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Monday, September 9, 2013

On Being Thankful for Little

What do YOU do when one of your crops gets planted late, in a rainy season that does not lend itself to tractor work (for weed control between rows) and life overcomes commitment to hand weed IN the rows, which are unfortunately tucked into the far side of the garden behind the garage... out of site and shortly out of mind? When, despite all your good intention and the efforts of the plants and the Gods, your beans get overwhelmed with weeds, what is your course of action? Do you write off the crop, plow it under and get on with life? I think that is likely the most common course of action. However it is not mine.

Here on our homestead, daily life reflects a connection with the spiritual realms that is both rewarding and necessary to for one following my path. And thankfulness for the efforts of the Gods and the Earth is as necessary for meager crops as for abundant ones. The way I think of it, if I am not thankful for the small blessings, why in anyone's name would I be considered a candidate for larger ones?? I cannot fathom that the Gods would make a habit of "throwing pearls before swine" as it were.

So, with much of the abundance of the tomato harvest processed and the cooler weather allowing the ripening to slow, I took my garden focus today to the much-neglected bean rows. Now, you are not getting a pic of them because, well, it would just look like a field of weeds and I am sure, gardener or not, that you all know what one of them looks like!  My intentions, after getting the electric fence up around this garden, was to hand pull the weeds IN the rows, at least, to give the beans a fighting chance. Never happened. So with weeds up to 18" tall hiding most of the plants, I was not expecting much.

Parting the weeds enabled me to see the scrawny bean plants, bearing what appeared to be mostly old, drying and poorly pollinated pods.  As I continued down the first row, I began to discover a few small pods that felt like they might come close to "snapping" like a proper green bean should, so I picked them, with thanks for each and every one. After all, they had done THEIR part, against immense odds.

Have you ever been handed a job to do, had things unexpectedly go south on you and yet still you continued on? You did not achieve your goal, I am sure, but you made some progress and I hope your "boss" gave you the recognition you deserved rather than a hard time for your less than optimal results.

That's exactly what I was doing to the beans. I figured at the least we'd have a small serving each, to eat with thanks (for the meal, as well as for the larger abundance from the garden this year, and the fact that we CAN, if necessary, go "hunting and gathering" in the isles of the local grocer's shop.). By the time I was done, I had gathered enough beans for a generous side dish plus a meal's worth for the freezer. Not much for a full year's harvest, but much more than I expected.

Now, the other thing my Gods expect of me is not apology or mea culpa but an actual plan of action to improve the situation for the following year. I have not yet formulated it completely, but thoughts in my mind at present are running along the lines of putting some of the less demanding crops in that garden... things the deer are less likely to eat, more things that can be planted with cardboard or paper mulch (the squash vines are doing a great job of production there, despite the weeds between the rows. Each of their rows has cardboard or cardboard and spent hay mulch along the row, 18" wide.) and I will space them with sufficient width between the rows that the tractor can make two offset passes in different directions, with either the tiller or the cultivator, for more aggressive weed control between rows. It should be noted that this garden is planned eventually to contain only perennials -- berries and asparagus -- with mulched rows and tractor space between.

Bean harvest will be washed shortly and stashed in the fridge for processing tomorrow. I need to have a quick supper tonight and get on to the preparation of hex blanks, so I can begin the next round of orders. I can do that while the tomato puree that I produced today, using up the last of the currently picked fruit, begins cooking down. I also have two formerly-frozen chicken halves in the slow cooker, from the old bird stash. Each half makes two small freezer bags of cooked meat, each enough for a meal, and takes up a LOT less space. Hopefully, by Thursday, my next day off from the town job, there will be sufficient space liberated for me to process two more of the current crop of meat birds.