I have had enough birthdays now to know that it would be stupid to say, “Oh! I’m getting old.” I’m 25. Twenty-five. Still in the twenties and still so young and so much ahead of me. It’s a quarter of a century of weird that has happened and I’ve been around for, but I feel like I’ve been asleep for a lot of it. On my birthday I enjoy thinking back a few years and trying to imagine how surprised I would be if I someone would have told me what I would be doing and where I’d be in a few years.
While 5 years ago I probably would have believed that I’d be in Tampa, since I hadn’t left yet at that point, I don’t think I would have believed that I would be married and have a yard full of hopping, buzzing, quacking, and clucking things and a whole lot of dirt and buckets dumped all over the place.
I never planned on farming. As a kid I thought I should be a veterinarian because I liked animals, but I’m not really the pet type (yet?) and that’s probably the closest to anything farm related I had even considered. I had dedicated myself a few years ago to doing social service work, which I still do and love, but that almost seems commonplace to me now. There will always be kids in my life and there will always be people that need help in everyone’s life, so thinking of that as a career seems almost silly to me, since I would be involved in that even if there was no paycheck -though the paycheck helps since starting a mini-farm has its up-front costs. Now, however, despite only having gardened and/or farmed for 11 months (We put in the first few garden beds very close to the New Year) I am getting to the point where thinking of cultivating the land and raising animals is becoming just as commonplace and necessary. If we could produce enough to do this mostly full-time, I know we would.
Currently we are just recovering expenses that we have put into the farm – at this point, mainly the bees – but we bring in the majority of our food from the yard now. We currently have kale, mustards, onions, chives, amaranth, pumpkins (may have been planted too late – we’ll see), lettuce, brussels sprouts, basil, roselle, mint, oregano (coming out of our ears!), thyme, sage, sweet potatoes, alfalfa, and other things that I’m always apt to forget growing all over the place. Our first fig is budding in, I re-transplanted the suffering horseradish since we were afraid leaving it in the corner by the beehive would make it un-harvest-able.
We also have a growling and hissing bunny that lunges at you like a cat. It is believed that Reese is a Flemish Giant (a girl!), she got knocked up quite easily (some bunnies are prudes), and has 8 adorable squirmy bunnies. She managed to birth the whole bunny spectrum of fur colors – calico, black, white, brown, golden and black, and a few others. There may be no blue in there, but we have a girl who is almost mature who is almost entirely blue so her babies will be lovely. Reese is onto us and our rabbit-consuming selves, but it’s good to know that she’s a good mom who won’t abandon her babies since she growled and nipped at me the other day and scared the mess out of hubs when she lunged, growled, spit, and hissed at him when he went to give her a kale treat.
The last of the Fall honey is harvested. We are in the process of rendering the wax and I’ll figure out how I want to make candles, propolis extract, and other things with our leftover bee products later. I’m excited for the Spring honey since it will taste like Seminole Heights more than the honey that was primarily gathered in the Sarasota orange grove where the previous beekeeper had the bees located.
Excited news! I ran into Ryan I. of the Birdhouse Buying Club today and he said that they want to use our honey for the Farm to Fork dinner coming up this month. Nate and I really wanted to participate, but didn’t think we would be able to guarantee production of enough of anything for us to be used, and we didn’t think we could afford the dinner, but I hadn’t even thought about the honey.
Every time the month changes over I can’t help but think of how many things I didn’t get planted on time and how sparse I feel like the garden is, but when I see things going to waste on the vine because I’ve been lazy and haven’t picked them on time, I realize just how full it actually is and how much progress we’ve made in the mere 11 months we’ve been turning our soils over and building them up.
How does your garden grow in November? Or are you dealing with the door knocking of Winter already?