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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

A day in the life

After coffee and breakfast, Risa lets the poultry out, checks their food and water, collects duck eggs, and waters the flats in the "greenhouse" (potting shed with glass south wall).

Besides the potting bench in the greenhouse, she keeps a "spring bench" on the north wall of the house, halfway to the garden, for hardening off. Not only is this easy on the back, it's a far piece for slugs and snails to get into the pots. Here we have peas, yellow storage onions, and assorted greens. Below is the garden kneeler, some spuds "chitting," and the planting-out tray. The flats, tray and bench are home-made. The red handle is that of the "ho-mi" or Korean hoe, Risa's trowel of choice. One hits the soil with it like swinging a hatchet, then pulls back, producing a hole that's just right for planting a three-inch pot's plug. Later in the year, for hot spells, the spring bench becomes the summer kitchen, so as not to add to the house's heat budget.

The watering can (sorry about the plastic, did not buy) is full of bruised willow twigs, which at this time of year will leach a bit of growth hormone into the water.

Risa plants the spuds down the middle of a bed she's built for, and into which she's broadcast seeds of, mangel beets, a gift from a dear friend. There's really nowhere left to put spuds, so there's a pot on the wood stove of them boiling, to give to the chickens. Her next chore is to gather up the one-dollar "garden knives" she got from Goodwill ...

... and give them a dose of red paint, which is the "garden tool" color here -- a better chance of spotting them, cleaning them up, and putting them back in storage at the end of the day. 

Next, she turns her attention to the woodshed, just about her favorite thing; she brings a radio for Mozart and such. There's a cord of maple/ash out of reach behind a cord of Douglas fir on the left, which were stacked in the order they came in. She wants to split down the fir a little smaller and mix the hardwood and fir with even smaller coppice roundwood from the premises, to have an efficient mix for feeding the wood stove next winter.

Here, she's cutting up a salvaged pine branch. This is a small, cheap electric chainsaw, suitable to this size work. She also has one three times as big, made in the Sixties, which was five dollars at a garage sale, for the big stuff. She hasn't used gasoline at the woodpile in years. The pallet provides a stable platform, easy on the back. Its interior struts have been cut to form a slot for the sawbar (or bow saw if in use), and the wheelbarrow catches sawdust for the berry beds. The leftover twiggy bits of hardwood can be trimmed down and used in a wattling project she's doing. The greenery from pine and fir she uses as mulch in the berry beds, along with the sawdust. It could also be used as slope-contour swale material. She doesn't make burn piles.

Here is the coppice yard, which is part of the poultry moat along with the orchard. Fifteen years ago these two willows at right were once beanpoles that sprouted in the garden over the summer. They've been firewooded three times since. The mass of wood at the base is called the "stool." The growth is called "rods." For better firewooding, she'll reduce the growth to eight rods per stool. If you want beanpoles, wattles, and basket wood, leave the smaller shoots until you need them.

Here's a piece of bought-in fir just a little too long for the stove. If your saw makes tiny sawdust or cuts on a curve and binds, it's time to sharpen it.

Showing the slot in the pallet and the sawdust:

To end the day, Risa brings a ladder and picks Big-leaf maple flowers from the tree above the woodshed. They have a season of just under two weeks, and are good in salads, stir-fries, quiches, souffles, pancakes, breads, and soups.

After putting everything away, she'll make pan bread on the wood stove with the flowers mixed with fresh duck eggs, vegetable stock and a home-ground grain mix (barley, rye, buckwheat, cornmeal, quinoa, dried greens, acorns, walnuts). And have dinner, washed down with homebrewed Hefeweizen.


  1. thanks for sharing some of your great ideas Risa-I always enjoy seeing/reading what you are up to!

  2. I remember painting the handles on most of my tools florescent orange one day after having a "hissy fit" at my boyfriend and son for repeatedly losing my tools. The upshot was I realized a month or so later that I was the worst offender.
    Risa your ideas are often familiar to me, we have very similar approaches. But you my dear, still have plenty to teach me.

  3. Thank you for sharing
    I find this blog fascinating.

  4. Love this post. Thanks Risa.

  5. i am so proud to be doing enough things 'on time' to have similar days to you right now :)

  6. h: You may be picking up where I am leaving off, so to speak ... so good to hear from you!

    T: TYVM!


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