Sunday, March 29, 2009

coveralls and seeds sown

A few weeks ago I came home from work and found a package on my mailbox. It was from a company called Rosies, who make coveralls specifically for woman. Inside the package was a teal pair of overalls, which fit me perfectly. Sliding them on was the clothing equivalent of sitting in a tractor. We're talking gardener super-hero garb: padded knees, cargo pockets, hidden zippers inside (so the ipod doesn't get destroyed), and a big chest pocket perfect for seed packets and utility knives. I had no idea the fine people over at Rosie's were going to send this to me, they even put a note in saying they were going to carry my book on their site. Shucks, thanks guys. I wanted to wait till I had a day outside to try them out before I reported on them here, but they are top shelf. If any of you farm girls out there pick up a pair, you will not be disappointed.

So I'm telling you about these overalls because this weekend, my dear friends, I beat the crap out of them. They are now a dirty pile of crumpled-workhorse on the cabin floor (as overalls damn well should be). I was outside all day Saturday. I worked till my hands blistered and my back ached. It was amazing. It was 60 degrees outside, and my day was one of those perfect farm afternoons of work and love. Get some coffee, get comfortable, and I'll tell you all about it.

It stared with the sheep. I went outside with hay and knife in hand. I set down their pile of fresh greens and then walked to their back gate to let them out into their pasture for the whole day. They came tearing out, and they raced to their buffet. With their wool on thick (and in need of shearing). It has a half-second delay bounce to their gait. So when a sheep runs all full of fleece their hair has to catch up with them. These silly little observations make my morning. While the sheep dined on their breakfast, my eyes glanced over just a few yards to where my real work lay...

The garden.

I spent most of my afternoon with a hoe. I turned, tilled, and cleaned-up three of my raised beds—a small dent in the big picture, but it felt so good to get my fingernails dirty again. I was listening to a live concert of Bon Iver, which was amazing. As the chorus of Skinny Love broke out I'd sing along, slamming my hoe to the punctuation of each line.

And I told you to be patient!
And I told you to be fine!
I told you to be balanced!
I told you to be kind!

...Musical hoeing: it's the only way to go. Everyone go buy For Emma, Forever Ago.

When my arms and back hurt from the sod, I'd switch over to the pitchfork. The plan was to move out some of the chickens' old winter straw bedding and use it as mulch in-between the beds. It would help the soil, and stop the weeds. So my whole day was dedicated to dirt and punctuated by the occasional chicken/goose garden break in. Every once in a while the geese or a rooster would step past the garden fence when my back was turned and start scratching up the mounds and rows I'd been working on. Then I'd try to chase them out, which was just feathers, squawking, and confusion - but hilarious. You haven't lived till you cursed out a French goose.

And so my effort ended with three food-ready beds, a few hundred pounds of mulch down, and phone numbers of shearers lined up. I even (and I'm almost scared to admit this to you...) but I even planted some seeds. I put peas and lettuce varieties in the ground in one bed. So what if it's too early? Then I'll plant more. It just felt like the right thing to do. To crouch down and place those peas in the dark earth, and look up from my garden fence to see the sheep all fat and happy, laying there in the pastures, chewing their cud in the sun. Beautiful, that.

The birds however, were not as passive. They all lined up against the garden fence, wondering why they couldn't come inside and eat all the earthworms writhing about the beds' edges. You can't please everyone.

The epic day ended with a potluck and campfire over in Cambridge, NY. My friend Dave hosted the shindig, and it was lovely. To end a long day of hard work with your feet propped up on a fire pit, and a slight buzz from a cold beer, well that's just perfection. Perfection in a very tangible source for us all.

I'm back guys. No more proposal to push through, no more long, cold, winter nights with nothing to report. I'll be updating every day on the farm, my big plans, and all the up-and-coming adventures here at Cold Antler. In the coming weeks I think there will be shearing, sheep-swapping, new chicks, the annual chicken swap, and bees bees bees... So much... so much of it back in my life again. You know, I'm not a fan of spring, but this year gratitude may bring me to my knees.

Stay tuned. Right now, I am off to buy hay. Welcome to my world.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good morning Jenna! Sounds like a good way to live life to me. Enjoy the fruits of your labor.I'm sure it will all be very rewarding. tracy

March 29, 2009 at 10:26 AM  
Blogger Melonie said...

Sounds like an absolutely incredible day! Wow. :-)

Glad to hear such good things about Rosie's. I've seen ads for them and they look so comfy.

March 29, 2009 at 10:29 AM  
Blogger BlueGate said...

Don't you just love spring!
Thanks for the review of Rosie's, I've been thinking about them for a while.

March 29, 2009 at 10:51 AM  
Anonymous Constantina Baldwin said...

Hi Jenna,

I read about you on Mother Earth News. What is the best way to contact you? I have questions on homesteading "for dummies" like me. I do have a day job, go to school, and try to make a homestead of my house. I live in Memphis, TN. Last year I started a vegetable garden in my backyard. I'm also interested in having chicken (for the eggs), a bee hive, and I have been considering having some sheep and of course dogs.

My house is not fenced. I live alone and I love this lifestyle.
I'm planning on buying your book as soon as I get paid.


March 29, 2009 at 11:40 AM  
Blogger Stacy said...

Always a nice surprise to get coveralls in the mail! When do we get a fashion show?

I'm jealous you got into the garden! It's much too early here yet. Boo!

March 29, 2009 at 12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to the rosies site and wanted to add that I got the pink tool belt a few years ago for mothers day and it rocks!!! Used it for everything from actual handy woman stuff to holding change at my yard sale!! Great to hear you had a good day outside!

Kiersten in NY

March 29, 2009 at 4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

awesome...i need to look into these coveralls.

March 29, 2009 at 6:29 PM  
Blogger Tracy Bruring said...

I didn't used to like spring either until I had chores to do outside all winter long. Now I pray for winter to be over quickly. Sounds like you have a great sunday routine going. How do you work things in the summer. Do you still bake bread inside?

March 29, 2009 at 7:33 PM  
Blogger Trailing Mira said...

Wow.... a perfect day :)

March 30, 2009 at 8:11 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Thanks for the link to Rosie's! I've been resorting to wearing men's pants outside (I LOVE my Walls!) and that works well enough, but still. I've long lamented the fact that I work just as hard and get just as dirty as any man, and women's clothes just aren't built to take the kind of abuse I dish out!

I've got potatoes, radishes and lettuce coming up in the garden - woohoo!

March 30, 2009 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger Tricia said...

Sounds wonderful! I enjoyed a great spring day myself today. I decided to embrace the drizzle and get outside. I cleared away winter from a couple of flower beds, moved some seed starts out to the greenhouse and let the chickens out to enjoy some of the green popping up in the yard.

March 30, 2009 at 7:53 PM  
Blogger megsheff said...

That bit about hoeing to Bon Iver made me laugh out loud and feel like I'm maybe not so crazy after all. Love your blog, and the book.

April 2, 2009 at 10:39 AM  
Blogger Carol G said...

Jenna, I came across your story in Mother Earth News and had to look up your blog. Your writing style is wonderful as are your pictures and stories. You can be sure I'll be back. You've got me drooling for spring here too, but, alas, it is still months away from me...

April 4, 2009 at 1:11 PM  

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