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.

 

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.

Weekly Progress Report: getting rid of the pond

A while back I showed you where Mr B had dug a trench to drain the front pond. Well, Mr B apparently has a bulldozer coming early this coming week to push over the dams to fill in the pond.

Our new addition Biff got out there with a chainsaw and started cutting down the trees this past week. He started with the willow trees because Sunshine wants to keep the wood. Apparently, willow tree wood is the best kind of wood to make the charcoal that goes in black powder. So the willow trees went first.

Biff couldn’t get Mr B’s little tractor started to use it to pull on the tree with a giant strap (to control which direction it fell), so I told him to go grab Sunshine’s jeep.

biff prepares to cut willow trees

Biff worked his ass off and drove the 4-wheeler about a thousand miles, cutting down willow trees and dragging the wood to the designated place to store it until Sunshine needs it. You can see some significant progress in these pictures.

And two days later even more progress.

IMG_20170429_150451061

We have a stack of willow wood for Sunshine to use to make black powder.

willow wood

side note: Sunshine says that if he buys enough potassium nitrate and sulfur to make black powder with all that willow wood, he’d wind up on somebody’s watch list

We also have a nice little stack of firewood put to the side to dry out so that it can maybe be used to heat our little house this winter.

firewood

side note: Sunshine says it will be done this fall. I hope so. Trying to blanch all these vegetables and shit in my RV kitchen is difficult, to say the least; and doing it at the outdoor sink isn’t much better.

It’s been a productive week here in the middle of buttfuck nowhere. I’ll take it.

 

In with the new

I think we’ve officially added a new member of the community. Sunshine’s employee Biff has started buying plates and things for the RV he stays in out here. He finally basically admitted this is home now.

I think Biff is a great addition to the community. He participates, he helps us take care of Miss Mollie, he’s friendly, and he basically survives on Doritos and Nutty Buddy bars. Biff also works his ass off, which keeps the Doritos and Nutty Buddy bars from making him as big as a house.

side note: anybody that likes Nutty Buddy bars is OK in my book. Chocolate and peanut butter is the food of the gods and goddesses. Also? Anybody that helps us look after my Miss Mollie is welcome, because that little one is a handful–she doesn’t realize how little she is LOL

We definitely need more people in our community. We have more work than we few can handle. I know that Mr B has had many people express an interest in joining us out here, but I think many of them are looking for a community that is already established and running like a well-oiled machine. Established and well-oiled are a couple of things we ain’t. There are still a lot of growing pains and hiccups.

Biff is also more than just a hodtender (masonry trade terminology for mason’s helper). He’s done iron work and he’s been a carpenter. Biff seems willing to help us stain and seal our exterior doors, and help us build our bookshelf/entertainment center units; and that is a very welcome help to have when building a house.

It’s nice to have a new addition to the community. Diversity is our strength.

Spring clean-up

Last week, Sunshine, Mr B, and Biff got out in the yard and did some stuffs. Lots of stuffs. They cut the grass. They ran the weedeater. They cleaned up the tree limbs that Mr B cut down a couple of months ago during the great septic system debacle. They even cleaned up the multiples of piles of gravel that were still scattered throughout the yard from way back last year, when Mr B had almost 100 tons of gravel dumped into the yard.

They also killed my cactus plants.

cactus gone

Yes, those cactus plants that I spent so much time on when I first got here.

I’m very sad about it, but I also understand that it needed to be done. Sunshine and Mr B had knocked down great giant chunks of the cactus plants pulling trailers through the yard.

They did relocate a significant portion of the cactus plants. Well, sort of. They dumped them at the treeline near our build site. It’s a cactus, it’s tenacious, it will probably take root and survive.

cactus at treeline

It looks a lot better around here.

Well, except for the giant pile of fuck knows what metal leftover from when Mr B was converting a hammer mill to crush styrofoam for that new building method he’s been getting into, but that is a post for another day.

mr b pile of metal shit

final note: I think there’s a plan to take the pile of metal to a scrapyard. I’m thinking there’s some experimental lawn art to be found in here, but I’m not a sculptor/welder, so I guess it goes to the scrapyard.

Learning new skills

Yesterday, I got disgusted by all of the food that was going bad on the plants in the garden, so I dragged my ass out there and harvested some cauliflower, broccoli, and green onions.

I crawled through the still muddy garden with my handy Chicago Cutlery all purpose knife and gathered up the broccoli and cauliflower first.

Then I had to consult the internet to find out exactly how to blanch something. Mr B happened by as I was trimming and rinsing the veggies and kindly offered up the use of some of his cajun cooking equipment.

He even stayed and helped with the actual blanching part, but had to jet off to an appointment and couldn’t stay to help me package it in containers.

ready for the freezer

As you can see, I don’t always spell correctly when I’m running short on spoons. It takes a lot of braining to make the words go, and when I’m struggling to breathe I just can’t be bothered.

