Wintertide

It is about now that I start wanting my house guest to leave.

“Winter,” I say, “Old Chap, is there anywhere else you need to be soon?”

He shakes his head through gales of frost.

I put on another cup of coffee.  Put another log on the fire.

The cold crops go in the ground in six or seven short weeks.  We will have bustling to do to get the new garden fenced and the soil ready.  We will devour the warm days as they come.  Spring will surely rise from the frozen ground.  I appreciate the rest, the rest for the plants and trees, the water, the blah, blah, blah.

‘Tis about the mid of January that I am ever ready for blessed warmth and activity.  Yet Jack Frost rarely hauls out slow so I must welcome the guest awhile longer.

The snow lightly covers the landscape as the golden sun arises and sends glitter across the lawn.  My winter puppy is in love with the season and leads his walk outdoors by mouthing up big gulps of icy snow.  I found a small, fallen branch.  Abandoned after falling out of yonder tree.  The sap still slightly sticky.  I brought it home.  It is the flower of winter, the conifer bough, and it sits proudly in its vase upon the stove.  (The only place the kitties can’t get it.)  It hearkens the beauty of winter-all of its reds and greens and glittered snow and great open blue sky-and reminds me to walk upon its icy tread, to breathe fresh air and not yet make the spring to-do list, but to visit geese and winter ducks and welcome the winter time.

For a few more months anyway….

 

Curry Chickpea Sandwiches on the Hiking Trail

This idea was in not one, but two of my favorite magazines last month.  Though I do not particularly care for the squeaky dryness of garbanzo beans out of a can, the idea looked great to me.  Fiber, vegetables, protein, vegetarian, and something new?  So, I took the idea and ran with it.  I ended up with curry chickpea salad.  I also do not care for sandwiches, but I cannot get enough of this one.  Delicious.

Start with a can of organic garbanzo beans.  Strain and pour into bowl.  Crush it with a fork.  We don’t want to puree it or we have hummus, just crush it so you have a nice chunky base.

This base can be changed and improved upon depending on taste.

I added a good dollop of mayonnaise (and a bit of chipotle mayo too).

Add a chopped celery stick and half a shredded carrot.

Sprinkle on garlic powder, dried minced onions, a little salt, lemon pepper, and a tablespoon of curry powder.

Blend well.  Smear on seeded whole grain sandwich bread.

Other ideas:  Use grapes and almonds for “chicken” salad. Or add relish and a bit of mustard, and a good sprinkling of fresh dill.  Be creative!

Some days now are perfect to pack a basket of sandwiches, fruit, and drinks and head to the hiking trails.  We did this just this last weekend and it was beautiful.  Good to know spring always comes. (Doug took some great photos.)

 

Is That You Spring?

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I heard a faintly familiar sound as I approached the front door to let the lambs out.  A swooshing and cleansing sound.  The sound of rain.  Of Spring rain.  The shivering breath I had held all winter was released in a single, thankful exhale.  We made it to spring.  We made it through our first winter in this 1905 homestead.  We made it through the thirty-five degree bathroom, we made it snuggled up with cats, and with six layers of clothes on.  We are entering springtime on the homestead.  It is beautiful.

The rain washes the porches and my clothes on the line clean.  The trees are drinking in giant gulps and spreading their arms after their long winter nap.  Bits of green spreads like fingers across the prairie floor.  The meadowlark sings.  The robin searches for worms.  The birds are home for spring.  My gardens await and I have much work to do.  A fresh start and half an acre to prepare in the next few weeks.

Baby season is upon us and the lambs warm our hearts and laps.  The goats are getting large with child.  The world and I are waking up.

Welcome Spring.  You are our blessed guest.

 

Homestead Spring

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The first day of spring might have been in March but around here the first day of spring was yesterday.  The sun shone gloriously from its perch, the air was warm, the lilac and choke cherry leaves are stretching their arms out of their winter cocoons.  It even rained instead of snowed!  Of course I have four loads of wet laundry draped on the clothes line now, but just imagine how fresh they will be when they dry!  Nature’s fabric softener.

I could hardly get myself to stay inside.  I cleaned quickly and spent most of my day outdoors basking in vitamin d. I seem to be sun operated, it charged my batteries after a long, cold winter, and I got ever so much done!

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The big chickies enjoyed their romp around the yard.  I locked them out of their own pen to allow the chicken pen door to remain open and inspire the little ones to take in a little sun.  Nala and Sophia, our fabulous Araucanas in their fashionable leopard coats, remind me of those girls in school who were so much prettier than everyone else and so much bitchier.  They tell everyone what they may and may not do.  They chased any curious chick away from the doors.  A few times Gretel was able to spread out in the sun, her wings spread wide, in a lounging position until one of the Araucanas decided that she had enough.  A few snuck out for a few minutes but the guard girls shooed them back in.  Poor Henry Higgins.  He spends most of his time in the dog kennel out there hiding from the increasing estrogen levels of the female teens.  Brigitta is quickly becoming one of my favorites.  She runs and stands on our foot when we arrive.  And she felt safe to venture outside if I could stand with her.  She is the goof ball looking at the camera when I was taking a picture of Sophia.  Who’d a thought that chickens would have so much personality?

