I have been thinking about the choice making function in everyday life lately, since I have a well developed ability to imagine doing all kinds of things. Being retired from what used to take 80% of my energy, I see many novel areas to dive into or expand upon. For instance, there are aspects of gardening I want to learn about, like landscaping and herb growing, making a cutting garden and growing really tasty potatoes. Permaculture really speaks to me, and I want to learn to read the patch of field and woods here for using best practices over time. The slopes, shade and sun exposure of a field contain information about where to place gardens, how to use drainage to the farm’s advantage, and siting outbuildings and greenhouses for maximum gain. Would I want to expand on the chicken and egg project? Maybe we will build a hoop house for end of season growing, and to keep the salad greens coming.
I tried making some farmer’s cheese twice, and had a decent result the second time. I discovered that milk can be coaxed into transforming in many ways, and that this one was simply warming the milk and adding a percentage of white vinegar and salt. That project got me thinking about dairy animals and the possibility of fitting a small cow into the mix here. Would I want to be engaged in caring for more than our cat and three hens on a daily basis? Hmmm.
Then there came the blueberry jam project. For weeks I had wanted to make a good, tangy blueberry jam, and finally one night, I looked up some recipes and measured out four or five cups of frozen berries, cut up a lemon and added some sugar. Half an hour later I had four jars made, ready for the fridge. It was good.
Another evening I attended a knitting class at the little town library. My dear neighbor, Ann, picked me up and we joined at least fifteen other women from town, to learn how to read color graphs and make a two color design on a swatch. These skills had always mystified me, and when I realized that my 12 careful rows of reading the graph and carrying my yarns had resulted in a genuine, identifiable pattern, I was shocked and thrilled. There is nothing so gratifying as getting a new skill down, especially one that will add to the process of creating the things I love to make. I love getting to know townspeople and neighbors better, also, something I was distracted from for many years.
Outdoors, we built the permanent chicken coop and run, and moved it gardenside with my sister J’s help. Now it sits rather aesthetically, I think, in the field but partly under the pines. The hens have adapted to the new digs nicely. Every morning Tom fetches the paper from the roadside box, and then lets the door down on the coop. At night, I head out there at about 8:15, croon to the girls and listen for the soft peculiar mutterings they make just before they head into the coop. Always, its Mrs Hughes, the mahogany colored cochin, who leads the others up the ramp. I find it fitting that she acts as head of household, since her character on Downton Abbey does exactly that.
It will be October before we begin to get eggs from these residents, and at that time we will be figuring out a winter location for the coop. After the tons of snow we had last winter, I want them closer to the house where we can keep a closer eye on them. Twice daily visits to the coop is one thing in benevolent July, but will be quite different in the cold and dark of winter. We will be ready.