This Year’s Hobo Garden Plans

I planted a bunch of seeds at the beginning of February, about two weeks before Willem’s due date. Unfortunately, only about 1/3 of them germinated and grew – and by the time I realized they were looking pretty pitiful, I had a tiny creature that was occupying all of my time, energy, and brain space.

In other words, the seedling trays are completely haphazard this year, which means the garden is going to be completely haphazard. Hobo garden. Ghetto fabulous. I’m okay with this. I HAVE to be okay with this, since I have no time or energy to do much about it.

We do have signs of life out there, though, which makes me very happy. The bee balm and other perennials are coming back, and the garlic is shooting up through the hay. At least we’ll have garlic!

This weekend, the plan is to have Chris on baby watch for a couple of hours at some point so I can plant the many greens that are flourishing under the basement lights, as well as all the direct sow seeds: beets, turnips, collards, radishes, sunflowers, and other goodies. At the very least, we’ll have greens, garlic, some root veggies, and strawberries this year!

I also think I might break down and actually buy some seedlings this year. We NEED fennel, peppers, rosemary, basil, and tomatoes. NEED. And next year? Well, hopefully the seeds that didn’t grow this year will do a bit better next year when I have a bit more of an attention span.

 

20131227. Not that it's a problem, but I might have a bit of a seed problem.

Last year’s garden insanity:
20130629. First garlic harvest = 50 bulbs.

And speaking of the little guy, Willem gets cuter and cuter every day. His happy times are my favorite – he coos and squeals and is generally the most adorable guy in the world. Not that I’m biased or anything.
Afternoon naps.

The Sweet Daily Grind of Vacation

Vacation life, in bullet point and photo form:

    • Christmas vacation started with a wonderful visit from my parents. It was the perfect combination of fun things to do and straight chilling out. We wandered around Nashville, Indiana; watched football; ate homemade chili and egg casserole and cinnamon rolls and WAY too much chocolate, beer, wine, and Bailey’s (family tradition); watched a really excellent version of A Christmas Carol; enjoyed one of my favorite Christmas movies (ahem…. Die Hard 2, of course); perused the Indianapolis Museum of Art‘s contemporary floor; and, of course, opened loads of presents.
20131225. Christmas collage.

Clockwise from top left: adorable whale rattle and fox baby booties, our new family photo, my lovely parents, me and my mom, and Boombox scanning the presents.

20131225. Christmas collage.

Clockwise from top left: Our present-laden tree, my new chalkboard drawing with Die Hard quotation, Chris and his new handknitted hat, anatomically correct gingerbread men, and Birdie getting cozy with my dad.

    • Yesterday, I took the tree down so we could start Ambitious Vacation Project of 2013 (TM): replacing the carpet in our living room with laminate flooring. I am currently typing from a couch in the middle of a mostly empty, very carpetless room. With all the animals we have – plus adding a kid into the mix – the carpet is just gross. It will be AWESOME once it’s done.
20131226. Family room, pre-flooring.

The living room before.

20131226. Family room, mid-carpet removal.

The carpet comes up!

    • In baby news, if you see a pregnant woman (aka ME) waddling along, it’s not because her belly is so giant she’s about to fall over. It’s because her back hurts so badly it has become difficult to walk. Unfortunately, this pain is most exacerbated by bending over to do work (picture weeding in the garden or – here’s the unfortunate part – pulling staples out of the floor or moving heavy furniture to allow for laminate flooring to be laid). So I felt pretty useless today. I like to be able to help, to DO, and I’ve never really had a health problem that seriously kept me from being able to do the things I want to do.
20131225. Cabled baby blanket.

Instead, I’ve been reading a lot, doing yoga, running errands, and finishing knitting projects, like this cabled baby blanket.

    • In other baby news, I’m starting to feel like I CAN’T WAIT TO MEET THIS BABY. Like, I’m ready. And I’m starting to feel excitedly impatient. Seven weeks and counting!

20131225. Whale rattle.

Today was the quintessential vacation day:

    • I started with day two of morning yoga, which is helping the back out and generally making me feel better about my suddenly unwieldy frame and non-existent stomach muscles.
    • Over coffee, I ordered seeds for the 2014 garden. This is always one of my favorite winter activities: dreaming of springtime’s seedlings poking through the soil, hot summer breezes playing through the bean blossoms, bees buzzing, and chickens scratching through thick grass.

