When I originally started this blog I imagined it as a way of documenting the process of developing Jugtown into my ideal of what a farm/homestead (or my farm/homestead) should be. And, while I enjoy this documentation, I sometimes feel like I’ve fallen behind and then I feel like I need to catch up and then everything gets overwhelming and I’m afraid some racoon will smile at me but say he’s very angry that he hasn’t seen me in the while (ok maybe that last part is a nightmare from my very short lived attempt at playing Animal Crossing on E’s Nintendo Switch). But, the point is, I have not really been using this blog as I intended to and I’m not certain I really want it to be just that, so this is just fair warning that I will be writing about possibly not totally farm related (but totally farm adjacent) subjects from here on out. I will also possibly post more often – but honestly, there is no real way of knowing. But I do know that I have many BIG THOUGHTS which will be joining my BIG PLANS in this little internet corner.
And since I love lists (Seriously people, you should see my lists. I have, I shit you not, at least five notebooks which currently contain all my lists. The location of all four notebooks, like Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, can never be known all at once, and like Schrodinger’s cat, it is possible that if one attempted to locate all list notebooks and check on the status of all lists, someone or something would probably die) I present to you a list of possible, but not at all guaranteed, big thoughts coming to (or not) a blog right here at some point in the future!
Raising meat chickens and what it means to me to raise and slaughter my own animals along with a sprinkling of thoughts about what it means to be a consumer of anything on this planet.
Good Vibes Only Man! Wherein I hate on toxic positivity and the idea that everything has to have a silver lining.
My shameful admission that I bought RoundUp and used it to smite the evil wild parsnips that are taking over and burning the crap out of my legs. Also some questions about permaculture, organic farming, and why I am pro better living through chemistry in some parts of my life, but apparently not all.
How to be more like a chicken and the benefits of doing so.
Social Media and why I think I might use it incorrectly but then it upsets me less.
The triangle of food (or almost anything) being cheap, convenient, and good for you/society and how a lot of things are triangles.
Why I’m allowed to grow a plant which can literally kill many people, but not a plant that just makes you chill for a bit.
Trying to differentiate between things I actually want to do, versus want to want to do.
So that is a list! It may or not be followed by the actual posts listed. I think all the posts will probably contain some type of list since I think they are a great way to present information and I’m impatient and sometimes don’t like using correct paragraph structure.
Here is a picture of one of goats with a chicken on her back:
Sometimes I am big enough to admit I am wrong. (SOMETIMES, not all the time, so don’t get your hopes up too far!) This will be our third Spring up at the farm and there are things that I have learned that perhaps I was incorrect about earlier:
No till farming is a great idea in theory, but maybe not in practice. No till farming sounds excellent and maybe I will be able to move toward that, but in the meantime I’m itching to borrow my friend’s tiller and stir up this hard packed clay soil we have. This soil is entirely too clay-like and filled with rocks to be able to not till it for at least a couple of years .
Cardboard and mulch is for the slugs. As part of the no till effort last year I did a lot of laying down cardboard and manure and mulch. The slugs had a feast! They love to hide under the cardboard and come out at night and nibble on all the things you have planted just for them. I’m experimenting this year with some bare ground around plants (shhhhh – don’t tell the permaculture people) and some with just a layer of wood chips I got from the power company. Cardboard can be useful in other situations like preparing the ground for future planting, but it is entirely too hospitable for slugs to use it around newly planted seedlings.
Straight lines can be your friend. I am terrible at straight lines – I can’t sew straight, I don’t mow in any fashion one would consider organized, my shoveling is haphazard at best, and I fall off balance beams, so it figures that the “scatter the seeds any old way” would be my prefered method of planting. It turns out that straight lines make it possible to actually tell which of the little green things sprouting are the ones you want, and which ones are not because honestly most seedlings look the same and I’d rather suffer in somewhat straight-ish lines than assume that those sprouts are all my rutabaga seeds and end up with a bed of fleabane.
Grow what you planted, not what happened to sprout. The first year we were here I was so excited about all the “bonus squash” that had sprouted. Those bonus squash were actually super annoying wild cucumbers that grow around here that are in no way helpful or edible.
Bigger is not always better. HA! of course it is!
More is not always better. In some cases it most certainly is – you can never have too much mulch or too many work gloves. But when it comes to seedlings it is survival of the fittest and you have to be brutal. Yes those are all your babies, but do you want twenty stunted weird kinda-radishes or ten awesome radishes? Crowding is no joke in the garden.
Do not put the compost pile next to the house. Yes it is convenient and yes it was nice in the winter to have it so close. But you know what is not nice? Rat babies. That is all I will say.
You cannot do all the things at once. This is something I am still learning. There are a lot of projects to do around here and if I start thinking about them all at once I get overwhelmed and can’t do anything. I’m trying to remember that I just need to do one thing right now. I can do other things later, but right now even if I just sit in a corner of the garden and weed that corner – that is enough.
Seeds do not last forever. Especially if you leave them in the greenhouse over the summer and they cook at 120+ degrees. I have sworn to myself that this year I am planting every single seed I own (which includes ones from 2013 or something ridiculous like that) and will start fresh next year. Also – who doesn’t love seed catalogue time?!
Manure is a myth. I have a lot of piles of poop in the yard and when I acquired my first file of poop I thought I had won the fucking lottery. It’s manure man! I’m gonna have the most amazing plants growing in this amazingly rich poop-soil! No, what you actually will have is a ton of weed seeds that sprout when you spread said poop around that will take over your garden and piss you off.
Hay is not the same as straw. Hay is much easier to find than straw around here and one would be tempted to just assume “hey – they are both dry grass-like products, they are essentially the same” and you would be dead wrong. Straw is amazing and is an excellent addition to your garden, hay is full of grain seeds (as it is supposed to be seeing as it is a food item for livestock) and will fill your garden with unwanted grass forever.
Learn from the weeds. As much as weeds are annoying, they are helpful in that they type of weeds in your soil can be indicative of what is wrong with your soil. All those dandelions and dock weeds with their giant taproots are trying to break up this hard packed soil. They are also excellent at bringing up nutrients with their taproots so a nice compost tea is an excellent way to add these back to the soil without just rolling out the welcome carpet.
Off with your head isn’t always best. There is a reason people deadhead daffodils and other flowering perennials – it encourages better root growth because the plant will then not expend that energy trying to produce seeds. Take this and apply it to that horrid dock or dandelions and you are essentially deadheading your weeds and making them stronger by trying to mow them down the minute they flower! My plan is to wait until the dock is just about to flower and chop it all down.
Ok! This has been a lot of writing! I will leave you with this pretty picture of a luna moth from last year
“Nature’s model is one of supreme, unbridled abundance. It seems ironic, then, to live in an economic system based on lack. When a single ear of corn can yield hundreds of grain-stuffed plants, how puzzling to find that our economy is based on a science of scarcity.”