Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Homeschooling and caring for four kids nearly eight (!!!) and under takes all of my time. I’m happy to keep up with homeschooling and a modicum of housework – dishes most days, home cooked meals most days, clean children most days, and a shower 2-3 times/week for me. Beyond that, I’m pretty busy.
I want to write a post about how being a stay-at-home-mom is completely different to being a homeschooling mom. The two are compatible, but they are not the same! I also have dozens of other posts floating around in my brain: 2010 garden review, natural baby food/baby-led weaning, thermos oatmeal update, funny Asher-isms, plans for turkeys and bees, struggles with allergies and asthma….maybe I can get myself to do NaBloPoMo this year? We’ll see. (Those of you who know me well are not holding your breath. But hey, that makes it all the more challenging – the thought of surprising you all.)
As I alluded to above, my eldest baby is going be eight this week! Eight! As in, two years from 10. Half of 16. A third of 24. Five years from being a teen (eeps). She turns eight three days after I turn 31. Yes, folks, I am now firmly planted in my thirties. 31 is making me a think a lot more. I’ve always looked forward to turning 30. It’s always sounded so…established. Grown-up. With a strong sense of self, only still young and fresh. Young enough to see things with new eyes, yet mature enough to lend wisdom and experience. You know. And turning 30 did feel like all that. But 31? Makes me, surprisingly, walk on toward 40 with a new sense of heaviness. Like, I suddenly realize I’m getting old. Yes, yes, yes, 31 is still very young. Some of you are 31 and don’t even have children. (And maybe that’s where it’s at? That having children makes me feel older, younger? They are a visible marker of time marching on. A year can whiz by when you’re a childless adult, and you might not feel much changed from the previous year. Yet, when your baby goes from an eight pound lump of sugar to a lusty, vibrant, walking toddler in the period of a year, quadrupling his birth weight and becoming his own person, with words and opinions and assertions and such, a year does not go by unnoticed! And when your eldest, who was a five pound preemie only a ruler-and-a-half long, grows into a tall, leggy, glasses-wearing, novel-writing, thoughtful, intelligent, helpful eight-year-old, you simply can’t ignore that you are now 31 instead of 23. Perhaps 31 and 23 are not so starkly different when you don’t have kids?) It just seems like 31 is much, much older than 30, and I will keep adding numbers to my age until there will be no escaping the face that I am, indeed, old.
As for the garden. There’s much to be said. It was the Year of the Baby (he is screaming in Jason’s arms right now, to remind me of this fact, I’m sure), and the garden was often ignored. Yet despite that, we have much to eat and much to be proud of. I canned 40+ quarts and 15-ish pints of tomato sauce and tomatoes, as well as some salsa and applesauce. I dried some summer squash, and we had a successful garlic harvest. The onions were okay, but are nearly gone, as we didn’t grow enough.
The potatoes are finally in today, and did remarkably well for how much we ignored them. (We planted 10 lbs. of Purple Viking, 5 lbs. of Red Gold, 5 lbs. of Kennebec, and 5 lbs. of Yellow Finn, all from Ronniger Potato Farm). Initially, the potatoes didn’t do well. Ronniger was a new source for us, and I was disappointed that about 30% of what we planted didn’t sprout. Even with that, though, we have a lot of potatoes to eat. We estimate anywhere from 110 – 130 lbs of potatoes were harvested this year. Not bad. We wanted more, but are happy with this bounty (and from a largely ignored garden, at that!). Our favorite Purple Vikings didn’t germinate (do potatoes germinate?) well, but what did grow provided us with nice spuds. We have a really nice harvest of Kennebecs, good-sized, with few blemishes and bug holes. The Yellow Finns are small but tasty, and the Red Golds were so good that they’re all gone. I think we’ll definitely be ordering from Moose Tubers (Fedco’s tuber catalog) again next year instead of Ronniger, as we did better with our potatoes last year. We’re going to continue trying to grow more potatoes, as they are relatively easy, do well in our sandy soil, and provide the most calories per acre of any crop you can grow.
Sweet potatoes flopped this year. They didn’t grow well, and then we didn’t keep up with weeding, so what did grow was small and pitiful. We planted 50 slips, just like last year, only got a meager half of a card table full of sweet potatoes. Scarcely a meal or two. After how well we did last year, I’m disappointed. We’ll try again. We used Sandhill Preservation both years, and part of the difficulty is how late they ship. They are in Iowa, so they can’t send as early as growers from down south. This year, I got my order in earlier than last year, and was higher up on the list (based on order number), but I still got them later than before. I love what they do, and want to support them, but we simply must plant our slips earlier next year. I’m not sure if we’ll order from them again.
The chickens are getting big. We lost four early on after a cold night, but switched coops around, and have only lost one more (but not due to cold). One morning recently, I went to let the motherless chicks out, and there were only 14 instead of 15. Weird. I have no idea what happened to that little brown chick, but I hope his death was swift and painless. We have 30 chicks from our August batch, and of those, about five are girls who will become layers. They other 25 or so will be in our freezer by early December. The June batch (three pullets, two cockerels) are huge and should be laying soon. Those two big cockerels are due to be eaten; they fight too much and cause too much trouble to be kept around. (Teenagers.) Our adult layers are not laying well. A combination of molting and something else (I don’t know what) has us down to 1-3 eggs a day, from eight potential layers. (The other hen is our mama, still taking care of her 16 chicks.) I hope we figure it out soon, because we like to eat more eggs than this. I will have to post chick pictures soon, because the meat birds (males of dual purpose breeds) are so pretty. I don’t know which breed they all are, but I hope someone else can tell me, because I’d like to know. I have some guesses.
My little Cal is beckoning me. He is nine months old! Can you believe it? I hardly can. He just started crawling, and he says Mama and Hi. His hair is as bleach blond as it ever was, and his eyes as blue as the sky. We look nothing alike, not one little bit, and I will need to post pictures to prove it. I love that little guy. He doesn’t sleep well, but most babies don’t, and at this point, a baby who slept well would surprise the socks right off me.
I wouldn’t mind being sockless, that’s for sure.