20131227. 2014 garden dreaming!

    • I also did an inventory of the seeds I already have from the past few years. Yikes. I wouldn’t call it a “problem,” per se, but I’ve got quite a seed library going.

20131227. Not that it's a problem, but I might have a bit of a seed problem.

    • It was a balmy 45 degrees today, so after a shower, Birdie and I went for a quick jaunt around the ‘hood, then I ran some errands (including a treat Starbucks run for me and my hard working husband) with my coat unbuttoned, my window down (a little), and Birdie as my co-pilot.
    • Following some afternoon baby book reading, Chris and I tucked into spicy turkey chili and fresh broccoli. YUM.

Not usually one to photograph my food, but dinner tonight was kind of the bomb. Turkey chili and broccoli, what?!

Now? Now it’s movie and snuggle time in our deconstructed home. For posterity’s sake, here’s what’s on tap for the 2014 garden, thanks to a Seed Savers Exchange gift card from my in-laws. Great Christmas gift, am I right?

  • Sunflower, Autumn Beauty
  • Radish, Plum Purple
  • Radish, French Breakfast
  • Pepper, Aji Cristal
  • Pepper, Black Hungarian
  • Onion, Yellow of Parma
  • Lettuce, Forellenschluss
  • Ground Cherry, Aunt Molly’s
  • Cucumber, Edmonson
  • Cucumber, Double Yield
  • Beet, Bull’s Blood
  • Bean, Ideal Market
  • Bean, Purple Pod Pole
  • Asian Green, Mizuna
  • Arugula

A Year Later: Checking in on That Whole “Life Plan” Thing

I’ve never really been one to have what you might call a “plan” for my life. I cringe at the “where do you want to be in five years” question, so popular among motivational speakers and prospective employers. The only grand vision I have ever had of my life is to have it be a happy and fulfilling one. What does that actually look like? Well, that’s a moving target, always shifting, which I like to think keeps things interesting.

20131020. Our fall garden, half deconstructed.

Our fall garden – beginning to harvest and prune and clean up.

With that in mind, though, I realized recently that I did set a new “life plan” for myself, just a smidge over a year ago. It is amazing to me to see what has come of that one simple proclamation in such a short amount of time.

20131020. Little Red amongst the leaves.

Little Red amongst the leaves in the chicken run.

From September 22, 2012:

However, a new life plan has manifested itself as of late, and I think it’s a damn good one. My new plan is to offer whatever services I can (aka whore myself out) to all the people I think are doing super-fantastic things in this town until one of them either hires me or adopts me… OR I learn enough that I decide I can move forward with my own thing. At the very least, I will meet people who I think are doing awesome things, learn a ton from them, and maybe, just maybe, make something out of it. At the worst? Well, I don’t really think there’s a downside, to be honest.

So yeah – new life plan: surround myself with awesome people, doing awesome things that I want to be doing, too. Seems simple, right? How did it take me so long to get here?

20131020. Birdie, totally tuckered.

Our exceedingly cuddly animals continue being exceedingly sweet.

So where am I today? Things are different and wonderful and surprising and awesome. I’m getting to create and make and grow for myself, my friends, and organizations I believe in and want to be a part of. I have a husband and a dog and a baby on the way. I am really excited for the future and to see where me and my little family are a year from now.

20131020. Prolific peppers.

The year of the prolific pepper.

In short, exciting things are happening, and they all stem back to that simple decision to just reach out and do something. I love it when positive actions receive smashingly positive results. It doesn’t always happen – at least, not to this extent – but man, is it ever cool when it does.

20131020. Fall basil.

Even the basil is ready for fall and new things to come.

 

State of the Belly Address: Half-Full

As of yesterday, this adorable little beastie of mine is halfway done. We celebrated the 20-week mark of pregnancy with a visit to Fall Creek Gardens for their fall harvest party and mural ribbon cutting ceremony, dinner and ice cream out, and a trip to Lowe’s.

We know how to party. Saturday! Rage! No, really, though, it was a great day.

