I’m playing with the term farmstead. Do I like it? Do you?
We’ve always called this particular place the farm, but I know that, technically, it isn’t. We don’t sell our produce or our flowers, no animal products or any other thing. Maybe one day we will. And as for farm animals, right now we only have ducks and chickens; creatures one could keep in any suburban backyard.
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But this place did start as a small family farm, way back in 1895, and it continued as a farm in some form or another until about 30 years ago when my husband’s family moved out.
And even though it’s more what we are, I still don’t like the term homestead necessarily. I feel like a fraud every time I try to think of myself as a homesteader. I don’t make candles, or use essential oils (yet). So maybe farmstead? It’s kind of a combination of the two. I don’t know. I might just stick with farm. I guess I have a lifetime to decide.
So. The farmstead in late July.
Mama Chicken has started to lay again now that the chicks are almost six weeks old. We’re back up to about four eggs a day, and soon it should be five eggs a day when our little buff Brahma starts laying.
I don’t want to jinx anything, but I am starting to think both of the baby chicks are girls. Neither one has any comb development to speak of. Oh, I hope so! Jasper wants to make coq au vin, but I’d rather have two more layers.
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The chickens are still doing our composting for us, and we plan on scooping out their entire run and transferring it onto the garden beds this fall. That will give their manure time to cool down before we plant things into it. We’re also planning on expanding their run and adding a solid roof to more than half of it, so that winter isn’t such a soggy, muddy mess in there.
Look! I have a mini watermelon!
There are four more of them about ping-pong ball sized right now, and even more smaller than that yet.
My fruit dreams are coming true!
Out in the bricked herb garden my second and third favorite flowers are growing well. Iris, echinacea and buddleia, in that order. Catmint and hardy geranium round out the top five and feature prominently in the beginnings of my landscaping, too.
Echinacea and buddleia (butterfly bush) always make me think about when I was pregnant with my first daughter. At the time, our garden down in Roseburg was awash in these two flowers, and smelling them now instantly brings me back to that time: the terror and the elation and the possibility all rolled into one.
It’s a good smell, and a good feeling, too. Even that little bit of terror.
These photos have only been minimally edited. The colors really do seem to be that washed out in the middle of the day! So hot. So July.
That, by the way, is the main crop sweet corn, called Bodacious. Fifty of the plants were sown in April in coconut coir pots, and they are already seven-feet-tall and growing ears. The other two hundred are waist high and growing well, but I might start all my corn inside from now on, if I can find the space and sweet deals on coconut coir pots. It really does give the corn a leg up on our shorter growing season.
I’ve been walking the rows and shaking the pollen out of each plant in the mornings. The ears are swelling up, so I think it might be working.
I especially love how the anthers (the technical term for the male flower) dangle from the tassels. They look a little bit like decorated Christmas trees that way.
The elephant garlic is drying up in the rafters of the potting shed.
It smells as nice as you’d think.
The grapevine is growing well. I assume. It’s growing tall, anyway.
Jasper is going to build me a little arbor over the door, and one day when I have my side porch I’ll train it onto the roof.
So, as a first year grape grower, I keep reading about grapes, about growing them and training them and pruning them. I can’t seem to get any of the information to stick though. It all seems so technical and intimidating. The important bit to remember, I think, is that the fruit will only grow on this year’s shoots on last year’s wood.
Is that right?
Rowanberry, our big beautiful LGD, has been in her second heat cycle this month, so she is not guarding the farmstead as well as she usually does. We have to keep her tied up when she’s outside to stop her from heading down the road and meeting clandestinely with boyfriends.
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In a couple of months, when she’s 18 months old, we’ll take her in to get spayed. As beautiful and as wonderful as she is, we know the world doesn’t need any more puppies. Plus, if she did have a litter, I know we would be compelled to keep them all. And the last thing I need is to be the lady with 10 dogs.
Overall, this July has just underscored how beautiful everything is; how well everything is growing and how different it all already is from last year and the years before. Everything is more: bountiful, abundant, beautiful, peaceful.
Especially and most importantly, it is more ours.
This farmstead is home.