Oh my dear friends, life has been a frenzied smush of excitement & chaos as of late! Our pace always seems to quicken in the springtime, the slow flow life that I love becomes more demanding as the entire family is tangled up with “to do” lists. Josh’s work schedule gets wild & busier than usual, the kids have testing & projects to finish up before school lets out for the summer & of course, my demands around the homestead become greater as well. Between the gardens & chickens, canning, cooking, my newly acquired writing gigs (Yay!) & of course, maintaining sight of the 3-year-old happily kicking around in the mud & muck, I stay busy keeping the family machine well oiled & gassed up.
So much has happened in recent weeks. Where to begin?
First, I am proud… No… I AM JUBILANT to announce that the first babes ever to be born here at Wildwood Acres have arrived! Mama turkey sat diligently on her nest of about a dozen eggs for several long weeks & finally hatched her very first brood of beautiful babes in early May. A concerned, protective & devoted little Mama, she never left the nest for the last week before the first hatchling appeared. I worried desperately about her well-being. Steadfast in her work, she sat day in & day out, refusing to budge. Patiently, dutifully, stanchly committed to the impending birth of her brood, I realized she wasn’t even getting up for sustenance any longer. No water, no food, no willingness to do anything but help usher her babies into this world. Yes. I realize this is nature’s way. But I sympathized so deeply with Mama hen. I wanted her to be as comfortable as possible while she patiently waited for her little miracles to arrive. So each day I brought her fresh water, hand fed her store-bought blueberries & kissed a prayer or two for the littles. I know it’s probably my own romantic notions of motherhood, but in some strange way I felt like she understood & valued my concern. Maybe she realizes that I’m a Mama too. Maybe we connected, bonded & shared the gift of maternity in a special, primal way during that last week. At least that’s what I like to believe. Of course, birds – like humans – have a primitive sense of knowing, a way of doing their work, keeping their species alive and well. Those wobbly-legged, softly chirping babes would have hatched their way into existence & Mama hen likely would have survived just fine regardless of whether or not I kissed prayers, served up treats & diligently stood observing from afar. But it felt good to participate, offering up just the tiniest bit of comfort to the process of welcoming new life to our hobby farm. I dreamed of this opportunity & life experience long before we ever left the city, long before we ever knew Wildwood Acres even existed. A milestone has been met here at the homestead. We are over the moon to welcome these precious fuzzy friends to the world. Life is good.
In other news, it’s hardcore strawberry picking season here in Pungo! My friend Chanda & I took our toddlers out to the field for a picking extravaganza a few weeks back. We loaded up our baskets with 8 gallons of berries & spent a day making deliciously delectable jams & jellies. Not only did we have plenty of berries for massive batches of canned delights, we also froze some berries for future yums & even made a couple of pies for the weekend. Next up… Blueberry season! I can hardly wait!
So, the vegetable garden is unbelievable this year. Peas & potatoes are ready to be harvested. Corn is on, peppers are on, tomatoes are on & the lettuces, chard, kale, etc are still feeding us daily. I started 30+ tomato plants from seed back in February & I didn’t particularly expect them to all pull through. Much to my surprise, they are growing & flowering & a couple of them are already hanging heavy with new plump pops of tomato fruit! We don’t have nearly enough wire cages to place around our plants this year, so while I was visiting family in Ohio this week, Josh cut lots & lots of bamboo stakes. I’m ripping fabric this afternoon to use as ties to attach the plants to the stakes. We’ll remove a lot of the lower branches from the plants this evening & Josh will drill holes in the ground for the stakes. It sounds odd, but the ground does not take the bamboo easily. Once we get them in the ground I think they’ll work beautifully. I covered the base of the plants with chicken poop & pine shavings before I left town last week & Josh called me while I was gone, utterly shocked about the way the plants grew by leaps & bounds in only a few short days. They apparently love chicken crap. Woohoo! We’ve got plenty of it, that’s for sure!
And finally, I have one last major milestone to share with all of you. This is a big, big deal. Chanda & I finally harvested 5 roosters right here at the homestead. Why (you might ask) are these 5 birds more special than the other meat birds we have slaughtered? The answer is simple. This time around, we know exactly what farms the eggs came from, Chanda incubated & hatched the eggs in her own little backyard hatchery & then Josh & I raised up these roosters right here at Wildwood Acres, on our own property. This is huge for us. This was our vision from the very beginning of this “city to country” life endeavor. We know when these birds hatched. We know what they ate every day of their lives. We know what they looked like before they were harvested. Most importantly, when we cook them up & feed the meat to our families, we will know they were raised & harvested as ethically as possible. They lived the happiest, healthiest & most free-flowing life we could offer up. We’re not perfect in our consumption & consumerism, but we’re getting better. This matters to me greatly. As for the harvesting process, Chanda & I were so surprised to share the experience with my 12-year-old daughter, Teagan. She assisted with dipping, plucking & even processing a couple of the birds. I had absolutely no expectations of my children participating in this experience, yet here she was curiously taking part in preparing her own dinner from farm to table. Amazing. We are well on our way to creating a cycle of sustenance born & bred right here at the homestead, generation after generation, free range, farmstead fare. We can hardly believe it’s happening, but it is & that fills my spirit with gratitude.
As always, thanks for reading!
In love & light,