Teaching the tiny (and not so tiny) people

Posted on January 23, 2014

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Nate’s new job as the cook at the children’s home is going great. He feels like he’s still in the learning curve, but you know it’s going well when the elementary school kids think dinner is so good they ask if they can go tell the cook thanks, and his thanks includes a big hug. The donations we’ve gotten from friends and people in the community to get the kitchen more adequately equipped for his every day cooking are greatly appreciated by everyone, so thank you if you helped out!

The garden we’ve wanted to put up there forever seems like it may finally happen thanks to an Eagle Scout in the community who is going to take that up as his project. I’ve been surveying the kiddos to find out their “favorite” vegetables and what they’d like to grow. Several have asked about fruit trees, but I think we’ll get the raised beds established and fruitful and then we’ll talk about fruit trees since that would take donations or fund raising.

Despite their tendencies to simultaneously garden and destroy, teaching young kids to garden is one of my favorite things. The enthusiasm that rules both their creating and destroying is unsquashable. The few things they learn that stick make them feel like the smartest – like the 6 year old who was taught at 4 while he was in daycare what grape leaves look like in the wild and knows that you can eat grape leaves and pickle them – he always makes a point to tell the bigger kids when we’re out on a bike ride and he sees a stand of the wild grape leaves. He knows not to get them himself, because there are plenty of warnings about eating things you find outside without adult permission, but he takes great pleasure in being able to teach the taller people some little known fact about wild edibles.

I can’t wait to watch the faces of the new little girls when we do edible flowers. That’s always a hit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn other new, we’re thinning our duck population this weekend. 9 is too many. Our pond pump broke, and despite the donation of a pump from a friend, our pond was too mucky and too stinky for it to manage keeping it at appropriate levels for a neighborhood. So the pond has been dismantled, turned into the beginnings of a hugelkultur bed full of rabbit poop, pine, and other bits of rotting goods, and more than half of the ducks should be gone by the time I get back home from a weekend of work on Monday. We love our quacking maniacs, but in the city we just have to be willing to acknowledge when we don’t have the space for what we’re doing. Were we to have a privacy fence and a bit more space, we could probably get away with making a larger pond that could keep up with the waste in it and be of sufficient depth for the duckies, but we don’t have the room for that without it kind of posing potential issues in the neighborhood.

We already like to push our luck with our projects and have managed to (I think) convince the neighbors behind us that the smell they didn’t like was in fact not the rabbits but the duck pond and that we’ve addressed the problem, but we have yet to determine that for sure until they come knocking again.

Come to think of it, though, the rabbit population also needs a good thinning and the freezer a good stocking. We have one rabbit who is just a pet and could be given away, one Nate wants to turn into a breeder but can’t be bred with our one male who is also her sire, and nine that need to find their way to freezer camp, as our friend Tricia so eloquently puts it.

I finished one fingerless glove for Nate and am being pestered to finish the other one. I am simultaneously working my tail off on my cousin Willa’s knit cardigan, sewing a quilt from baby clothes for a friend of a good friend, working my now-weird hours since I’m back at the children’s home, and still being a farmer making sure the garden doesn’t get neglected. Once those projects are all complete, I think I have in the queue to make Nate a proper hat, a secret gift for Tricia, and then maybe to start knitting next year’s Christmas gifts so they’re done ahead of time.

What’s on your winter to do list?

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Posted in: critters, garden, work