It’s August and we have totally been enjoying our summer. It took a while to get into the groove and now I am ready for it to go on for months, I’ve got my summer rhythm! While I’m reminded that it won’t be here as long as I would like it to last – the August cricket sounds are in the background now, the local county fair is coming up, which always appears right before “back-to-school”, and there is no ignoring the “back-to-school” shopping going on in the stores – I’m not ready to switch gears and fall into the next season. Summer weather came late in the season for many locations in our country and we really didn’t feel the summer vibes until June. By then, we had a lot going on all at once, which created a busy scene for our homestead for most of June.
(We call these Marshmallow Fields. They’re not ours but we love looking at them.)
Once I became a full-time caretaker, my daily mantra became “living life on the farm”. The minute you are the caretaker to keep something alive, whether it be pets, animals, plants, wee humans or big humans, you are living “life on the farm”. There are no days off or holidays because caretakers work 24/7. I’ve lived the 24/7 lifestyle of “life on the farm” for many years but now we are the happy new owners of an old farmstead of sorts. Although we don’t actually have anything to farm yet, it was a farm property at one point, so I feel justified in believing that I actually own a farm now.
(My view down the road. Pitter patter goes my heart.)
Someday, there will be farm critters of some species adding to my workload and something to harvest beyond a backyard garden, perhaps. For now, there are wee humans and my optimistic garden on my next-level farmstead.
(One section of my garden in the early stages.)
(The same section later on with more weeds.)
(My attempt at no-till garden raised rows. It keeps the weeds out of the beds but requires more dirt than I had access to. I need a pickup truck.)
(Once I had a free moment, I used some grass clippings to control some of the weeds.)
That’s kept me quite busy this summer.
My current garden is an overly optimistic adventure this year because I started it before I had the space to plant it. When we finally closed on the farm property, the space to plant came late into the gardening season, as did the warm weather, so it has basically been an adventure of the scrambling kind. I have just finished putting the last of my veggie transplants into the ground. Yup. It’s August. There are still a few flowers I want to transplant as well. I did need to let some transplants go, there is just not enough time for them to mature or they were not hanging in there with me because it took me too long to get them into the ground. It was inevitable. I had saved every sproutling because I could not do the “thinning out” step in the beginning of the garden process. What if the underdog had a come back, all it needed was time? I can identify with that!
And if I weren’t crazy enough, I also ordered large amounts, and I do mean large, of live heirloom Geranuim and Chyrsanthemum plants.
I’m on an Heirloom mission.
(That is only most of the Geraniums…old scented styles and older flowering types.)
I have kept a gardening notebook to write down what I did this year, and the changes I’d like to make or need to make for next year. This garden just needed to happen. I discovered early on, that I had been too ambitious in my dream (that’s a familiar tune) and I needed to just “git ‘er done” this year and go with it. There were a handful of times the voices in my head would encourage me to scrap the whole thing. I was drowning in plants so I should take what I learned from the experience and try it again next year. But I wasn’t going down that easily.
My stubborn efforts paid off and I’m super jumpy excited that my attempts to have an organic-style heirloom garden worked and I have had some harvests already. I only planted a small portion of the plants that were on the list for this year because I had too many transplants. They took over all the available space in my garden, leaving no space for the veggies that needed to just go into the ground as seeds.
Peas came first.
My hubby had to wait for a few harvests before there were enough to share.
Zucchini, chives, cucumbers and my first ripe tomatoes have come out of my crazy garden adventure. Something like that only tells my brain it’s okay to be crazy and have super big ginormous dreams. I fell short of the original plan, but I still accomplished an heirloom garden, no Miracle Gro allowed. Wahoo!
(My dad took pity on me and made me a couple of raised beds. Unfortunately, I have a million plants.)
My own plans to build raised garden beds had to be scrapped due to time constraints so most of my garden was planted in tilled ground. Oh the weeds that came with doing it that way are a force to be reckoned with. But, I keep reckoning with them. I have not had much of a problem with pests yet, so have handled what has come along. I carry my “bug bucket” with me, dropping the pests into soapy water as I pick them off. We’ve always loved caterpillars as cute and fuzzy, but this year, a certain kind spelled doom for my garden plants and some of our trees, so they were on the “Wanted Dead” list. That has taken some adjustment on the part of my wee ones, and myself if I’m honest.
