i love living in the Valley.

cold and clear this morning, and a field full of geese. i left the house not more than two minutes late, and very nearly missed the bus—in fact, i would have, had the driver not recognized me walking to the stop, honked at me, and stopped anyway to wait while i ran to catch up with him. one of the usual drivers on my route home also drops me off in front of my driveway on a regular basis. it’s great.

i’m back at the office and every time i turn my radio on, the phone rings, obliging me to turn it off again. it’s graduate admissions season, and they all want to know if their letter-of-reccomendation writer can email us the letter that they were too lazy to write a week go, and whether we really actually mean it about the deadline.

Meanwhile, the farm is bursting ahead on every possible project. It’s amazing. Kit has been working nonstop on pretty much everything. Over break, we got so many projects done, including ones that had never even made it onto the list, like pulling out that old dishwasher and installing shelves, thereby greating increasing the organization of our little “bulk goods problem.” i reorganized the grain, bean, seeds & flour shelves, too, and labelled them with ‘s fancy labeller. next stop with that gadget is the pump house! We also set up the actual clothesline so that it is out in a full-sun location now, and Kit repaired the kitchen shed door so that it opens and shuts like a real door (smoothly!) and can be locked. We’ve discovered a new passion for locks, what with it all.

Let’s see. We finished caulking the greenhouse, and started a flat of kale and one of lettuce. Both are thriving, and the kale is putting out secondary leaves now. Kit repaired a full set of rickety wobbly shelves in there, and re-installed the set that fell down (while loaded with one-gallon pots of tomatoes, yay) last summer. They’re extremely solid now, which is a wonderful improvement! and i reorganized the barn, resulting in such revolutionary progress as actual building space near the power tools, and hanging the irrigation line on the wall, instead of letting it loop crazily all over the floor at the back of the barn. Next step, clearing paths so that the currently unused west doors both become functional again; one into the goat pen, the other into the soon-to-be-built goat shed itself, for morning and evening milking.

Kit cleared all the young elms out of the ritual grounds, and we finally decided to throw less person-energy at it and invest in a one-day rental of a stump-grider, to eat up all those persistent elm-stumps. This Saturday’s work party will involve raking the area around all the stumps to prep for that. He’s also been working on sorting the piles of sticks out there, and the small ritual ground is now free of the piles that we’ve added to it (though the pile it came with persists; that one is also on Saturday’s list). He also made the paths through the garden—we’ve abandoned the idea of unconventional lines as being excessively impractical, and are going with beds 4-5′ across by about 60′ long. from the Gate of Possibility (that gate that has no fence) to the south fence, however, the final bed will stretch the opposite direction, to break things up a little and provide a saner organization for the irrigation & shade-cloth systems this summer. that bed, the one that adjoins the barnyard, will be corn, beans & squash. Almost everything else is yet to be determined, save that the chard & kale are going into the shallowest north bed, potatoes & beets in the three-feet-deep cold frame bed, and i think tomatoes in the second bed, which held chard, zuchs & some squash last year, and which mostly gets good shade. We’re stirring a truckload or two of fresh horse manure into the garden starting this weekend—i’m hoping for at least a two-inch layer across the whole corn/beans/squash bed, and another good layer over the far south bed, the farthest north bed, and if there’s any left, all the middle beds. :) the dark turned soil with neat paths cutting through it looks beautiful right now. i will get around to taking more photos. hopefully this weekend. The “moon garden” –my perennials bed–is almost done; filled with compost about to be mixed with native soil, and then it’ll be ready for spring planting. Alan’s dye-garden beds out back are likewise almost done; they’re more than half dug, and he’s about to get compost. Everything is transformed back there, with those scrub elms down. It’s a revelation.

Before our New-Year’s-Alan’s-Birthday party, I got the Rainbow Serpent up on the ceiling of the yurt, an art project i’ve been meaning to get around to for an entire calendar year. It feels great to have it up again. We did a fantastic amount of cleaning before the party (a real benefit of parties), and some of it has even lasted. :) After new year, Kit and I spent a day working at Ironwood Farm, in exchange for Chris bringing the tractor over to till our garden in December. We dug potatoes, unloaded an enviable trailer-full of horse manure, and at the end of the day, helped catch and hold a ewe who was refusing to nurse her day-old lamb. Chris and Kit tackled her and pinned her in place while Jenny and I got the little guy in there and nursing again, and then Jenny trimmed wool dreadlocks away from the udder so the lamb had easier access. Provided his mom stopped dodging his attentions. Jenny thought that he would likely end up bottle-fed (and therefore, by extension, the children’s pet), and as his probable fate is in the freezer, she was turning over how to make that work out, or how to work it out so that he had a reasonable purpose and could be kept alive.

Seems like we got more done than that but i’m drawing a blank right now. i’ll edit later if i remember more. :) The end of break was a flurry of normal-life activity—a day spent running errands (mostly to bookstores, happily enough, where i discovered Bean Blossom Dreams, The Compassionate Carnivore, and Hit by a Farm. It’s been a week for that, today Green as a Thistle, whose book, “Sleeping Naked is Green,” i’m looking foward to reading soon, reccomended another one, Cold Antler Farm. Her writing is fantastic and i have already added her to my daily feed. :)

Last night we made the critical decision on goats: we’re getting kids, not already-milking does. They cost less to buy, are probably not quite as ingenious about escaping as their elders (there’s always the hope), and as put it, we can take almost a year to learn how to raise goats before having to add a milk-storage fridge, and morning & evening milkings to our list of things to make enormous mistakes at learn.

Thistle got spayed this week; she’s low-energy, naturally-enough, but quite healthy and came through well. We have to keep her indoors for a week, so she’s in ‘s recently-puppy-proofed workshop for the duration.

We’re gearing up for spring. Rabbit housing, goat housing, expanding the chicken run so we can get broiler hens, making the ritual area a nice place to have big group rituals again, spring planting. I’m putting the Seed Saver’s Exchange order in this week, and will follow up shortly with a few things from Seeds of Change. here it all comes. ;)