Mr, Cupcake at Craters of the Moon

Mr, Cupcake at Craters of the Moon
Mr. Cupcake at Craters of the Moon

Thursday, April 18, 2013

hours in the day

We need more of them. Or fewer things to do. I don't know, but I can tell you that I have been very busy as I have now flung myself into working.

I received a letter from my friend in Metchosin, British Columbia, the other day, and it reminded me that I have not written since I had the choice of jobs in front of me. I have since chosen, and I am now running the night club, called The Red Room. It's really a lot of fun when it's open and I am learning the names of many locals. I also feel a lot more secure with a bit of footing now, so I really feel like I can put down roots, figuratively and literally.



Sam, happily rolling around on the back porch as I'm working outside in the yard. 



 Here I have planted a line of sunflowers, arugula, and flax. The following day I planted another line next to it, of more sunflowers interspersed with radishes. This isn't the actual garden, but we haven't had time to build my raised beds and I needed to plant something.

This is along the west side of the house, so it is a bit sheltered from the wind but only gets sun in the second half of the day.

Every day I can I go out for an hour or two in the morning and do some work. Sometimes it is digging and planting - I don't know anything about the fertility of this soil, but it's mostly sand and floods when it rains heavily, so I know I have work to do on the soil building front. Luckily, that is underway!

Last week a lot of good things came into our life. On Monday we drove out to Beaufort, which is about an hour and twenty minutes away on North Carolina's coast and bought a planer/jointer, a router table and a wet/dry grinder/sharpener from someone on Craigslist. These are tools that Dan has always wanted and finally has them now, so he can start building furniture for our house, we can build our fence, we can build anything we want!

The next day I think it was, this lovely package stuffed full of yarn arrived from Ursa, who sent this to me as a birthday gift. Her generosity with yarn abounds with me and I am so tickled to be able to add to my stash! I haven't made plans for any of it yet, but it includes the likes of Indigo Moon, Madeline Tosh (I have never knit with MadTosh before!), Sanguine Gryphon (which has since split into two companies) and a few I hadn't heard of. I am also thrilled to have two skeins from Ursa's former company, Gaia's Colours, of the Pales sock yarn. I have knit three garments with this yarn and let me tell you - it holds up! Thanks Ursa!

A few days after that, Dan went to an auction at a local woodworking yard where they were selling everything and concentrating their operations in Greenville or Goldsboro. That afternoon we went with the truck and the van to pick up an entire rack of weird pieces of all sorts of lumber, four work tables, a number of step stools, a weird throne/chair made of 2x4s, and a "mulch display". I should have taken a photo of the latter. It looked great - it's two smallish tables that were full of "mulch" - but in my mind mulch is something that is biodegradable and that adds fertility to the soil. In this display were shredded rubber tires, painted three shades of brown. We were absolutely puzzled by this. Do people use painted shredded rubber tires as mulch? Or was this just meant to look like real mulch? We haven't decided what to do with it. Obviously we aren't going to use it in our yard, it simply will not go with permaculture. Should we try to sell it on Craigslist?


 On Sunday with a bunch of pallets that Dan and brought over from the brewery and with our newly acquired scrap lumber, Dan and I put together my long-longed-for three-bin compost system. It's not quite finished but it is at least usable.


 We found a bunch of wire mesh laying around the yard, just the perfect amount!

 My Sweety rests.


 This is the meadowland/backyard of the house next door to us. It is vacant at the moment, but a friend of ours is about to move into it and he has no interest in gardening. If we are allowed to have chickens, that would be a most excellent place for them.

 This is the view from the compost bin. The big tree in the almost middle is a beautiful lodgepole pine. Behind and to the right is a magnolia. Lots of space to figure out what to do with. We are thinking about putting berry bushes around the perimeter of the pine tree, maybe next spring.



 We have a pond! When we moved in, it was a really big pile of debris, old lumber full of nails, and a massive heap of leaves, branches and twigs. We started clearing things away last week to see what was under and how far it goes. I was delighted to discover...



