June 28, 2007

such a long time it has been

I think the uniqueness (and specialness) of this ranch life comes into sharper focus for me after spending a little time away from it. Having just returned from a perfectly fabulous week on the East Coast with nearly all of my favorite people, I am finally finally feeling like I have something to say and share here. I could use the excuse that I was "too busy to blog", which as excuses go would be fairly easy to justify, but even good excuses are lame. And I think my first observation is closer to the truth: it had been nearly six months since I'd left the ranch and I guess I needed a little trip to throw things into perspective.

It has been almost three months since my last post, so I guess I've got a little catching up to do. But I also think 'catching up' is kind of lame. I'll add a few pictures a bit later on to provide some sensation of the passage of time. And like kindred spirits, let's skip the recap and jump right back into the NOW.

The turkeys are mulling under the mulberry tree most days, gobbling up all the berries that the crazy winds have been felling. I have only picked a few handfulls for immediate enjoyment. Also to add a few purple stains to the summer patina of my hands, which I am embarassingly vain about. Dirt encrusted callouses from weeding and hoeing. A deep dark tan highlighting my little 27-year-old wrinkles. Green and purple splotches from pulling grass and picking mulberries. Dirt under my fingernails. I look at my summer hands with secret pride.

The mice have decided to move back into the house. I was hoping the 'men of the house' (of which there are now two - brother Adam who graduated from college and is back for good and our friend Layne who is working out here for the summer) would deal with the mouse problem while I was on vacation. No such luck, however, so I guess I'll dig out the traps and peanut butter this afternoon. The return of the mice coincided rather suspiciously with the recent dwindling of our cat population. I think I counted something like 15 cats at one point and now we're down to 4: Max, Mama, and the two grey kittens. I adopted out the two orange kittens, but the other cats have either moved elsewhere or met their death. I'm hoping Mama will have another batch of kittens yet this summer, but she isn't showing any signs as yet.

Adam must have remembered to water my garden for me last week because it grew beyond my wildest expectations while I was away. My tomatoes are bursting out the tops of their cages, with oodles of blossoms and a few fruits already setting on. My green beans finally rooted in and should be producing soon. The squash are covered in blossoms, though the vines are not too big yet. And the basil could probably be thinned for the first batch of pesto. The corn is only 6 or 8 inches tall - 'knee high by the 4th of July' seems unlikely, but it seems healthy otherwise. The potatoes and anasazi beans have bushed out incredibly. And my fennel is over a foot tall already. I think I'll have one or two more asparagus cuttings before I let them go to seed. It has been SUCH a treat to have so much fresh asaragus. Sometimes I eat it moments after picking, but other times I just trim the ends and set them in a glass of water in the fridge for a few days, until I have a big bunch.

I usually spend an hour or two each day, in the cool of the morning and the late evening, puttering in my garden. I set my coffee/beer on the stump and ruthlessly weed and carefully thin and tend and watch. I am so so delighted by my garden. Also proud and fulfilled and contented. Sentimental though it sounds, I truly can't wait to share the harvests with my family and neighbors.

Also, there is this very big project happening: LINK

I will say more about it in a comment. It is not really happening "On The Ranch", but it is something worth commenting on here nevertheless.