Spring Fever

It’s a little early. It’s only February. But this week the temps have been in the mid-50’s up to lower-60’s and it feels great after the snowstorm a couple of weeks ago that dumped 18 inches on us. Just walking out to the barn has been a challenge and, as soon as the rest of it melts, I’ll have a few minor repairs to attend to as the bottom board of the chicken coop came off. Actually, there may be a bigger repair in the form of cutting out the rotting wooden floor (ducks play in the water no matter the temps outdoors, leaving the floor around the waterer perpetually wet…) and pouring cement instead. This is murky territory for me; I haven’t done this sort of thing before but, homesteading equals a lot of DIY (do-it-yourself), especially on a very limited budget.

But before I go into “overwhelm”, this caress of warmth on my skin has me planning out this year’s garden and getting itchy fingers to finish landscaping the front and side yards for more raised beds. I do everything “no-dig”, which puts more traditional gardeners off, but this year I “discovered” a man named Charles Dowding in the UK who has landscaped 4 acres using this method. He gets a significant yield; fewer weeds; good, rich soil, and he has a plethora of videos on his YouTube channel. I’ve been obsessed with watching them.

What is “no-dig” gardening?

Exactly as it suggests: no digging, no rototilling. Instead of digging up, or rototilling, the sod–something that seriously disturbs weed seeds in the earth and causes more of them to grow in your garden (i.e. more work to do), you lay a piece of cardboard down (or several sheets of newspaper if no cardboard is available) and start layering compost (or you can layer kitchen scraps, leaves, etc.; things that would normally go in your compost bin), vermiculite, potting soil, etc. on top of it. Another name for this type of gardening technique is lasagna gardening. The cardboard acts as a weed barrier but, as it is biodegradable, it also feeds the soil. You simply plant your seeds, or a plug if you’ve started seeds indoors, directly into the layers of compost and soil. Charles Dowding uses straight compost; I don’t have quite as much of that as I will need to finish this landscaping project. However, each spring, these beds will need a new dressing. And, with several rabbits, some goats and a flock of chickens and ducks, that situation is rapidly being remedied.

I scored yesterday. When I went in to work, there was an enormous box being readied for the trash compactor out back of the automotive department. I claimed it immediately and am grateful, indeed, for the help of a fellow co-worker for taking it home for me. This box housed the liner for the bed of a pick-up and was too big for transporting in the backseat. I am envisioning the healthy vegetables and herbs I can grow atop of this box.

And that only gets the fingers itching even more. I am ready for spring. How ’bout you?

May God bless you & keep you!

The Minimalist Challenge – Update

I posted about this back in December after reading about The Minimalist Challenge on Treehugger.com. For those who missed the post, The Minimalist Challenge is taking a month and on the 1st of the month, you donate/recycle, etc. one item you no longer have a use for. On the 2nd day, you donate/recycle two items. And so on and so forth. By the end of a month you should have donated, recycled, or as a last resort, properly disposed of 465 to 496 unwanted items (depending on whether your month has 30 or 31 days in it; less if you’re doing the challenge in February and its 28/29 days).

I started mine in December. There’s probably a reason why everyone on Treehugger was doing theirs in November; December is fraught with all those last minute holly-jolly Christmas details. And, I confess, it was not easy to navigate around bags of clothes slated for goodwill while also navigating around various homemade Christmas gift projects and such. But it is a worthy investment of my time. So I carried on. We’re almost into March and I’m still not done.

No, I haven’t completely emptied the house. Far from it. In truth, halfway through December, I stopped counting the number of items vs. the date because, once I got into this early spring cleaning mode, well, it has been more important simply to clean, organize and, yes, minimalize. I have a long way to go. Instead of opening my closet and taking out 2 shirts for the 2nd of December, I’ve simply gone through the closet and taken out everything I haven’t worn in over a year. It has started a fever. And, because my daily schedule is so all over the place, it is being done in small chunks. It is actually proving to be the better way because I’m not feeling as overwhelmed as I would if I did it all at once.

Of course, I’m not 100% sure I’m doing this all correctly. The frugal fanatic over here has found herself re-purposing a lot of things. Old T-shirts have been folded into a laundry basket to be reworked into throw pillows. The collars may be frayed but a throw pillow proudly proclaiming: “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” (one of my favorite shows of all-time), or commemorating the “RISPCA” dog walk I almost participated in years ago (long story involving 2 new St. Bernards with minimal leash training and a line of horses walking across our path…and the tree Bear almost pulled me into in his quest to investigate these larger-than-he-was animals…). In short, I am finding that, while I may not wear some of these items anymore, there’s a sentiment, a memory attached that has me re-purposing rather than donating or disposing. The same is true for some old canning jars, bits of yarn, buttons, etc. that might be used as part of a craft. However, re-purposing is along the lines of recycling so maybe it’s all good after all. What I do keep/re-purpose can be organized so that it ceases to be “clutter”.

Either way, I’m having the time of my life. It is actually liberating. And, as I come to the end of another term with SNHU, and await the next one starting on March 6th, I am looking forward to finally finishing this minimalist challenge with the few days I have between terms. This has been a wonderful experience. Maybe I’ll start another one in the fall…or hang a shingle up as a “professional organizer”; it might be the perfect line of work for someone with OCD.

May God bless you & keep you!

Punctuality

I have a reputation. And it’s not one that I’m proud of. In fact, I spent part of Mass yesterday, teary-eyed with embarrassment because I was 2 minutes’ late…and it was my weekend to serve communion; someone else had to do it.

