The Farm on Oak Creek

In my spare time

First, a foot update.  Thanks to everyone who made suggestions.  I tried them all and, for future reference, wearing hiking boots was the best remedy until I realized that the problem wasn’t in my foot but in my hips. I’ve started a regular regime of hip stretches and the foot is almost pain-free now.

Bear in his Kuvasz glory!

My next announcement is that Bear will be getting his summer cut tomorrow.  What a relief for both of us! Although he is in his full Kuvasz glory at the moment, I swear that’s about forty pounds of fur which collects at least twenty pounds of dirt every time he steps outside the door.  Where does that dirt end up? On the floor in my house, because the house is cool and he’s not.

My last, and most important announcement is that the new book is going great guns!  I even have a working title, something I’ve never before had for a book. No, I’m not sharing it because I’m pretty certain it won’t remain the title. But, as I always do, I have my premise and that I will share.  It is, drum roll please, “Awakening destroys emptiness.”  As odd as that statement sounds–no mention of characters, plot or genre action–this is the foundation of my book.  Those three words create the linchpin around which all my characters revolve.  It also solves a common problem with many a novel, that of the sagging middle. Keeping all of my characters connected to one overarching theme as defined by that premise creates pacing. The story never sags because the characters are all aiming at the same goal and someone is always in motion.

So now that I’m back to writing full time, I’ve been struggling to find time for my gardens. I can already tell that this book will consume me, destroying my dream of rows and rows of tomatoes, peppers, melons, wheat and beans.  Dang.  Rather than “do it right”, I’m settling for “getting something done is better than doing nothing.” To that end, I’m focusing on sowing the seeds I’ve been saving for the past few years.

My tat-soi have all gone to seed and the pods are ready to be harvested to be saved for next winter.  I need to move quickly before those cute little wrens and lesser goldfinch eat them all.  The turnips I left in the ground are flowering beautifully, so for the first time ever I won’t have to buy turnip seeds for next year. All I have to do is get out there, harvest the long sprays of pods, then pry open those tiny little dry pouches to collect those even tinier little black seeds…

in my spare time.

That hugel I built in front of the orchard is where I dumped the two-year-old chard seed I’d saved in a bucket (seriously, no packaging, on the stem in a bucket that sat in my hallway and collected dust ).  I tossed them all along the top and sides of that mound, telling myself that if just a few came up I’d be happy.  Much to my surprise, I got lots and lots of happy baby chard plants.  There are a few less now after the three little marauder lambs played “Ram of the Mountain” on the mound when they and their parents escaped containment, but still plenty.  I’ve decided to add the old melon and Empress green bean seeds that have been cluttering my seed bins for three years because I didn’t care for their taste. If that piggy girl pops on the 29th, which she very much looks like she’ll do, there’ll be a horde of marauding piglets to eat them.  I might even transplant some of the volunteer sunflowers that are appearing around the hugel’s base for added shade…

in my spare time.

Favas with freckled lettuce in between

Right now I’m harvesting a lot of lettuce, which Miss Piggy and the ravening woolly horde eat because I have so much. Except for the freckled lettuce seed given to me by a friend, those were more old seeds I didn’t expect to germinate. Surprise!  And the fava beans that I’ve been propagating for four years are setting on like crazy. Favas appear to love it here because these guys have lost none of their vigor and everywhere I plant them they definitely improve the soil.  I love these beans, but they’re a little labor-intensive to prepare.  First, strip the beans from their pod, then blanch the loose beans for a minute in boiling water. After that, stand hunched over the kitchen sink, painstakingly squeezing every single bean out of its tough outer skin…

in my spare time.

On the ditch hillside, my elderberries are gorgeously in flower.  My go-to farming magazine, Acres USA, just had an article about elderberries.  Guess what!  I can clone these guys.  Wow! There’ll be elderberry bushes all along that hillside in no time.  And there’s apparently a market for the berries.  All I have to do is collect the tiny little purple things, de-stem them, then freeze or prepare those itty bitty berries into tinctures or jams or any number of other products…

all in my spare time, which I just ran out of so this post is going to have to end.  Back to Chapter Two.  I can’t wait to see what happens next.

© Denise Domning, 2023