onions

I started onion seeds on February 20th. I was a little nervous about the potential germination, as I did not use a heat mat for them and my room is usually around 60 degrees.

I started five varieties of onions for the upcoming season:

  • Rossa di Milano
  • Rijnsburg 5
  • Red Long of Tropea
  • Stuttgarter Riesen
  • Dakota Tears

While all varieties have had at least one seed germinate, Dakota Tears germinated the earliest (one week after planting) and has the best success rate so far. Second place goes to the Rossa di Milano, with Rijnsburg 5 and Red Long of Tropea an interchangeable 3-4 and Stuttgarter in dead last.

Hopefully this is the year I can stay on top of weeds well enough to have a good crop of onions. Potatoes will forever be my favorite vegetable, but onions are a close second. I grow potatoes (semi-successfully) every year, but have never harvested a fully grown onion. I have certainly started enough seed to give me a good chance, assuming I can shepherd  them through the hardening off process and into the ground without losing them.

after an absence.

We have spent the last several months in a pattern of stop and go. The search for land has been hard – harder than I had anticipated when we first began. Admittedly, our requirements are long and unusual, but even still there have been three properties that met the majority of our needs.

The first was vastly, stupidly overpriced. The wife is ready to move, but the husband literally built the house himself and I genuinely believe does not want to leave.

The second had a nearly perfect house, but the plot was aligned strangely and the lines further blurred amongst the neighbors. We moved on without making an offer.

The third house, the one we are reeling from currently had the perfect house. The pantry was the stuff of dreams. Half of the basement was a workshop that would have been perfect for projects. The plot, again, wasn’t ideal, but would have been manageable. During the offer stage, the sellers engaged in some fairly unethical behavior and once again, we have had to walk away.

I had delayed starting seeds as it looked like we would spend May moving, but I will likely spend my afternoon finally getting the onions started. Might throw in a few cabbage plants too, for good measure. It appears I will spend a full, final growing season on this land. I am not regretful, honestly, as it will be nice to see the orchard grow and perhaps harvest grapes, asparagus, blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries from the plants set out a season or two ago.

fall planting: complete

Finished planting the garlic and shallots just in time for another winter storm tomorrow. Later than I would have liked, but I had planned to plant more garlic in the orchard than I actually did. I am still thinking/dreaming/wishing that by the growing season next year we will be at the new farm, so I planted in the empty raised beds in the garden.

The plan will be to move the trees from this years orchard to the new farm, as well as planting probably 20-25 new trees alongside. I would love to order the trees now, but until we have a contract on the farm it would be foolish.

So more – sitting, waiting, wishing, dreaming, planning.

the land hunt.

We have found a piece of land that is as close to perfect as we could hope for. We have already taken to referencing it as “the new house” or “the new farm,” it is so firmly entrenched in our mind.

We have not made an offer. There are still formalities and meetings and then we will reach the formalities, at which point the owners could certainly say no. But until then – reading, dreaming, staring at the farm from above via Google maps and planning where the orchard would go, where to put a stand of black walnuts, the rotational grazing system we want to implement.

I hesitate to put this into the world so publicly. But it consumes my thoughts and hopes and desires. I want it so much that a small part of me is preparing for disappointment.

on doing the things we don’t want to do.

I have struggled with how to write about this. It’s not an easy topic, nor one most people want to hear about, but it is a necessary part of keeping animals.

This is the first summer we’ve let hens hatch their own chicks. I knew when I allowed it to happen that I would eventually have to figure out a way to deal with the inevitable roosters, but as with most things I deemed that a problem for the future.

I also fervently hoped the odds would be in our favor and we would get mostly hens. This hope did not pan out, and of the 6 chicks that have made it to adulthood thus far, 4 were roosters.

On Friday, we culled the roosters. I did it myself and it was somehow easier and harder than I expected it to be. It was the right decision for the flock and the farm and while this is less important, it is still a factor – the pocketbook. Now that fall has descended on the farm the chickens are going through a bag of feed every two days which costs over $200 a month.

It was a less than ideal experience for all involved, but I am happy that the process was smooth and it was over in one day. There are three more chicks and we aren’t sure if they are roosters or hens, but once again I’m putting all my hope that we are 3/3 on hens.

 

back again.

This summer was strange. And hot, and somehow fast, but ultimately – odd.

I had mentally prepared for my first summer without being in school. I anticipated a calm, easy summer with most days spent tending the garden.

Instead I spent June helping my parents get their house ready to sell, July helping them move, and August settling in to sharing my tiny farmhouse with my parents and searching for land.

We still don’t know if we will buy the farm. There are too many hands in the pot, so to say. Getting four people to agree is tough, tougher than I thought it would be. We have been looking for land but once again, there are too many hands in the pot. The idea was to find a place where I could build a little cottage or cabin and help my parents in their old age whilst building a farm, but finding land that suits all of us and isn’t overpriced has been hard. Near impossible, actually, which led to another option.

I looked for land in the suburbs. Realistically all the things I wanted to do with land were only possible if my parents were onsite in the early years to help get things established, and since that wasn’t looking likely I adapted my vision. I have the tools to be happy anywhere, and I reasoned that I could volunteer at a local urban farm to fulfill my need to grow things.

I very nearly made an offer. Had one drafted, actually, and then I looked at the numbers and realized I didn’t want to do it. I have never wanted to live in the suburbs. None of the yards were big enough, or if they were the kitchen was practically useless. I would have been in an HOA, which goes against every bone in my body.

But what put me over the top was the idea of paying $400 a month in taxes just to have a tiny little yard and a house I didn’t actually want  because I adapted my dreams to what I can afford and manage at the present time.

So I am staying, for now at least. Maybe the three of us will find the perfect living situation, but I am definitely continuing to rent the farm for as long as they will let me.