July’s story for the 2 folk, the dog and the tractor is a deliberate diversion. We spent the first half of July in deep sadness at saying goodbye to our much loved flock of merino wethers. We need time to process the emotions. The knowledge, ‘The Boys’ were due for sale, has weighed heavily for months. I admit to an element of avoidance. We have so much going on in our lives that the sale of our sheep was peripheral to our focus, as awful things are when you are trying to avoid them. And in true form, they don’t disappear either. So now is not the time. Just know we have suffered a loss, grown a bit, and are now sufficiently experienced to wear Big Farmer pants.
One way we deal with loss is by getting active on something. Not that we need another project but rather we need a distraction and a creative outlet, to let our minds fill with different issues rather than a persistent loop of emotional angst.
So we started the build of our growhouse. By the time we made the decision to build, we had a very short window to turn this around for this garlic season. For an off the shelf solution, extended delivery times, builder availability, associated costs, and suitability were major hurdles. Yet these hurdels created the perfect scenario requiring us to get creative. Thankfully many before us have and we found a solution online.
We chose to build it out of sustainably logged hardwood, heavily oiled, because we like the look of wood, it is lovely to work with, added much needed heft and weight to help with anchoring the structure against our high winds and overcame the issue of the metal overheating in our extreme summer temperatures. We have built aluminium polytunnels and watched with dismay as the wind buckled and ripped them to shreds. This growhouse will be clad with a polycarbonate corrugated sheet. Glass, whilst traditional, beautiful, and heavy, would have caused extreme temperatures inside during our summer. Anything over 35 degrees Celcius and garlic plants start to shut down. This cladding will reduce some of the UV and if not sufficient we can retrofit retractable shade cloth blinds. We have not resolved how to best seal the growhouse to enable temperature control. We get a handful of cold, grey days in winter but mostly the days are crisp and clear with bright sunshine. The sheeting may be enough to block cold winds and yet warm the space sufficiently to encourage growth. In summer the same winds should cool the place down. I’m not sure if it is possible to account for everything, sometimes you just have to push ahead, that whole adventure over plan thing.
The housebuild is spluttering to life again, inspired by the growhouse build. If we were paying someone to build our house, a month of inactivity would be hard to bear. We realise we need such times to solve some of the larger design components of the build. There is a luxury in not having to make on the spot decisions from a limited array of options, yet no one likes living in a partially build house forever…so we ponder, dream, and discuss. Co-Captain typically has to translate to me how some ideas might actualise, but it is a slow form of doing. And then there are times like now, where we have drive, funds, good weather and certainty about what we want to achieve next.
The kitchen garden is producing a wonderful array of things green, although peas continue to elude me. Huge heads of broccoli, plenty of broccolini (tenderstem broccoli), spinach/silverbeet, rocket, coriander, lettuce, thyme, parsley, rosemary, brussel sprouts, kale, carrots and the odd snow pea (sigh). The cauliflower and cabbage now have heads forming which is my first time. I pulled the carrots. Despite the carnage inflicted by the persistent sheep grazing we harvested plenty. I am quite enamoured with the wee dinky tiny ones and have been snacking or using them as a garnish for days now. They are far too precious to chop.
Winter in the bee garden is typically slim pickings but currently flowering we have the wallflower, rocket, peas, salvia, hellebores and rosemary. The broccolini is just itching to burst into flower, but I’m being greedy and snapping them off. Whilst the jonquils are up they don’t seem a favourite for the bees. I was taught bees are not particularly attracted to strongly smelling flowers. Good for humans.
2 books deliberately purchased to bend my brain. I did learn something from Reni Eddo-Lodge’s book, addressing the race relations in Britain. However, I’m Australian. I think there is a far more relevant and possibly harrowing story to tell of the impact of British colonialism, laws, and the ongoing mindset of white privilege and superiority in our country. The books are out there. I am looking. I will be sharing what I learn. If you have some suggestions please get in touch.