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

Winter conundrums


"Why should only the outside world get time off for bad weather?" Mark asked Sunday.  Before I knew it, I'd agreed to a one-hour delay on Monday morning.

Homestead rain gauge

And it was a good day to sleep in.  A full weekend of rain had filled my wheelbarrow rain gauge and set the creek into moderate-flood mode.  (Moderate flood means we can't get out with hip waders, but I could walk nearly all the way to the ford without being impacted by high water.)  Don't worry, rust-phobes, I flipped the wheelbarrow on its side after taking this picture.

Wet leaves

The flood reminds me that winter is a season of tough choices for homesteaders.  Do you relax and soak up the peace and quiet in preparation for next year's growing season?  Or do you take advantage of days without pressing plants and animals to get some big-picture projects done?  Mark leans toward the first option and I lean toward the second, so we meet in the middle --- we slow down some, but also slip in projects non-essential enough that they never make the cut during the growing season.  (And I get extra time to write.)

Flowering loop

Winter is also a good time to catch up on blog posts that didn't make it into the summer queue.  For example, I seem to have never mentioned how I experimented with tempting our seven-year-old-but-not-yet-fruited dwarf Yellow Transparent to make fruit buds.  The problem tree was slated for removal this spring since it sent up scads of watersprouts in 2012 after I pruned to remove extensive cicada damage.  But I decided to tie each long, vertical twig into a loop instead, and the trickery does seem to have promoted the formation of fruiting spurs!  I'll keep you posted next year about whether actual flowers are forthcoming.


What big-picture projects are you slipping in between snow storms?

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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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In the SF bay area, we don't get snow. But we can get tons of rain and, as is the case this year, chilly days and freezing nights that beg you to stay inside. So when it's sunny and at least 50F, we are removing the debris from a eucalyptus tree that we had removed. The debris (leaves and seed-BBs) are allelopathic, killing everything in their midst with their toxic essential oils. So we fill a couple of dumpsters (goes to city compost center) a week. Almost done! Otherwise we are readying some areas (read: cutting down small trees and digging) for fruit trees, and planning where to set up our raised beds for the early spring. We just bought the house this fall, so projects are endless.
Comment by jen g Wed Dec 11 12:07:02 2013

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