Everything I know about garlic, I learned from Betsey





Today I prepared my garlic seed for planting tomorrow.  Betsey always saves seed from her own garlic and selects the biggest cloves to plant, thereby improving her stock each year. I was lucky enough to be able to buy some heads of garlic from her last weekend and today I sat down to break the heads up and sort the cloves so that Noe and I can plant them in Wallingford tomorrow morning.  What I remembered about the process from last year was:

1. Paper bags with sharpie labelling
2. Silver bowls
3. A fall tablecloth.

I did my best to re-create the scene from Betsey’s kitchen.

Once I get these cloves planted, it means I will have the first seeds in the ground for my very own vegetable-growing venture.  🙂


A series of unfortunate events

Hey there blog world, it’s been a while since I wrote.  I had a wild few weeks and I needed time to let it all sink in before posting, as it turns out.  Let me begin by sharing what I had started writing on October 8th.

I don’t even want to write this post.  But in fairness I feel like I have to.  My self-congratulatory post about bunny building should be tempered with a writeup of the Universe-smackdown-vs-Becky events of the 2 weeks following that blog.

On a Thursday night I proudly posted those pictures of my bunnies in their sweet little home.  Two days later, after a normal Saturday workday,  I pulled up to the yurt in my car.  A lanky husky dog walked toward my vehicle.  What?  Another big dog raised its head from a little ways away.  Um, what?  My brain registered “dogs in the yard?”  …  “dogs eating something in the yard?” and then my eyes went to the rabbit cages and saw them empty, ripped open by canine teeth.

I screamed at the dogs.  I started crying.  I called Luke and Alice (in Michigan!) and a neighbor and animal control.   The neighbor helped shoo the dogs away and then left me alone to deal with the aftermath.  I cancelled my plans to go to Seattle that night.

The dogs had gotten into the run that I had just built.  Margie and her babies were killed.  Poor little ones;  I am so sorry.  The older pen housing Snuggles and her crew had also been attacked and bent but had been strong enough to protect its contents from the dogs until I got there.  It had appeared empty because Mom and all nine babies were so terrified that they had all crammed inside their little inner wooden house.  After I buried the dead, I sat with them until they came out and I watched Snugs lick and groom the babies.

I had a shitty evening, and everything felt wrong.  By the time I headed to bed it was way past my bedtime.  I had another little tiny cry, then decided to comfort myself with a snack before curling up in the fetal position for sleep.  I grabbed a handful of raisins, which I often do as a way to keep my chocolate consumption down to maybe only twice a day.  For some reason I looked at the handful before jamming it into my mouth.   I don’t even want to write about this.  You know how there are sometimes people that you meet, and you think, “Now you, your life is a mess.  You really don’t have your shit together.  You need to take a step back, clean out your filthy car, pay your goddamn bills, move out of your mom’s effing basement, (etc) and stop the out-of-control spiral that is your life.  Oh, and clean out your pantry because there are BUGS in your FUCKING FOOD.”

Yes, you guessed it.  Insult to injury: I was a little weepy,  going for a comfort snack, and instead something wiggled in the palm of my hand.  I looked into the raisin jar and saw a couple more fruit fly larvae.  I can’t even believe I’m writing about this – if you ever doubted that you are getting brutal honesty in this blog, doubt no more.  If not for my puke-phobia, maybe I would have vomited.  Instead, I HURLED the entire container of fruit out of the yurt door into the yard, sat down in a puddle on the floor and started BAWLING.

I cried it out.  And then I went to bed.  And then in the morning I got up and went to Seattle.  I had things to take care of — you gotta shake it off and resume life where you left off, slightly changed but more or less the same.