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Out in the garden, I transplanted the oregano and cilantro, planted six more rows of greens, and watered well (before the rain storm…).  It felt good to get my hands dirty.  The seeds are germinating and shoots of promising food are slowly popping up here and there.  The carrots are the last to come up.  I was hoping this would be my first year successfully growing carrots!  The herbs are taking off and look wonderful.  The bees came to visit and I enjoyed their gentle buzzing.  I will not have my own bees this year.  I recognized that I had taken on a bit more than I could handle.  Not knowing where we will be, not having any of the equipment to prevent stings, and a general nervousness about 10,000 bees coming over for dinner, I decided to see if someone else would take them when they arrived.  My young bee mentor was hoping for another group of bees but the company had sold out.  So, mine are living happily at his house.  Farmgirls have lofty goals, but sometimes they have to be spread out a bit.  There is always next year.

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Speaking of lofty goals, I sat there shaking my head at my garden plot.  I have six beds that are 10×3, three beds that 5×3, and two beds that are 3×3.  It may seem like a lot compared to what I could do in an apartment, but the square footage gets used up pretty quick once you plant three kinds of corn, squash, zucchini, watermelons, garlic, onions, Brussels sprouts, grapevines, radishes, lettuce, collard greens, kale, potatoes, peas, carrots (come up already!), cauliflower, cabbage, soybeans, three kinds of cooking beans, medicinal herbs, and culinary herbs…..yikes.  My main goal is to grow enough to substantially help feed my family.  Add to that market growing and I need a bigger plot!  Even though Nancy will be doing the bulk of the market growing, I wouldn’t mind helping out a little and I am growing a lot of the herbs.

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Then I started to see it.  Look at that space just to the left of the peas….or in between lettuce plants….or in that pot over there…or…there are a lot of spaces that can be filled.  I placed the oregano in the potato bed.  I placed the greens where I will add tomatoes and peppers in a few weeks.  Everyone will like each other.  I can see what doesn’t make it, replant.  Or find a foot here and there.  It is doable.  No long rows of the same thing.  Lots of interplanting (making sure they all get a long of course) and space making!  If the water wasn’t so exorbitant in this town, I would have already plowed the front yard and made a giant corn field and pumpkin patch.  Our space is as limitless as our imagination.

I wanted to attack the crabgrass before it grew up to high and we got a notice from the town.  But in my quest for all things non-electric, I bought a push mower last year.  It is a nifty little thing, just doesn’t cut grass.  I took my kitchen knife sharpener out and worked on the blades.  Had the whole front yard mowed in no time!

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My indoor garden survived their indoor recesses, and like me, were anxious to get a smidge more sunshine.  They are enjoying their stay on the porches looking out for possible freezes, but I think they can spend the majority of their time out there now.  Just as I will.

The sure sign of spring for me yesterday was the familiar whistling moped sound from the sky.  And there she was.  Our beautiful hummingbird has returned.  Welcome, welcome Spring.

Spring Decor Farmgirl Style

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We love each season and each of their gifts.  Renewal, Sunshine, Harvest, Rest.  Each season in our house looks differently.  To switch from winter to spring a house needs but a few touches.  Trade heavy blankets and pillows for lighter ones on furniture.  A bold Indian blanket was replaced with Kat’s grandma’s beautiful quilt.  Still nice to curl up with during movies but cheery enough to emote spring.  The pillow was a Pottery Barn Christmas pillow.  Adorable.  Perhaps time to cover the Christmas stockings on it though!  A vintage pillow case does the trick.  Stacks of gardening books surround the chairs.

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A simple pair of humble galoshes can whisper springtime is approaching!  They are good for trekking through the snow to the chicken coop or standing in the garden.  I like them by the door.  An invitation for springtime to come on in! (And springtime mud indeed will.)

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Look closely at this picture!  It is easy to be distracted by the seventeen year old “farm dog” there guarding the rug.  Look at the tablecloth.  For ten dollars I was able to get two yards of vinyl for our six foot table at the craft store.  It lasts a whole lot longer than the cheap plastic tablecloths at Walmart, standing up to cat scratches, stains, and daily wear and tear.  It just washes off.  I have a vintage New Mexican tablecloth underneath it to keep it protected.  There are lady bugs all over the vinyl tablecloth creating a look of picnicking on the dining room table.  Lady bugs and bees welcome spring.

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Lanterns and warmer weather decor is replaced with bird cages and flowers.  I bought this bird cage at a thrift store for next to nothing to house vases of spring flowers (which I am yet to get) to protect them from nibbling kitties.  Pots of daffodils look great tucked inside as would a bird’s nest or Easter eggs.

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The indoor garden is still brightening the window sill to the south.  The petunias simply love it.  A package of petunias can be arranged in pots and placed throughout the house in sunny locations.  They are so easy to grow.  They love sun, water every three days, and dead head the plant so the blooms keep coming back to show off.

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This lovely peasant dress arrived in the mail early yesterday.  Something sassy to wear to Santa Fe next week (along with her four sisters I may have purchased in a spring fever frenzy.  Beautiful.  Where creamy whites and piney greens are show stoppers in winter, nothing beats bright colors to infuse the spirit in time for spring.

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Mine aren’t quite this glorious yet, my daffodils are merely peeking their arms up out of the soil, but I do hope you planted bulbs last fall!  Nothing sings spring like birds raucous and loud outside the window and fields of daffodils and tulips.

So, out with knits and winter reminiscences, and in with bright, happy decorations, clothing, and flowers.  Welcome Spring!