Returning to our perches

On March 11th, our turkey vultures returned. I say “our vultures” only because they choose to spend the summer in the tall trees near our house. They may well look down upon us from their perches as “our local two leggers” … or perhaps “those keepers of strange flightless birds and even stranger waking hours.” Regardless, the vultures are a welcomed seasonal fixture at Farm Folly, a reminder that warmer weather has finally arrived and we can venture outside once more.

Turkey vultures return

Ironically, we really don’t know when they leave. Summer gives way to the rains of fall and at some point we are splitting wood in the cold drizzle and realize that it’s been weeks since we’ve heard the quiet murmur of their large wings. This year it appears that they took much of our motivation with them. The winter is always a hard time to blog. The pleasant ritual of daily woodstove fires in November becomes a tedious March battle fought with damp materials. The cold and dark seep into your veins and bleed off your momentum. I know we don’t have much to complain about compared to other areas (Svalbard?), but this season has been particularly rough. December set records for cold and February brought an ice storm that cut off power to tens of thousands. The rainy mild weather that typifies most Oregon winters was strangely absent.

The other problem with blogging is that we haven’t felt much like homesteaders lately. We didn’t grow a garden last year or raise a new batch of chicks. The last quart of canned tomatoes was consumed months ago and our meat comes from a local butcher shop. We’ve always kept the focus of the site intentionally specific–nature, gardening, livestock, home improvement–but this means that time spent pursing a variety of other interests doesn’t translate to the blog. In the last year we’ve pushed the culinary limits of cheap hot plates, dabbled in foreign languages, and focused on one really big project, but homesteading?

Humulus lupulus

New hop shoots are pushing their way to the surface and the Toulouse geese are violently drowning each other for love. Everywhere there are signs of spring and we feel compelled to go outside and plant things. We’ve been making plans for the garden, baby chicks, fences, finished drywall and more. I know it’s been a quiet couple of years on the blog, but we still love this medium for connecting people around common interests. We still have ideas to try and stories to share. There will be successes and failures and the occasional outbreak of silliness. Nothing has changed, and everything is different.

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10 Responses to Returning to our perches

  1. Phil says:

    I can understand the decrease in homesteading with the arrival of your baby. When my oldest was born, a lot got put on the back burner, and I made the unfortunate decision to sell too much off. Even though you’re not doing as much of the homesteading now, all those reasons you had to start it in the first place will come back. They did with me, now I’m stuck buying a lot of it again to get started 🙂

    • lee says:

      We didn’t sell anything last year, but a lot did get put on hold. I particularly regret the garlic, which for lack of weeding and trapping was completely destroyed by the gophers. We had been growing and saving garlic each year since we moved here, and we have no record of the original variety.

  2. Ron says:

    I call our endeavors “living” instead of “homesteading” these days. It’s much less constraining.

    Those hops look like an interesting plant. I’ve never seen them before.

    • lee says:

      Yeah, I don’t self-identify as a homesteader specifically, but that is the blog’s focus. Our viewpoints on quite a few things have changed since we first moved here, and I no longer subscribe to any ideal of producing all my own food.

      I took all the photos last year to do a life-cycle review of hops but never wrote a post about it. Beer aside, they have some neat properties for landscaping such as how they bounce back from the roots completely each year and can grow 20′ or more. I have three varieties of hops now.

    • Great post and I hear ya! I call it experimental.. Doing the same thing a different ways. I find labels to be too labelly.

  3. Snowbrush says:

    I often spend time wondering if the Hop Shoots are related to the Hoop Shots. My theory is that they used to all be Hoop Shots, but one day an immigration officer on Ellis Island wrote the name down wrong because his glasses were dirty, and that resulted in a split in the family which eventually led to a feud which continues to this day.

  4. ShimFarm says:

    Ah, don’t worry so much about focus and direction. It’s all good. The spurts of activity and the seasonal downswings, well, it’s a part of life.

    (I’m one to talk – no post on my blog since January LOL).

    I’m always mollified when I stop by Farm Folly and see your progress (even if you might not see it) and how much you care you put into all of your ventures.

    Keep plugging away. Like the saying goes, it’s not the destination, it’s the journey.

    • robin says:

      Oops, I forgot to write back to this. Thanks for the kinds words Ann. 🙂 I think I am beginning to see the ebb and flow of projects more. I think Lee and I mentally wish we were the type of people who accomplished lots of projects all the time but we like our down time and social life too much to give up. Hanging out with friends and making good food never gets old. 😀

  5. April says:

    I have loved reading your blog for years, and like you, we have had many homesteading and home improvement projects to keep us busy since we bought our acreage 4 years ago. I just had my first child about 3 months ago, and am still in “survival” mode. We keep our existing animals alive and healthy, but all projects have been stopped and the garden is full of weeds. When were you able to feel that you could tend a garden again? I fear it will be years and years before I am back to growing some of my own food, and it makes me sad.

    • robin says:

      I point blank refused to garden or feel guilty about not having a garden the first year Sidney was born. This spring we managed to get the garden in during her naps mostly. If I didn’t have Lee’s help (or vise versa) I don’t think either one of us would have attempted it. Sidney is a really easy baby (for the most part) which also helped.

      This garden year has changed from lots of naps and easy toy distractions while in the garden with us to one nap and toy distractions not working. Sidney wants to wander the isles, pull up stakes, pull on leaves, etc. She is trying to imitate us mostly. Someone is always having to follow behind her to keep destruction to a minimum.

      I am the most nervous about the coming canning season as her naps just aren’t long enough in the day to attempt it. I have a feeling there are going to be some late nights (which tends to put me off after a long day of baby wrangling) or maybe some weekend canning when Lee can help.

      Don’t feel bad about not gardening. I mean that. I am always behind on the dishes, laundry, vacuuming, etc. My two hour nap break consists of animal chores, watering the garden when needed, catching up inside… and just having a coffee break. The coffee break is a MUST. 🙂 Whether you have a garden next year of five years from now doesn’t matter as you have to do whats best for you and your little one. A happy well adjusted kid (and parent) is much more important.

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