video of my third daughter Shoshannah being born and her sisters doting over her. While losing everything isn’t the sum total a person’s life, it creates a stark backdrop that leaves a family bewildered and wondering if things will ever be the same again. Unfortunately things are never the same after a great loss, but there is always the opportunity to move forward with your life and create new memories, new heirlooms, and new traditions.
The cavernous hole that seemed never ending in our lives is filling up fast. Rushing back to the forefront of my mind are the years I spent sewing, painting, repairing, designing, sculpting, baking, creating new art, quilting, floral arranging, wreath making and on and on. There was only one thing that I swore I’d never do throughout my life, and that was knitting. It seems that maybe I should have learned that too. I always dreamed of learning to use the loom, and my fingers would sometimes twitch when seeing a beautiful knitted scarf or sweater, but I stayed away for one very good reason. What was the reason? I knew that if I learned to knit or even to use a loom, it would spell disaster for my family! I could easily see myself addicted to knitting, and then make everyone wear my creations. Can you imagine wearing a heavy sweater in the middle of the hot summer? I thought knitting would be a dangerous pastime for me, and one that I wanted to spare my family from. But here I am at this next chapter in our lives, thinking about knitting more than anything else in the world. I only hope that I will be able to control my desire for my family to wear my creations 24/7.

More than even knitting, however, I think of the whole process from start to finish. Not just picking up some knitting needles, purchasing some yarn and having a go at it…no, I’m thinking of the angora goats, sheep, alpacas and angora rabbits. To start from absolute scratch in creating that sweater, hat, scarf, or anything else. I’m thinking of what plants I’ll have to create the dyes, raising the animals, shearing them, combing and spinning and so on. The whole process has me enamored. I know it will be a year or more before we actually have some of the animals, but for me, everything is in the planning. We’ll be observing our property over the next year before starting anything major. Most of our improvements this year will be getting our home updated and functional for us, creating our raised keyhole mandala kitchen garden and getting a some fruit trees planted in the fall. There will be a lot to do before we even consider getting any animals, and of course chickens are the exception to this rule.