This is the story of my life. And I probably sound like a very disrespectful person, as though I do not care about other people’s time or agendas. Nothing could be further from the truth. I really do try to make it on time–everywhere. And I am going to give myself a bit of a break, just a teensy one, because once upon a time, I was at least an hour late to everything. I’ve managed to cut it down to 5 minutes. That’s certainly a big improvement, but these last 5 minutes seem to elude me. The one exception seems to be when Mom and I are traveling somewhere together; I struggle enough with my own punctuality. When we’re putting a commute across the state line and at least a half dozen pit stops from Mom before we can leave, well, family has learned to tell us to be there for 1 when they really want us there for 1:30. It’s shameful. Being late when there’s a legitimate reason (a traffic accident where you sat for a time, unable to move, for example) might be excusable but, in my case, where it’s a regular thing, it is inexcusable. It’s rude. There’s no other word for it.

As Lent is coming up soon, I’ve been debating what I can do as my Lenten vow. While everyone else seems to give up chocolate or some other indulgence, I tend to make vows that will somehow make an improvement in myself. As I’m on a very limited, fixed budget right now, indulgences are few and far between; giving up the rare treat seems a bit too easy, actually. I like to challenge myself during Lent. Of course, I have a couple of standards: an internal cleanse where I cut out sugars, bread, pasta–basically anything that might create candida in the small intestine, and I add a few extra nightly “thankful” items in my grateful journal (this is a journal that I keep beside my bed where, before I go to sleep, I write down (at present) 5 things that I am grateful from that day). But those are sort of routine. I’m looking for that bigger challenge, that one thing I can do for Him this Lenten season.

I think striving to close that 5 minute gap is as good as it gets. This weekend I was rude to my fellow parishioners, my priest and, most importantly, my God. It’s time for a change. Maybe I should even give this campaign a title: On Time for Jesus.

May God bless you & keep you!

Taking A Step Back

I try not to get political with my blog. Try! Big word, even if it is only three letters. I mean, this blog is supposed to be about homesteading, herbs, animals rights and, most importantly, faith in God. In recent months, I’ve found myself also sojourning into some recovery posts, recovery from growing up with active alcoholism and childhood molestation. The healing from that childhood, along with the development of my homestead and my faith in God are all intertwined in one long journey. By keeping this blog, I hope to help others to heal from similar pasts, and/or to inspire them to take those steps towards a more sustainable future.

Again, I try not to be political. However, what happens in the political arena affects us all. And, sadly, I find I am not immune to all the hoopla going around social media these days…and a quite heated hoopla it is. I’m actually ready to eat some humble pie.

No, President Trump didn’t suddenly become all things wonderful for me; quite the opposite. Too many rash acts that hurt too many people, the animals that share our world, and Mother Earth, herself. Too many rash acts that have the potential to bring us closer to the brink of another world war, and even, if the angry comments flying around social media are any indication, possibly, another civil war. This country has been divided nearly in two. And it breaks my heart to see it.

What hurts more is that I recently lashed out with one of those “open mouth, insert foot” retorts to a friend’s equally ignorant remarks. And I’m not proud of it. In my defense it was the blanket statement that all Democrats are evil that caused the backlash. Not all Democrats, not all Republicans. What makes a body evil is how they act, how they treat their fellow human beings, the other creatures that share this world with us, and even, how they treat the planet. Respect for all life…or a lack thereof. What choices are you making? Are you treating others as you would want them to treat you? Are you intentionally cruel, or worse, indifferent to the so-called “lesser” life forms? I have friends who are Republicans who want President Trump out of the oval office yesterday. And Democrat friends who actually like him. It isn’t our political affiliations that make us good or bad. Again, it is the choices we make. Do we love our neighbors as ourselves? Or do we lash out in anger?

I lashed out in anger. And for that I am truly sorry. So I’ve taken a step back from all of the heated debates, slowed down the number of articles (and, in some cases, potentially propaganda) that I’m sharing on social media, and am simply taking a deep breath. I am also turning to that Source of peace that has been the cornerstone of my life. For me, He is Jesus Christ.

May God bless you & keep you!

Be My Valentine?

Ha!

Gotcha…

You weren’t seriously expecting some mushy (sickening) stuff, were you? While I confess there is a hopeless romantic looking forward to a good blubber tonight over Patrick Swayze in “Ghost”, or else, the sinking of Jack Dawson on the “Titanic”, she’s perfectly content flying solo. I prefer my goats. And chickens. And ducks. And rabbits. And, most especially, my cats.

No chubby cherubs chucking chocolates at this chickie! (Say that 5 times fast…) That would get his dimply little backside a nice long “time-out” in the corner until his dimples have to be rechristened as “laugh lines”. Keep your misguided missiles to yourself if you know what’s good for you. Take that, Cupid!

Cynical?

Maybe just a little. But, no, not bitter. Just happy as a single person striving towards her dreams. Would it be nice to share those dreams with someone? Sure. Maybe. I won’t deny there are icebergs where I used to have feet…a double dose of divorce (another one to tackle 5 times fast…) does that to you. However, I’m quite sure having a farm full of the aforementioned animals is the equivalent of having a dozen or so kids–they run for the hills.

And I let them.

Again, not out of cynicism. Or anger. And I certainly don’t hate men…I probably wouldn’t say “no” to Richard Gere but then again, you never know. As I doubt he’ll be knocking anytime soon, I don’t have to worry about finding out. And, for those of you who knew me as that seriously boy-crazy girl in high school, this swing in attitude is probably a bit of a surprise. But, you see, I caught a few. Sort of like the mumps. Or chicken pox.

Just saying…

All kidding aside, I wish everyone–whether in a relationship, hopefully looking, or happily not–a very Happy Valentine’s Day. And may the armchair matchmakers find someone else to manipulate…I got goatie kisses from Chester the Nigerian Dwarf last night; you’re just jealous. Yes, I’m being nonsensical. And, yes, I know this may be inappropriate for this particular holiday but “we’re B-A-A-C-K!”

May God bless you & keep you!