 Actual finished compost. This biomass had been here so long in the perfect condition that it has now turned into black gold! I am so pleased - I can't wait to excavate it and use it to inoculate my new compost piles as well as on top of my raised beds when we get them in.


Sam is enjoying being an outside kitty, although she is really becoming a neighborhood menace with all the feral cats around who are not used to an aggressive female.


 Today Dan brought me over a bin of spent grain from the brewery, which I am excited to finally have for my compost piles!


 I started by laying down piles of cardboard, and put the grain right on top of the two on the left. I had already started a compost pile yesterday with the contents of the pond, so I'm just going to keep building these up.


And this is now as it sits, with a layer of leaves and twigs on top. I'll try to do another layer in each stall tonight (once it cools down, it's now too hot to be working outside during the day, at least for this gal!) and hopefully one more before we leave for Hickory tomorrow. I'll be going with Dan and some of the brewery staff to the Hickory Hops festival this weekend but don't worry, Sam will be in good hands! 

Once I have these piles built to my satisfaction and once there is a lid and slats in the front to hold it all in, I'll ignore the thing for a week and then start turning. With these massive piles and the heat here it should only be a matter of weeks before I have excellent usable compost. Hopefully by then I will have raised beds, a compost sifter (for any large pieces that have not yet decomposed), and several yards of topsoil to put in my raised beds. It is warm enough now that I can have tomatoes and peppers outside and my little babies indoors are ready to be transplanted! 

I am, if you haven't noticed, really excited about composting, gardening, and permaculture. We have some great ideas of how we want to landscape and develop our yard, and even with this little chipping away at it an hour or two a day seems to make a difference. Working out in the yard has been a good way to meet neighbors who have lived here a long time - long enough to have seen fish in the pond more than a decade ago. As I write I am mindful of the bombing of the Boston Marathon, the ricin poisoned letters that were sent to government officials, the fertilizer plant explosion in Waco, Texas, and today I heard that Chicago has flooded and there are sinkholes swallowing people. It's been a hell of a week for America and I don't think it's a bad idea to get my food systems in place (for food security) while building community, just in case disaster strikes our area. If something should happen, I want to be in a position where I can help.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

a weekend trip to the Atlantic Ocean!

An aquarium, a beach, and lots of great wildlife.
















 Dan saw the fish swim near and the claws come out of this hermit crab, trap it, and start to feed. We watched it a good ten minutes as other people came by. One woman remarked it was a "hateful thing" and I thought what do you think animals in nature do?. Good grief. Another person wanted to alert the aquarium staff that there was a menace in this pond.




 Not sure what was going on here. Was glad I wasn't one of the religious types that might have had to explain to their children what these turtles were doing. Next to a display discussing turtle evolution, Dan heard a mother tell her children "Now remember, evolution didn't happen, God made everything."



 We checked in later with our friend Hermit the Crab and he was making quite a meal of Mr. Fish.



 Sea horses!



Horseshoe crab! I was hoping to get a look at the underbelly, because it sure looks like these guys don't have any faces. Imagine spending your whole life looking for food like a Roomba looks for dust.



 Metal marine art sculpture. We were inspired.



 Here we just couldn't help ourselves.






 I love jellyfish.



There were four or five different sharks in this tank, and of course Dan knows them all. I don't know how to tell them apart, as there were no dogfish, but I could identify a nurse shark (below).




 Green Moray eel!






Our day to the coast happened just a few days after my youngest niece sent me a second letter asking why I move around so much, how about if I just stay in one place, I should have stayed in Ucluelet and she hopes that were I live now is as cool as Ucluelet. WELL I can now confidently tell her that yes, where I live now is even cooler. The aquarium she saw when came to visit is in that tiny fishing village was no bigger than a 10x20 foot container/trailer, whereas this aquarium is an actual building with washrooms! It was a great and fun day for us and we are looking forward to seeing all of North Carolina's aquariums.