Sunday, April 9, 2006

Spring Fever... and a complaint
It happens every year. As soon as the days are clear and warm I experience this overwhelming urge to build and plant, and a thousand more projects than I can possibly accomplish intrude themselves into my thoughts so that it's nearly impossible to stay indoors washing dishing and folding laundry and doing grammar lessons.

We've already planted eight new fruit trees - four peaches and four pears - we've planted our early peas and some early root crops - potatoes, onions, turnips, radishes, carrots... Tomorrow and Tuesday we'll be planting lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes and other things.

But we have building projects, too. I'd really like to build a grape arbor over our west-facing front door and windows, but that will have to take a back seat to two other projects. We built a portable chicken coop during the winter and a couple of weeks ago, a coworker of my husband's gave us a rooster. Chanticleer is a beautiful buff and cream cockerel with greeny-black tailfeathers, but I've no idea of his breed. As soon as we build nesting boxes into the coop, a friend from church is bringing us four Araucana pullets, and she'll be able to tell us for sure what breed our young man is.

We also need to build a goat shed. Two weeks ago, Mike bought a young doe and her first kid, a male, and they've been spending the nights in our smokehouse and the days either in a largish pen behind our garage, or picketed out in various parts of the yard so they can forage. It's working out okay, but the smokehouse will be too hot in the summer so we need to build a permanent home for them, and we need to put up fencing that we can move around to different "pastures" rather than keep them picketed. We've been getting close to a quart of milk a day from Queenie, which is not bad considering how young she is and that Blue*, the kid, is allowed to nurse freely. Her production should peak in June and by then we'll be weaning him, so hopefully we can get a half a gallon or more per day, which would give us enough for drinking and cooking, but probably not enough for making cheese. I've half a mind to keep buying pasteurized milk for cooking with so I can have some to make cheese with.

I also want to build a nice tall fence across the east and south sides of our property and plant some trees there to screen the view. Those two lots were bought by a builder and he's putting up two huge houses. The one to the south of us I think I can adjust to. It's sited next to our house and faces the street as we do, but I'm very disgruntled about the one to the east of us. It's a two-story obscentiy on a raised basement, and it's sitting just behind our back yard right smack dab in the middle of our view of the Potomac. Let me correct that - we no longer have a view of the Potomac. To make matters worse, their drain field is planned to be just a few feet away from our property line and that's where our garden is. I suppose after someone moves in there we won't be growing our food over there any more, since we do our best to grow organically and there's no telling what other people put down their drains.

This kind of thing is going on all over out here - the great American tragedy: Country people selling off their property to developers. Several farms in our county have recently been sold and about a thousand new houses are going up, and they are all of the McMansion variety. An elderly woman at our church told me last week that so many large houses have been built out here in the last couple of years that property values, and therefore taxes, are going up so quickly that many people who have lived here for generations are having to move away. It's very sad.

So, while we are being greatly blessed by the Lord, and feel like we're learning more of what it takes to run a homestead, and giving our children the skills to do so themselves, and enjoying fresh goat milk and looking forward to fresh eggs, we're seeing some of our neighbors thow away their inheritances, and doing so in a manner that makes it more difficult for their neighbors to keep their own heritage.

*sigh* All this work we need to get done and I'm reluctant to spend the time outside with my children doing it, because of the construction workers all around our house... and no privacy.

* A note about Blue's name, especially for Kelly M, since I told her he was going to be named either "Bucky" (that is, let him grow up to be a buck and breed with him) or "Easter Dinner" (heh). Number One Son talked us into having him castrated when he's a little older and keeping him as a companion for his mother - and allowing #1 Son to train him to pull a cart and maybe even a plow. While we were debating what his name should be, the girls took to calling him "Little White Thing with a Blue Collar" and I said, "Why don't we just call him 'Blue' then?" and it stuck.

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