u s e y o u r h a n d s


The seedlings, especially the tomatoes, are going crazy this year. I started my crops this year in a truly unremarkable mix of chunky, homemade compost and coir. Almost everything germinates in just a few days, just sitting on a kitchen radiator. No heat mats, no fussy temperature gauges this time around. Because they’re sprouting so quickly and because I’ve underestimated my planting desires, I’ve exhausted my supply of secondary containers. Remember, i start everything in folded toilet-paper tubes and transplant into paperboard or tetra pak containers sourced at home or from neighbors.

I was thinking about this a bit tonight, after a conversation on Facebook about work-life balance and ascribing value to different activities. I could buy a bag of compost for a few bucks (like, what, $10 for organic? Maybe $15? I have no idea) but why? It’s easy to make from waste we already have—but more than that, I like making compost. I like and value the process. I do not waste what I make myself.

And this is why I’m not destined for offices full-time any more. An office every now and again, or a few days a week, sure. But I need dirt and life on my hands to make them rough and wise. I need paper cuts and callouses from shovels and soap suds or snot wiped on my ample tummy. I don’t need a business suit or Spanx for me to feel valuable or worthwhile. Someone else does, and that someone is perfectly happy. But that someone is not me.

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Drama & Peace

So, in the same way that life with children affords one no rest, life with animals is almost exactly the same. Just a few days back, I was putzing in the yard, about to clean out the coop, when a bright splotch of red caught my eye. Something was bleeding. The culprit? Betty the Hen, always our yappiest lady, broke a toenail. I scooped her up, took her into the bathroom (the only nice room in our house, mind you) and proceeded to stop the bleeding and bandage her up.

In the meantime, I send a request to the Chicago Chicken Enthusiasts list and am immediately told to remove the dressing, as animals need to let wounds like those drain. One poster advised some Bactine, at most. So I run out, remove the dressing, and proceed to swab down the bathroom with a diluted bleach solution. Then I drink ALL the coffee.

But at the same time, I’m moving into my new role as planner of edible landscapes slowly, but steadily. I need to design and post some flyers around my target neighborhoods, and work on a few designs for actual clients, and continue to futz with my own yard plan. Let’s just say I have 10 cu yds of soil in my future, plus a mother’s day present of a wheelbarrow, and lots of ibuprofen for a sore back.

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You know, livng with chickens isn’t all eggs and gentle clucks. There’s a fair amount of funk and fuss. Today’s edition brought mites. We’ve struggled with mites in our flock from time to time, but one of our girls (and it seems like it’s only one, weirdly). So that meant that instead of heading to the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve as planned, I had to shovel out three garbage bags of coop litter and run waste (which was going to be some pretty amazing compost come spring/fall)——and then give my girl a dunk in soap and apple-cider vinegar. After her indoor soak, we brought her into the bathroom and turned the blow dryer on her. Luckily, she was sort of into it, since we’ll have to repeat the process every week for a month or so.

And here I go off to buy bird netting to keep the dirtbag wrens away from my ladies.

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