Ever since the wedding, I feel like I’m busier than ever, probably due to the fact that for the entire month of August, anything that wasn’t wedding-related got pushed to the back of my mind and the bottom of my to do list. Now it’s all rushing back to the forefront like a tsunami. Or at least a slightly flooded stream bed.

Rather than bore you (and myself) with the details of that flood of STUFF that needs doing, I think we need more pretties on this rainy Sunday, no? Not only have I been productive in the baby-making lately, but I’ve also been productive in the baby stuff-making (and acquiring). Here are a few of my latest goodies for this little no-name nubbin.

First, we have some toasty sweaters and a kick sack for those breezy February days:
20130929. Making stuff and taking names.

And what little beastie doesn’t need some cozy wool pants and a super soft chevron blankie? The better to cuddle you with, my love.
20130929. Making stuff and taking names.

Every time I look at Barnaby the Bear (made by my sister-in-law and four-year-old nephew, Ben) and my big cuddly bunny, I squeal a little (in my mind… although sometimes a squeak manages to get out). Barnaby also happens to be modeling an aviator hat and bib for the babe.
20130929. Making stuff and taking names.

I’ve also procured about a billion (okay, 17, but whatever) cloth diapers to get us going. We might be pretty well set in the cloth diaper department!
20130928. My fetuses cloth diaper stash is about complete for now.

Last but not least, I love the way these turned out. These are being printed up and framed as 11×14″ wall art. The ideas were totally stolen from others (love you, Etsy and Pinterest).
20130929. Making stuff and taking names.

Oops, I lied. ONE one more. I forgot I made a bunch of kick ass onesies yesterday!
20130928. New onesies for the sprout.

Chris fretted the other night that this baby is going to come out all hipster: bearded in a flannel shirt and skinny jeans if it’s a boy; dark-rimmed librarian glasses, bangs, handknit mittens, and jarring, conflictingly patterned clothes if it’s a girl. I think it’s going to come out all hippie farmer: dirt under its tiny nails, pulling raw beets from the ground to use as its teethers.

The Weekend Is My FAVORITE…

First and foremost, let’s pause for a moment of silence in recognition of Birdie’s current state. Poor girl got a hot spot on her back and, within three days, has chewed it raw. Thus… THE CONE OF DOOM AND TERROR.

20130426. Birdie and her cone... My poor babe.

How in the HELL do you get a dog to not hate the vet?! I mean, really. Look at this indignity.

Ahem. Now that we’ve gotten past that, let’s talk about the weekend! I am so excited about the weekend and, true to form, have way, way, way too much stuff I want to do.

20130426. In addition to the weekend to do list here, we also have to HURRY UP AND RELAX.

The ones with the stars next to them are the things I REALLY, REALLY need to do this weekend. There are too many stars.

Tonight, we got a jump start on the bottling beer item on the to do list. Chris has gotten completely obsessed mildly interested in the fine art of homebrewing (I am not complaining, not really). A few weekends ago, we did our first full boil, and the brew is ready to go into bottles. Tomorrow morning, we’ll crack open the fermenting bucket and see if my worst fears have come true: the reality that we are, in fact, dirty slobs who can’t keep a bucket and various other tools clean for even, like, 30 minutes.

20130426. Prepping bottles for bottling.

We’ve been stocking up bottles.

If my worst fears HAVEN’T come true and our beer looks magical, we’ll learn all about bottling and capping beer. Wish us luck! Tonight, we removed labels and sanitized ’em in the dishwasher. Tomorrow, there will be beer a-flowin’.

20130426. We obviously have clear feelings about beer.

We are particular about our beer-y bevvies.

Last but certainly not least, even though the weekend is officially here now, I like to think it really started last night with the Indy Food Council’s organizing event. Maybe I’m a total dork to have been so jazzed about it, but it was inspiring to see so many people in one room, interested in looking for solutions to our (rampant) food-related problems. I got hugs from people I’d met only once before on farms and around town, recognized a lot of people, met even more for the first time, and felt generally warm and fuzzy and energized about the future in Indianapolis.

And! The 2013-2014 edition of the Indy Local Food Guide, which I helped on in a very small way, came out! So excited to see it.

As I talked with one girl, she said something I couldn’t agree with more: “It’s nice when things like this happen and you think, ‘Wow, Indianapolis really could be a progressive place to live.'” Can’t wait to see where this group goes, and I hope to be a part of it.

