Well, it is done. The ducks are moved into their new barn, they absolutely love it, and we can finally rest easy, now that our “project of the year” is finally checked off the to-do list. There are, of course, a few details needing to be ironed out, but all in all, we’re very pleased with the design we came up with and the beautiful barn we built.
And we’re now very tired. With such a big push to get everything ready for our open house, we kind of over did it last week. The open house yesterday went great, it wasn’t crazy as we didn’t promote it much——we were so time crunched to get the barn done as it was. We will host and now be able to promote another couple open houses this fall because they bring it all together for us and our customers.
Last week in my breakdown, I learned what a wimp I am, and what a hunk my husband is (well I already knew that, but had it triple verified!) While I was delivering last Tuesday, he moved nearly 2/3rds of the gravel. It was laid all around the perimeter of the barn, on top of rust proof net we placed there to prevent predators from digging into the barn. After Andrew did all that, I had a simple job of digging post holes for the fenced area around the barn. 3 holes. Nothing compared to moving 20 tons of gravel. I could not get them finished. The area around the barn is clay and it is very compacted, basically like trying to auger into cement. I wet the area down, I attempted to start the holes with a shovel, I cried and fussed. 2 of the holes were finally dug down a scant 2 feet, then I had to ask Andrew to help me finish them. What a wimp. And that’s not all! We used a part of fence inside the barn to give us a working and feed storage area. My job was to cut the fence to size. Can you see where this is going? Yeah, I started to cry when my hands just could not manage to grip the clippers and snip the wire. Weakness is so frustrating for me, especially when I keep seeing these masculine displays of strength and vigor! I am strong in many ways, but not with anything to do with construction projects.
What would I do without my husband? And what would he do without me? We are a great team, I am such a lucky girl to have him in my life. I love to be farming with him! I’ll keep focusing on the things I can do well, like tending the garden & the animals, canning and preserving our bounty, thinking up ideas for continuing to make a living here. Not all of them will involve projects for the honey-do list, I promise.
There have been many, but the latest is the tomato plants in the garden breaking down their trellises and getting blight BADLY. Whatever tomatoes, why did you have to grow 30 lbs of fruit on each plant and get so dang loaded and heavy? I’m not complaining about that part! But why the frick did I not use more hardcore trellis twine? Oh well. Today I went out and picked nearly 100 lbs of tomatoes, ripening on the dying vines. Oh well. There’s always the hoophouse tomatoes for canning and late season tomato eating pleasures. Since they are protected in their plastic covered home, they seem unaffected by blight, at least for now.
We have a giant pot of chopped toms simmering on the stove and it smells of pure nostalgia. My mom used to simmer down pots of pureed tomatoes for canning, but in her later years, just froze the puree. I want to can ours, since freezer space is limited, and canning rules.
I have never really believed in time off. I just want to go and go and go. I really only feel good once things are accomplished, and I’m free to tackle the next thing on the list. The past month was my reality check. You can go and go and go…but you can also just keel over. From over doing it, and from random acts of nature. It’s a balancing act between seizing the day and stopping to smell the roses. Work, rest and play all have to play a part in farming life.
The past two days have been wonderful. We took a break. Of course there was oodles of stuff to do while we were resting, but we just laid off the pressure to accomplish. Since this spring, we went and went and went, we had no choice. Of course we love what we do! However, we needed a break, for real. Not really a mental or physical break. Just a break from self-induced pressures.
I spent time canning, which I love to do, but it can get so hectic when there are never ending amounts of veggies to pick, pickle, put up. I spent time writing, which I so enjoy. I spent time just hanging out with the animals, observing and enjoying them. We had a very special guest come over and we had a blast. We enjoyed our very first sweet corn, bbq’d ribs and chevre cheesecake. Andrew and I went on leisurely walks out to the field garden to peek at the massive squashes growing out there. Then after milking we went out to the hay field, savoring this gorgeous summer weather we waited for. We admired our land and the biodiversity, the apples growing plump and slowly pulling down the branches with their weight. We also just hung out and talked about our next year plans in a casual way. There are always going to be a gazillion things to do, but how sweet it is to take the time to enjoy this life. Everyone can do it. And must.
I checked on our rogue grapevines today, and found giant clusters of the deepest purple of grapes. Not perfect looking, well-tended grapes- but such a lovely surprise.
Collecting the bunches with scissors into a colander, I remembered the taste of our very own red wine vinegar I made with grapes from these wild vines last year. I took time to pull out my Mom’s old homesteading books and research how to propagate these grape vines for our new orchard/vineyard plans in the years to come. The grapes went into 3/4 gallon jars with a bit of sugar, filled with warm water, covered loosely with a small plate. This is the hill-billy way to make wine, but I’m letting those jars go for a while so they can transform past the point of the yeasts eating the sugar, and become tart and intense red wine vinegar.
Life is amazing. Give yourself the time to love it.