Those necessary jobs- a poop story

This weekend I finished (with some help, thanks guys who were actually all girls but I tend to use guys generically!) two of the four big nasty necessary parts of keeping things going on this farm. The tiny sheds in the Quarantine lot (which has FINALLY had the fence completely removed to the correct location fuckyouverymuchneighbor) have been mucked out and their rather *ahem* aromatic collections have been added to the current phase of the compost piles. I say ‘piles’ because there was in fact that much shit. I have also scraped out everything underneath the rabbit cages and added it to the piles.

I’m dreading the chicken coop and the big goat shed.

I had no idea until recently when more and more folks with all of zero agricultural background started showing up at various agriculturally themed local events that no one talks about poop on a farm. Seriously, no one talks about one of the biggest, messiest, and most valuable free resources that livestock create. That shit is black gold. Or, slightly brownish gold, depending on the species.

I recently had to explain to someone that you have to let various critter poop rot before you can use it on the garden- it’s too strong and can chemically burn your crops if you don’t. They had no idea. They were just too busy complaining about the smell. Of course, that will fade away too as it rots down into good black compost. Dig a few of the worms out of the lower layers and go fishing, while you’re at it.

Speaking of worms, don’t ignore worm poop. A mealworm colony costs about $50 to start (worm nucleus, bins, wheat bran, vegetable scraps) and feeds chickens forever for very nearly free. Just some more wheat bran every so often. If you’re feeling ambitions you can migrate the colony and have a bin full of bran and worm castings. That’s poop. Epic fertilizer.

Yes. Farming is a crappy job. That’s what makes it grow.

 

Just in time

The Donner pole has been planted in the Q lot.

There are hours and hours of work and a lot of meaning in that statement.

The pole itself is- I will be the first to admit- not very well carved. I am a lot of things, but I am clearly not a wood carver. Still, you can tell that it’s a face with a beard and with the red dye you can even figure out Who it’s supposed to be. It is carved out of an aged gum limb that fell (no oak limbs handy, but given that gum shares oak’s reputation for strength and longevity in this area, I’m pretty sure it’s ok.) and has been treated with linseed oil to prolong its life in ground contact.

It’s in the Q lot, or Quarantine lot, which has been the work of many hours and many people to move the fence to the correct side of the new property lines. I finished staking the bottom of the fence down yesterday. The lot is used for goats that are new and need to be observed for a while first, or for goats that are ill and need special care, and for does who are about to give birth and need a lot with good tree cover to protect the kids from eagles (it also is surrounded with chain link and is better for keeping other predators out) and it is used to isolate specific does with a buck for breeding. It also sits on the corner of the property surrounded by hostile neighbors. I literally could not think of a more appropriate location for a pole shrine for Donner.

As much as I would like to open this to the public, I can not do that. Yet. I am currently still working in the school system 3-4 days a week and will (if my work passes the examination of current co-op members) be working sporadically at a craft shop in Leonardtown where my work will also be hosted. That said, if you would like to visit the pole, please do not hesitate to contact me. We can probably work something out.

Hail Donner.

The more things change

Let’s see…

The goats are waddling around being happy and fed and pregnant, the dog is racing around being an overgrown puppy, the cat is looking at the dog disdainfully, the chickens are scratching through the dead leaves, we’ve gotten most of the fence repair on the quarantine lot finished, there’s a new President, I got the new shallow raised beds lined and filled with dirt and compost yesterday, I adjusted a bracelet someone had purchased and requested resized, the shipment of feed came in, the seed orders are going out this week, I paid my bills, I need to go pay the truck’s registration renewal, I lost a day of work because of a cold, I spent the day puttering around getting little pestery chores done so it wasn’t a total loss…

And so on and so forth.

Focus on the good. Focus on the stable. Focus on the every day making-in-better things. No, I’m not saying give up. I’m also not saying give in to the apocalyptic drama. I said the exact same thing to the last big protest movement: it’s not going to help your cause if you let them manipulate your emotional reactions into the kind of dramatic responses they need to shine the spotlight of negative interpretation on you.

