Sunday, 16 June 2013

A Bit Of A Jumble

I'm slowly emerging from all that has kept me from this space :)  Life has been amazingly full (for which I am tremendously thankful).  Through it all, I've been refined as a person, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a neighbour and a community member.   It's truly stunning how lack of time can totally change both your viewpoint and your perception (as if you were seeing your life through a new pair of glasses).  I think we all need that from time to time ~ a really busy spell to sort the flotsam from the jetsam :)

Through all of these busy weeks, my motto has been rock steady to help navigate me through:

People First, Things Second.  

That about covers it, doesn't it?  I can't remember where I first read that powerful statement, but I know that it has defined my actions for the last several years.  Whoever you are - thank you for your common sense, cut to the chase, powerful statement that helps me invest my time and energy in the right places.  For a girl who likes her fingers in a lot of pies (figuratively and literally), mottos like that are what keep me on the straight and narrow, true to my heart and our family vision.

Through all of the craziness, some really wonderful things have happened.  I'm eager to share with you all that's been going on here at Little Home In The Country.

First up?  Cover cropping.  This is new for me and I'm pretty pleased with how things worked out.  Sadly, we didn't get the rainfall needed to germinate these cover crops early enough (which put my planting schedule a few weeks behind).  Then there was that pesky case of pneumonia to contend with which also put me a few weeks behind.

I planted a combination of field pea, buckwheat & crimson clover which once germinated grew quickly.   

Then, I brought my hens in to graze it all down and gently stir up the mulch/remains.  Such hard workers those girls are!   The above photo shows them nearly finished "mowing" for me :)   I'm pleased to report that my soil is considerably improved this season after suffering from ignorant neglect last year.  My compaction problem is 50% better, and with continued effort, I hope it will continue to improve.  

The Rhode Island Red "chicks" went through their gawky teenage stage outside in a yard that was seeded with alfalfa and clover just for them :)  Spoiled pullets!  What fantastic grazers they are ~  absolutely every speck of green was devoured in the 2 weeks that they were housed there.  Fantastic stuff.  They are now with the "big girls" in the orchard (soon to be food forest) and I'm seeding their yard once again (today) to provide some good forage which will be available for grazing in a about 6 weeks.  

The greenhouse saw LOTS of action this Spring!  I seeded an enormous amount of veg, flowers and herbs this year (in pots up on makeshift tables) and also seeded the ground beds with early cool weather crops.  By the time the cool weather crops were ready to be harvested from the ground, the warm weather seedlings (tomatoes, peppers, cukes, etc.) were ready to go into the ground beds.

Things got a little crowded in there, with seedling flats tucked in between rows of in ground crops so as not to waste a drop of water.  

As to the outside gardens, things are really ramping up!  

Perennials are blooming everywhere (received from a generous freecycler last year) and my young white french lilac tree bloomed for the very first time!

Future growing spaces have been prepared and are cooking slowly in preparation for planting next Spring.  Never mind the hose, it was laid there so that the grass could be mowed :)

I've started a nursery of sorts which includes a diverse array of plants and saplings all in preparation for planting out a new food forest.   The generosity of a lovely woman who is a member of the Edmonton Naturalization Society helped me get this collection of native plants going.  Some are seedlings that I sowed this Spring but most are gifts :)

When you look at the picture below, you might think that we live in a jungle!  The previous owners of the property sprayed weed killer back in this tree line but we let it begin the successional return to it's natural state.  We plan to expand our hen run this sumer so that our hens can make good use of this wonderful fodder.  We've been here 4 years and with all the biomass that has been generated out here, I'm hopeful that the soil condition will have improved enough to lock up the chemical residues...   There is a tremendous amount of diverse wildlife out back in this tree line, so that tells me that the ecosystem is much healthier than it once was.

The willows are branching out beautifully and will help to buffer wind and capture blowing dust, not to mention provide habitat.  We've got lots of plans for this willow (furniture, fuel, logs for hugelkultur beds, arbors, trellises, etc....)

Due to the rains we've had, the agricultural field behind us is lush with new growth (pictured below).  Everywhere we look, verdant green growth is bursting forth!   The ponds and ditches are all full of water and the frogs are so very happy...      Speaking of frogs, I have a lovely plump fellow living in my greenhouse which is a very good thing in my books.

After we cleaned out the coop last month (OH, WHAT A BIG JOB THAT WAS), we layered the manured carbon into the compost bin and onto the areas that are being prepped for next year's new growing beds.  I invested in a thermometer which is helping me to get the carbon/nitrogen ratio and water content right. So far, it's cooking well and is hot but not TOO hot...

My permaculture design course is going extremely well.  I am very pleased with my instructor, Rob Avis of Verge Permaculture.  Being an engineer, he has a very detail oriented, technical mind which suits me well.  I wanted specifics and details I'm getting them!  I'm absolutely nearing my saturation point, and now need to follow my teacher's advice which is to "get out and DO what I've learned".  We hired Rob for a design consultancy on our land last week because I feel nowhere NEAR qualified yet to design and implement large scale earthworks for water harvesting.  Water is POWERFUL and if not managed properly can cause serious damage to land and structures so we decided to err on the side of caution and we hired Rob.  Avoiding very large Type 1 Errors is a good thing in my book!  In the end, the consultation went extremely well and I learned so much just talking with him as he walked with us and analyzed the land.  Now, my job is to get busy and put those fantastic ideas into place... day at at a time :)


  1. What a wonderfully interesting post. I keep reading bits out to my husband, now he wants me to send him the link so that he can have a good read for himself - absorb some of your information. Many thanks.

  2. Enjoy reading about your gardens progress. I find it hard to believe you go from snow to lush green!!

    1. Yeah - it's pretty crazy to have a 60 degree variation! We go from 30 below zero C to 30 above zero!

  3. Lots of info squeezed in there that ive been able to gleen. I like the idea of ground cover cropping for the girls. Though i only have a normal backyard in the burbs im planning two runs in a L shape along the fence with coop in corner. One for using and one for resting and growing greens for them.

    1. Lynda - that's a great plan. Do some reading on the web about what cover crops you can plant in your area for your hens. They will love you for it and YOU will love the eggs!

  4. Very impressive have a lot going on there. All the plants look wonderful. It has turned very hot here. I can almost see my cucumbers growing.

    1. Meggie - thanks :) It's been really busy but very educational... Be sure to post pics of your cukes!

  5. Wow! Look at you now, your permaculture course really shows in this post, the things you've done to your property and the language used in this post. It's so awesome, no wonder you have no time to blog. Keep at it, it's wonderful :)

  6. Busy mum - I am still VERY much a student! So much to learn still, it will take me a lifetime. That's ok - it's the kind of education that only improves with experience and lots of trial and error. I suppose that's the fun part, LOL - mucking around outside trying new things!