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Homesteading

The optimist in me is sitting here thinking of spring while trying to keep warm during this third visit of the “Artic Vortex”/ “Canadian Polar Air Mass”. My vegetable seeds have arrived to join those I’ve saved; the Bulk Order submitted; my seed/transplant calendar developed; and our garden plot plans created. Now is a waiting time until my fingers can dig into the soil.
 

At the end of another year on the homestead, it is time to look back and reflect on 2013. These columns are great resources for me to see what was on my mind when I wrote them. With that in mind, here’s my retrospective.

Photovoltaic system: Our 5 Kw system has been functional since March, producing more than enough power for our use plus adding to our “savings account” each month.

I’m feeling a little ashamed to say I’m away from the homestead again, but I am still “on the job.” Last month, I wrote to you from an urban homestead in Portland, ME, this month from a gardener’s delight in Covington, Louisiana. My baby brother, Larry, now 51, has become an avid organic gardener. He and his partner, Jenny, tend their 200 square foot vegetable plot with loving care. They are able to eat fresh produce year round without any special protection we northerners need, like tunnels or hot beds.

I’m visiting my “sister” in Portland, Maine and I realized she and her urban homestead would be a great story to share with you. Deborah always had a love for animals and gardening, keeping chickens as a youngster in the neighboring church’s shed and helping her mom in the family garden. Later in college she had a tiny garden in her Berkley, CA back yard while she read “The Whole Earth News Catalogue” and dreamed of possibilities.
 
It sure is beginning to feel like autumn and my
homesteader brain (which I sometimes think is the
amygdala-basic survival brain) kicks into squirrel mode.
Gather and store, gather and store, is my mantra. Last
month I was flat out doing the preservation-shuffle,
which is a much “tamer” version of the squirrel,
putting up things I’ve grown and nurtured all summer.
The squirrel is the scavenger; why work all summer
when you can just gather and glean.
 
Photo credit: Sharon Gensler

Photo credit: Sharon Gensler

Over the last couple of years, my partner Pru and I have been thinkingand working on the topic of Aging In Place. Our homestead site is bettersuited to younger bodies and ours are getting older - who would have thought it! So, we have builta more easily accessible path to our house, which is nestled into the bottom of a hillside, and added a bedroom on themain floor. Making life easier with site improvements is one thing; changing homesteading life itself is another.

Today as I write to you, gazing out thewindow overlooking the garden, things are still rather bleak. Though spring is in the air, I know it will be quite a while until this view is filled with the bounty of my dreams. Gratefully we have been eating our stored supplies and there is still plenty in the root cellar and pantry, but my mouth waters for really fresh nutritious spring greens.

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