A week went by.   I got sympathy from my friends and colleagues about the rabbits.  Fun things happened on the farm and I felt fine.  Then came punch number two.  I don’t even have the energy to tell a good story about this one, although there are funny and crazy parts of it too.  Summary is that I was in Seattle for a wedding reception and my car got broken into.  Window smashed; laptop and lots of other stuff stolen.  Serves me right for carrying all my crap around like a bag lady.  I was staying overnight in the city and working Ballard farmers market the next morning, so I had all sorts of overnight stuff and farm gear with me.   I felt cold, numb, depressed as I gradually recalled each item that had been in the car that carried monetary or sentimental or daily-use value.  Composure so recently regained was again smacked away and I felt fragile, grasping at normalcy.

How intense and at the same time how fleeting these feelings are too.  In the moment in each situation I felt awful, felt mad and sad and betrayed and guilty and utterly off balance.   Feeling like life had just been turned end over end.  Simultaneously telling myself that this was not the end of the world; far from it; things like this and so much worse happen to people all the time.  At first the emotional reaction completely overrides the logical one, but gradually the logical one takes over so much that it seems silly to have gotten so upset and felt so down.  In each case, after a night and a day, I felt silly even telling people because I knew it might not seem like a big deal to them.

So.  On October 8th, Unfortunate Events #1 and #2 had happened.  I got them out of my system into blog form, but I left it as a draft.  I felt that I couldn’t come up with any conclusion, any lesson to be learned from the shit that had gone down.  A factual summary was about all I could muster.  But I really wanted to share the events with an audience and gain some sympathy.  So I stayed up really late (like really, really, late on a worknight) writing.  And then finally went home to go to bed in the freezing cold yurt, disgruntled with my inability to complete a pithy post.

So that’s how Unfortunate Event #3 occurred — at 1:30 in the morning as I was adding logs to the blazing fire in my woodstove as the last thing before bed, I lost my balance and fell toward toward the stove.  I put my hand out instinctually and touched my palm to the stovepipe.

I know the lesson for sure now.

Actually, I know a couple of lessons.  One is that burns really, really, REALLY hurt until they blister up and then they don’t hurt at all.   Another is that Sonja Spinarski will make a really fantastic Mom someday.  Who else would be willing to answer her phone in the middle of the night, talk me through pain, drive out to my yurt, bandage my hand, and tuck me into bed?   Thanks again Sonja.

But the main lesson I realized was: slow down.  Life was moving at a pretty frenetic pace all summer, and things had build up to the point where the fact that I couldn’t handle it all was becoming clear.  While sort of a bunch of random sucky coincidences, the Unfortunate Events were also an indicator that I needed to stop rushing around, take a little time to do things correctly, and take a little time to do nothing at all.  Hence the vacation from blogging — I needed to free up some scheduled downtime.   I have been taking time to read and write in my journal.  I have been consistently taking the time to remove unnecessary objects from my car instead of using it as a catch-all.   You better believe I’ve been taking my time with fire-building in the evenings.

Here’s a quote I often think about from Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins:  “Rigidity isn’t stability at all.  True stability results when presumed order and presumed disorder are balanced.  A truly stable system expects the unexpected, is prepared to be disrupted, waits to be transformed.”

What I get from this is that you never know what’s going to happen and it’s best to strive to be open to the possibilities and roll with life’s surprises.  I feel like I’m doing a better and better job of this the last couple years.   Even so, I’d prefer to have a majority of my unexpected, disruptive transformations be positive and awesome things like the discovery of farm internships instead of  livestock death, destruction of property, loss, and palm-scarring.  If I can work on myself and my habits to make that more likely, you bet I am going to try.   It’s a pretty basic lesson, really: try to embrace life without undue expectations and handle disappointments and setbacks gracefully when they occur, but also try to learn from mistakes and “live deliberately” to avoid unnecessary troubles.

The end.  Maybe next time I’ll write about some actual farming!  This is supposed to be Becky’s Farming Blog after all, not Becky’s Philosophical Ramblings Blog!  Thanks for reading,  Hasta luego,

~ B



Saw this on facebook and had to share. Got a real post in the works but not quite finalized yet.. it’s been a crazy couple weeks to get caught up on!