20130426. Indy Food Council and other reading materials for the weekend.

Did They Tell You You Should Grow Up When You Wanted to Dream?

I’ve been daydreaming about growing things this weekend – so much so that I finally cracked open the various seed catalogs I’ve received so far this winter and carefully avoided. If you have never seen a seed catalog, they are essentially page after page of crack for the garden dreamer. Plant porn.

Purple and orange cauliflower; eight different kinds of kale; chard stems that scream color to rival the most vibrant sunset. You can guess what happened next, right?

I proceeded to add seed packet after seed packet to my shopping cart, using my holiday bonus from work upon checkout. Greater self-sufficiency seems like a good thing to spend one’s work bonus on. Chard, squash, artichoke, kale, nasturtium, cauliflower, and some sunflowers to round it out. This is on top of the peas, beans, turnips, beets, tomatoes, chives, and a whole bunch of other seeds I still have from last year.

Next up will be picking up seed starter from Worm’s Way, which is the only stuff I’ll buy after last year’s seed starting debacle with the organic mix from Lowe’s. Someday I’ll make my own seed starter mix, but I just don’t have it in me this year.

I bit the bullet today and followed actual directions for how to start sweet potato slips for planting. Last year was my first stab at growing sweet potatoes, and I’m excited to get them in the ground much earlier this year. I cut some of the vines from last year’s batch and plunked them into water, thinking they would root. And, well, they haven’t. Not really.

20121004. Sweet potato slips for next spring!

So, like I said, I bit the bullet, bought two sweet potatoes from the grocery store, cut ’em up, and threw them into a few jars. Each potato should produce many slips, which, in theory, will each become their own plant with oodles of sweet potatoes growing off of it underground. Sweet potatoes are kind of magical, right?

20130113. Starting the sweet potato slips.A rainy weekend spent daydreaming of sunshine and cool breezes, the smell of dirt, tiny seedlings turning to giants to fill my pantry and my belly, and converting more of our yard into useable, edible space? In case you were wondering, it has been lovely.

Did they tell you you should grow up when you wanted to dream? Did they warn you, better shape up if you want to succeed? I don’t about you, who are they talking to? They’re not talking to me.

A Speedy Entrance into Our Pastured Poultry Operation?

I hate to even THINK this, much less document it in the written word, since we had so many trials, tribulations, and just plain old waiting for any of our chickens to start laying eggs, but bless the eggie gods, we are already to the point where we *almost* have too many eggs! And only two of our five girls are laying at this point.

20121208. EGGIES.In other words, I’m beginning to look to the future (as in, holy crap, what will we do when all five girls start laying?!). Also, I know a lot of friends who have expressed an interest in buying our girls’ eggs.

An early entry into my dream of having a pastured poultry operation in the middle of the city? Perhaps.

Also, after a couple of beers last weekend at one of our favorite local breweries (Black Acre Brewing Co., that is – if you need a laugh, select “I am under 21” when you visit the link), Chris uttered the words I’ve been longing to hear. Wait for it… wait for it…

Chai tea milk stout and boyfriend at Black Acre.

“We probably need more chickens.”*

And my heart went pitter-pat and my mind went racing off like a roller coaster! Not one of those new fangled roller coasters, though, where the high tech cars glide noiselessly over the metal rails and you feel like you might just get shot straight into the stratosphere, oh no. More like one of those ancient wooden ones that are all jostling and jarring and you think you could get thrown off at any moment but hope to high heaven you don’t.

Welcome to the roller coaster that is my brain! In somewhat related news, I really want to buy this amazing historic building roofless facade and turn it into an open air pastured poultry operation, gardens, and market/farm store. Anyone have $279,000 lying around?

*I suppose we should note here that Chris claims to have no recollection of uttering these words I’ve longed to hear. I have assured him that he did, indeed, say them and, even moreso, meant them with all his heart. Help me out here, guys! MORE CHICKENS! You know you want eggies, too.

It’s Decorative Gourd Season!

Maybe it’s weird to be making plans for the future in the fall. Everything around us is dying back. Once screaming-intensity desert temperatures are suddenly dropping into the 30s at night. Scarves have  been busted out, as well as handknit wool sweaters smelling of cedar. Hell, we had our first fire last night – and it was delightful.

