A FRIDAY IN THE LIFE.

Sorry for all these “in the life” posts lately. We left our camera at a friends house…three hours away….so we have been short on content! We should return to regularly scheduled programming soon!

eggplant.

4:30 – 5 a.m.

Lay in bed trying to think of baby names––which is common around here these days––until I hear something chewing loudly outside. I go downstairs and realize its the pigs, which I’d forgotten we’d moved closer to the house, chewing on God knows what. Sounds like bones, but is probably everything.

5 – 5:30 a.m.

I try to feed the turkeys but they promptly turn the food over. I fix it and then explain to them why they should not stand on the feeder. They stare at me curiously for a second while I talk, then several walk away and turn the food over again. I give up, go inside and start a fire.

5:30 – 6:45 a.m.

I start writing a post that rails against Walmart and how our culture values valueless things, but decide it’s too preachy. If you ever feel like our blog is preachy, just imagine the blog we spare you from reading. A paranoid zealot writes that blog.

6:45 – 7:15 a.m.

Finish making breakfast and give Wendell his flea and tick treatment , the smell of which offends him deeply. If I could have one super power, it would be the ability to reason with animals. I’d need a good name, though, and a cape. Outside it drizzles, which we hope upon hope will become rain.

7:15 – 11:15 a.m

Fridays are harvest day for the Smiths and as part of our arrangement we help pick their food in exchange for sharing garden space and selling extras at market (in a nutshell). It drizzles on and off while we harvest and I realize my two least favorite things are being drizzled on and, paradoxically, wearing rain gear.

11:15 – 1:15 p.m.

Lunch and a brief nap. I also take Wendell on a walk to the mailbox where I discover we’ve got in our next Netflix. I swear we watch maybe––MAYBE––one movie a week. It just so happens to fall on the “Day in the Life” day. So if we watch a movie tonight, do not be surprised.

1:15 – 1:30 p.m.

In a fantastic moment of naiveté I decide to go look for chanterelle mushrooms. Unfortunately, like everything else, they need rain to grow. The cumulative 1″ of rain we got over the last six weeks unfortunately has not inspire any mushrooms. Fifteen minutes after I start my search, I end it and return to the house.

1:30 – 4:30 p.m.

We harvest flowers then join the Smiths at their house to pack the truck and wash carrots for market tomorrow. The drizzle begins to pick up. Last I checked, almost 1/10th of an inch has accumulated! Twenty more days like this in a row and we’re set.

4:30 – 5 p.m.

With the threat (ha) of rain overnight, I move the transplants into the greenhouse, and decide to weed them. I don’t know how weeding got such a bad rep, it’s strangely satisfying.

5 – 6 p.m.

On a whim, since the drizzle is keeping us from farm work, we decide to go to Red Boiling Springs for errands… and to buy a pizza. I have no idea where this idea came from, only that I suspect it was the baby. Good call, baby.

6 – 8 p.m.

You guessed it––movie time! Again, this is not a regular occurrence. In fact, it seems to be about an every eight day occurrence. This weeks feature? Blue Jasmine. Overall impression? Great flick. While I’m at it, and since we’re plowing through our Netflix queue––obvz––what else should we add? We need some good documentaries, what you got?

8 – 9 p.m.

Reading. Me: “Travels with Charley” by Steinbeck. Hannah: ”Baby Catcher” by Peggy Vincent.

9 p.m.

Bed.

- Jesse.

A THURSDAY IN THE LIFE.

onions in the greenhouse.

 In continuation of our “Day in the Life” series, I give you Thursday, July 10.

5 – 5:30 a.m.

Morning chores. Feed the turkeys, the nineteen we have left that is, and walk through the garden. This is when I discover that the rabbits have eaten all but a few of the beans I was naively believing they were somehow not going to eat––you know, since it’s summer and there’s nothing but other things to consume. Needless to say, I curse a little. I have some holes in the fence to be fixed, but until then I plan to set a live trap and to give the rabbit a stern talking to when I catch it.

5:30 – 7 a.m.

