Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Speaking Of Survivors...

I took my trusty canine buddy Max for a walk down to the corner yesterday to check on the progress of the beaver dam. These beavers have kind of become the mascots of Garden Farms, and since the creek became a raging torrent back in January, neighbors have been checking on them from time to time. Updates even show up often in our neighborhood blog ( After the 'big storm', sadly, two beavers were found dead - one down by the church and one back behind the Robertsons' house - and we were afraid there were no more. But then, my neighbor (the one who lives 'off the grid' with the wood-burning hot tub) found some telltale chewed sticks and stumps, and there was much rejoicing. I personally think that folks around here relate to the beavers because they are a) unusual, b) stubborn and c) slightly out of place (I'm talking about the beavers!). So here on the bottom is a photo of our great survivors. We are currently hoping for a baby beaver or two. I'll keep you posted!
While I was at it, I took a picture of another survivor - the ancient sycamore that's been growing beside the creek for as long as there are any records (there are photos downtown at the historical society of Garden Farms in 1918, and this tree is in them). It is gnarled, bumpy, and scary to small children (again, I'm referring to the tree and not any of my neighbors), but its recent claim to fame is that after the earthquake of 2004, a bear wandered down the creek, ate two of my neighbor's geese, then climbed up into this tree and took a nap. It's a Garden Farms version of Goldilocks!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New In The Yard

The clematis - a beautiful flower with a terrible name. We have two blooming with two more buds, which is amazing because this vine got trampled by the dog when it was tiny, and almost froze away this winter. Which means that it is the best kind of plant to have in our yard - a survivor.

I Joined The Club

For years I have enjoyed reading a magazine called "Mary Jane's Farm", which talks about things like gardening, sewing, camping, outdoor cooking (and bathing, which I would never ever do). Snarky Jamey sometimes refers to it as my 'hippie commie magazine' (I like to remind him that the early Christians also had communist leanings, if you think about it, although their motivation was quite different). One day I was chatting with my neighbor and she mentioned a 'farmgirl sisterhood' she had started, and I recognized the term from Mary Jane's mag and asked her about it. Turns out there are several women who gather at her house every other Monday to do 'farmgirl' stuff (although I think if any actual farmgirls knew about all this, they would just laugh in our faces). They made aprons, created an all-organic lunch of soup, salad and bread that they made mostly from their gardens, started a beehive, and have hiked all over the county to view wildflowers. I, being a farmgirl wannabee, have been to two of these meetings. I helped to weed a neighbor's garden, and, along with about 10 other ladies, I helped to make this beautiful soap. Out of goat's milk and lye. Lye is nasty - it is difficult to find and purchase (you have to convince the pharmacist you are not making meth, apparently), it really stinks, and it burns the skin instantly, so we had to wear goggles and gloves (for more lovely photos and goings-on, you can check out the blog at I learned that it is MUCH easier to buy soap at the store. I really appreciate soap manufacturers, in fact. Then, I went to the store and bought myself an apron. Our next meeting is on Monday and I'll let you know what we do or don't do next!