Monday, July 20, 2009

There's a reason they call it a farmer's tan

Before I started blogging about our adventures here at Mucky Boots, I was sending "Farm Updates" to family and friends via email. Here is one of them, from July 2009.

Hello everyone!

I always suspected this little venture into farming would have much to teach me: about the cyclical nature of growth and decay, and the futility of striving for perfection. Well, here's another one: you can't care what you look like when you spend several hours every day on your hands and knees digging in the dirt...

I wrote in an earlier update about the importance of having clothes that you work in, and clothes that you go out in public in, and that the two should never be confused or your public clothes will soon suffer irreparable harm and consequently become work clothes. My thinking on this critical issue has evolved in the last few months (or my level of dirtiness has increased, or the number of presentable clothes in my closet has reached a critical low). Now I start the day in work clothes, and if I have to go out in public sometime in the day, for example for an urgent trip to Rona for garden hose, or a run to Buckerfields for more alfalfa meal for my ailing squash plants, I just go dirty. Dirty knees, dirty fingernails, dirty face, sweaty hair under a ball cap. If they can't understand at Rona or Buckerfields, then there's something wrong. I've even gone into Tim's for coffee in all my dirty glory, and no one batted an eye. There's an advantage to living in Duncan!

The other lesson in vanity I am learning has to do with the fact that it has been blistering hot and sunny almost every day for the last couple of months. And despite being in daily contact with SPF 50, I have ended up with a brown face and neck, brown arms, and brown knees: a farmer's tan! My honey has one, too, so I don't need to feel embarrassed without my clothes in front of her. But I am going for my first massage in about 6 months tomorrow, and I am really, really hoping the massage therapist keeps her laughter to herself...

In the garden we have finished off the last of the peas, fennel (yes, the fennel I was saving for a special occasion) and strawberries, and are mostly through the raspberries. Our freezer is full of big bags of berries, which feels great! We are starting to eat the beets and carrots, and the lovely Dragon's Tongue beans.

The zucchini and pattypan squash plants suffered a bad bout of blossom-end-rot (the things I am learning...) but seem to have emerged in reasonably good health. It gave us a brief respite from the daily enforced eating of squash... We have planted the additional chard, beets, carrots, rutabagas and greens that we hope will give us crops through the fall and even, for some of them, through the winter.

We have just started eating blueberries, and our winter squash plants (buttercup, butternut and spaghetti) seem to be doing what they're supposed to (thank goodness, because we wouldn't know the difference). The tomatoes are going great guns in the greenhouse (the photo is of one of our heritage Green Zebra tomato plants), and our three big beds of potato plants are starting to keel over and dry up, which we DO know they're supposed to do).

On the flower front, everything is pretty much crispy dried - the poppies are all crunchy seed pods and brown leaves, just like the columbines. Everything else is just crispy from the heat. But the bee balm has just started to flower. We have a great patch of bright red bee balm in front of the house, which we're familiar with, but we were tickled pink (literally) with a batch of purple, pink and white bee balm in the vegetable garden. It's such a cheerful flower - it's impossible to be unhappy looking at bee balm. It is well named, because the bees love it, as you can see if you look closely!

Love to you all!
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