Rings of Fertility


In our orchard we are using a permaculture method called “guilding”. Around each tree we plant beneficial herbs and plants, that have several uses.  Our goal is to have 5-10 uses for everything we plant here on the farm.

Around each tree we have what we jokingly call “rings of fertility” but in reality that is exactly what they are. Using a sheet mulching method we are creating fertility, in essence building our own top soil.  Each ring extends just beyond the tree’s individual drip line, that is the area where the tree absorbs the most water and nutrients, right at the drip line. imageIn each ring of fertility we plant our beneficial plants and herbs that have several functions.  Right now we have clovers, chamomile, yarrow, plantain and comfrey planted around each tree. They will pull nutrients from deep down and deposit them up top in the form of mulch.  They are also all medicinal herbs that we use.
image At the beginning and end of each season we will extend the ring, adding more plantings as we go increasing the soil fertility and variety of plants growing in the orchard. image Eventually the rings of fertility will touch each other and we will have slowly created a biodiverse, fertile orchard that provides us with food, shade, medicinal, and culinary herbs along with beauty.

Little Yarrow seedlings

Little Yarrow seedlings

Fall Garden

Despite the fact that our summer garden was an almost complete loss (we do have summer squash, good old reliable zucchini!) we went forward with a fall garden this year, but we decided to experiment with a different method of bed making. Instead of adding some compost to the top and tilling it all in we sheet mulched the entire bed.

First, we did no tilling, we did mow down the weeds and old plants, but the ground was not disturbed. Then we added a layer of cardboard (thanks Amazon and Costco). Over that about four inches of straw (to help absorb and store water). Then over the entire thing six inches of rotted manure. This is a permaculture method, I plan on talking about it more as time goes on. In this I planted peas, beets, lettuce, cabbage and kale. With the exception of the peas and lettuce, the plants are doing fabulously. I believe it is too rich for the peas, who do well in poor soil and the lettuce, well my family of quail enjoyed it very much!

New cabbage, this will stay in the garden over winter with a heavy layer of mulch over top.

New cabbage, this will stay in the garden over winter with a heavy layer of mulch over top.

Red cabbage, a hold out from our summer garden

Red cabbage, a hold out from our summer garden



Kale, waiting for the first frost to sweeten it up.

Kale, waiting for the first frost to sweeten it up.

Beets, I'm loving how these are looking. They too will over winter in the ground with a heavy layer of straw mulch.

Beets, I’m loving how these are looking. They too will over winter in the ground with a heavy layer of straw mulch.


Heart Dump Part II: Reflections

After my last post I’ve been doing some great introspection, trying to see things as they truly are, not as my emotions cloud them and today in church I had a great moment of clarity that if felt the need to document.

Tomorrow is the two year anniversary of the loss of my little babe.  When we moved here I was full of optimism and lots of success, the problems with the land and house didn’t seem that great because I felt so blessed and that we could conquer anything! Then our baby Daniel was born too early, on a Saturday morning, quickly and with little warning on the floor of my bathroom. There were a few complications and I had to be rushed by ambulance to the hospital where I underwent emergency surgery to stop bleeding, all the while I was in and out of consciences because of the great blood loss. After the surgery there was a mix up and I didn’t get the blood transfusions I needed and ended up passing out and having a seizure in the bathroom at the hospital. It was scary, in an earth-shattering, life changing sort of way. While I was unconscious I saw and experienced things that made me very aware how close to death I really was.

That experince ushered in these trials of mine. Up to that point I was a very optimistic person, but my faith in the good things was completely shattered. I lost my trust. If this terrible thing could happen to me, seemingly out of the blue, what else could go wrong? And in my expectation of things going wrong I believe I created the problems. Not that we wouldn’t have had the difficulties, but that they became overwhelming, that it was more evidence of the bad things, the danger, lying just ahead. That, and I have come to believe,  we attract what we expect. I expected failure, I got failure.

While I had believed I had healed from the loss of my son and the subsequent trauma around his birth, I realize that that isn’t the case, there is a part of me still struggling with the deeper things behind it. However there is great power in the realization and acknowledgment of these things and going forth I will expect great things!  Not perfect things, stuff happens, but we will achieve our goals, we will raise this precious family of ours, we will be happy, we will have joy all through the power of Jesus Christ and his atonement my thought patterns will change, I will trust him again and, best of all I will see my son and raise him in that great day of our Lord.

