Month five was our first month working together full time on the homestead, preparing for the spring growing and market season. It was a month of extremely hard work and a few adjustments.
Major events included:
*The arrival of two dump truck loads of dirt.
Once we made the decision to begin our small business, we decided to cut back on any and every expense that wasn’t absolutely necessary. Not only in the home, but in the garden as well which meant making a great effort to make do with the soil at hand.
Our deepest desire is to have something along the lines of a Back to Eden scenario, or as much as one can expect in a severe Oklahoma climate. But any of you who are familiar with the process know that it takes time.
Last summer we tilled just a little bit to break up the sod, layered newspaper, cardboard, and whatever else we could find, and then added the wood chips and grass clippings.
It didn’t decompose fast enough.
So we had some dirt on another part of the property that we hauled to the garden site, shoveled through a sieve to make it friable, pulled back the mulch, and added to the beds to create berms. In these we planted our first seeds that we had hoped to take to market: spinach, red romaine, and black seeded simpson lettuce.
They sprouted, and grew, but not fast and healthy enough for our satisfaction.
After stressing about it, discussing it, and stressing about it some more we decided to break down and buy what I refer to as our million dollar dirt.
The black gold is imported in from about fifty miles away and created just for vegetable gardening. We purchased a small amount last year to use for our raised beds set aside for our much smaller, personal kitchen garden.
It has a lovely friable texture like cake mix and is enriched with all sorts of composty good stuff. It arrived on a very wet morning in two dump trucks, one of which promptly became stuck in the mud. He eventually worked his way out, but we have a beautiful set of deep tire marks lacing the edge of the garden as a memory of that morning.
We immediately got to work, hauled the dirt and shoveled it into the beds, and then planted what was left of our cool weather crop seeds: some more lettuce, kale, radishes, beets, and baby pak choy. We’re hoping for the best.
We had also hoped to somehow be able to still salvage what was in the other beds, namely some spinach, so that we wouldn’t suffer a complete loss. But after our struggles with the wind, the unpredictable spring weather that has been cold and wet, and our struggles with the soil itself, the stuff is looking rather scruffy at the moment.
Our local co-op client has been asking for stuff since the first of March, and as much as we really wanted to make a good impression, we’re not sure we can sell it with confidence. At the moment, we don’t have anything except for the prospect of some lettuce late spring.
We’re hoping and praying this won’t have a negative impact on the relationship, but all the same, we’re formulating a plan B: hit the Farmer’s Markets as hard as we can.
Major adjustments have included:
Husbie and I have learned that living with your spouse isn’t quite the same as working with your spouse.
When we had our computer consulting business he operated out of a home office, so we had lived together 24/7 quite successfully.
But we’d never worked together.
And that is different.
I did a few office management type things here and there, but he handled all of the consulting. Being a computer analyst, he is very technical and mechanically minded.
I’m more artsy. The nitty gritty stuff of getting things to grow, soil composition, temperature, etc. isn’t my strong point. I’m better at telling you what will look pretty on a plate.
I also think very fast, and I tend to think out loud. Husbie is learning that very often I will express myself in ideas that I haven’t fully formulated. My mouth doesn’t often work as fast as my brain, so I’ll be spitting ideas out there, while my mind has usually left that verbalized thought and started to go elsewhere.The result is a confusing jargon of abstract ideas, peppered with such articulate words and phrases as “thingie”, “stick it there”.
He’s also much more focused (and rightfully so) on doing what it takes to get it to grow even if it requires a garden littered with row covers and pvc pipe. I, on the other hand, am stressing about how we can make it pretty so we can be featured in an upscale magazine and everyone will come from miles around to see our stuff.
Also, as we’ve tackled this business together, we’ve had to take on more of an “all hands on deck” mentality. We previously had very traditional roles in our marriage: he did the majority of the work while I handled the home.
Now, we’re both working so we both handle the housework. I’ve been teaching him how to do the laundry and how to quick cook a pan of beans if you forget to soak them over night. He will frequently get up and fix breakfast while I spend an hour and a half on the blog every morning before hitting chores and the gardening.
It has been a good stretch for both of us and for our relationship. We’re learning to communicate and work together in new ways than before. We love sitting around the dinner table at night, recuperating from a hard day’s work and evaluating what we’ve learned.
*Risk taking was never meant to be easy.
*Laying in bed at night, looking at the stars, and fearing spinach that won’t grow doesn’t mean that you are not exactly where you should be.
*Perhaps an investment in high tunnel green houses for next spring might be worthwhile.
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