Andrew's Blog


A City Boy Making His Way in the Country
August 2011

What I learned today.

Today, I learned a few things.

1) Six week-old peacocks can fly. Fly like 12 feet into the air and land on barn rafters. As my baby peacock contemplated his (or her) next move standing on the edge of the inside barn eve – with access to the outside – I heard the call of a hawk from overhead. I like to think it was his (or her) spirit animal communicating a message of peace and common sense. More likely, it was a stone-cold Hannibal Lecter looking for his next meal. In the end, something was communicated because the peacock is now safely back in his crate for the night.

2) Clearing out over-growth under a tree today, I now know, like Dr. Livingston himself, that any form of weed can be almost immediately whacked out of your way. With a little smart thinking and a sharp hand saw, even the Congo doesn’t stand a chance. I felt like some illegal logging company, chopping through an ancient growth forest as I cleared out ignorant weeds and trees, impeding on a lovely Hawthorn. Take that HGTV!

3) I can get up a 6:30 in the morning and cook a good breakfast. I know, a lot of people are up and at ‘em early in the morning. And kudos to you. But talk to me when you don’t have a Starbucks within any sort of distance, are doing manual labor all day, and have lost any ability to sleep in. As a whiny aside, I have no weekend. What used to be a time to relax, has been a time to cook and clean. And working 2 weeks straight can make you a little loopy. If Bacon’s watermelon isn’t cut so-so, he can become quite the diva!

Tomorrow undoubtedly holds more opportunities to learn and live. I plan on making 100 jars of jam. There’s bound to be some lessons wrapped up in that! And when that lightbulb moment appears, I’ll be sure to share it with you.

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All news is local.

I love this article from our local newspaper, The Granville Sentinel. I love it for many reasons. It’s wonderful that we have art in Granville. And it’s also lovely to know we have a coffee shop. (And an artist named Kathy Ireland!) I also love it because it reminds me that I do, indeed, live in a small town.

While I know for a fact we have more than one coffee shop in the village, reading this headline, you instantly think of a specific one – and, surprise, it is that shop! This headline would only work in other Ohio towns like Outville and Gambier. Or I guess other small towns around the country too.

I’ll have to be sure to check out this art show, and if you’re in Granville, you’d better catch it while you can! Autumn is coming, school is starting again, and international art sales are at an all-time high.

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I’m an idiot.

This morning I planned to wake-up, set the breakfast tables, and then go out to the garden and collect some potatoes for hash browns. All was going to plan as I set a beautiful table, walked outside, and started digging up plants. But wait, where did all the potatoes go? I only found one or two. I felt like a moron.

After a mini-panic, I remembered there was a bag of potatoes inside. But imagine how stupid I felt. Granted the plants were wilting – the leaves turning brown – and I though this was my moment. But it wasn’t. And what I thought would be a great success had become a garden Titanic. But not everything has turned out that way. You should see my cucumbers!

Here’s to hoping my peanuts don’t follow down the potato path. Those legumes shan’t be dug before their time. And the peanut butter will taste the sweeter because of it!

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In defense of marigolds.

Marigolds get a bad rap. They’re the Vanilla Ice of the plant world. Sure they’re common. And they’re orange. And yellow. But for me, they have a smell that reminds me of the beginning. They may have been one of the first things placed in my tabula rasa centerpiece.

I recently read an article that pointed to 10 scents that will instantly remind someone of a specific memory – whether good or bad. One of the smells was a new textbook. For me it’s marigolds. And boxwood. And a wood fire burning charcoal. Also Everybody Loves Raymond. ┬áNot because of its smell, but because my father would always watch it and I thought it was the stupidest show on television. And now, I watch it and laugh. Ugh, that’s some kind a full-circle nonsense – we do become our parents in the end, don’t we?

I write this now because my hands smell like marigolds. I was watering the garden, snapping off their dead heads like Henry VIII. And I needed to let them know how much I appreciate them. I don’t think I tell them enough. Especially when I’m snapping off their heads.

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A baby barn make-over begins.

The Orchard House baby barn needed a make-over! Sure he’s cute, and red, but unfortunately, he was built in the middle of a flood plain. All those years of stalking the Amish, with their beautiful jewel-colored shirts and delicious pies, were for naught. I thought I could trust them. I was duped into a false sense of security. They look so sweet. Like Smurfs. But some of them lie. And some of them build barns in the middle of flood plains.

Since January, our barn has flooded whenever it rains. Walking through mud a couple inches thick is no fun. And when you’re trying to have a lamb born or protect hooves from rot, mud is no fun. Water becomes your enemy. Something needed to be done. That’s why we’re building Big Barn. But Baby Barn couldn’t be forgotten. He’s a baby after all!

The ground has been raised. Gravel has been used. And “tile” has been placed. I’m still unclear about this “tile,” but I think it’s a long tube placed under ground with holes in it that allow water to be diverted to a specific area. Our “tile” goes to the new duck pond. And, like the ducks, I am in love with it! No more baby pools! No more gross standing water. Now there is a fountain. And it rained last night, nay, poured, and the ground was dry this morning. In two days my life has been made easier. Glory be to this “tile.”

All we need now is some landscaping. Which is difficult when you have alpacas in the pasture. There are a lot of poisonous plants out there! After some heavy blog reading, I think we’ll be going with some apple trees and weeping willows. Should be gorgeous – if they can be protected from the alpaca! It’s a mammal eat plant world out there – and no one is safe. And I shiverer thinking what will happen to the grass seed that will be spread tomorrow. The ducks should make quick work of it. Those gangsters!

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