octopus hair

An Update on the Gardens

Last night I harvested about 30 carrots from Tiny Garden and used most of them to make a carrot nut bread. The rest went into dinner: steamed carrots, broccoli, and beans (all from The Gardens) in a cheese sauce that was created by my true love earlier in the week.
The Other Garden has been giving us potatoes. It's a bit early, but they have decided it's time. Tonight will be potato salad.
We have also been getting cucumbers like crazy. And spinach. And zucchini. And hot peppers.
I have been doing lots of spinach freezing, and we have been eating some pretty amazing meals. The other half is currently working 3 jobs, so most of the cooking is on my shoulders. I have to say I have been doing a very good job.

Very soon I will have to get all the stuff ready for tomato canning. We have 7 plants in containers at home and I think maybe 10-12 at The Other Garden- all of them have tons of fruit. I am going a little crazy waiting for all the tomatoes to ripen. There are so many!!
The broccoli hasn't been too impressive, but I'm pretty sure the Brussels sprouts are eventually going to lead to a giant's palace. Yesterday I spotted several baby watermelons!

I'm going to plant some collards and kale this weekend in the empty spots left by the potatoes.
I was thinking about garlic, but we aren't sure if The Other Garden will be in our lives next season, and garlic takes like 8 months.

I have built us a worm farm, and the next project is an indoor growing area for the winter. We are going to experiment with hydroponic tomatoes.
octopus hair

Wedding/Farm Weekend

The wedding was wonderful! It was good to see some folks that I don't see very often, and Anthony hit it off with exactly who I thought he would hit it off with, plus some extras.
I guess because I was in NJ I drank way too much at the reception and most likely made an ass of myself. That doesn't generally happen up here. These crowds are just not as hardcore :)

The next morning we left around 8:30 to go to Bobolink Dairy to help them put up some fence.
far away cows
Holy cow was I hung over. Didn't think I would make it through the day, but it turns out that lots of fluids, some medicinal herbs, and putting up electric fence outside in a huge field on a beautiful day will cure a bad hangover.
We met some pretty fantastic people at the farm- some residents, some volunteers. The Whites own the place, and I became fast friends with their middle son. What a cool kid. A little too into Final Fantasy for me, but all the other stuff we talked about was interesting and fun and nerdy- just how I like it :)
When we were all done working, they fed us some of the famous cheese and hamburgers (on homemade buns) made from a bull who was not playing well with others. Anthony and I split our burger because we weren't sure how our digestive tracts would deal with eating beef. It's been more than a year for me and 12 years for him. We did fine, and I am completely convinced that the only reason for that is the lack of toxins in the meat. If an animal isn't sick before you kill it, it won't make you sick when you eat it. What a novel concept. The cheese was a bit overripe, but on the burger or on bread it was sooo good. They gave us a soft cheese that they had been selling at a farmer's market- I guess it is normally a fall/winter cheese. While we were eating picnic-on-the-ground-style there were free range chickens who were more annoying than the dog about begging for food. Actually, the dog did not beg at all. One of these chickens even did a sweet ninja move and ate some cheese right off my plate.
cheese chicken
The people who run this farm are totally laid back. I found this to be good and bad. There was no stress whatsoever, but there was a feeling of being disorganized almost to the point of clusterfuck. This made us feel better because it shows that we can still be successful at something like this even if we don't get everything right all the time. I learned a whole lot about slaughtering, and the regulations surrounding it. I'm still not sure if I want to incorporate beef into our Someday Farm (or meat at all for that matter) but at least I know that it isn't that difficult to do it right (from an animal welfare perspective, anyway).

Overall, it was a very good weekend!
octopus hair

There are so many things going on I feel like my head will explode!

Thing #1- Teaching anatomy & physiology all summer long. This is sort of a sucky thing, but it will lead to less sucky things. I spend most of my time working on this stuff. It's what I'm supposed to be doing now.

Thing #2- Taking spin classes. My sister is teaching them! This is for physical as well as mental health.

Thing #3- Tiny Garden. Eeep! I need to go thin the carrots yesterday.

Thing #4- The Other Garden. There is some sort of fucker eating our plants. We built fucker-proof tomato cages, but the materials are expensive, so we only have 4 (there are 21 tomato plants). Until we figure out exactly what type of fucker we are dealing with, we are just sort of wishing that plants will be there still the next time we go back. We also sprayed bitter stuff on the plants, marked the fence with fox piss, and hung pie plates from strings (hopefully it's scary to the fucker when the pie plates blow in the wind).

