I've never wanted to stay anywhere longer than a year. This is the time -- about nine months into a lease -- when I usually get the urge to move. I start wearing the house like an uncomfortable wool sweater. I'm scratching and hot and frustrated and I start packing boxes because I'm already half-moved out in my mind. Not this time. This time I'm just thinking, Hm, I might like to paint the floor a nice shiny indigo. And the walls should be a warm sunny color. How can we get more light into the kitchen? But I'm not only thinking about changing the place -- I'm thinking about how this place has changed me.
I can't wait to have another summer here. I can't wait for the garden to really flourish. I feel settled here, still totally in love with this place.
Magical things happen here. Like eggs being laid inside other eggs.
|This was the tiny egg inside another, much bigger shell.|
When hens begin to lay their habits are erratic. The eggs can range from enormous to very tiny, or have several yolks or none, or be very soft -- you never know what you're gonna get. The kids crowd around every time we cook one, hoping to see a double yolk. This is the first egg we've ever found with another entire egg inside, though. (The tiny one didn't have a yolk.)
By the way, it snowed this weekend.
I wrote last year that I feel more comfortable with snow now that it's a distant memory at least 360 days of the year. That's the kind of snow I like. And it does precipitate a special coziness, as our little family curls up in front of the woodstove with our books or knitting and cups of hot cocoa.
Have I mentioned that we don't have to buy eggs anymore? That we are saving at least $50 a month, even accounting for feed, while eating the best-quality protein possible from our very own backyard? And what a huge amazing thing this is for me?
This was the haul from one weekend.
This weekend we made the sad decision that we're not going to start a bee colony this year. Ideally a hive is established when the first flowers of spring appear. Around here that's acacia and daffodils, and they came up several weeks ago. But I worried it was a false spring because we hadn't had any rain yet, so we waited. Now it's too late, too expensive, too time-consuming. Our landlord gave us a big stack of bee boxes from a former tenant, and at first we thought they'd work just fine, but now Jeremy wants to make his own. These boxes are very old and very weathered from several years of rain. And we haven't found a suitable spot yet, because we get quite a lot of wind and we're not sure where the final fence boundary will be; the cattle can't get anywhere near it, needless to say.
And we really want to do this right. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves. That's been our most profound lesson from living here. Like starting with 116 chicks? That was getting ahead of ourselves. We lost half of those birds from predation, mostly because we weren't properly prepared. That was a powerful lesson in disappointment and self-restraint. So, although I'm excited about our various projects, I am constantly reminded of the need to step back, breathe, and do less. Always, always, always, do less. Because it's not about how much we could do, physically, emotionally, or financially. It's about how much we should do.
This is even more true now that I am working full-time. (I got that job I mentioned.) We are definitively weekend homesteaders now, unable to do anything beyond basic feeding and maintenance during the week, and that means we have to be realistic. Yawn.
When I try to explain to others why I love this place, despite its apparent limitations, I keep coming back to these small things that don't seem very important. Like the view from the hill, down into the valley, which is just stunning with the low-lying clouds. Or the large population of robins and kestrels and golden eagles, and the manic sound of coyotes at night. Or the creeks that criss-cross the land. Or the baleful eyes of the cattle as they laboriously move out of our way. Or this:
This is the one spot on the whole ranch where we can get (spotty) cell reception. I despise cell phone culture, and having a phone at all is a stretch for me. We're basically cave-people with our one phone (without a single fancy feature), no television, and no Internet connection at home. But I have found such peace in my life without the pressure to be constantly connected, engaged, and available through technological devices.
This place is a refuge in all ways, and I can't wait to see what the next year will bring.