This week has been a busy one. To begin, our truck is having issues with the sparkplugs that would cost us over $1000 to fix. After discussing our options, it was apparent that CM was going to try to do the work himself.
Once most of the tools arrived, he was able to remove and replace 3 of the 6 spark plugs. It was really awesome to see his progress. The other 3 are basically under the engine and are harder to reach so we are waiting on another tool to come in the mail to reach the remaining plugs. On top of the truck issues, we had solar panel problems and CM's phone kept shutting off unexpectedly. Sometimes things just fail.
The weather was up and down as usual for the mountains. Almost all of our fruit trees have bloomed with cherry and apple kicking it into high gear. Tuesday night we experienced a low of 23 degrees. That is plenty cold to destroy any blooming flowers of the fruit trees. Damage was seen on apple petals, which were brown.
Some new growth on the grapes was hurt. Most plants were surprisingly unfazed, however. Ozark beauty strawberries are in full bloom and they appear to be frost resistant. Salsify is coming up along with burdock (also known as gobo in Japan). Due to the frost pocket that we live in, we are adapting our diet and by extension the edible plants that can handle late or early frosts. I also observed that it is not only the time of blooming that matters for fruit production in frosty areas but the length of bloom as well. Our Belle of Georgia peach is the first to bloom each season but it appears to bloom over an extended time potentially having some blossoms evading a frost. Despite all the frosty nights, it looks like we will be able to sample our first fruits on most of the fruit trees. We are pretty excited by the prospect of tasting some homegrown goodness.
Since this cold night, we have not experienced any more frosts. Highs jumped into the mid 80's the rest of the week. This allowed us to move the chicks outside for several hours each day which they loved! Their wings are growing quickly in addition to their tail feathers. Some even started to jump around and try to fly out of their pen.
Dust bathing is gaining in popularity and you should have heard the commotion when one of them discovered their first worm. I am training them to come when I make a series of whistles using mealworms as their incentive. I find this to be a wise endeavor as you never know when you need the whole flock to come in case of a predator or unforeseen emergency. Each time I come over to them I have a handful of worms and I whistle. After three days of doing this, they get it and come running. I will keep doing this whenever I have treats so they don't forget.
I have been using the tiller to remove as much grass around the house as possible. This has allowed me to begin planting spring vegetables such as carrots, beets, peas, and potatoes. Speaking of potatoes, we planted 70 pounds in two days. I am all spudded out right now. I bought several disease-resistant varieties from FEDCO seeds back in January. I make it a point to grow the most disease-resistant varieties of any plant species and potatoes are no different. What is the point of growing something that is weak and disease prone? Chemicals are a thing of the past and are not something we use anyway so obtaining quality disease-resistant plants/seeds is of the utmost importance. This means we do not grow disease-ridden gala, fuji, or granny smith apples here. We grow varieties that are resistant to cedar apple rust, fireblight, mildew, and scab, many of these being heirloom apple varieties. The same goes for peaches, plums, pears, and so on.
It looks like most of my grafts are leafing out which is always a miracle. To basically stick a twig onto a rootstock and have it grow is almost sorcery in a way. A lot of rubber bands snapped on my grafts for whatever reason (poor product?) and so I had to redo them using twine. The grafting wax is very helpful and I will use that from now on to seal in moisture instead of parafilm tape. I will have to start planning on where to plant these successful grafts for next year. Perhaps I can begin selling them next fall as well which would be fun to do.
Back in the developing food forests, I was checking to make sure that the beds are placed on contour to capture as much rain runoff as possible and slow it down to infiltrate the soil. Planting on contour also prevents soil erosion and is a critical design element in Permaculture. Due to receiving nearly 40" of rain per year, we do not install swales here but planting on contour is still a practice I like to do for the above reasons.
On the website, we are working to start podcasting. We feel like this would be a terrific way to reach more people, have conversations about living this lifestyle and so much more. We do enjoy the writing of course but if we can diversify our content we believe this will allow us to connect with a larger audience and support others out there wanting to build personal resilience. I think this last part is really important. We are doing this to encourage and show others there is an alternative to the suffocating status quo. Your life matters. You have purpose and meaning. If we can help you find this in any way, we are making our goals come true by seeing you succeed. Coming from families that did everything they could to stifle our passions and identities, we are very aware of the importance of having support and appreciation. That is why we feel so strongly about being there for others and supporting them as they grow mentally, spiritually, and physically. Resilience is not just about storing up food or supplies but encompasses your whole being. Till next time friends!