May has come (and now all but gone), and it comes in such splendor that is lifts ones soul, breathing life back into us and the world around us. It is adorned with blossoms from the stately Magnolias towering over head, down to the delicate Siberian Squill underfoot. Its voice is full of bird songs, the buzzing of the bumble bee and the call of the spring peepers. Its scent is of a pleasant earthy musk following a spring shower and the sweet scents of magnolias, lilacs and apples. The earth has woken back up from winter's slumber.
I always forget just how busy April and May are. Their days a long again, the woods and fields are freshly greened, beckoning me to trod new paths through them. The garden calls to me, to dig hands into its newly warmed soil, the seeds must be sown and the seedlings carried out from the warmth and shelter of our little greenhouse. Both of these tasks, the time spend in the wild and uncultivated land, and the time spent cultivating land are what I love, they are my work and my rest.
We have been busy bees in the garden this spring, and for the first time things are finally taking shape. The back area is starting to feel like the garden we have been planning, working towards and dreaming about. The four HUGE Norwegians spruces are long gone, the mountains of earth, the piles of stones, the brush and wood chip piles are all gone, and in it is place are two rows of orchards plantings, our little green house, the raised bed with low tunnel, our annual garden beds, the children's garden, the grassy hammock area, the picnic area, the root cellar, the nursery bed of young fruit trees and shrubs, other planting beds, the clothes line and the back stoop.
Amidst the whirl and hum of everyday life, I have found it hard to document our progress, as always and forever, I hope to do better, but for now here are a few pictures of the back area the were taken in haste while trying to get as much done in the garden during the early morning while my girls slept in.
And let me tell you, this stoop (just out of the frame on the above picture), has transformed things for us. We wanted to put a deck on this spring, but in the end, time and money didn't allow. So Johnny threw together a stoop for us, all out of random odds and ends of materials we had on site, either from our own projects or things found else where. And in a day he put this up, which is far from his style or level of craftsmanship, but boy, is it functional. It gives us a way out into our landscape and it gives us a place to sit and look out at the gardens and fields. It has become the connecting point, the transition space, the sit spot. The cats are finally given the free range that they desire and the sliding door (no longer a hazard) is left open all day, and the outdoors are blending with the indoors. It encompasses one of my favorite ideas, the stoop as both a stairway and seating, an elevated seating that lets you feel both apart of the happenings below, but also allows a great vantage point to view it. We are obsessed with our ugly stoop that we think we will ditch the deck (because again, lots of time and money) and we will rebuild a beautiful stone stoop next spring, Johnny is already dreaming of the stonework he will do for it.
With no deck in our future we have been stuck with where do we have our outdoor cooking set up, because we love to cook and to be outside. After weeks of thinking we think we found the perfect spot to build a small outdoor kitchen...into the slope between the root cellar and the stoop. Nothing too fancy, a simple sink and a grill built into a stone wall, maybe if there is room a pizza oven...who know when we will do it, but we are so excited (and Johnny is thrilled for another stone project to put his hands to).
The annual garden beds and paths are in, which feels like we have form now, they might change or shift as we see how we like it this season, but the are in and are populated with plants. Now we just need to keep making more waddle fences or continue with stone to help delineate path from garden bed...this need is becoming more and more apparent the more we have people over, my poor calendula and cabbages are getting trampled.
The root cellar is soooo close, finally! The sloop is graded out and we have been planting lupines all over (I have been buying up and starting like crazy, hundreds of lupine seeds, literally hundreds!) and the cap needs pointing, the door needs fixing and the entry needs finishing and of course eventually we need to plaster the inside, and that vent pip still needs the 5 minute job of cutting it down shorter...but guys...so close! (Here is a little detail of it, but check out instagram to see more photos of it)
The Modern Homestead Nursery is humming along, still working out how to run a nursery, but it is becoming one of my favorite roles for the company...starting the seeds, propagating shrubs and perennials, grafting trees, taking cuttings, dividing plants. I only wish I had more time to commune with my plants! We were planning on doing a spring plant sale, but I pulled back, I don't think we are ready for that. Sometimes you have to just rush into things, but sometimes waiting is better. So we will be creating a new nursery bed where they can continue to grow this season. We will sell them throughout the season as there is interest...still figuring that out. I think I will use the @modernhomesteaddesign account and our website to tell you guys what we have available and when, so stay tuned!
Our beloved bees are here and they are already a family favorite. Johnny has been functioning as lead beekeeper, but Anna is right there with him. She goes on and on about being a beekeeper, it is so sweet to see her so excited about the bees. This last week she has notified me that she is both the beekeeper AND the queen bee...haha, oh girl, you are one of my favorite people! They really are gentle creatures, I am sure we will in fact get stung from time to time, but thus far we have not been, well actually...Johnny has once, but never fear comfrey salve to the rescue. We have plans to make the area all around the hive a pollinator garden for them...this is still in the planning stage though.
Our goslings arrived mid May! We have a pair of tufted roman goslings, Poppy and Fern, and they are so sweet, and we all adore them. Evee seems specially fond, she lights up when I let her practice standing on the side of the brooder and she can look in at them. I was a little nervous about getting them, excited, but like what are we getting ourselves into...largely because they are a first for us. We've done chickens and ducks, but geese are something new. And the other reason is we haven't gotten their outdoor set up together yet...and they are rapidly out growing their brooder.
A little health update...our gander is as fit as a fiddle, and such a protector of his mate, but sadly lady goose is not doing so well. She seems to have slipped tendons on both her hocks...which is causing her some trouble walking, she can still manage but is clumsy and often stepping on her own feet. I have been fine combing the internet for guidance and calling around to all the poultry people I know, but it seems that there is not a lot to be done...we may be able to fix it by stretching it and wrapping it, but so far we have not had luck doing either. The end prognosis for this is lameness...so while we are holding out a sliver of hope for recovery, it is not looking good for Poppy. We don't have it in us to let her live out her life (which is long with healthy geese, 20 years or so) lame, so if we can't correct it then we will have to put her down, and I say we, but I mean Johnny because I don't think I could do it.
Johnny and I feel like our to do lists are longer than the hours in a day, and every walk around the property makes them longer still (and every day the Modern Homestead to do lists are getting longer too! Anyone know of anyone looking for part time landscape / construction work? We need to hire another employee!). Our Anniversary weekend (memorial weekend) was chaotic, with sick babies and farm animals and we felt in a haze. But, we keep moving forward, and little by little this little acre homestead is be transformed and with every season our dreams are coming alive. And every week we are learning more and more about ourselves and are getting better at this business owner thing ;)
And that leads me to the last bit of news...we have finally settled on a name for our homestead...
(inspired by the Barry's property from Anne of Green Gables, naturally)
We just feel it is perfect...it fits us and the property...our entire acre is a giant slope (or mountain as we sometimes joke) and we have been terracing it and planting it with various orchard trees and shrubs. Plus the name, even though it is straight forward feel a little magical and inviting, at least to me anyway.
Anywho, what do you think? And now do I rename the blog and the instagram? Do I come up with a new mark / logo for the homestead? Ideas on that? I want your thoughts :)