Breakfast (rice with tomatoes and red lentil curry) and writing.

7 – 7:45 a.m.

I spend this time in our garden fixing tomato trellises and setting the live trap for the bunny. If I call it a bunny and not a rabbit, I have an easier time keeping my cool about the situation.

7:45 – 8:45

I call the Smiths who say they’ll be ready in about an hour or so to harvest onions, so I take the opportunity to go get our truck from the mechanic. It runs like a dream––a dream with 200,000 miles on it.

8:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Get everything prepared in the greenhouse to hold and cure the onions. The Smiths join us and we harvest thousands of bulbs, place each in the greenhouse to cure, and cover the them to protect from the sun. We’d spent the day before at Salamander Springs Farm in Berea so we all had plenty to talk about and the conversation made the sweat-drenched job go fast, as conversation is wont to do.

1:30 – 3:15

Lunch (chicken livers with rice, corn and onions), and nap time. Listening to NPR I learn Garth Brooks is releasing a double album of new music and find myself embarrassingly excited about this.

3:15-3:45 p.m.

I always wake up to a fresh dose of clarity after naps. And that’s when I remember I was going to do a “day in the life” today, and start to write down everything we did, and remember everything we’d done. Thus, all of the above activities, though true, have been assigned mildly arbitrary times. Do you feel duped? I would feel duped.

3:45 p.m – 4:30 p.m.

Spend about an hour mulching. We always mulch a lot but, but perhaps inspired by the farm we saw the day before where there is no bare soil anywhere, I rather enjoy it this time. Also discover we lost another turkey. From fifty-three, now down to eighteen. Sigh.

4:30 – 7 p.m.

Hannah and I join Cher in the garden to transplant or seed all of our winter squash and pumpkins––all 1400 row feet or so of it. Considering we’d been putting it off for a month, it feels good to get it done.

7 – 7:40 p.m.

Move the goats. They’re looking good. I can finally leave them alone and they seem to keep eating. This keeps them fat and happy. And it keeps me sane. Symbiosis in action.

7:40 – 10 p.m.

Dinner and a movie. After returning “Happy People,” we received “Micmacs,” the latest from Jean Pierre Jeunet, director of “Amelie”. What a great movie. I had some most excellent dreams after watching it––I even purchased a copy of Garth Brook’s new record for Hannah in one of them. She was psyched… in the dream. In reality she told me we were not going to buy it because, well, we have several million other things we need a little more. And I suppose she has a good point, as women with babies in their bellies tend to have in these situations.

10 p.m.

Bed.

- Jesse.

A WEDNESDAY IN THE LIFE.

In continuation of our “Day in the Life” series, what do you say we just keep moving through the weekdays? That way I can’t simply pick and choose the more interesting days, and you get a more accurate glimpse into this off-grid farming thing. Here is last Wednesday in the life, July 2––exciting or not, Thursday, July 10th will be up next.

wanda.

Middle of the night:

The wind picked up and lightning started to crash. I jumped out of bed to cover Charlie and her day-old kittens with a rain coat. I then tried to go back to bed but realized the young transplants were about to get pounded with rain and moved them back into the greenhouse, at which point I noticed the tarp had blown completely off the turkeys and fixed that, my headlamp shorting out all the while. With heart racing from trying to outrun the rain, and coming back to a boiling hot house, I got to sleep an hour or so later. All for about what turned out to be one-tenth of an inch of rain.

5:10 – 5:45 a.m.

Slept in (kinda), then did my chores and started a fire in the wood stove with bitter reluctance.

5:30 – 7 a.m.

Writing and breakfast, NPR in the background

7 a.m.

Stirred blackberry wine and debated putting it into a carboy. Blackberry wine is by far my favorite country wine, but by far the wine that gets the least attention for how busy we are right now. Blackberries should really come into season in November.

7 – 7:45 a.m.

Moved the goats. This deserves its own post for how much I have struggled with the goats lately. They don’t seem to eat unless we’re around which, as full-time farmers, is utterly impossible. We’ve considered leaving cardboard cutouts of ourselves by their paddocks, but instead I’m just spending a little time with them each day and night and moving them more frequently––once a day. I don’t know what their deal is, but as my mentor Eric says, “In farming, everything is your fault.”

