on garlic and time management.

One of my challenges with gardening is that my time management leave a bit to be desired. I could make excuses, but mostly it comes down to how quickly time flies. I will get busy with something else and then remember that I was supposed to plant something a week ago.

The garlic is in the ground, officially. I planted two 4×4 beds – one with Spanish Roja garlic and the other is with various garlic I grew last year and didn’t mark well when harvesting.

(In case the paint fades from the markers – Spanish Roja is in the south bed, mixed garlic in the north bed.)

This is one of the things I would like to improve upon this year. I’m considering putting the dates seeds should be started and transplanted on the calendar that syncs with my phone and computer. I’m hoping it will work.

//these retired birds

I have spent years trying to figure out what exactly I wanted from the land. My mother’s generation went as far away from the fields as possible, knowing exactly how hard it is to scratch out a decent living.

Unless something drastically changes, I have ultimately decided that the farm will be a secondary income at most. I have always feared turning something that provides me with an escape in to something I rely on to survive, so this is the decision that makes the most sense.

This decision has also allowed me the luxury of allowing the hens to live out their natural lives on the farm. I don’t particularly care to eat chicken, so turning the laying hens in to stew birds has never appealed to me.

The hen pictured above recently celebrated her second birthday. She lays, when she wants to, but mostly she bosses the other chickens around. There is another hen from the same flock that is still meandering the acreage, though I think she has ceased laying almost entirely. I hope to have them around for years to come.

2018 Goals

  • Minimal weeds
  • Positive companion planting
  • Harvest 10+ pounds of garlic
  • Preserve herbs and peppers
  • Better labeling of plants
  • Save seeds
  • Focus on heirloom + Ark of Taste
  • Develop a focused survey on what to grow again
    • Blind head-to-head taste tests
  • Use what I’ve got
  • Excluding building raised beds and the soil to fill them, spend less than $150 on the garden
  • Start the orchard
  • Consider getting bees

//the why

For almost all of the previous seven years, I have had at least two hens. I got my first flock in 2011 and am currently on my fourth iteration (with two hens remaining from the third flock).

The chickens are a big part of why the farm is called Libertas Acres. I’m a city child. While both my parents either lived on a farm or worked in some capacity on a farm as children, they had minimal interest in gardening or the outdoors. I want a garden desperately as a child, but my parents (wisely) knew I would not put the effort in to maintain it.

My maternal grandparents had farming roots – it is their land I live on now – and at one point my grandmother said she thought all the “poison” they had sprayed on their fields may have contributed to some of the health problems they had. I was twelve, but it was the first time I had considered anything about my food. Shortly after my father – a banker- mentioned how anytime he would have to go inspect a chicken house or feedlot for a loan would make him want to not eat meat for awhile.

After that, I would occasionally read news articles about how the hormones in milk were linked to an eight year old starting her period. How the antibiotics given to animals were creating antibiotic resistant strains.

In my early twenties, I became obsessed with food. I spent hours researching sustainable and pasture-based farming. I was living in a small apartment at the time and had never grown anything. But I formed the idea of what I wanted out of life – land, a garden, a dog, and livestock.

I wanted a garden that worked nature, not against it. I wanted healthy soil and completely natural tactics. I wanted animals treated with respect, dignity, and I wanted them to have freedom of movement.

My friends have been pressing me for ages to name the farm. It seems a little silly, as I am years away from making any money off this land – if ever – but I realized they were right. I thought about what I wanted out of the farm and how I wanted the name to reflect that.

Libertas perfundet omnia luce” – Freedom will flood all things with light

Libertas is the Roman goddess of liberty. Nothing seemed to fit my vision for the farm better.

 

this old farm

In the middle of December, I will have lived on this farm for seven years. It will have been in the family for nearly 40.

The plan is to purchase the farm, someday. Hopefully within the next few years. I have spent much of the past seven years in a state of limbo, wanting to improve the farm but not too much. Money is a finite resource and being that I am simply a renter, it did not make sense to invest in fencing or fruit trees.

The plan to purchase the farm is firm. As firm as future plans can be. I have ordered 15 fruit trees to start a small orchard. There is a small flock of hens and ducks free ranging every day, foraging and scratching and resting in the shade. A small savings account is accumulating money to go towards a Jersey cow or a small herd of goats.

When I was a small child, my grandfather used the pasture to raise cattle. A cow last grazed the pasture over twenty years ago. My cousin kept a horse here for a small time, but even that has been more than 15 years. For half my life, the acres have been used for hay.

The plan is to use this space to document the process of reviving the farm.