Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Heaven on Earth

As an agnostic I don't believe in heaven or hell or any kind of after life. What I do believe in is the beauty and wonder of a simple life lived in the woods surrounded by wild critters. I spent the late afternoon and evening surrounded by such critters. 2 pair of Canada Geese and their 12 young geese as well as the pair that have been hanging around my cabin this spring, Henry and June I call them. After I filmed this and did a few chores I sat on the deck with a blackberry beer and watched them while the cat made himself at home in my lap and demanded attention. Talula sat in the chair next to me. In the background was a mix of John Denver, James Taylor, Bob Marley, Cat Stevens and a few others which blended into the changing soundtrack of birds, frogs and cicadas. Eventually Petunia showed up (without her baby who is nearby) and I fed her some corn. Of course, upon seeing the handout all 18 geese came over and were eating just eight feet from Petunia and I.

Really, if this is not heaven on earth I don't know what would be. I don't need an afterlife. I'm content with this one. I've lived a good life, simple and pretty poor in terms of money in the context of the U.S., but I want nothing more. To be surrounded by such beauty, to be able to cook good food I helped grow in my cast iron skillet, this is living the good life. This is my heaven, right here and right now.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Small is Beautiful!

Hugelculture Beds doing great!

I decided last year that I'd be shrinking the garden down to the area around my cabin and I can say that, as of right now, that was a great decision!  I've got more kale, lettuce and spinach than I was ever able to grow in the big garden thanks to these fantastic hugelculture beds! The work involved in getting them set-up and planted was substantially less even with hauling all the wood and the productivity of these beds is off the charts. I'm probably getting twice as much in a space a quarter the size.  There's zero loss to rabbits thanks to the raised beds and the fact that they are so close to the cabin which means  I can keep a better eye on them.  I harvested a bunch of lettuce today and planted tomatoes, eggplant and peppers in those spots.  Salad everyday? Check! Kale cooked in butter with eggs and potatoes four times a week? Check!

Food Forest!

The food forests around the cabin are also doing really well. The plum-based guild out front is becoming a really nice example of what can be achieved with the guild model. A plum surrounded by comfrey, sage, thyme, lemon balm, yarrow, currant and gooseberry. I had a couple open spots so I put in a couple sweet potatoes and an eggplant today. The pawpaw guilds behind my cabin had some open spots so I planted sweet potatoes and will be putting a couple eggplant, peppers and tomatoes out there too.

IMG_6433.jpgThose guilds already  had rhubarb, strawberry, purple coneflower, yarrow, oregano, and self-heal. There are also volunteer pumpkins, potatoes back there and in the swale bed of comfrey and rhubarb I put in onions, tomatoes, and eggplant. I've got as much food planted as last year, all within 60 feet of my garden!

Last, but not least, the native wildflowers have all bloomed and look great: columbine, bee balm, jacob's ladder, wild geranium, purple coneflower with a few others to bloom soon.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

First Friday in the new Gallery!

First Friday.jpg

It's been just over a month since we got the keys to the space at 120 West Main and in that time a great team of 12 or so volunteers have put in well over 160 hours transforming it into the new Gallery. We've painted, cleaned, removed carpet and more. We're taking care of some last minute details tonight and then will be hanging art in the next day or so. Come join us for our first art opening in the new Gallery! First Friday Fredericktown is an art opening, potluck, poetry reading and live music the first Friday of each month. This month we'll be showcasing art from local artists Jami Knight, Abi Borrego, Kathryn Buff, Julie Miller and Corey Warner as well as St. Louis artist Aime Oberheim.

It's exciting to have a real space in Fredericktown to display art and host music, poetry and community potlucks. From June through October Fredericktown Revitalization will also be hosting movies and live music in the park on North Main. The Farmers Market will also be there. Our plan is to build the event into a community block party during the warmer summer months with opportunities for any organization or business to sponsor events/games. Chalk art, horse shoes, karaoke and quite a few things have been discussed.

Plenty of rain around here!

Hugelculture bed going strong!

In about 10 days we've had over 20 inches of rain fall, 2 inches a day average! It's wet around here as you can guess. The geese are happy campers but the rest of us are ready for some dry time! Looks like most of the next 6 days is set to be sunny but two days have a chance of rain. Ugh. Both of our lake spillways have been running all out for the past 10 days, our bridge and lower road are washed out pretty bad. The other night I realized 2 of our kayaks were left to close to the water and when it came up they went out. I realized this when I woke up at 3:15 in the morning. So I ended up in the last kayak at 3:30 going across the lake with a flashlight in my mouth trying to find them. You don't want a pair of kayaks clogging up your spillway or the culverts under a bridge that is already washing out! Didn't find them but at least verified that they were not in the spillway. Found them the next morning at first light, one washed up on shore and the other in some brush by the dam. Close call. So, kayaking at 3:30 in the morning, 45 degrees with a bit of drizzel? Not recommended! And that was after spending 2 sessions in the lake Saturday and Sunday inspecting for leaks. Our dam has held up very well for the past 20 years and has weathered this recent storm like a real champ! We do have to do a bit of routine maintenance to take care of though. Dams need to be kept clear of trees but covered with grass or some sort of ground cover to protect the clay.

Food Forest

The hugelculture beds are coming along fantastically! Lots of kale, lettuce, spinach and chard in full swing with eggplant, peppers and tomatoes ready to go in once we get past this last cold snap. They handled all the rain really well and my plants are not at all water logged thanks to the elevation. Not only that but those buried logs must be full of water which will help keep the soil moist for many weeks to come. The food forests are all coming along, most notably the one just out my front door is really filling in perfectly with plum, currant, comfrey, lemon balm, yarrow and sage. All the blueberries have come up looking great too.

Our last construction project is nearly finished. The shower house is almost done with only the last bit of plumbing to do. The walls, shower, sink are all in and it's painted. We still have to paint the outside and then finish the upstairs loft where Jake/other guests can sleep. The red cabin is finally totally finished on the inside with a little kitchen sink and cabinets. There's a bit more to do in terms of an outside roof to keep the door dry and an extension on the back side covered area so that the full length of the backside is covered. After that we should be done for a while with construction stuff! Will be nice to spend more time relaxing rather than filling the weekends with constant work. There's still maintenance to do of course but it will be nice to not have air compressors, nail guns and saws constantly running in the background.

Early spring garden and cabin

Oh, and an animal update. I've had the pleasant tweet tweet of 5 chicks in my cabin for the past 3 weeks! They are growing up fast and so cute with their first feathers in. Petunia is definitely pregnant and will be having her first fawn in the next 30 or so days. She's been around most days for a bit of corn. The two canada geese have also been hanging out by the font porch every day as well, a nice addition! In fact I'm looking at them both right now as they lounge around in my front yard. I love their personalities, mannerisms, and constant vocalizations.