7:45 – 9 a.m.

I piddled about in the garden, cultivating and pulling weeds, planning and plotting the fall garden, cursing my Spring use of space.

9 – 10:30 a.m.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we have to harvest any cucumbers, squash, zucchini, and tomatoes as to not let them over-ripen––I nearly forgot. Luckily, harvest was cloudy and I took the baskets of veggies down to our neighbor’s house to store in their cellar and came back with an armload of Mothering Magazine for Hannah. Being the epic reader she is, Hannah was excited, to say the least. I’ll see her sometime next week.

10:30 – 11 a.m.

It’s amazing how much time can be gobbled up just watering stuff––animals, transplants, self. I did a bunch of that and called the mechanic about our broken down truck which they hadn’t got to yet. No idea how long the truck will be there, never do. On the couch next to me was Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends”, so I decided to take a minute to read some poems to Hannah’s belly. I hope when the baby grows up that it takes an interest in literature… and car mechanics.

11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Went to the big garden to cultivate the late tomatoes and rescue the early. The tomato patch at our house is beautiful. The tomato patch there is a jungle.

12:30 – 2:45 p.m.

Lunch and nap. No judging––nap time is essential to summer survival.

2:45 – 5:15 p.m.

Watched the kitties for a few minutes and went to the garden to tackle the tomatoes. Still a lot of work left, but looks more like a savanna now, less of a jungle.

5:15 – 5:45 p.m.

Swimming hole for bathing/cooling. God bless it.

5:45 – 6:30 p.m.

Hannah and I spent some time with the goats. We could tell they’d been eating by the fullness of their rumens, so hopefully they’re getting the hang of this independence thing. We’ll see though. You can lead a goat to fodder but you can’t make them eat.

6:30 – 7:15 p.m.

Evening chores and making dinner.

7:15 – 9:15 p.m.

Dinner and a movie. Sometimes as a treat we charge our computer and watch a movie in the house via Netflix. Our friend Aaron had recommended “Happy People: a year in the Taiga” which we also now recommend. The main subject of the documentary said something I liked, that you can take a man’s house and money, but you can never take his craft. And how. I may not want to ever live in Siberia, but I’m glad someone does.

9:15 p.m.

Bed.

- Jesse.

BIRTH WITHOUT FEAR.

charlie's birth.

I was lucky enough to spend a long afternoon last week with Charlie, watching her deliver her kittens. It was really amazing to sit with her, rubbing her belly through her contractions as she purred and, after a few minutes, popped out her first little one. She speedily cleaned off the kitten (and ate the placenta!) before moving into a nearby basket to make a nest. Over the next few hours, two more kittens arrived, and a fourth came during the night.

As strange as it may sound, this was a very empowering experience for me. Watching Charlie purr through her birth is an image I know I will be drawing upon come December. Charlie didn’t read any books or take any breathing classes. She didn’t have years worth of visuals to draw upon, images of what a birth is “supposed” to look like. Nobody ever told her what she was supposed to do. But she gave birth – and although I know it was a little bit uncomfortable at times – she was never afraid.

kittens.

Jesse and I are planning a homebirth for our own little. Our midwife, Tracey, also delivered all these other wild and wonderful Bugtussle children, so it only seems fitting. But more than that – we believe strongly in the midwifery model of care. Tracey says it like this…Medical care is fear based, and midwifery is faith based. I think that pregnancy and birth are natural and healthy, not medical conditions. I believe in my body and my midwives and my husband  and my faith to carry me through childbirth.

I will also add that we are absolutely not against heading to the hospital, should the need arise! In fact, we are trying to be prepared for this possibility, just in case things don’t turn out as we hope. But I have confidence in our birth plan, and I know that in her own small way, Charlie helped me to gain some of that confidence last week.

- Hannah.

IMG_2159

Two people, trying to live simply and sustainably on a small farm in Kentucky.