Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Heartland Homestead TV Tour

I've been spending a lot of time writing my blog in my head. Just relaxing, watching Spring develop, noticing the daily miracles in my yard and being overly enthusiastic about not doing anything. In spite of my determination to "not garden" this year, to take a fallow break, I'm finding myself itching to dig...push the dirt around and for Pete's sake...weed. But...I'm a control freak if nothing my yard is looking wild. And, that's okay...for me...for now.

Loving spouse and I were married the Sunday prior "Spring Break" 9 years ago this year. But, he's on the fast track to finishing up his, I decided to take a drive up through the heartland to visit some good family and folk and give him time alone to study and write. So I loaded the car with lots of country tunes and a book or two on CD and hit the road, knowing full and well that I was entering storm central and would be leaving behind my blessed roost, and latest obsession... just as the apricot and peach trees were dolling it up and my wine and cheese iris's were ready to burst open.

The first stop was DeSoto, Kansas to visit my Mother. Who, at this time in her life has downsized to the bare minimum so we headed over to North Kansas City, just off Lister to catch up on some homestead TV Uncle Clyde style. My Uncle Clyde has about 2 acres right in town that he's been working on for years. This was the first time though that I'd been able to see the famous Wild Turkeys of Lister written up in the Kansas City Star (that's what I are...humming along with Roger Miller) a few years back. Clyde feeds 'em corn because they're just too awesome to ignore and man does it make the TVin' amazing!

There are about 15 hens and a dole of 5 bachelors, here are the 'dudes' that just wondered out of the woods and right up to the house.

Clyde just broadcasts the can see some in the empty bird feeder...and they mosey on up. Beautiful, Beautiful birds.

My shutter speed was too slow to catch 'em in the birdbath but this fellow posed nicely. Check out that beard!

Clyde can do anything...really. He was an electrician by trade but he has more hobbies than I and his yard was a wonder for me as a child. He always had a huge vegetable garden and pets and standing out there in the sun eating fresh strawberries and tomatoes warm from the vine are some of my fondest childhood memories. This little playhouse surrounded by some 32 black walnut trees was build for his grandchildren.

This is the view of Homestead TV at Clyde and Jane's from the back porch. His property extends just beyond where the land dips down into a creek.

Uncle Clyde and Uncle Art, seen here with Repugnican beer...for shame...he clearly ran out of Gin. A few years back Clyde tried his hand at making some plum wine...not such a good story. But, he's fearless and will try anything, both of them are wonderful role models for sure.

I should've taken more photos at Arts place outside of Oceola, Missouri (Missoura, for those in the know...Misery for mother for some unknown reason.) Arthur Ray and his buddy Omer share over 80 acres of pristine duck hunting property that is magical in any season. The variety of trees and birds and wildlife (including the folk around the fire pit) is amazing.
The story telling, unbeatable. Art has a laugh that is robust and contagious and if you're ever honored to meet him, ask him to tell you the story about "Marcy and the Llama." Better than Prozac, a few days with Uncle Art is (insert Yoda giggle here.)

We headed over to Francis's farm on the other side of the river for a bit and I ended up taking too many pictures because the animals stole my heart! She has around 40 chickens (she thinks) cows, goats and...

this is "Fanny" her rescue deer that keeps coming back.

Country Road take me home....

Here's ole' Omer about ready to fall on a goat, good grief. Omer's got his own luscious spot but the day simply ran out on us.

Care to add a caption to this beauty!

I wanted to dive in too. There's hardly anything as cute as baby goats and I love the sweet sounds they make.

Francis's homestead TV perch.

There's the old stinky Billy Goat that's gotta be kept from the mommies and babies, isn't he handsome?

My visit to the north Ozarks was far to short, and it was dang cold unlike years in the past at this same time...what a winter we've all had. I got to the Homer/Brunson homestead late in the afternoon, just outside of Stillwater, Oklahoma. Early enough to grab a brew and take in the long shadows and watch the kids play in the sandbox.

Here's a nice view off the back of 4 wild chicken flocks that roam their 21+ acres. Dana used to have goats, milked 'em twice a day but she's taken on a position at OSU so they're part of a prairie-coop and they sent me home with a gallon of raw milk and kefir grains to get my own kefir started. They've got bees! mmmmmmmgooodhoney!

This has got to be one of the nicest perches for homestead TV, I've seen. Dana's the one who coined the term, I was calling it "backyard TV" before, but even though we're on a lowly urban lot in Austin, we're still homesteaded.