Thing #5- Food club. This isn't happening yet, but I just started the ball rolling. We will have meetings where we will cook with local/sustainable/humane ingredients. I'm not exactly sure how it is going to work, but we are looking at a location across the street from a farmer's market. We'll see.

Thing #6- Ukulele. I have not been practicing enough. I'm supposed to learn "Waltzing Matilda" by mid August. Then we are going to have a family jam session at the annual reunion. It should be entertaining.

There are like at least 9 other things, but I have to get back to the myosin slides.
octopus hair

Tiny Garden vs. The Other Garden

Tiny garden is really coming along. There was a tiny salad a few weeks ago made out of baby lettuce and radishes. I put it into a tiny bowl and ate it with a tiny fork. I was gigantic.

Tiny Salad

Yesterday I made a normal sized salad. The lettuce was still baby, but there's tons of it and it needed to be thinned. We are also getting like a handful of radishes every other day. The ones that are red on top and white on the bottom are super spicy.

The Other Garden is almost completely planted and it's a little overwhelming since it is sort of large and a half hour away. Anyway, so far we have planted: 2 kinds of potatoes, onions, like 7 kinds of tomatoes, 2 kinds of pumpkins, daikon radishes, carrots, beets, zucchini, 2 kinds of squash, peas, bush beans, cucumbers, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts (the variety is Oliver, which is why I had to buy it, because Mr. Oliver makes the most ridiculously delicious Brussels sprouts you could ever imagine in your life). We still have to plant: sweet potatoes, 4 colors of sweet peppers, 2 colors of corn, 2 colors of eggplant, and some other stuff I'm sure I'm forgetting. So far we have lost some tomato and sunflower seedlings to a critter. Gardening makes me want to murder small animals. It really does. Instead, I am going to purchase carnivore urine, since the herbal stuff sold to me doesn't seem to be working.

Here is a picture of The Other Garden when it was only partially weeded.

Very exciting! When it's all done I will be doing lots of canning and pickling and freezing, and we are also going to have a harvest dinner with the people who own the garden, which is also, very exciting!
octopus hair

Tiny Garden, Part II

It seems that Tiny Garden is not so tiny. I realized that if I plant the way I am planning to plant, I will not be able to harvest everything without stepping on some things. The solution to this was to sacrifice a narrow strip of planting area to make a walkway. So now I have two gardens. They will be identical, so it's not that exciting.

We also have started some seeds indoors. The tomatoes are San Marzano, and a multicolor heirloom mix. Then we also have lots of peppers. Mostly Thai chilies and habaneros, I think. There is also a ridiculous array of herbs and some cucumbers. These will all live either in containers or in a community garden we might be involved with. Soon I will start more seeds indoors: bush beans, cabbage, and marigolds. The beans and cabbage will fill in the empty spots in TG, the marigolds will live around the perimeter for pest management.

On Patriots day I constructed a cold frame for Tiny Garden. It sort of reminds me of a covered wagon. This makes it safe to plant seeds now. After all was said and done the frickin thing cost me 40 bucks, but all the stuff can be reused, so I guess it was a good investment.

The following day I planted seeds. In the first planting were radishes (Easter egg blend!), an heirloom salad lettuce mix, carrots, scallions, rainbow chard, and parsnips.

I sure am glad I made the cold frame because today there was hail. The poor baby radishes would have been very unhappy.
octopus hair

Tiny Garden: The Beginning

We made a compost bin by punching lots of holes in a plastic trash can. I'm pretty sure this was a good use of <10 dollars. It will live next to Tiny Garden. I think this makes sense, but maybe I will move it once things get going.
When I was collecting leaves to put into the compost bin I found a small watering can shaped like an elephant. I will view this as a big thumbs up from the universe.

Collapse )

I figured since I've been hearing frogs it's mostly safe to start one thing outside. I had some tulip and crocus bulbs that were in the fridge for most of the winter so I planted those in a pot and put them onto Tiny Balcony. I hope they grow into flowers.
octopus hair

Great Weekend

Friday: Dad & stepmom came over to visit and help install things. First was the cat door, then a shelf to hold the microwave. They also donated their long neglected fish tank to me. Living in it with no filter for the past 2 years was an ancient kulhi loach. I'm pretty sure this thing was at least 12 years old, if not more. Needless to say, the stress of moving and cleaning the tank was too much for the poor old man. Too bad.

