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Sunday, November 13, 2011

A gathering in


The mulberry trees are transplanted, the pickled beets are canned and spuds lifted. The tea (camellia sinensis) bushes, raspberry canes, replacement kiwis, and red grape vines haven't arrived. What's a girl to do?

Winter storms have begun passing over Stony Run, and Risa finds herself sitting in her corner with a lap blanket more, and digging in the mud less, as the days diminish and the nights lengthen. She knows it's the other way round in, say, New Zealand at the moment, but for her, November is a time for appreciating the things that have been gathered in -- apple juice, pickled beets, tomato sauce -- and reading and thinking, as well as making lists and planning. One hopes for another spring, and the resources with which to honor its potential.

Pictured here is the reference section in the dining room, across from the wood stove. It's a rotating collection -- John Seymour is on the beside table, for instance -- but you can generally count on certain things staying put until wanted, such as the Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening (here's why we like our older edition).

It's worth noting that most of the books shown were found, over time, in the free box at a local used book store. They've discontinued that service, Risa mourns its demise.

John Michael Greer is the current exponent, in blogland, of things Seventies, and, looking over her collection, Risa must admit she's cut from the same cloth. Yes, there were things we didn't know then, but the rough-and-ready experimentalism of the time -- how much heat can you trap in a used hot-water heater if you peel its insulation back, paint it black, and park it in its own "cold" frame? -- was useful then, is useful now, and does not wait for the attention of venture capitalists and the mercy of  the 1%. The answer to the above question, for example, is "quite a lot" -- you can lower your electric bill by making such a thing out of scraps -- though you might not want to discuss it with your county code enforcers in some areas, if it's hooked up to the house for that purpose.


Right next to the reference collection are the white boards, with the homestead map and the year's planned activities, with assigned beds -- mismatched gardening styles dictate this. There's a dance among the reference section, the boards, the seed catalogs, the teapot on the wood stove, and the gathered-in things.

In other words, just because we homesteaders are sitting in our corners under lap blankets at the moment doesn't mean we're not farming ...


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