Sunday, February 21, 2010


As we anticipate the next wave of this economic restructuring,* "homesteading" is taking off.  Seed companies are swamped with orders.  Backyard chickens are multiplying.  Our little "homestead" is looking forward to a new herd of baby goats and the arrival of 20 heritage breed turkeys.

It's not easy, especially when you have another job.  I was making a mental "to-do" list and decided to jot some of it down.  This is mine; Karen has more.
  • Plant starter flats of tomato, green pepper, eggplant and other seeds so they're ready to transplant in May.
  • Put sulfur on the grapes to inhibit "rust."
  • Prune the grapes, blackberries and fruit trees.
  • Mulch the fruit trees and grapes.
  • As soon as the ground can be worked, plant our Spring garden -- lettuce, peas, spinach, carrots, parsnips, beets, etc.
  • On or about March 17, plant potatoes.
  • Move the snowplow to storage.
  • Build an attractive fence around the garden beds to keep the Indian Runner ducks in and varmints out.  Oh yes, first, order rough-cut fence wood from our local mill, dig post holes, plan the fence, consider solar electric wires and low-to-the-ground supplemental wire fencing.
  • Add another garden bed or two, which requires laying down wet newspapers or cardboard, covering with 6 inches of topsoil from our creekbed and adding manure.
  • Find, clear and prepare larger areas for planting grains to feed our livestock and us (including wheat, oats, etc. for flour, breads and cereals).
  • Help Karen add onto the goat barn (which in just one year has become too small because our plans have changed, for more goats and for turkeys).
  • Claim several pickup loads of manure to add to our investment bank.
  • Mulch and prepare our summer garden. 
  • Build a root cellar based on Mother Earth News plans using dirt bags.
  • Gather, cut and split at least 5 cords of firewood for next season.  (We might as well give up on this season; we're almost out and collecting firewood in the snow and mud is not much fun.)
  • Finish scraping and painting the exterior house windows and trim.
  • Get the pickup's steering repaired and new tires for the 1989 Volvo 240DL.
  • Put gravel on the cabin driveway.
  • Clean the rain gutters.
  • Harvest and put food by (can, freeze and dry).
 "That's enough," says Virginia. "I think we get the picture."

"Aw," I say, "I was just getting warmed up."

"I think you'll be plenty warm all year," says Virginia.  "Don't forget your commitment to me."

"Oh, that's right," I say.  "And the chamber music weekend coming up at Garth Newel (the Arrowhead Trio is playing), after the Schumann concert on March 6.  Not to mention my 'work' deadlines."

"It's fixin' to be another great year," says Virginia.

* The loans that financed the office buildings with empty parking lots -- commercial real estate -- are coming due soon, as renewals and extensions peter out.  Many smaller banks that "stayed strong" during the last couple years are on the hook.  Remember this when your "investment counselor" calls to say now is the time to get back into real estate investment trusts (REITs) and other real estate investment vehicles because they're "cheap."

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