And, here's my buddy Homer. Homestead TV guru, brewer, unschooler, bluegrass musician (currently in Austin to play with the old Waller Creek Boys) and all around good guy. I went to school with Homer, worked with him at "Hideaway Pizza" in Stillwater, and he and the Waller Creek Boys played at my backyard wedding. It was a mighty fine visit!

I got home around dinnertime, and spent so long gazing at the amazing color that turned my yard lavender and spring green while I was gone that those dag-nab flies tried to hone in on my home brew! It's okay though, I's one of the principles of being a gardener, which is synonymous with being good folk, or a dedicated Homestead TV fan.

Special Thanks to all the folks that made my trip up through the heartland a blessing.

Coming soon:

A Homestead TV Meditation Manifesto


other adventures in living a good life.

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hope Springs...Eventually

Yesterday was glorious. By the time I reached the bottom of my first glass of wine the indentation of my socks around my peaked ankles was gone and I was soaking up the sunshine.

I've been honing my latest meditation "Homestead TV" now for over 2 months, rain or shine and I've come to a few conclusions about how I feel about my garden. First, let me explain the nature of Homestead TV. I come out to the very back corner of my yard, book, journal, libation and chicken scratch in hand and I let out the critters for a minimum of 2 hours, that's four chickens and 2 bunnies...after the Boston Terrorists have been safely secured in my bedroom with their own treats. Oh, I grab my camera as well...when I remember. Then I sit, and observe the space. What's growing, what's the weather like, where's the sun, what's coming back...what's a lost cause...what the heck is that crazy chicken doing, are those rabbits trying to mate...wait they're sisters! And so it goes. The girls join me when they get home from school with a snack and devoted spouse sometimes shows up with a 6 pack of delicious IPA and it's wonderful. Before the crowd happens I take note of what birds are visiting and what subtle changes the thawing brings.

Things of interest...well to me: My uncle Clyde sent me 2 bluebird houses he made a few years back that have sat empty until Monday. We now have a Chick-a-dee couple taking up residence in the one we installed at the pitch of the chicken coop. The sedum in the window boxes made it through the winter! Without being watered? Wow. 3 of the plants in the paint cans survived without attention...I thought the metal would conduct the cold and freeze the roots...? Go figure. I'm ready to eat my chickens that are not producing eggs. I never thought I'd do that.
Last week the city came and took out a huge portion of my American Elm, they said it was too close to the was covering them up, which is why I liked them. Anyway, they were nice enough to tie my tire swing back up, and did a better job than I. That tree doesn't have much longer to live and it's really a shame because it's the home to a pair of Ladder Backed Woodpeckers and many, many squirrels. I put up a Screech Owl Box, but no takers so far. I thought I had a pair early last Autumn but they were just short term-renters I guess.

Onto my realization. I need a break. Some time to absorb the changes that must take place because I simply don't have the time, energy or desire to maintain my garden like a city-wide tour is next week. I'm going to do the necessary Spring pruning (it's underway) and put some Turkey-poo on the St. Augustine and aerate the poor damaged minuscule still hasn't popped back. I'm going to transplant a few things that look ridiculous where they are, straggling among nothing else that lived and I'm going to throw out, yes THROW OUT seeds...maybe the chickens will eat them, maybe they'll work 'em into the soil...I don't know. But, I have way too many seeds and they're just going to go to waste waiting for me to make up my mind...I'd rather have the space. Something else I've decided...I'm tired of dealing with indoor plants. So, I'm going to need to find new homes for them...though spouse wants to take a good portion of them to his office. A few sentimental ones I'll the new Orchid my daughter got me for Christmas, that is STILL blooming. I love Orchids.

Anyway, I feel better about everything now. The bees and birds are back and I think we've found a system that will keep the chickens safe. I will be planting veggies...that's not an option, I can't live without fresh greens and vegetables. I hope the fig tree makes it...only one branch is sporting baby buds.
I'm excited about the process of letting things rebound. I'm over grieving for my lovely lost yard and energetic about the long sit. Sound contradictory? Naa, "Meditation in Action." A lot of watching and wondering, still an enormous amount of spring cleaning. I'm keeping a journal of what is truly Texas hardy...I didn't cover anything up but my eatin' greens so what lives is a true Texas winner...and those will be the plants I'll use in the yards I design.
You'll get to work now! Happy Gardening!