The kids and I have been leaving offerings for our farm’s tomten for years and we’ve also been careful not to step on any of the fairy roads. Now we’re working on developing some additional relationships.
Jamie and Katie offering Easter eggs to the Fairy Tree
The kids have named this tree “The Fairy Tree”. It’s actually several different trunks that have woven together, like Celtic knotwork. We have started leaving offerings here and Jamie says if you touch it and make a wish you will have good luck. I’m planning on moving a stone here as an offering spot and the kids also want to decorate birdhouses to hang in the branches for the fairies to live in. We’re also planning on having a Fairy party on Midsummer.
Stone circle on bank above the pond
To the south of the Fairy Tree is a small pond with a tiny island that appears and disappears depending on the water level. There is archaeological evidence of both Celtic and Germanic peoples placing offerings into water, and this feels like an appropriate place for us to make our offerings. The circle of stones is already present on the bank above the pond, and just below it is this large boulder partially submerged in the water.
Boulder in the pond
Right now there’s no good way to get down to the boulder but I’m hoping to eventually carve a couple of steps into the bank. Two of the deities I honor (Frau Holle and Nerthus) have strong associations with pools and islands in pools, so I think this will be an important long-term project for me.
There are a couple of others around the pond that are also becoming important but since I don’t have photos I’ll save them for a future post.
March just totally flew past me this year! I spent 10 days in Florida while my mom had surgery, then a few days after I returned both Katie and I came down with stomach flu, then next thing I knew it was April. Now we start into the busy time of the year and thankfully the weather has been beautiful. Here’s what we’ve been up to so far.
The Veggie Garden (aka The Anarchist Plot) is in good shape. I had hoped to convert to raised beds this year but with our tight budget I don’t think it’s going to happen. So far all I have in the ground is three long rows of peas. The green beans, carrots, beets, and salad fixings will go in next. I typically hold off on the tomatoes and peppers until May. I’m also going to give growing potatoes in tires another shot, so if you’re local to us and have some tires you’d like to get rid of please let me know!
The Herb Garden is in the foundational stage. Jamie and I spent all last weekend clearing away a massive overgrowth of briars. Unfortunately I forgot to take a “before” photo so you’ll have to use your imagination. Just pretend that all the clear area was covered in chest-high bushes with massive thorns. You can see some of the brush piles in the background that still need to be cleaned up. The three raised beds will be for plants where I need to harvest the roots. The other cleared areas will be nursery beds for plants that eventually will either be harvested or moved to the medicine wheel garden. Just behind the kids is this random section of chain link fence that will need to be pulled out, and behind that will be the woodland medicinals garden.
The Bees survived the winter! Having a living colony this year puts me ayear ahead of schedule! I’m now working on converting the hive from being a traditional framed hive to a top bar, and also on getting the bees to move out of the top feeder so I can clean out all of the misplaced honeycomb (aka Operation Pimp My Hive). This entailed taking the hive apart so I could add another box to the bottom. When I took things apart I was amazed to see not only did the bees survive but it’s a huge colony! Unfortunately our dog decided it would be fun to try to snap at the flying buzzy things and soon she was covered in angry bees. She did get a few stings but nothing major. Jamie started out being my photographer for this operation but once the bees started flying he got a little freaked out and headed for the house.
So that’s it as far as the physical work we’ve been doing on the property. In my next posts I’ll talk about the special magical places we’re discovering, and how you can help out.
Two good things happened at the farm this weekend. On Saturday we had a beautiful day, sunny with temps in the high 40s. I was able to get out and start clearing some of the fenceline along the driveway.
I took this:
And converted it to this:
There’s still a lot of work to be done, but I thought it would be March before I could get to work so I’m happy to have a little jumpstart on this project.
The second good thing has to do with the bees. Earlier this winter I discovered the hive that I thought was dead really wasn’t dead after all. Ever since then I’ve been worried about them. I knew they didn’t have much room in that hive for honey stores and I’ve been afraid that they would run out of food and starve to death. I’ve been wanting for some time to give them some additional food but the weather has been too cold to open the hive. Finally this weekend the temperatures cooperated.
I didn’t even bother with gloves or a veil because I was almost convinced that they were already dead, and I was just opening the hive to confirm the fact. But wait, what’s that crawling out as I removed the outer cover? Could it be a bee?
Yay, the hive was still alive! Even better when I opened the inner cover and saw this:
The top feeder (the yellow part) was full of honeycomb and honey! Technically they’re not supposed to build comb in there but since I didn’t give them another box to grow into they did the best that they could.
I had intended to put the fondant under the inner cover but with all the comb attached there was no place for it. So I put the inner cover back down and just laid the food on top.
By this time my “dead” bees were getting a little agitated and since I didn’t want to get stung I put the outer cover back on and beat a hasty retreat. (in case you were wondering, Jamie took the pictures while I worked with the hive)
These two things really helped with my motivation. Now I can’t wait for spring to get here!
Well 2012 is over and it sure was a year of ups and downs. I wanted to share with you what worked, what didn’t, what we’ve learned, and where we’re going.
This was our first year raising pigs and overall it was a positive experience. The pigs were incredibly easy to take care of. We deliberately did not make pets of them, but they did know where their food came from and would follow me around. All three pigs have been processed now and they are very tasty.
We did have some major stumbling blocks however. The first was that we don’t own a pickup and livestock trailer, nor do we know anyone who does so we could borrow one. Not having a pickup meant that I had to purchase their grain in much smaller quantities at a time which increased the cost. Not having a trailer meant that we had to hire someone to transport the hogs to the processing plant and finding someone to do this was much more difficult than I had anticipated. It was then that we realized our second and third stumbling blocks. With the way our barn and fences are arranged it is almost impossible to get a trailer of any size down to the barn without cutting down a tree and driving thru the center of the current garden space. We also realized that pigs are big (300 lbs) and don’t always go where you want them to go, we aren’t that young or strong anymore, and pig-wrangling isn’t fun at all. Based on these issues I’ve decided that we will not continue on with raising pastured pork in the future. I promised Keith that from now on I would confine my livestock purchases to animals I could wrangle and get into the barn on my own.
This year I re-established our laying flock and also tried raising some birds for meat. There were a few minor setbacks but overall it was a positive experience. I discovered that the structure I was using as a chicken tractor for the meat birds was way too heavy to move easily. I thought that I would butcher the meat birds myself but then I ran out of time and had to take them to be processed. I am going to continue raising meat birds for our family in 2013 and I’m planning on taking a butchering workshop so I can process them myself this year. The laying flock suffered a major raccoon strike earlier this year. Since then we haven’t had any more losses and the population is holding steady at 4 hens and 1 rooster. This is sufficient for our needs for now.
My goal was to double our garden space in 2012. I did do that, but then we suffered a prolonged drought and so I really didn’t get any harvest. I think 2013 may be the year that I finally bite the bullet and switch over to raised beds. If I do, I want to figure out how to incorporate drip irrigation using 55 gallon barrels. This has me thinking long and hard about possibly moving the garden due to the issues I outlined in the pastured pork section. I don’t want to spend a lot of time and effort putting in a raised bed system only to have to rip it all out at some later date. I also started working on some perennial plantings. I put in 3 cherry trees, 5 blueberry bushes, strawberries, and asparagus. Thanks to the drought I think I’ve lost 1 cherry tree and 3 of the blueberry bushes, but I have to wait until spring to be sure.
So that’s it for the 2012 recap. In my next post I’ll talk about 2013 and where we’re heading.