Solar Tracking

Solar Tracking
How low can you go? Snow and ice and cancelled school.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

This is just...

This
is just
to say:
We are having
Greens
for dinner--
Again.

Forgive me.
They were so
Vibrant
in the Winter
Fields.

Sunday, March 20, 2016


Spring Break began on Friday when I fled the building by 2:45, convinced that all of the work that was going to come in was in. The sun was out for the first time all week and the air was warm, When I came home, the Sprung Garden bed, which had been covered in plastic for the last two weeks, called. The soil was dry and friable, so I moved all of the spring starts outside ; peas, cabbage, kale, mustard, broccoli, and cauliflower. Then I buttoned the hoop house back up to keep out digging chickens and napping cats, picked some sprouting broccoli from the one plant that survived, and went inside for dinner.


Saturday  was tomato transplant day. The plants had started out life in my classroom, but needed to move up to the four inch pots. Mark did the labels while I transplanted. When we were done, the greenhouse smelled of damp earth and tomatoes.



Sunday was the day to start the next round of veggies for the summer garden: chard, collards, more broccoli and cauliflower, parsley and basil. While I planted seeds, Mark sat in his greenhouse chair and read.

Blooming wildflowers at  Finley Refuge-- fawn lily, toothwort, bitter cress, fairy bells and fairy slippers, Oregon grape, yellow violets, both types of Trillium.
On Monday, the pink tulips began to bloom. Then the rains settled in. Downpours with sun breaks for days.
Spring greens from Sunbow Farm-- salad, mustard, and raab.
A completed garden bed-- it curves around the window well and will allow us to grow more food in the hot, southern corner of the house. The plan is to run vines up the wall, creating shade on the couch inside.





Easter Evening, after the party is over we eat dinner in the falling sun.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Homage to Sunbow Farm


For  six summers, I have been volunteering at Sunbow Farm in the summer, weeding, transplanting, hauling-- whatever needed doing that day. In that time, I have learned so much about growing food-- and community-- that I cannot capture it all. When I look around my own yard, I can see the influence of Harry McCormick, and, more recently Nate and Yadira and Charlotte, and Sunbow Farm everywhere. 





The rack that holds our starts is two planks, which allows the water to drain out neatly.

Garden hoops, covered. Nate discovered the conduit pipe made excellent hoops.

Hoops, exposed.

Leaf Mulch. A Sunbow Staple, collected from the street.

Bucket with binder twine handle

Bunzilla. Nothing to do with Sunbow, but happy to be out.

Everything starts inside from seed and moves out.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Rat Catcher

The Rat Catcher
                One of Mark’s most significant jobs in our household is the “inviting” of non-human visitors to the yard, not the house. Spiders are escorted out on the backs of envelopes, young, stunned possums are carried out by the tail—bare handed!—but his real specialty is the rodent. “You just have to think like a rat,” he says.

                This skill was very clear last fall. It was about ten o’clock and we were reading quietly in bed when the neighbors erupted. First, there was a crash, then a shout. “It’s by the fireplace!” someone screamed. “Now, behind the couch,” another voice chimed in. Obscenities filled the air. The front door slammed as one young man ran out into the street. “I think,” Mark observed calmly, “that they have a rat.” At that moment, something crashed to the ground and another young man ran into the street. We heard the sound of a baseball bat hitting something. There was a moment of silence while they reconnoitered.  Then the thumping started again. Finally, after another loud crash, they were done. Either the rat was dead or outside.

                A few nights later, I woke up to a familiar, but still ominous, sound. The cat door shut, followed by heavy cat feet, heading to the bedroom.  Then I heard the story of the hunt. “Lucy has a rat,” I nudged Mark awake. He sighed, turned on the light, and looked down. Yup, it had just run behind the laundry basket. I gathered up the cat while he headed out for his tools—a large mouthed canning jar with lid and ring, and a towel. “Think like a rat,” he muttered as he placed the jar along the edge of the wall near the basket and covered it with a towel, creating a dark tunnel.”They always run towards the dark.” Then he moved the basket just enough to send the rodent scurrying towards the jar. It ran in. He capped the lid on. “Yup, roof rat, but a baby,” he said, screwed the cap on tight, and moved it to the front porch. In the early morning, he’ll move it across the street to release it in the yard of the awful frat near-by.  A Master Rat Catcher at work.

March Dinner: Beans and Greens on Toast
Find a jar of home canned beans in the basement. *
Sautee the last storage onion in olive oil. Chop a big bunch of spicy mustard leaves and add. Pour the can of beans over the greens and warm it all up.
Toast four slices of home-made whole wheat bread. Place on the plates. Pour beans and greens over in a huge pile. Toss a handful of cheese over all.
Eat. Repeat the next week.

Home-Canned beans
You need a pressure canner for this one…Wash pint jars. Pour a heavy third of a cup of dried beans in each. NO salt. Cap and place in canner. Pressure can for 70 minutes. When the pressure is down, the beans are both cooked and canned, beautifully. They are much softer and richer than cooking them on the stove and they keep for years. I process large bunches of our locally grown benas this way in the fall and have them all winter.