One day, one step at a time. Keep moving. Keep your cool. We’ll get through it together.

Announcing New Handcrafted Awesome

Take a gander through the Farm’s associated Etsy shop- The Spider’s Mask- for a parade of hand crafted wearable art including hand woven silver, real lapis lazuli touches, an actual charm necklace, and a wide variety of shapes and styles to fit a variety of tastes.

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All of the new pieces for sale feature hand made trichinopoly chain, often referred to as Viking weave or Viking knit wire. Creating this strong, supple, lighter-than-it-looks chain by hand is very time consuming but I’ve tried to keep prices reasonable despite some pieces taking six hours or more to complete.

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Trichinopoly chain has been found at archaeological sites across Scandinavia and norther Europe. It is not at all inaccurate to refer to this collection of new jewelry as ‘historically inspired.’ Take a look, share it with a friend, and maybe consider that your ‘inner Viking’ would be glad to add some of this to your own hoard 😉

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(The woven copper and silver has been SOLD. Contact me if you’d like me to make another similar piece.)

 

Some Updates

Take a look around the site, there is new information under the ‘Our Garden’ tab (found in the ‘From the Farm’ header) and I have (finally) added the event calendar to its own header. It’s a pretty bare calendar right now, but that will change over the next few weeks as event schedules solidify and plans are finalized. The short version of the updated information is that I have a bunch of baby spider plants available, both variegated and solid green. These plants are low maintenance and fantastic air filterers. All they want is a sunny spot and not too much water. The babies have well-developed roots already and should have zero problems moving from my home to yours. $3 each or 2 for $5. Bring a little bit of green into your winter living space!

And in case you didn’t hear, we’re gladly accepting your old Yule/Christmas/Holiday/Etc trees! The goats love them and the trunks are fuel for the charcoal forge. Forge? Yes… more on that later. Drop off or pick up available.

Also I’ve acquired another batch of rabbits. In addition to being delicious additions to my freezer, the hides will be available for sale as soon as they have been tanned. I have a total of seven rabbits and hopefully seven hides (assuming I don’t tear one in half because I’m used to breaking goat hides… again) for sale. They are angora rabbits and the fur is just unreal. I’ll be asking between $20 and $30, depending on the final size and any blemishes on the pelts.

That’s it for now. Have a happy, prosperous New Year!

Blessed Solstice-Eve

With the longest night of the year now upon us, we enter one of the truly universal human experiences of our planet- calling back the light.

In the halls of the North, amid the popular images of feasting and feats of strength, this was the solemn night of the Mothers. Tonight alone was solely for the family. It was the only night that a stranger needing shelter might be turned away from the door. This is the night that births the coming year, and speaks wisdom and warning to those who can listen. Some stand vigil. Some seek dreams. Some commune. Silent night, Holy night.

If you haven’t yet done so, you’ll likely be decorating with greenery and red berries and why not? Evergreens remind us that life goes on. The tree in our living room- a graceful red cedar, my personal preference- was knocked over in a fortuitous tractor mishap at my brother’s workplace. I’ve brought it inside and decorated it with sparkling glass ornaments and shimmering lights and tinsel to provide a shelter for the spirits on these darkest of nights. It is well occupied. Deck the halls.

The days will pass and the light will slowly begin to return, first only a few minutes, then more, growing back to the overpowering force that drives spring and summer and all agriculture. But that is months away. For now, Winter is only just setting in. The growing light whispers a promise into the frigid air that eventually, all will come around again. We will tell the stories of spring even as we now tell the stories of Winter, with perchten and Frau Holle and the Hunt and the Yule Goat and Oaths over the boar’s cooked flesh and about our Gods and our Ancestors. Sing we now of Yuletide.

I wish you a season of abundance and joy. I wish you the sacredness and rejuvenation of darkness. I wish you the illumination and vitality of light. I wish you wise counsel. I wish you beauty. I wish you stories and songs and presents and the presence of what matters. I wish you a happy Yule season and a prosperous New Year.