And so begins the "last month of school" (although we will probably do light school over the summer). Actually, we may have to do school over the summer to make up for the "last month of school," in which there are more field trips than work days. I think we learn more on field trips anyway.
My Mother's Day blessing this year was a second raised garden bed. My Matt, his dad, and the kids all pitched in to build it the weekend before Mother's Day weekend. I planted seedling tomatoes and peppers in our old bed a few days before they built the new one. The old bed also has a few zucchini, cucumber, pea, beet, and carrot plants that I started from seed. Look at what 10 days has done for the old bed:
May 4 May 11
Building the new raised bed.
The Panda and mom are showered and clean after gardening. Except my fingernails. They will never be clean again.
I am not a garden expert. I have 3 years of very small scale, limited size and scope experience. My cherry trees have never produced one cherry. I'm great with tomatoes and cucumbers. We have a very fat groundhog. I really dig in spiritually when I garden, though. It is great prayer time. When it's a peaceful time, I can meditate on some of the things God says about gardening.
I am so chicken to prune a plant. My peach trees have branches that probably need to go. I just don't want to cut off something that looks healthy and good. I have learned to prune tomatoes. Hey, it's a start, right. They are obvious. Some branches are not going to bear fruit, and some are. It's easy to tell them apart. I don't even mind cutting the "suckers" off anymore, because it's good for the plant. I get a huge yield.
When I cut off those "suckers", I ask the Lord what he wants to cut off from my life. Which branch is a "sucker". Some are obvious. It is painful to cut them off, but good for me.
I stare at the peach tree. There are real live peaches forming on every branch. Too many. I need to thin them. Some branches need to be cut. When it comes time to do it, I keep chickening out. I'm not really sure what I'm doing.
The question is harder this time. Lord, do I need to prune a healthy branch with fruit all over it so that it may bear even more fruit later? How do I do the job right, not hacking away with no skill or planning? Sigh. Is there a teacher for me somewhere?
As for my new garden bed, I told the Penguin and her friend what my plan was. I asked them to help me plant watermelon, musk melon and a few other things. We had lunch after church and I fed the Panda and changed. When I got to the garden, they had planted it all. They were such hard workers. Probably, they did a great job, right? Today, a week later, the first mystery plant popped up. The new bed should be good entertainment this year....
The Penguin is my garden helper. We have a few experiments running with different soil mixes. We way over-planted beet and carrot seeds, so we pulled some out to see if they'd survive a transplant. The penguin desperately wants to grow popcorn and cotton (!?). I bought seeds. Now, we just have to wait to see if there's some room in the "bed of mystery".
The penguin has been struggling for a few months. We have peaceful moments, snuggling, reading, gardening. She rages, has sleep issues, anger. Nothing new, just particularly intense, lately. Oh, how I love her. She's great. Except when she's not.
On those days, I'm not meditating and pruning, praying and puttering. That's when I weed, hack, upend, dig. Calm down, so I can remember and claim God's great promises, even when I can't see how or when my own personal scorched places and ancient ruins will be healed and rebuilt.
My co-op students getting ready for the year end photo after skating and pizza.
Ok, best field trip ever. You are going to be so jealous. We got to tour the Bowen Farmstead, owned by brilliant author of Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon Morell. http://pabowenfarmstead.com/
They are educating people about the faults, dangers, and fallacies of commercial farms, and making amazing raw milk cheeses. It is so interesting how they use pigs and chickens to turn over the land so that in a very short time, a thinned forest or totally trampled, dead field can be a perfect cow pasture with plenty of grazing food. It is great for all the animals involved. They also only milk once a day, which decreases their yield by 20%, but their labor by 50%, which seems to work out pretty well!
If an animal touches this big brush, it spins and sways. A self-petting machine.
The Puppy had that great rite of passage, touching the hot wire and getting a good solid zap. He was happy to pose for this picture with the electric fence, though.
The children's choir blessed us with a song for Mother's Day this morning. It was the Penguin's last song before she moves up and is too old for Joyful Noise.
The Panda's eating is about the same. He is getting used to a very squished version of what we are eating instead of commercial baby food, which is really great. In a moment of insanity, I told Matt that he could throw out all the bottles for Father's Day. He hates bottles so much at this point. I had never bottle fed a baby, and it was so good for bonding and snuggling, that I have warm, fuzzy feelings about the bottle. Matt just sees his almost-4-year-old son with a bottle. He's probably right to push to get rid of the bottles, and it is do-able. He's had 18 months at home now. He's down to 2 bottles a day, and it seems like the fewer bottles, the more frequently he asks for one. "Bottle?"
They were a blessing, but now they are holding him back. Matt is more confident about pruning than I am.