Sunday, October 23, 2011

Still Here

And still a crazy-busy time of year, mostly trying to race the oncoming winter. We needed to do a complete barn muck-out, and frenzied internet research was in order. I admit to not quite thinking through the issue of used bedding before getting animals – there is quite the hazy glow around the “sustainable” or “urban homesteading” blogosphere around the “closing the loop” aspects of having lovely animal fertilizer for one’s garden. How silly of me not to think through that the goats and ducks don’t exactly poo in a nice collectible way, but onto the straw of their barn floor!

Anyway, for this round at least, I am happy with what occurred. After the final garden harvest:


I ripped out all of the plants (which took forever due to the yarn I used to tie up the tomatoes – should’ve used cotton yarn, but was in a hurry so used non-compostable acrylic), used the pitchfork to loosen the soil, weeded, and then spread the barn straw over the beds. We really had a perfect amount.


I got to thinking about the ammonia content of the urine (well, actually the odor made thinking about ammonia unavoidable) and had the idea of sprinkling a layer of coffee grounds on top. Right? I mean, I took college chem, organic and biochem, etc ad nauseum about six million years ago, but I do seem to have some foggy memory that ammonia is the classic base and coffee, as we all know, is acidic. We’ve used Starbucks “Grounds for Gardens” before. This is the one reason why I can’t strictly call our garden “organic”, as Starbucks doesn’t separate out their organic and not-organic grounds. We collected grounds for about three days and had enough to do an even layer over all of the beds, then Gareth has been spreading a layer of soil mix over the top of it all. The last to cover over the odor – I’m hoping it seals off smell completely, but we’ll have to see when the rains come. He’s done a fabulous job with it; out there in the light sprinkles for the last few days so that there are only a couple more beds to cover.

Always sort of sad to put a garden to bed for the winter. Taking out the tomato, bean, zucchini, and lettuce plants that were started as tiny seeds and so much nurturing put into them – then finally into the yardwaste container, as we’re not up and running with a composting system at this point. But the goats and ducks have a fresh thin layer of straw to begin the winter’s deep bed approach to the barn, and it feels like a good start to the winter. I wonder if this point isn’t the garden’s New Year’s Eve moment every year.

If so, a happy Garden New Year Eve to all of you who garden, and wishing you a happy new gardening year! We can all take a few breaths before the seed catalogs start rolling in :-).

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Some Pictures from this Year’s Candlelight

1855 was lovely again this year – so thankful that the rain held off until the last 45 minutes or so, and even then just a drizzle until we were driving home at 11:30pm and it started pouring.


Gareth spent both nights out beyond the gate where the soldiers and “common folk” hang out:

017 He is learning how to have fun and join the story line – he’s been nervous in the past about first person events, so worried that he’d say something modern that he was afraid to speak. But he started to get the hang of it by Saturday.


Araminta was able to try something new this year, spending both evenings in the kitchen. She has always been with Lucinda before, but she was the only one in our family assigned to the kitchen. She was nervous, but really enjoyed herself – she loves to giggle, and the kitchen is traditionally a place of hijinks!



Lucinda spent both evenings in the Factor House, playing one of the Tolmie children’s visitors. She had a friend from church who was also assigned there, and during the first evening they hatched a nefarious plan for the second. Sophia was assigned the second night to “watch the children”, and my but the children were naughty. Lucinda and her friend would dash out the door when Sophia wasn’t looking, then Sophia would have to chase them, much to the delight of the paying audience.

Lucinda’s hairbows, while not from 1855, are almost 100 years old from a great-great uncle who was a warehouse man. She’s growing out of her dress! Look at those sleeves:


She wore period correct rag curls :-)



Clara was also in outside camp, like Gareth. She’ll need a long-sleeved dress soon, but fortunately the weather was warm enough, at least near the campfires, for her to wear her short-sleeved dress and a wool shawl:



She wanted documentation of the twirl of her skirts/pettis:


Sophia was also in the outstation the first night, so she wore her washdress:


But the second night, when she was assigned to the young people, she was able to wear her wool dress for the first time. This dress was started four years ago now! It has been a nightmare. I lost count of how many times she had to re-do the bodice, and it still has issues which need addressing:


Still, she looked lovely. And she also wore the bonnet she made (again, thanks to the ribbon stash of great-great uncles!).

Front view:


Back view:


And must have a close up gaudy-side view:


A wonderful time was had by all


Sunday, October 2, 2011


For the first time in months, I was able to go to church this morning. It’s hard to express how delightful that was. Coming home, even opening the gate (which the goats recognize), they didn’t bleat. We went around to a peaceful backyard.

Sophia has been working on clicker training the goats. She’s training them to lift a hoof and stand still (for easier hoof trimming) and to walk calmly on a lead. They’re so smart (or at least they’ve realized that they adore raisins so much) that they are learning quickly and behave well for her.

The end of a short era – next time we have goat babies, they’ll have mamas to prevent their screaming. On to a new normal, and it is good.