(One of my garden helpers.)
There is a Monarch caterpillar that ambled its way into my garden and onto a tomato plant. It has formed a chrysalis and is hanging out under a leaf. I have never seen a Monarch caterpillar in nature and this past week we saw about six of them in our property. Very cool. I just happened to plant some milkweed too for the future generations.
We also live in an area that is grassland and we now have eagles flying overhead. Hearing their distinctive screech is amazing and it’s the first time I have ever seen an eagle in nature as well.
All signs that point to being in the right place for our forever home. Ahhh….
Life on the farm is our camping excursion this year. Due to limitations in an old home, we pile up the dirty laundry and dishes to bring them back to the home we’re renting for the washing. And speaking of the washing, we pile our dirty selves into the car to go back for our own washings too. We now have warm water but the tub has dead bugs in it and needs a serious cleaning that I just have not gotten around too. Partly due to procrastination because I’ve had enough of yucky things to clean. Being a grown-up has its pitfalls.
As a former country girl and camper, I am no stranger to cold water sponge baths.
Being completely covered in garden dirt and love required one of those behind our barn one evening. I was careful to position myself so that passers-by need not worry about the strange habits of the new neighbors (yet) but as I was washing up, I heard the familiar purr of a small local plane engine. Yikes! I had not planned for an overhead spy mission! Luckily it was not a full on bath, just a quick wash up of dirty feet etc. so I was able to look normal-ish as the plane went overhead.
Then there is the saga with our water.
We knew we would need a new well and got to work getting that taken care of.
But there were still issues accessing water. The kitchen sink has a crack in it so it leaks. Old homesteads used to have their kitchen sink and washer water drain to a separate tank that now is unhooked with our new well in place. Those conditions render our kitchen sink unusable. Then, the outside pipe that brings water to the faucet for my hose is cracked so water sprays out all the time. With a myriad of things needing attention, it is an old farmhouse after all, fixing the pipe – or more appropriately, having someone fix the pipe, has not happened yet. That means I have to turn the water to the house on and off every time we come and go to limit the waste.
And that means…I have to go into the basement.
A very old basement.
The basement is very old on one side. Extremely old. The kind of basement that you would never step foot in if you didn’t have to. Unfortunately, I do have to.
When I go down, I treat it like a snorkeling moment. When I snorkel, the voices in my head tell me to look directly around me, keep my eyes low and squinty on the things two feet in front of me and whatever I do, don’t peer off into the distance.
Sometimes though, I do, because I kinda feel like I should know if a shark is out there while I’m frolicking with my snorkel.
I also think the grown-up side of me should know if there is a large critter or a large mass of small critters around me in the basement, so I do use the squinty-eyed method to peer around once in a while. The problem-solver in me has only come up with running and vacating the premises as the solution if that happens. I can’t even slam the basement door shut to trap any unwanted critters down in the basement because it is an old house and the door does not close all the way.
Thankfully, we’re halfway through our camping adventure there and I’ve only seen spiders.
The other day a yucky black spider had built a web on the side of the stairs. Ick. They are steep stairs so I use a small amount of the skin on the tip of my pointer finger to press on the wall to steady myself if need be, and adding a spider and it’s web in my way to the maneuvering took personal courage. I wanted to let the spider stay there but asked that spider why it couldn’t have gone somewhere else in the large expanse of perfectly good spider basement environment. I managed a few trips into the basement sharing the space with the spider but when another brown spider was spotted next to me crawling back up it’s web, my courage crumbled and the next time I went down, it was with an old broom. Old, because I didn’t want spiders on my new broom that I sweep the house with.
Teaching my kiddos to be country kids has been a nostalgic adventure for me. There are “black caps” to hunt for.
Bikes to ride on dirt driveways and country lawns, which always result in crashes and plenty of moments for band-aids and kisses. Trips into the corn field to find your way back home and climbing on big round hay bales, with the scratches to prove it.
We are outside early in the morning and later in the evening, and most moments in between.
There are more sunrises and sunsets to enjoy before the fall season closes up our farmhouse camping adventure. There is also an adventure to my farm stand dream so stay-tuned if you’re local and check the bottom of our driveway. Once up and running I’ll post to my facebook and instagram accounts for “the latest” scoop so follow along.
Until then, soak it in my BFF’s – the stores already have their fall stuff out!