A Brain, Well Heart Dump

image***warning, this post is a whole bunch of complaining about first world problems, please skip if this will annoy you and if you can’t say anything nice. ????

We moved to this place a little over two and a half years ago. I am not joking when I say it’s been the hardest two and a half years of our lives. It seems like we have been hit from every angle, the loss of our son two years ago with a difficult pregnancy and dangerous delivery close after that left me sick for awhile. This land is hard, and unrelenting, it’s dry, infertile, harsh, infested with destructive rodents, insects and weeds. The amount of work required to scratch anything out of this place is staggering, and we had an almost complete crop failure this year.  Along with financial difficulties, (this place has cleaned us out with its needs, ever bought propane to heat a house?) marital issues, problems with children and extended family. Top it off with the house problems, the windows need replacing (they leak), the roof needs fixing (it’s leaking too) and we have had to either replace or fix every major appliance at least once (there is a repairman in my kitchen right now fixing my SECOND dishwasher in two years). Top it all off, because of a disagreement we’ve had with a member of our church, and our lack of….popularity….there is a group of people that don’t take too kindly to us, and whenever we think it’s blown over, something brings it back up. Gossip has a way of getting back to the one being gossiped about.

I am tired, my soul is worn and I don’t know what my next step should be. should we just give up? Buy a nice house is a nice suburb and live an easier lifestyle, where we fit? Do we buy something farther away, where we are surround by like-minded people who value the same things? There are a few problems with doing that. Our home needs work, expensive work in order to sell, we have integrity and couldn’t lie about the leaking windows and roof like we were lied to. We also have teenagers who are happy and involved in their lives here with good friends around them. Then there is the whole issue of my husband needing to be close to a city for work.

Knowing all this, knowing our only option is to stay here for several more years while our children grow, while we build equity and fix all the problems with this house, how do I find joy here? I’m weary.  I’m weary of the fight, I’m weary of the gossip, I’m weary of living in a house that’s grungy and leaky because of years of previous neglect. I know I should be able to lay all my cares at the feet of my Savior, but I’m even finding that difficult, church is no longer a sanctuary, it’s something to be endured. And I hate that.

Sorry for the brain/heart dump.

Oh Saturday

image Oh Saturday!  That very special day where we work like crazy to get all the big projects done that we don’t have time for on the week days.  Our Saturday staple, of course, is weeding, lots and lots of weeding. Seems I am an expert at growing all sorts of noxious weeds, my speciality: bind weed, AKA morning glory. That is one wicked weed!

this Saturday was particularly busy, we worked from sun up until sun down with a small siesta during the peak heat of the day. Along with a few hours weeding, which was tough work in the long neglected areas we took care of, we also harvested 30 pounds of new potatoes (digging potatoes is as fun as it is exhausting) and slaughtered and processed eight roosters. Eight roosters may not sound like a lot, but since scalding and plucking are new to us (usually we just skin them) it was a long, educational process, a prelude to the 11 turkeys that are fattening up in the middle pasture.

My body was so sore by the end of the day. Oh the homestead life, only for the brave or insane, I’m afraid I’m starting to view myself in the latter category.

To top it all off, Dadzoo hung out in the chicken yard with his trusty shot gun until 2 am, waiting for our friend Pat the raccoon, who was a no-show for the first time in weeks!  So rude.  Now a normal woman, heavy with child, would have kissed her hunter goodbye and gone to sleep, but since we’ve established I fall into the “insane” category, I instead lay awake waiting for the sound of a shot gun, ready to call 911, because surly he would miss the raccoon and hit his foot instead.

Fortunately, this insane, pregnant gal was wrong, instead I got a tired frustrated man dragging himself, safely to bed. I guess I won in that regard. Raccoon-1, Momzoo-1, Dazoo-0, incase we are keeping score.

And that, my friends was our Saturday.

(This funny contraption is our solution to needing lots of boiling water to scald chickens, it takes about 4 hours to bring 55 gallons of cold water to a boil over a fire.  BTW wet chicken feathers stink.  Another fun fact, pulling feathers aren’t really that hard, just messy)