The Arab world is blowing up, state and federal governments are crumbling, and there is a world food crisis upon us. Our only real local crisis here an hour south of Seattle is that we had just 15 days of 80+ temperatures for ALL of last year. Every plant was stunted. We talk about the weather a lot.
Neither my husband nor I grew up producing our own food. The America I grew up in is far removed from nature. But it feels fundamental to me to know how to grow food, to know what animals I eat and how they were raised and treated. So this farmlet is for my life NOW, not in some post-economic-collapse future. My husband is a bit more of a survivalist than I am. He talks about the coming collapse, especially of the distribution systems that require cheap gas, and it motivates him.
We’ve lived here for 4 years. We built the gardens the first year, hauling in two dump trucks full of soil and digging out countless roots. You can see our three circle gardens from outer space. They total about 3,000 square feet. The Google Earth satellite image of our forested farmlet clearly shows the Rings Garden and it looks like a bull’s-eye target, a bit disconcerting since we’re so close to Bangor and all those nuclear submarines.
Last year, when President Obama came to Seattle stumping for Patty Murray, a float plane violated air space at Lake Union, so jets tore up here from Portland and broke the sound barrier right over our house. Scared us to death. It was like lots of dynamite going off just outside. The house jumped. We figured at first it was an earthquake. We didn’t know what it was. When it dawned on us that it was a sonic boom, we assumed it was the mail lady coming down the road.
Our Twenty-Somethings appreciate our small life, they just don’t want to stay here for more than two nights. We get only one bar of cell phone reception, and did I mention we talk about the weather a lot?
To lengthen our growing season, we’re building a hoop house in the largest circle garden. Hoop houses are relatively inexpensive greenhouses made with bent pipe or PVC tubing and covered with clear or opaque plastic. My friend Sheila agreed to let me post a picture of her recently constructed hoop house, which was our inspiration.
The idea is to keep it cheap, so we are using cedar branches instead of tubing, because we have so many of them. Our hoop house, which we’re actually calling the hot house, will be 20′ long and 10′ wide. Currently we’re debating the plastic purchase — Home Depot plastic for $100 or special UV treated greenhouse plastic for $250. I argued for the expensive stuff last night, but today I’m not so sure. Will the plain plastic disintegrate in a year or two? Is the expensive stuff just hype, especially since UV protection really is not our issue?
Meanwhile, infrastructure work continues. This week, latches on the barn doors, and trenches for the chicken pavilion’s predator-proof fencing. I’ve been spending several hours a day on the computer with this new blog, finding out repeatedly just how much I have to learn.
After the crop circles, we built the barn using wood from the 2 huge cedar trees we cut down to make the Circle Garden.
We dug the 350 foot long electric/plumbing trench, and then built the chicken coop.
Last summer I dug two small root cellars. They’re like hobbit holes in the side of the hill with a big wooden trap door. Nothing fancy. One has a Tupperware in it the size of a big cooler for dry storage — onions and apples. A mouse got into it and ate all the apples. I’m still using the small, hard storage onions, though.
The other root cellar has a lining of straw and holds the potatoes, carrots and cabbage. We’ve gone through all the carrots and cabbage, but still have potatoes.
Three different neighbors on our road have come to see our root cellars…and one is getting her son to dig hers with his backhoe. Smart lady. When we’re ready for chickens, a neighbor is giving us our first hens from her flock. Lou next door keeps us supplied with Golden Retriever books from the used bookstore, and we give him jam. I look at the satellite photo now, and it’s a surprisingly hopeful world.
Thanks for all of your encouraging comments last week! This is fun.