Saturday: Went to visit Anthony's friend, then to the Super 88 for shopping and lunch. This is the big Asian grocery store in the Boston area. We had the best scallion pancake ever and bought some palm sugar so we can make Thai food. Then we met Blue and her boyfriend to watch a reenactment of the Boston Massacre. Who remembers how many people died in said massacre?
Collapse )
Then, as if that wasn't already a wonderful day, we went to my favorite restaurant, Anna's Taqueria. I haven't been there in ages, and guess what they make now? HORCHATA!!!!
When we got home our first netflix movie was waiting for us. I give Kiss Kiss Bang Bang eleven million stars because it made me laugh out loud several times and was all around a thoroughly enjoyable movie. I remember I wanted to see it when it first came out...not sure why I waited so long.

Sunday: Deacon graduated (officially)! It was pretty awesome to see him again. He seemed happy to see me too, which was nice. I can tell he is in good hands. He looks trim and he was sort of prancing. He's never been a bubbly dog, but he comes pretty close now that he's doing what he was meant to do. I really never thought I would see him prance. I cried a little.
octopus hair


Hopefully this is the last time in a long time. The place is still looking literally like some sort of wind storm happened on the inside, but it's coming along quickly considering we are both working a whole lot, ill, and super tired.

The counter tops are granite. Which is really hard stuff. This sounds silly, but seriously- ANY breakable thing that drops onto it, even if it's from a small distance, will shatter. It took me about 20 seconds to discover this.

The attic is ridiculously cool. The house is like 17 bajillion years old, so the roof beams are trees. Like with bark on them.

Another exciting thing about this attic is the fact that the litter box will be up there. This means no litter all over the floor or on my feet. Padre is coming over soon to help install a cat door. This makes me a little too giddy. I mean, we are talking about a litter box...
Anyway, after I blocked all of the large holes that lead to certain death, I introduced the cats to the attic. I realized that neither had ever climbed a set of stairs before. Taco immediately ran up and then panicked about being in a huge strange room. The cabinet that holds their litter box was up there so he jumped on that and yelled and screamed until Mr. Wallace finally made it up there. He was way more cautious and it took him a few minutes to get up the stairs. Then he explored every inch of everything, decided he was cool with it and laid down in the dust. That is really the only issue with the attic cat situation- now their white paws are gray. Oh well, at least my smooth paws will not be gritty.
octopus hair

Tiny Garden

So on Friday we are moving to Upton. It's sort of even more in the middle of nowhere than where we are now, but we will be closer to our jobs, and closer to the majority of my family, and some of Ant's. We will also have a giant attic, a tiny garden, and a kitchen space that is more reasonable for food boy. I'm sort of really excited about this because it feels like we are starting our lives together for real.

So Tiny Garden sure is tiny, but I got this book for Christmas called The Urban Homestead. What a fantastic book! Highly recommended, even if you don't live in a very urban area. So anyway, in this book there are instructions for a polyculture garden, which is basically like a tiny little ecosystem...certain plants put nutrients into the soil that other plants take out, some plants attract bugs that eat the pests of other plants, and so on...
So you just scatter a whole bunch of seeds and everything grows all willy nilly- no rows or any sort of order, but also very few weeds and lots of production in a little space. I will have to be able to identify what is what because things will be ready at different times. As I harvest, I will fill in the space with seedlings that I start outside the garden. I'm pretty excited. I did some online shopping last night and found lots of heirloom seeds, so this will be an heirloom garden.

Our daily day dream includes (among other things) a farm where we will have dairy animals, laying fowl, and the sort of polyculture that will be in Tiny Garden, except on a way bigger scale. Of course the animals will be incorporated into the polyculture system and everyone will live happily ever after. So I'm looking at Tiny Garden as practice for someday farm.
octopus hair


So I totally stopped playing the guitar. On Christmas eve I played my super-slow version of silent night for the dad end of my family. We got into a conversation about how my hands are too small for the guitar and then a couple of days later they gave me a ukulele! Holy crap this is the instrument I was meant to play. Who knew? I always wanted to learn the cello (which also has four strings- coincidence?) but it never seemed worth the money/space/time. Well my ukulele was a gift; it's really small, so storing it is not an issue; and I had already put enough time into the guitar so spending under 30 minutes a day with the ukulele equals progress. It's really gratifying. Also, Mr. Wallace isn't scared of it (he hates the guitar), and there is a version of Leonard Cohen's hallelujah that I've already learned the first part of.
The thing about the ukulele that is sort of awesome is the way it's tuned. On a guitar the strings go in order. It goes E A G D B E, so the notes get higher and higher as you play them in order. I got a four string tenor ukulele, which goes E C G A, which is not in a scale order, but sounds really nice and sort of familiar.