By February, I'm just trying to get through. The short length of the sun's rays, gray days, cold, snow... the total grayness of it all just gets me down. This year, I've fared better than most years as we've had days of warmth (t-shirts in January!) and lots of sun. It's also helped that I'm outside for longer periods of time - it used to be the shuffle: from house to car, car to job, job back to house. Now that I'm somewhat free to be outside, being trapped inside for too long is a drain. A drain on my mind, body and spirit that yearns for the 'fresh air.' I had a goal last year to visit the woods on the farm once a month (I made it!). You know, just take a stroll down to the creek. Nothing planned, just when I feel like I should. This year, I'm trying to take that stroll once a week. So far, it's easy. There's no biting insects, no poison ivy, no ticks! The work here on the farm is not as pressing - I mean I'm not weeding too much this time of year! The path is clear. When I feel like it's time, I get Marina (the dog), tell Zeus (my bodyguard cat) to follow along, and off we go. It's so simple, a walk in the woods.

Out with the moon.

Out with the moon, into to the darkness. The days, for me, have grown increasingly longer. Since the daylight savings time change at the end of October, my body thinks we’ll awake before the sun has risen. As early as 4am, I stare out into the darkness wondering why I’m up this early, at this time of year. When I tell people how early I’ve been waking, the response is “Oh, farmer’s hours!” My response is, yeah, but I’m not that kind of farmer. Out of bed at 4am would be great if the daylight could catch up with my habit. 4am would be wonderful at the height of summer, when the days are sometimes 18 hours long – not the actual daylight, but the hours I work, sometimes with the aid of a headlamp.

Anxiety has been a mistress to invade my sleeping hours and shake me from sleep. I awake to a grogginess that quickly turns into a panic as I think of the lack of restful sleep that seems to evade me. I quickly calculate a time in the day for a quick nap, but realize the projects I have before me will not allow for a rest. Usually, at high tides of job related workloads, my brain reels with creative processes, deadlines, supply lists, tasks… a relentless cycle of ‘to do’s.’ Suppose this is how I roll? An employer to myself, the work is never finished, but, Ah! I’m never bored.  I’m quite possibly sleepy, but never without an adventure waiting.


Cool air.

The evening air off the porch is beautiful.  It is the cool of an early summer night, but the mosquitoes and June bugs are replaced by the croaks of contented frogs (at both the upper and lower frog sanctuaries).  It is a perfect night for sitting on the porch.   Sadly, at this point two cats have taken the front porch seats so I sit just inside, on the couch.

In any case, it’s a nice night for a moment’s reflection and a website update.  Flora Bay’s been keeping me busy lately, but some jobs may have gotten a whole lot easier.  Today, our little farm got its very own little tractor!

It’s blue and a Ford and about the size of a worg (Ed. Note: A worg is a magical wolf like beast from Dungeons and Dragons. I had to look it up. - c).  Its back tires come to my knees and attached to its rear is a tiller.  NOT that we’re planning to go to a tilling rotation with the beds.  We’ve learned that strategy exhausts the soil, requiring more additives and work.

Anyway, I’m assured the tractor is beautiful under its tarp (sorry, got home after it was tucked in for the night), and I can’t wait for it to make my life easier.  Wait, it already has.  Courtney tractored it around a bit today and tilled up the remaining (soon to be) asparagus beds.  They look great!  And I didn’t have to do anything.

Speaking of the asparagus beds, this Saturday is our ‘Farmhand Day,’ where you, the loyal Friend can actually come and help, here, in person, at Flora Bay Farm, in (currently) beautiful Carbondale, IL.  Courtney’s lined up tons of great planting, including 130 asparagus crowns, 200 prickly raspberry plants, strawberries (yeah, I know a little late), and blueberries (right on time, thank you very much).

We’re starting deep into the farmer’s clock, at 9:30.  Refreshments will be served.   I guess how long we go depends on how many people show up.  Better hope you’re not the only one!

Just kidding.  Anyway, I hope that you’re enjoying a night as beautiful as mine.


Mother Nature and her tricks.

Steve told me it was snowing last night right before I turned off the light for bed. I couldn't bring myself to peer out of the window. Too tired from digging the new frog pond and just didn't really want to believe it was that cold out there. This morning, up before the sun, I passed the dining room windows and was a little shocked by what the window was showing. Snow!  As I made my way to the south windows in the kitchen, I had to put down my dismay and realize that I have no control over the weather. Ok, well, sorta… if you think about global warming and our destruction of the earth and climate change and ALL THAT. It was too early this morning to get depressed. Instead, I grabbed my camera and headed outside with Jazz (cat). I tried to thank Mother Nature for bringing moisture in the form of this beautiful, fluffy white covering. It is pretty. Snow helps the landscape soften, hushes the harshness of the world. 

Jazz bounded up the old plum tree (this cat is a climber), the birds were singing as usual and the daffodils continued to bloom. The Red Russian kale babies were standing proud, unaffected by their new furry snow coat. It seems like I was the one who minded the snow, as nature was just fine with it. Guess after walking around the farm looking at the beauty of Mother Nature, I'm ok with it, too. 

Farming by oneself.

Most of the time, it's just me and the creatures working out here. Marina (the guard dog) is usually hanging around, waiting for the groundhog to stir. The cats are nearby as they all like to keep an eye on me, to see what I'm up to.  Steve works off the farm, but helps out after his job and on the weekends.  So usually I'm trying to figure out how to do things as a one woman show… like yesterday afternoon. I was building bins for compost out of various fencing materials found on the property. The posts are metal 8' T-posts. To get these into the ground, there's a nifty gadget called a "post driver." It's a hollow metal tube with handles, one end is capped. It's fitted over the t-post and you hold onto the handles and bang the post into the ground. It works fairly well, makes a lot of racket and helps work your upper body (I'm up at 4:45 am this morning because my arms were screaming at me. A little sore from "post driving.")  Since I'm 5'4", the posts are 8' -  a ladder was needed to get the leverage to drive the posts. Out comes our 6' ladder to help with the project… it worked, posts are in the ground!