However, a new life plan has manifested itself as of late, and I think it’s a damn good one. My new plan is to offer whatever services I can (aka whore myself out) to all the people I think are doing super-fantastic things in this town until one of them either hires me or adopts me… OR I learn enough that I decide I can move forward with my own thing. At the very least, I will meet people who I think are doing awesome things, learn a ton from them, and maybe, just maybe, make something out of it. At the worst? Well, I don’t really think there’s a downside, to be honest.

With that in mind, I’ve volunteered my time twice so far over at Big City Farms Indianapolis and had an awesome time. I’m hoping I can continue picking Matthew’s (head farmer/owner) brain about how he’s gone into business for himself and, well, everything there is to know about farming an urban plot. Right… I’m sure that would take me my whole life. In addition to gleaning these nuggets of wisdom, though, I’ve also been enjoying sharing stories about plucking turkeys, what happens to the chickens when young couples break up, missing the caramel apples of old handed out at Halloween, and how jumping into piles of leaves really is what a six-year-old should be most excited about re: fall.

On Thursday, I worked a full eight hours at my job, but I didn’t really feel as though I had accomplished much until I got to the farm and spent a few hours weeding. I think that’s saying a lot.

So yeah – new life plan: surround myself with awesome people, doing awesome things that I want to be doing, too. Seems simple, right? How did it take me so long to get here?

20120920. Big City Farms Indianapolis.

I came out on Thursday to start weeding the “disaster zone” by myself… and I was super excited to be able to take a few shots of the space without feeling like a total creep/dork. And yet, I still feel like a creep posting these shots.

20120920. Big City Farms Indianapolis.

It’s the quintessential urban farm plot: bordered on one side by the highway and an old factory-turned-antiques mart, a view of the skyline in the background, and a very active, noisy train bordering the other side. I kept thinking, “It’s so peaceful,” and then a giant semi would go wailing past on the highway. Ah, nature.

I also discovered today that just past those train tracks is Flat 12 Brewery, which makes fantastic beers (like Sushi Saison, a delicious Belgian IPA, a cherry stout that almost required chewing as you ingested it, and… some others I can’t remember because I sampled a few too many this afternoon).

20120922. A true lady always leaves lipstick stains on her plastic glass.

When we got home, it was time for the chickens to have some outdoor time of their own.

20120922. We hang. Me and my best bitch on a Saturday evening.

My favorite bitch, Beaker, came to chill in the late afternoon sun. She really does get this cozy every time I hang with her.

20120922. Me and Little Red.

Little Red is still quite little. We’re beginning to think she might be a bantam.

20120922. Boo.

Boo in high relief.

20120922. Dino Puppy says HEEEEY.

Dino Puppy, coming in for her closeup.

And this about sums up how I feel about my whole new life plan:
20120920. Happy!P.S. I almost forgot the whole point of this post. Would you like to read my favorite piece of prose related to fall and the changing seasons? Warning: it’s delightfully FILTHY in the language department. “It’s Decorative Gourd Season, M*therf*ckers,” by Colin Nissan.

Eyes on the Skies

Lately, we have been a little preoccupied with the weather. First, we got excited about any old cloud that would cross our paths. No rain.

20120715. Nothing falling...

Then, we started obsessively watching the radar and checking the weather reports several times a day. Still no rain.

20120715. Studies in cloud formations...

We even unplugged the extension cords to the chicken fans a few times, to no avail. Still. No. Rain.

20120715. Waiting for rain...

THEN! FINALLY! Last Thursday, not only did it rain, but it poured. The streets were flooded four lanes across, lightning and thunder sizzled and boomed until we were sure our hair should be standing on end, and our rain barrel runneth over.

We and the creatures are happy.

20120715. Tiny praying mantis.

Armed with our renewed sense of hope, we decided to finish planning out our backyard. Mind you, we still have a watering and new landscaping ban in place, but where there was once dead grass and dust on our shoes, there is now greened up weeds and dew in the morning. Surely, our spell of bad luck is over.

Chris’ drawing is quite lovely:

20120720. Backyard planning.

Mine is a little more… free-form. But look! Purple, pink, orange, and yellow plantings circling the bench/picnic table. I love the idea of painting in flowers/plants.

20120720. Backyard planning.