The weekend, in list form

Americauna hen and chicks at the coop

Saturday

1. Chickens initial orientation complete: Our new Americaunas got to enjoy full freedom for the first time since arriving earlier in the week. Feeling that we’ve done all we can, in the short term, to protect them, we let them out for the full day on Saturday morning. Mama, whose name is Esme, called her chicks in to roost just before 7pm.

2. Visit to the farmers’ market: came home with great bunches of carrots (my garden is done producing these for the year), beets, radishes and flowers for the table (a very rare treat).

3. Infrastructure planning: we did a walk in light rain with our builder to look at how we will close in the area underneath our screened in porch to make an extra storage area. We’re working ourselves up to the construction of a barn, but realize that making the most of what we already have is an awfully good starting point.

4. Greenhouse cleardown complete: we harvested enough green tomatoes to easily make a quadruple batch of our favourite green tomato and apple chutney. Now I just have to make it! I’ve been collecting baskets from farmers’ market and roadside stand purchases, and now have a nice stock of them when we’re doing our own harvesting. Five of them were used for this weekend’s green tomatoes.

Stuffed wolf leaning nose against tomato basket

Sunday

1. Super start to the day: Most of the males in my family (excepting the dog and youngest son) slept late, allowing me to feel productive and on top of the day…
– fed and watered the chickens, letting them out into their run
– took the dog for a walk
– cooked and refrigerated beets from the farmer’s market for this week’s lunches
– made a batch of cornbread muffins
– baked one of the Fordhook Acorn squash harvested from our garden recently, figuring I’d decide what to do with it later in the day (it replaced the usual pumpkin in a cake)
– hand drawn sketch completed for our builder of the kitchen bookshelves/storage/additional counter space/desk area that we’re finally ready to have built, nearly two years after moving into our new house
– general kitchen clean-up (does it ever end?)
– emergency nose re-attachment for a much loved stuffed wolf who found himself in the dog’s mouth; I don’t have a good after shot, but did catch the wolf, above, leaning his just-glued nose against a tomato basket; supporting stitches were also required

2. Winter heating: we continue our work in transferring wood from the pile in our driveway to stacks in the garage…

Boy stacking wood

…Reggie is convinced the pile appeared for his sole benefit, and he proceeds to protect it at all costs. I still can’t believe that we bought this puppy any toys when all he needed was some wood.

Woodpile and black labrador retriever

3. Getting the harvest in: dug the remaining bed of potatoes and prepped beds for fall planting inside and outside of the greenhouse

4. Experimental winter gardening: we planted five crops for overwintering in two outdoor beds (carrots, onions, lettuce, turnips and spinach), and completely planted the greenhouse’s raised beds. There is still a huge and gloriously happy kale plant in one corner, so it stays put, and a couple of cabbages doing their thing (I live in hope), but all other beds were empty and ready to go. We’ll be trying out Eliot Coleman’s method of an additional layer of row cover for a variety of winter crops, including spinach, beets, turnips, lettuces, Asian greens, carrots. As with many things, we’ve gone loosey-goosey with the dates and planted a bunch of things at once, rather than figuring out and adhering to crop specific fall/winter planting dates, but it’s in the spirit of just getting a feel for what will work here before we put in more intensive effort. I like the ‘let’s try it and see approach’, because doing something just once gives me a lot of confidence and then I find that I can run with things. So, we’ll see where this little experiment takes us.

5. Back-to-school baking: I like to bake on Sundays so that I have some easy things for the boys to put in their lunches. That baked squash made it into my take on a pumpkin cake recipe: the resulting cake was lovely and moist and so full of flavour, and was declared my ‘best pumpkin cake’ by both boys!

I love a productive weekend; it really helps to make up for the ground I feel slipping from under me during the week.

12 thoughts on “The weekend, in list form

  1. Gosh that certainly is a productive time! So many plans and great things to do in the garden and the kitche,
    I love Elliot Coleman’s books, so informative and practical, and no I neve rmanage to stagger the sowing and planting either 🙂 I bet come winter those salads and green swill taste fantastic !

    1. It was sorely needed; we never get as much done as we’d like during the week. I love connecting with someone else who is less than regimented about the gardening thing, in spite of a great example set by someone like Coleman! 🙂 My husband and I giggle over the unbelievable precision (not to mention productivity!) of his greenhouse rows, really out of envy and awe, but in an attempt to make ourselves feel better. I’m keeping my fingers crossed on the very idea of winter greens!

    1. Thanks Libby! I thought you’d like that picture of Reggie; he’s turned into quite the personality. Please assure Dave that we have the chickens totally fenced in, including netting over the top of their run. We’re still thinking about how best to design a bigger coop for them, so if he has any tips he wants to send along… 🙂

      1. I remember that there was quite a large chicken coop here on the farm when he and I first started dating…taking down the chicken coop was one of the first things Dave’s mom asked us to do, shortly after he and I first started dating. It was such a large coop, sitting on a concrete pad, with a surrounding fence. Now, I wish we’d never torn it down. Of course now, I also think that I’d like to have one of those rolling coops, that can be moved to different places in the yard, with fencing to protect the chickens from predators.

