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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

As much of it as we can

[posted by risa]

We sometimes think we haven't done much in the way of relocalization here at Stony Run, but thinking over the last fourteen years, as we recently were pointing out to each other, we could have done much worse.

There is a good well and we produce enough compost and mulch not to need to bring in any, though I used to truck home many loads of leaves, and Beloved buys straw bales to use in the barn (grass clippings would work for that but they are a hassle in there and finicky to dry right).

There's no woodlot worthy of the name, but we have three kinds of maples (the bracts of the Bigleaf maples are edible, in spring), Oregon oaks, black cherries, Oregon ash, Douglas fir, grand fir, blue spruce, Scotch pine, cottonwood, shore pine, and some kind of local willow that coppices nicely for pea brush. But we have bought in more firewood than we have cut.

At one time or another we have tried here Jerusalem artichokes, beets, bush and pole green, yellow or purple beans, lima beans, broad beans, scarlet runners, broccoli, brussels sprouts, bok choi, cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, chiles, corn, cucumbers, lemon cukes, garlic, eggplant, elephant garlic, kale, leeks, lettuces, melons, nasturtuims, onions, bunching onions, parsnips, edible pod peas, bush and pole, all kinds of peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, red and white radishes, rhubarb, sunflowers, many varieties of tomatoes, winter squash, and green and yellow zukes. Of these, the Jerusalem artichokes, beans, peas, corn, tomatoes, zukes, rhubarb, garlic, corn, eggplant, and squash have been consistent perennial favorites. It's not really warm enough for melons. And the soil is just too heavy for the carrots, though not for the beets, which do well enough.

We have, or have had, apples and crabapples, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, pears, plums, raspberries, rose hips, red and white grapes, and filberts. The filberts have a bug problem, for which we are reluctant to spray. And our blueberries failed us and we failed our raspberries. We'll try again. There's no getting rid of the blackberries, but they have earned their keep. And the apples have performed very well, and unsprayed at that. We did have one walnut tree that died before reaching nut size.

My dad made terrific wine from the grapes in 2000, when they were here for a year. About, I think, five gallons. It's all gone, not because we're lushes, but because Tallest Son is a long-swordsman who competes in tournaments of the Society for Creative Anachronism, which I gather can be thirsty work.

Not tried yet, though considered: peaches, kiwis.

There are also, or have been, balm, parsley, basil, bergamot, comfrey, lavendar, mint, and sage. And, since we don't poison the lawn, we also eat the dandelions and spring onions, and pasture as much of it as we can to the ducks, chickens, and geese (though the ducks prefer snails, of which there is an endless supply).

We have the Khaki Campbell ducks, weeder geese, and the Barred Rocks and Araucanas. We have had sheep here a couple of times, as well, and in a former lifetime, in the Coast Range, a steer, a weaner pig and a couple of goats. Not yet tried here, another weaner pig, or maybe a Dexter cow/calf unit.

We also co-exist with, and have seen here: wild ducks, wild geese, hawks, eagles, herons, California quail, pheasants, foxes, raccoons, possum (brought into Oregon by a homesick Southern restorateur -- sheer madness) deer, no end of squirrels, a wide variety of songbirds, banded pigeons, mourning doves, a meadowlark, and one -- so far, just one, once -- cougar.

We collect trout from about eight miles away, and get most of our entertainment and do much of our vacationing right here (watching the antics of a yard full of chickens beats Hollywood -- kind of an everlasting rodeo/reality show).

All the foods have been for our own use, except for most of the eggs, and we have been moderately successful in "putting by" for the winter, and winter harvesting as well.

And we built much of our own furniture, made candles, insulated, did our own roof (which is overdue to redo), and the barn and greenhouse, as well as a lot of the fencing, and have done greywater (though not at present). And endless repairs to the funky old house with our own chapped hands, often using curbside freebies.

Yet to try, but in the works: Solar hot water. Getting to the feed store for hay and feed, and to the grocery store and bus stop, without using gasoline.

So, yes, we think we could have done worse!

But we both have such absorbing jobs that we often think we're not really here.

And in the morning I report for jury duty.

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