The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Spring melt(down)

Multiflora rose new leaves

This is how I feel about spring.  It's beautiful and tender and colorful...and it has big thorns and is an invasive species.

People who don't live on a farm think that farmers are itching for spring right now...and we are.  But there's also the flip side of the coin.  All summer while the garden is dictating our every move, we're making a list of the big picture projects we're saving for winter.  And then all winter we're trying to work our way through that list.

Baby rampsMarch is when reality sets in and we realize that the other twenty things we didn't get done just aren't happening until next winter.  It's a bit devastating to me to realize that the big picture projects left over from our 2010 to-do list (yes, we're still working on those) are going to be 2012 projects.  Heck, if the new age pseudo-mayans are right, maybe my rainy day moan --- "We'll never install my bathtub" --- will really come true.

On the other hand, is it possible to look at this baby ramp plant pushing up through the soil under our kitchen peach and not smile?  I can hardly believe that two of the ramps I grubbed up with my fingers in a rush last spring far too late in the season for transplanting actually survived.  And there are leaves coming out on the elderberries, gooseberries, and gojiberries too.  Our poppies have sprouted and I can nearly taste the first spring lettuce.

The truth is that we each make choices about what to do with our time.  On the one hand, it is a little nuts that we still take bird baths all winter four and a half years after moving to the farm.  But if you ask me whether I'd rather have installed the bathtub or cloned oyster mushrooms and planted spinach, swiss chard, and onions this week, I'll tell you that there's no contest --- fresh food beats hot baths any day.  The average American's choices are hidden beneath a veil of normalcy, but they're constantly making choices too, opting to spend forty hours per week away from their loved ones so that they can take a long hot bath (if they can find the time.)  Our choices are more overt, but the truth is that I'd rather be planting perennials that will turn into a patch of edible leaves in a few years than working on our living conditions.  Bathtubs don't multiply exponentially over time, but ramps do.

Our chicken waterer is perfect for chicks from day 1.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Comment by Errol Fri Mar 11 09:17:00 2011
I was going to tell you you're too far south, but a bit of research suggests you can grow ramps to zone 8. If I get my act together and go transplant some more this spring, I'll try to remember to get you a few.
Comment by anna Fri Mar 11 11:47:36 2011
That would be wonderful!
Comment by Errol Fri Mar 11 13:39:15 2011
I love this post, because it's so true! I'm feeling the pressure today and about to head back outside to try and bring a close to some of our winter projects.
Comment by Sara Fri Mar 11 13:53:41 2011
Sara --- I appreciate you saying that. When I get overwhelmed by the seasonal tasks that have such hard deadlines, I always expect everyone to comment and say, "You're nuts! Planting the garden is not stressful!" While I hope you can de-stress, it makes me feel better to know I'm not the only oddball out here.
Comment by anna Fri Mar 11 15:01:27 2011
Nice post. Sadhu....
Comment by J Fri Mar 11 22:56:12 2011
I had to look up what you meant by "sadhu", but I'm honored!
Comment by anna Sat Mar 12 12:52:21 2011

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