The more things change…

…the more they stay the same.

Last year, around this time, Sunshine was working on the pink house and on various jobs back in Shreveport. I was left here alone to struggle with the mouse problem, the out-of-control grass, wanting a garden, and anything else that came up that required physical labor. We were also dealing with the beginnings of Sunshine’s treatment protocol that left him so fatigued that he could barely function. I spent last summer exhausted and feeling quite alone.

We have added more people out here, and lots has changed around me. There is a garden, and chickens, and cats; and we’re building a little house. A driveway has been put in that circles round the pink house and heads down toward the barn; we also have an underground storm shelter and a safe room standing in the center of our future little house.

In spite of all of the changes, so much remains the same. Sunshine is out of town working rather frequently, we have no lawn mower, and I am the only one here to deal with shit on far too many occasions.

Monday, I spent hours cutting and drying what we call “back door fruit”. Back door fruit is the fruit from my work that isn’t pretty, and can’t be sold to customers because everybody wants the perfectly shaped and perfectly colored apple.

side note: they also don’t understand why big-box-grocer fruits don’t have any taste yet the fruits at my work taste so good. It doesn’t matter how many times I explain all the reasons the fruit my boss gets is so good, they still don’t want the brown pear or the almost mushy blackberries.

My boss and I understand that the ugliest piece of fruit in the basket is most likely the tastiest, but most of the rest of the world doesn’t see it that way. I spent yesterday morning getting the dehydrated fruit put into seal-a-meal bags. I did it alone, even though everybody here will want to eat the dried fruit.

I spent hours cutting fruit, lining dehydrator trays, and stuffing the dehydrator full of fruit to dehydrate so that we could have fruit during the winter when it is harder to come by and more expensive at any place that sells fruit. Mr B popped in for a few minutes Monday morning, and he showed me a more efficient way to cut the fruits, and that helped immensely; however, for most of the day I worked in solitude. I spent hours pulling fruit out and sealing it up yesterday morning. Mr B did drop in and help pull some fruit out of the dehydrator, but he poked as much of it in his wordhole as he did into the bowl I was collecting it in.

side note: I can’t blame him, the fruit was tasty and I’m pretty sure he had just gotten up to start his day and was therefore hungry.

That alone shit happens a lot here lately. Sunshine and Biff are working to pay for our little house build, and they aren’t here to help most days. I get it, we need cash to avoid a mortgage. Mr B is generally doing what it is that Mr B does best, which would be attempting to follow all the paths at the exact same time. And moving dirt. Mr B excels at moving dirt. Mrs B is off the property during the week, and when she’s here, she’s busy doing whatever it is she does when she isn’t working her full time job, something to do with a life coaching business.

Which leaves me to plant things in the garden, and harvest things in the garden, and preserve things that are harvested from the garden, and work at my job, and keep my house clean (which is quickly losing its place at the top of my priority list while I harvest and preserve food)…

I need help. And I’m not likely to receive it any time soon. Well, at least not in any significant doses. The grass needs to be cut, and somebody needs to run a weedeater. We need to build a containment solution for a new compost heap so that we can put the most recent organic material in there so that this compost heap can process into actual compost. Our little house needs to be finished. There are beans and peas that need to be planted, and we need to start thinking ahead to our fall garden; specifically, we need to plan where to put it since Mr B plans to move dirt in the current garden’s location after the current crops run their course.

side note: told you, Mr B moves a lot of dirt.

I could go on listing things that need to be done, but I think you get the point. There’s so much shit to be done, and so few people to do it, that I probably won’t get much help with the harvesting and blanching and freezing and berry picking and freezing and fruit sorting and dehydrating and …….

It isn’t just the lack of help. I am starting to really notice the absence of human companionship almost as much as I am noticing the lack of help with the workload.

 

dirt mover

Mr B keeps coming up with ways to use that big orange dirt mover he acquired. It’s kind of become his latest obsession.

Most recently, he used it to dig up the end of the driveway and replace the drainage culvert that connects the ditch from one side to the other. After he did that, he started digging at the ditch and removing the front fence.

front fence is gone

He then proceeded to round up all of the grass and weeds he cut down in the ditch, and he put them in the compost heap.

