Sunday, June 20, 2010

Artisan lifestyle, sustainable living, compromise, cold weather in Seattle

I'm not going to lie to you... working full time and maintaining a sustainable artisan lifestyle is complicated, hard work... but it is getting done.  Last week we pulled out the winter leeks and got them dehydrated  and stored.  Jimmy and I had to make a compromise though. (He is still figuring out that I'm putting in 40 hours a week at work and at least 10 commuting.)  My designated "chores" have to get done and there is only so much time to do them in (cuz I also designate  down time  so I can get up when the alarm goes off)  When I said I didn't have time to process the leeks he  got frustrated  because he is still intimidated by the kitchen.  So he agreed to take on my coop cleaning schedule if I would pick up the canning and preserving . Yep , compromise... the secret to a happy home life. 
Cold Seattle weather is worrying a lot of gardeners this year.  For my readers in other parts of the country ... We are having an unusually cool  growing season. We have yet to break 75 degrees.    We made an almost greenhouse size cold frame for our big bed that contains tomatoes, peppers, basil and other warm soil vegetables.  We took the cover off last week  and we are now thinking of putting it back on. The tomatoes that were growing   phenomenally fast have slowed down and the peppers are showing signs of cold damage.  If not for the cold frame  (6mil clear plastic over a dome frame made of flexible pvc piping)  our tomatoes would look like the neighbor's. Theirs are only about two feet high and no blooms. Ours are 3 1/2 feet and are blooming.  If we get some sun in July and August we should have  a nice tomato crop.    In the meantime.... Our brassicas are loving this weather. The brussell sprouts, broccolli,cabbage, and collards are  are magnificent and the potatoes should keep us going all winter.  The carrots are doing fabulous and we have more lettuce than we can eat.  The wisdom of planting  a variety of vegetables   to insure that something thrives  is keeping our garden from being a disaster.  Right now we are unsure of the fate of our cucumbers, and squash.  They could go either way.   The beets are fine which is a good thing because Jimmy is  hovering over the last two jars of pickled beets left from last year.  Pickling more beets will be a priority this fall even if I have to supplement with farmers market produce.
The chickens are loving this weather too.  They are accepting their summer confinement with a little more grace this year because once again we compromised ... We gave them a much bigger grazing space this year and put them on a grazing schedule.  They are producing some truly beautiful works of art called eggs. Much to the delight of friends and  neighbors ,the four of them are giving us two dozen eggs a week. One of my neighbors grows beautiful flowers and has been keeping  our dining table in stunning  fresh flowers in trade for eggs.  I wish I knew someone with a cow so I could trade  eggs for milk.
I also wish I could be here more to enjoy it all. But I traded  happy time for insurance benefits.  A very needed thing since we haven't  had medical benefits for 5 years...... Its one of the reasons we put in the medicinal garden bed.  
I wasn't sure it would happen when I went back to work but now I am reasonable certain that a sustainable  lifestyle can happen with a full time job.   Its not easy but it can be done.

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