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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Little accomplishments

Watering the circle garden[posted by risa]

We are having one of those hot spells, three days in a row at 97, and it's coinciding with, or maybe helping to cause, one of my down times, when little accomplishments loom large against a background of malaise and lollygagging.

I thought I would be making mulch all day with the knotweed-eater, but I'm intimidated by the heat. The excuse I make to myself is that a spark from the equipment could set a fire, but with an electric chipper in good condition, I kind of don't believe me. Yet after finishing the tail end of one of the long beds, which involved flattening and spreading a mere eight more boxes, and forking hay over them, and measuring off the next bed with string, I felt a need to go horizontal and am indoors, visiting with you.

Not that the week hasn't been "fruitful!" The apples are dropping ahead of my picking schedule, and I gather a peck or so at a time to throw to the chickens. They much prefer cores, and turn up their beaks at the round ones, but later in the day, one will take a serious peck, and the juicy hole in the apple will start a riot. Everything will be gone by evening.

One duck, the lamest one, has died, as has one chicken who had symptoms of being egg-bound. We did the usual things to help them pull through, but -- nope. I think the heat can be a factor in these losses, though they get lots of shade and water.

In line with keeping up my Independence Days reports, we can say we planted beets, bok choi, radishes, and I forget what -- harvested mulch (tree branches) and firewood (our wonderful utility people came by an took down a big wild cherry that was involved in our neighbor's powerlines -- and cut it up for us!); beans, beans, beans, apples, peas (longest run of peas ever), stevia, basil, rosemary, tomatoes, zukes, cukes, eggs, feathers (don't ask), nasturtium, bok choi, blackberries (finally!), pears, potatoes, eggplant, onions, beets, chard, lettuce, lettuce, lettuce, red cabbage, kale.

We preserved, umm, not much. We are using a lot of things fresh; I took an eggplant to a friend, for example, and gave me some of the potstickers that she made from them, next day, and that was my lunch. Beloved made a bowl of cuke pickles, but the kind you eat up in the first week, and I used the leftover fresh-cuke vinegar-water in a switchel.

It's a big storage week for us, though; Beloved goes to a food co-op ordering party from time to time, and this afternoon will come back with 25 lb bags of wheat berries and rolled oats and such, and some five pound samples of things we know less about, like spelt and amaranth flour, and quinoa. This afternoon (B has two back-to-back concerts this morning -- in this weather!) we will look for bigger containers than the 5 gallon white buckets that have lived under the kitchen counter for thirty years.

This is also an inventory week. Things are turning up that we haven't seen in years. And clearing the energy-saving ice blocks out of the freezer yielded a list:
20 quarts of sugar snap peas
16 pints blueberries
11 quarts of apple slices (the entry says "brown ugly" slices but I like them ... )
1 quart of sliced zuke
9 pints of Joi Choi (a really great bok choi)
10 half-pints of spinach
3 pints of cauliflower
5 half-pints mixed greens
3 quarts "old yucky rhubarb" (??)
-- as well as the usual storebought stuff. I'm never sure what the Prepped category represents, but I can say I moved compost from the barrel to the heap, and completed the bottom layer of a new Long Bed for next year's garden. On the run the Jerry's this afternoon (local competitor to Home Depot; slogan: "Better Head for Jerry's!") we will order the next run of deer fence, roll roofing, purlins, lath, maybe some plywood -- for delivery. September is going to be Roof Month.

We haven't really cooked anything new but are looking forward to spelt bread.

Our work on local food has consisted mostly of eating out of the front yard, as usual. And providing the eggplants and zukes for my friend's potstickers (she's from Beijing, and has some dynamite recipes, especially for ginger-based sauces), which are an office favorite. She also makes hundred-year-eggs from our duck eggs, which I'm a little skeery of ....

We reduced waste by collecting a lot of cardboard and newspapers to bring home for the Long Beds, and collecting a five gallon pail of spoilage from the food bank gardens for our compost barrel.

Beloved's new skill is using a headset microphone while singing folk songs to audiences at the farmer's market, and mine is, well, I've been loaned out to the suddenly short-handed Interlibrary Loan in the afternoons. I'm training to make borrowing requests, which is a complex process at a research university library -- you find yourself matching book or article metadata in French, German, Italian, Latin (fer cryin' out loud) and, umm -- Cantonese. I'm wingin' it, as usual ... 998 days (or less) to retirement. File under Tricks An Old Dog Shouldn't Have To Learn -- but, hey, the people are nice. That always counts for a lot!

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