Andrew's Blog


A City Boy Making His Way in the Country
March 2012

An excerpt…

I thought I’d share an excerpt from a favorite book of mine,¬†At Least In The City Someone Would Hear Me Scream by Wade Rouse. It’s about a man and his partner moving from the city to rural Michigan, in an attempt to explore the simple life. They eat blueberries, Wade writes, and they have encounters with rogue raccoons and the glory that is a rafter of turkeys. And without further ado:

 

“There should be some thrill about sticking your hands deep in the ground, planting seeds, nurturing new life, being responsible for growing your own food, food you know has not been chemically altered in any way.

I should be able to do this. I should take pride in this. I should enjoy it.

But I plant awkwardly, stiffly, like a frightened robot. I hover above the earth, my knees over the ground, too scared to get them dirty. My back aches. I dig my hands in the soil – uncovering earthworms and slugs and creepy-crawlers – and gag audibly. But I make myself persevere, like when I tried out for the freshman football team in high school – to prove I could be normal and fit in – and ended up breaking my little finger in three places, the bone actually protruding through my skin.

I try to wear gloves, but they eventually become wet and muddy, so I switch to rubber gloves, which are cold and very prostate exam, and they rub blisters on my fingers and forearms.

I just don’t like dirt. I never liked to make mud pies. I never liked to get my new white Keds dirty by walking anywhere there might be dust. I don’t consider this work beneath me – though, quite literally, it is – it’s just dirty work. I don’t like gunk under my fingernails. I don’t like to look like like one of the Little Rascals.”

Gardening isn’t made for everyone. But it’s in the effort. We all know what we like and don’t like, but it’s in trying new things. How boring if we always ensured our white Keds remained pristine. Wade, to his credit, jumped into the garden and, even though he found it miserable, did it because it made his partner happy. Oh, what we do for love. But, hopefully, we can also learn something in the meantime.

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Paging all peacocks…

A few days ago our peacocks went missing. As they’re like big turkeys, I wished them the best, and expected to see them again…some day. Yesterday, we got the call. They were seen at a neighbors, harassing her horses and sleeping in the barn without paying any rent. So, at 7 a.m., I went out to the forest – acres of forest – and found the two birds. After many unsuccessful attempts at capturing them, I left. There was a need to cook breakfast after all. The bed and breakfast waits for no man…or glorified poultry.

At 1:00 we went out again, armed with a ¬†large animal carrier and plastic fence. My dream, to set up the fence, heard the birds inside, and then, BAM, capture them…some how. A few times, we actually did coral one into the fence trap – but he managed to escape. Peacocks, after all, are the wiliest of birds. In the end, they were corralled into a barn, not mine, but a neighbors, and locked up for the night. We’ll deal with the hands-on capture tomorrow.

The moral of the story: if you have peacocks lock them up. Otherwise, they’ll fly to the farthest reaches within .5 miles and live on the kind graces of your neighbors forever. Shunning those who feed them since the day they were 4 weeks old.

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A pregnant alpaca?

Boy, last night we thought an alpaca was going to give birth. She showed all the signs – fretfulness, laying on her side, and moving with a general ‘baby’s a comin’” attitude. Interestingly, alpaca usually only give birth during daylight. So, while I checked on her every two hours for 24-hours, she remains cria-less.

It could take up to two weeks for an alpaca to deliver! So we will wait, for a surprise baby or not. With 70 degree weather and April approaching, I say bring all the babies you’d like! I’m not scared!

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It’s seed planting time!

I’ve planted some lettuce seeds today – with 6 to 8 weeks of indoor living, they’ll be ready for the quasi-cold, quasi-warm outside world of April. If you’re unsure of the seed starting process, follow the few simple steps below! Don’t be afraid to grow a plant from a seed. It’s not hard. Really! It just takes a little sun, some water, and about one minute of your time each day. You can do it. I believe in you.

First, you need to find something to put the seeds (and dirt) in. I’m using egg cartons. You can also use terra cotta pots, milk jugs, peat pots, or those plastic containers you can get at Walmart. Really, anything is possible as long as it has some depth and a hole for water to drain forth.

Second, fill it with dirt. Go to any store, from Target to Tractor Supply to Kroger, and buy some seed starter. Interesting fact, this “starter” actually contains no soil. It’s better for the seeds; which is weird because don’t most seeds start in soil? (P.S. you can see I’ve punched a hole into the bottom of each egg cup.)

Next, add some seeds. Be sure to read the planting depth on the seed packet. Generally, larger seeds are planted deeper, so you wouldn’t want to plant a lettuce seed an inch into the soil. Once they’re covered with a carpet of soil, water them. I prefer using a spray bottle. It gets the “soaking” you need, without the insane water run-off. After all this, you’re almost there. Be sure to label your seeds! Growing a few different varieties at once, if they’re all some form of lettuce, can get confusing.

 

After seeding, after watering, after labeling, be sure to cover your containers with some clear plastic. We need to create a greenhouse effect here. Once the sprouts emerge, the plastic can be removed. Done and done. Go forth and plant. If the seeds don’t grow, you can always buy a few greenhouse plants in a few months!

 

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