But before we get to the planting, since this is a blog about our journey in trying to live a simple country life I thought I would talk about a couple things that have come up as questions from folks I correspond with. One recurring question that pops up is whether we ever feel isolated or get lonely and I can emphatically say no. We live in the country outside of a small community of 109 and have to travel half an hour just to get to a small basic grocery store but because of the small community and our isolation everyone knows you...good or bad. We fit in well, we get involved in our community, we have lots of friends and to be honest I felt more isolated living in the city.
The people in these small rural communities have learned to create their own entertainment and social structure and besides church there are various groups that mostly exist to get people together to do things, folks around here go "visiting", and there are always potlucks and the like to support this or that charity, the senior center etc. We also happen to enjoy home time and our own company so we don't feel the need to be entertained. We like to listen to NPR and various old time country stations, we get a few channels on TV with the rabbit ears including the Ozarks Public Television (looking forward to the new season of the Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock Holmes and Doc Martin soon), and every Sunday our bachelor neighbor Roger comes to dinner and we usually play yard darts if its nice out or a dice game called 10,000 if its cold and rainy and then we watch a movie on DVD. Everything is over by about 2100 because Roger has to get up for work at 0330 and we rise early as well. One tip, there are sometimes elected leaders (we live in an unincorporated community so no elected leaders) but in almost every small rural community in fly over country there are the real leaders and it pays to recognize those people right away even if they are not elected. They may be local long time residents with a family historical connection, they may be business owners with influence, they may be religious leaders, or they may just be dynamic people who have risen to positions (unofficial) where their opinion is respected....these are the people who make these small communities so run a foul of them at your peril.
I personally would rather read than watch TV and we have hundreds (literally) of books at the house and keep gaining more because of the great used book store in a nearby town. There is a book mobile that comes to town once in awhile but lots of folks trade books around here and of course the magical Interwebs has greatly opened the literary world to more and more people but please understand something - WE DO NOT HAVE HIGH SPEED INTERNET AND ITS NOT UNIVERSAL IN THIS COUNTRY OUT HERE IN THE EXTREME RURAL AREAS- glad to dispel that misunderstanding. I just finished Farley Mowat's "And the Birds Never Sang" which was about his service in the Canadian Army during WWII and it was quite a departure from his usual humor but I enjoy everything from British crime novels to historical biographies and arctic exploration...in fact the only genres I don't read are science fiction or romance novels.
Hopefully that gives a bit of a picture of our social life on the farm, we like our peace and privacy but we are far from isolated and we enjoy a rich interaction with the community which is important to us. On to the joy of spring planting:
If you have never had the privilege (and I do mean privilege) of experiencing the feeling of turning dirt in the spring after a long winter you have missed out on one of life's simple pleasures. Its hard to describe but the smell of the earth and the feeling that your embarking on all that spring promises may just be the real 6th sense....it almost seems genetic.
We have spent the last three years carefully amending our soil and trying to create a viable truck garden out of not much more than rock and grit...it seems to be working.
Those who knew us in a prior life are often shocked by the path we have chosen ...but the signs were there all the time and we feel like this was our destiny.
"How do you know how or what to do on your farm?"...we get asked..."You Tube and lots of reading" we reply! Seriously, prior to buying this place we had a cat and grew some things on 1/5th of an acre so its not like we were raised on a farm or bred to this life. But we had a dream and a desire to go back in time if you will to when the world seemed to be just a little kinder and simpler. We are also baby boomers who came of age during the back to the land movement of the early 70s and I remember pouring over Mother Earth News issues in my teens.....in secret because it wasn't cool....kind of like looking at dirty magazines except it really was about dirt!!!
Look at those rear tires...if you have been following the blog your remember when we bought those and changed them out last year and I can tell you they have performed great. They are Rural Kings and made in India and to my friends in India "Dosti, Namaste, Vanakkam". This particular tractor tooling (IH 424) was mostly taken over and purchased under license by Mahindra and even though my tractor was built in 1966 you can still buy new parts for it...how cool is that.
A man around here (not slighting the women folk...its just how it is) is measured by the straight rows he plows...I am serious...its a stress inducer!
That is a happy old guy right there. This tractor has no power steering, it belches, it pops, it sounds old, I need to replace the tie rods and steering couplers....but its like the old base ball glove I have had since I played little league...it just fits.
Once we plow, disk, till etc we groom the planting rows and in the front of this picture we have placed the temp cattle panels to support the sweat peas we have planted.
The lower pond is doing better but I wonder if it would make more sense to fill it in ( or half of it) and extend our truck garden. Another thing we have learned is that what used to seem like a huge project or just not doable ...now is just a day or two away from reality.
I had to include this. I found some shade hybrid poplars for sale in the back of the Missouri Rural magazine which is a publication of the electrical cooperatives in the state and I ordered 11 for 14 bucks. Two months later we got 11 sticks...we planted them and they have really taken off..SO BOOOYA to all who doubted!!!
Our salad garden experiment in the gutters has started to ............work out well.
My French Canadian partner Holly (Je t'aime ma jolie femme) and Bandit at our upper pond...keep in mind its 27 April and still cold and rainy.
We have several of these nests in the trees of our wood lot and we aren't really sure what they are. They seem a little spindly for squirrel nests but????
One of the rights of spring is the constant battle with bag worms and we patrol our small farm with a vengeance and Neem Oil. If you don't keep on these pests they will strip a tree or bush of all leaves and leave you with dead twigs.
Ahhh the green...green is good. The orange stick is a cattle stick that is used to keep the cattle in line while feeding. We do not beat our cattle or hit them, the stick is used to place in their vision so they move where we want them but we do not hit them with it.
We are not grazing this pasture and this hasn't seen fertilizer in several years but its doing well. We will probably just fertilize and then hay this for the rest of the year.
Picture taken towards the corn patch from the southern hay pasture
Holly in the new greenhouse with her new found garden frog friend.
Some of the candy sweet onions...doing well.
This time of year we enjoy our various asparagus beds...breakfast, lunch, dinner, and this year ...pickled!!!
Cabbage coming along.
To sum it up....we are a month behind last year because of the cool weather and the rain but thats okay...the ponds are full, the water table is back to normal and evrything is thriving. Cant get much better than that.