Here's what's funny: to the extremely untrained eye, it looks like we have some sort of agricultural tendencies. We have chickens. We grow vegetables. The whole family spent the day rooting around in the garden trying to figure out what's what - it looks very industrious from the road, all that rooting around. It is very misleading.
We have absolutely no idea what we're doing. We have chickens because you can buy baby chicks without passing any sort of aptitude test. There are no applications and no home visits by chicken mentors. Fortunately there are books. And friends. And the internet. By some fluke we discovered that you have to keep them inside under a heat lamp for the first month. I shudder to think of what those birds have narrowly escaped while in our care. By that I mean the ones who were not eaten by a fox.
And on that note, let's move on to vegetables.
When I was in Denver I had biological clock pangs. I got a tiny box filled with dirt, pre-planted with herb seeds. I put it on my windowsill, watered it and waited for my kitchen garden to appear. Soon I had basil, cilantro, parsley and dill. I transplanted them, loved them, and ate them. But I knew the city was no place to raise a garden and started getting fidgety. After all, I couldn't wait forever for the real thing. I ended things with the man I was seeing - I wanted a garden, maybe two, and nothing could persuade him to have one with me. I came east alone.
A few years later I married into an instant garden. My mother-in-law is possibly a reincarnated chrysanthemum. She definitely has an insider's view into the soul of the average house plant. She's also handy with tomatoes and who knows what else. When she offered me her dormant garden I accepted it with mixed emotions. My trepidation was eased by the fact that she was legally blind and would maybe not guess that the vegetables were coming from the farmer's market.
The learning curve has been vertical - and still has a long way to go. There are some things that seem to be common sense, but much of it is learned on the fly. And we do things a little differently around here because a) it's us and we're not right in the head and b) we just don't know any better. Which is why we have even more raised beds that radiate in concentric circles from an arbitrary point in the lawn.
So why all this introspection? I'm reading that blasted book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and it is making me insanely eager to grow most if not all of the vegetables my family will eat this year. I have my jars lined up for canning. I have the pages folded in my seed catalogs. I just have to try to stop killing things before they are ready to eat.
And I need to find a pineapple that grows in zone 7.