After I got the broccoli and cauliflower put in the freezer, I went back to the garden and harvested green onions. Mr B told me not to pull the onions out of the ground yet so that they could grow a little bit bigger. The green tops will regrow, which means that there will be more green onions to harvest in the future. Apparently, Mr B really likes green onions. Good thing, because I harvested a bunch.

green onions

If I never see another green onion for the rest of my life, that’s perfectly fine with me. Because I’ve said that, my boss will probably have a new shipment of green onions waiting for me tomorrow. I cut green onions until my hand was bruised and my fingers were numb and didn’t even get halfway through this crate of green onions. Thank heaven Sunshine made it home from his clinic appointment in Oklahoma and offered to help me finish the task. We used our handy seal-a-meal thingamajigger and got the green onions put into the freezer next to the containers of broccoli and cauliflower.

I’m supposed to be on strike, but I could NOT let all that food go to waste in the garden. It would mean that all of the energy I put into helping Mr & Mrs B plant that shit would be a complete waste. It also would be contributing to the food waste problem we have in this country, and that is not OK with me.

In the end, I learned some new skills, and that’s always a good thing.

final note: Sunshine has already been forewarned that we are probably going to have to repeat the whole process for broccoli and cauliflower again on Saturday. There’s a lot of small to medium bits still on the plants that I don’t want to go to waste. Also, since Mr B is the one that like green onions so much, his ass can cut all those fuckers up next time they get harvested.

Amateur hour in the garden

So none of us really know what we’re doing in the garden. We’ve been experimenting, I guess. We’ve been talking with neighbors, reading on the internet, and asking at gardening supply places. It seems like every time we make a plan, Mr B finds a new way to build a mousetrap; like when he made the garden longer but with fewer rows so he could fit his tractor in between the rows of plants. I’ve just kind of stepped back and waited for instructions (well, that’s what I was doing before I went on strike). We also seem to have an inordinate amount of green leafy shit growing out there. Seriously, there’s like 4 or 5 kinds of lettuce, some cabbage, two colored varieties of chard, a few types of greens, and some spinach. There are only a few partial rows of beans, which I’m not sure I understand since Mr B doesn’t eat meat and is constantly talking about needing ways to get enough protein, but OK. It’s an experiment, and we’ll learn from it.

We had to relocate the compost heap and create a better way to contain it than the small area we had created with a few pallets. I’ve been back at work at the produce stand, and I’ve been bringing home a lot of freegan spoiled fruits and vegetables to add to the pile.

side note: there’s a lot of stuff coming out of my work as “spoiled” or whatever. My boss has some exceptionally high standards for the products he sells. I’ve seen him toss out whole bushels of cantaloupes because they do not meet his standards for sweetness and texture. I’ve been called into the walk-in cooler to taste cherries because he knows that his sense of taste has been warped by all of the high-quality fruits he gets in stock; I’ve had to tell him that the cherries weren’t necessarily as good as his usual, but they were still far better than your average grocery store cherries. He won’t sell a green tomato that has turned red because he says the texture of the tomato is crap after being refrigerated like green tomatoes have to be refrigerated. There’s a lot that heads out the back door at work… The boss doesn’t care where it goes as long as it doesn’t head toward his customers’ tables. Quite a bit of it gets eaten out here because it’s perfectly good food. Bossman is just glad he doesn’t have to deal with it, and if I can keep it out of a landfill… well, he likes that, too.

So I’ve been bringing home a lot of stuff because the boss tells me to “make it go away”. The compost heap is growing by leaps and bounds.

compost heap is growing

Sunshine got out there yesterday with some pitchforks and turned the compost heap. It was interesting to see the various layers. There was some dark rich stuff towards the bottom of the heap, a few potato plants sprouting on the top, and small bits half pulled through the fencing by little raccoons or something. There were also approximately 8,947,837,658,298,798,632,058,967,093 ants crawling through the pile, and I saw at least one slug.

This week’s heavy rains left standing water in some low spots in our garden and Mr B got out there like a little kid, barefoot, and shoveled a trench to allow it to drain off. It was kind of fun watching him splash mud all over himself.

Today’s agenda includes getting out there and picking broccoli and cauliflower, and researching the proper method to freeze them. I think something called blanching isĀ  involved, and I’m going to have to find the freezer tape to mark the containers with. It’s amateur hour in the garden, and it’s definitely a learning experience.

final note: Having a chronic illness has really sucked this week. I’m hoping I can muster the energy to accomplish this today. The fatigue is still really bad, and the pollen + humidity isn’t helping It might be time to start back on the iron supplements if I can find them. It’s hard to do life when one’s limbs feel like they weigh 100 pounds each.