      2. Hindsight is always 20/20 isn’t it! Oh yes, a chicken tractor is a great invention. We’re thinking we’d really like to build a portable coop for the warmer months and rely on a fixed run with the main coop for the winter. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but it does sound as though the healthiest birds get to range quite far and wide, and a rolling coop would achieve that while keeping them safe.

  2. Wow, what a productive weekend! I’m hoping to do some experimental winter gardening too, and I’ve been planting lots of greens as I clear out the summer crops. But I’m like you, I don’t think I’ll ever be organized enough to get it all timed right. Timing my spring seed starting so that things are more or less ready to be planted out at the right time is about the best I can do. What ever semblance of organization I have at the beginning of the season eventually breaks down. By this time of year I’m just throwing seeds down wherever there’s an empty spot and hoping they grow. 🙂

    1. Why is it so reassuring to hear that others are as slapdash as we are?! I love hearing that you struggle with precision timing for planting, Kate – honestly, you’ve made my day. I think that if all we had to do was grow our own food, we’d be disgustingly precise, but with juggling the rest of life and its demands, a ‘good enough’ approach seems to just make sense. Love the image of you just tossing seeds here and there!!

  3. Dagne — I’m astonished! I was reading through your post thinking, “Hey, we both did ‘list’ posts today — but then I realized yours was for one weekend, and mine was for the ENTIRE SUMMER.

    How on earth did you get so much done in one weekend???

    I am feeling incredibly pressed for time these days. And I think all I did this weekend was take my kids to soccer and, um, that’s it.

    You are so inspiring. I enjoy your blog so much, and seeing your take on the world. I have no clue how to do any of the things you’ve mentioned. My grandmother grew up (after she came through Ellis Island) in inner-city Boston. Think Good Will Hunting. She moved to a nearby suburb after giving birth to five kids (one, so tragically, died as a infant). But the suburb was still very city-like. When my parents moved a tad farther from Boston, to the town where I grew up, my mother PANICKED one day when she saw an ant on the counter. And a squirrel running right in her own backyard. “We’ve moved to the WOODS,” she’d cry. After the ant ran across the kitchen, my mother threw out everything. Even some Saltines crackers she hadn’t even opened yet. To this day, she calls my kids over every time a bird sings in the yard, or a bunny hops by. It’s so sweet, that she is still in awe of nature. And it’s passed on, as I do that with my kids, too.

    A while back I remember you saying it was amusing to see how phobic I am of dead animals (when I found the bones in my yard). I do live nice and close to the city, but my town is also full of trees and parks. I feel, compared to where my mother and grandmother grew up, that I live positively in the country.

    And then I read a post like yours and I think — WOW.

    Part of me wishes we could move back to the land. Though that’s a phrase, of course it’s not that accurate as I’ve never lived in “the land.” But most of me realizes that I’d have no clue how to plant winter crops and build pens for baby chicks (so cute!). I feel as if I’d mess it all up and we’d starve.

    So for now, I’ll enjoy your weekend photos, and marvel at the time you spend appreciating nature, and appreciating your life, and fitting so much into one weekend that I sure am impressed, and inspired.

    1. Melissa, just when I could use a boost, you always seem to come along with the most amazing things to say! You are such a truly generous person.

      The whole notion of being productive is so funny to me and I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I recently met a woman who is astonishingly productive and truly creative, and every corner of her life is filled with impressive (and thoughtful) activity. I’ve told her on several occasions that I think she must actually be several people, not just one, as it isn’t possible for anyone to be so wonderfully involved in life, and so damn productive. My husband has very gently reminded me that her son is an adult and her time is entirely her own, but I refuse to accept that as the whole explanation. I think she is simply a firecracker and capable of operating at a level that I can only dream about, and I also realize that I have no desire to be her or to have her life. I like my life, and that’s a big relief, because it’s sometimes a real slog.

      I love your honesty about your own life and your mother and grandmother and what you’ve come from. Those are lovely images from your mother’s life and the love of nature she’s instilled in you. You know, as recently as 12 years ago I was living in the middle of London in the UK, and even with all of its beautiful public parks, it couldn’t have been a more urban life. Then we moved back to Canada, to Ottawa, where I think we lived in a very similar sort of way to how you live now (and that was really perfect for us while our children were small), and now we are here. And if you’d told me even five years ago that we’d be where we are now, I probably would not have believed it. I do love that we’ve grasped new skills and ways of existing that help me to feel more self reliant; the older I get, the more important it is to me to be able to look after myself and my family in some very basic ways, but it’s just one way of living a life.

      I’m truly envious of the time you’ve carved out while raising young children to write (and illustrate!!) your books; that’s astounding to me. I still can’t or don’t find ways to pursue the other writing and things I’d like to do just for me, and I really salute you. You inspire me very much.

      In closing I do have to say that taking children to soccer is an entirely worthy endeavour and can be quite exhausting!

  4. PS — As if my comment wasn’t long enough — this line was hysterical: “Reggie is convinced the pile appeared for his sole benefit, and he proceeds to protect it at all costs.” 🙂 Perfect picture for that caption.

    1. You and I are building up a tradition of ‘epic’ comments (as my 14-year old would describe them); great fun! Thanks for this little postscript; I was really pleased with that image of Reggie and it feels great to know that I made someone else laugh.

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