I added the cabbage leaves that I tore off the outside of the cabbages I harvested late last week. The compost heap just continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Pretty soon, we’re gong to have to start a second one in a new location so that this one can finish the process of becoming the stuff we put in the dirt when we plant things, but I refuse to start a new compost pile until they build me some way to contain it so that the chickens and raccoons and shit don’t scatter it to the four corners of the earth.

final note: that compost heap smells weird.

Growing season

Growing season is fairly long here in Texas. We live under oppressive heat for much of the year, and our winters are relatively mild. Every few years, we see a hard freeze that lasts a few days, or an ice storm that shuts down the entire world.

Our climate means that things can be planted almost anytime and they will sprout and grow and make flowers and fruits and vegetables. We are in the midst of the vegetable gardening season, and we have things starting to produce all over the place.

Apparently, Mr B planted some corn. On top of the lateral lines for the septic system.

I have more itty bitty squashes and zucchinis.

I have teeny tiny tomatoes.

teeny tiny tomatoes

I have more cucumber plants that I didn’t know I had planted.

cucumber plants

I have unidentified things growing in little mounds. The mounds mean that they are not weeds, they’re something I deliberately planted.

And Mr B got out there on his big orange dirt mover and made me some rows for planting beans and peas, which Sunshine says he’ll help me plant when he gets home.

I’ve also done some research into how to do the four sisters companion planting thing the Native Americans have done for centuries, and will be having Sunshine help me plant corn, squash, beans, and Rocky Mountain Bee Plant for a fall garden.

I still don’t enjoy all this planting and harvesting and blanching and freezing; but I still find comfort in all of the repetition, so I guess I’ll keep being the one that does the majority of the gardening.

 

 

 

New Friends

So I’ve connected with a bunch of people on twitter lately. They’re a great bunch that I met through the Bloggess.

Recently, one of them tweeted out a call for anybody interested in snail mail pen pals. A whole fucking bunch of people signed up. I’ve been writing letters and sending cards to these folks and I’m loving it.

It gets at the heart of why I am trying to live more simply. Connection. I long to feel connected. Connected to people, connected to the earth, connected to my food, connected to the universe.

Pen pals is one way to do that. And in this digital age, it’s really nice to open the mailbox and see something besides the bill for my phone or internet service.

More Freegan Zucchini

The neighbors are bringing us a lot of zucchini.

Not only is the quantity of zucchini squashes large, the size of those zucchini squashes is large.

Photographic proof.

I don’t know what the fuck they’re feeding these zucchinis, but this shit is ridiculous.

I’m going to have to go through those pins that Tia is finding me for ways to cook zucchini that aren’t stir fry.

Musical chairs

We moved the compost heap from its original location a few months ago. We wanted to put it in a more shaded spot. We had it on the eastern side of the front pond. Then Mr B took out the pond and left the compost heap exposed to the brutal Texas sun.

side note: the compost heap was also in an unconvenient location for us to keep it moist. We had to carry buckets of water and fuck that

compost new location again

This past Thursday, Mr B hopped on his tractor and moved it to the front of the property for me. There is a semi-shaded spot under a tree, and it is right next to the new water faucet we put in during the great septic system debacle.

Now all we have to do is get some sort of shade structure in place on the southern and eastern sides of it.

Wild blackberries

We have wild blackberries growing all throughout the back portion of the property. They’re growing so thick that it’s like the briar patch in that old Brer Rabbit story.

I made Mollie come with me to pick some blackberries yesterday and she kept trying to run home. So I carried her around to share in nature’s splendor (which was probably lost on her) and crawled through the blackberry thicket carrying a baby Mollie in one arm (she wouldn’t be still long enough for a selfie, that little wiggleworm).

and picked a handful of blackberries.

a handful from 16 may 2017

I could have picked a lot more if I had just let her run home but I’m trying to get her to not be scared of the clearing out back. Sunshine thinks she smells predator cats or some other scary thing out there, which could very well be true.

Tomorrow, I’m going to go out there without her and pick more blackberries. They’re starting to ripen, and if I leave them then the creatures will eat them all up. I don’t mind sharing with them, but I want some too!