Sloth or Still Here!?

Life continues, like a strange rollercoaster of ebbs and flows, carried by a constant tide of pregnancy peculiarities, both physical and emotional. Sometimes I feel bold, driven and overwhelmed by thankfulness, like Morpheus, not the chicken, the strong and prestigious leader in The Matrix movies, when he addresses the mass of people before him and shouts triumphantly, “WE ARE STILL HERE!”

At other times, I feel overwhelmed by tiredness and heaviness, like a zombie sloth. “I’m coming. It might take me half-an-hour to get to the kitchen, but I am coming!”

Except for the times when I’m not actually coming…

I had to start on the inevitable third trimester iron tablets, which at least is giving me a bit more energy to do things. So many things have gone out the window but that’s a price I’m willing to pay to add another little family member to our team. I plod on with what I can. Lately that has been mostly making food, clearing out old crops, getting autumn crops going and tidying and decluttering all the things in the house. Or at least chipping away at them. The Little Fulla has been a necessary helper to me indoors and outdoors, especially while he’s been home in the school holidays.

Indoors

I made some vegetable soup, which actually turned into ham and vegetable soup since we had a bacon hock in the freezer that needed using. It turned out so delicious that The Husband kept pilfering mugs of it before I could get the portions into the freezer. The recipe I used is Easy Vegetable Soup from Chowhound. I tripled it and added the bacon hock. The additional vegetables I added were green beans, red peppers and butternut squash because those are what we had from the garden. And some fresh parsley. It was a big job to prep all the veggies but The Little Fulla helped me and The Husband cut the bacon hock into smaller chunks when he came home, so it was rather a family sort of soup.

Vegetable and ham soup. Get it in the freezer before The Husband eats all of it.

Sorting out the baby’s room is a continual, slow process. It had become our main storage facility so I have been finding new places to store things. This means figuring out where to store things, what to store them in and purchasing storage containers of the right size for the task.

The market equipment, such as gazebo, trestle tables, table coverings and baskets, has been stored in the wardrobe of the baby’s room since the garage is a dirty, stalled work-in-progress. But now it needs to go into the garage or elsewhere so some of the many large baby items and the spare single bed frame can be stored in the wardrobe. That’s where we move to the outdoors.

Outdoors

We have an old tall cupboard in the garage, which perhaps used to be part of the old kitchen. There are matching smaller cupboards out there. This cupboard needed its contents and its centre shelf removed so I could store the tall market equipment in it. I would rather buy a new or second-hand cupboard in better condition, and with just two doors, but I’m using what we have for now. I’m also not sure how a tall cupboard fits into the end garage plan. I want a long timber storage shelf along the back of the garage, which a cupboard in this corner would hinder.

The wall I wanted to push the cupboard against had one section that was waiting to be plasterboarded. But I spied some plywood sitting around and, since my drive to get things organised and clean is increasing as the baby’s arrival becomes more imminent, I decided to just line the space with two pieces of plywood. That will stop rodents from hiding out behind the cupboard. I banged out the centre shelf and now need to put one of the doors onto hinges to reattach it. It was screwed on shut to pieces of timber before. The cupboard also needs to be screwed to the wall or shimmed up at the front since it leans forward a bit. My dislike for this cupboard increases daily. But at least it didn’t cost anything. Cutting and attaching the pieces of plywood is the first building project I have done in quite some time. It was exciting to have tools and timber back in my hands again. But I don’t think I should do any more of that until after the baby comes out.

The Little Fulla was eager to help remove the old dried corn plants from the Front Plot when he was given the loppers. He cut them down like a forest and I tried to catch them before they fell to the ground so they could be piled. But he was a bit fast and I couldn’t catch them all, thus I found myself staring at many corn stalks on the ground. We managed to gather them up somehow and chop them into smaller pieces to be wheeled away into the compost bin in the chicken pen. The chickens were happy to search through them and eat all the bugs.

The Little Fulla also helped me to remove the old tomato plants, which required cutting off or unwinding the strings from them. I had used two different kinds of string, a basic green, polypropylene twine bought in a ball from a hardware store and a horticultural orange-red, nylon-feel twine bought from Farmlands. I had thought the stronger orange string might dig into the tomato plants a bit hard but it didn’t seem to have any bad effect on them.

The orange string turned out to be my preferred string as it held up in our strong UV summer conditions very well. Probably because it’s UV stabilised for up to 4 years. Here is the link to it at Farmlands. It is a large, 2kg spool, so I won’t need any more for a while. I unwound it because it can be re-used. If I can’t manage to wash it it can be re-used for other things. The green string, however, had started disintegrating and small pieces of it floated off as I cut the strings down from the structure. I detest pieces of plasticy stuff escaping into the garden so I will not be using that string again. Ideally, I want a biodegradable string. I didn’t hear back from the companies I emailed about purchasing some last year so I ended up purchasing the above options. I have tried using brown jute string before but it isn’t strong enough for heavy tomato plants or our summer conditions.

The Front Plot has been almost cleared out. The early garlic on the left is doing well.

We have harvested all the squash and almost all the peppers. The weather is definitely autumnal now, with cooler nights and mornings. It is nice! We’ve had one very slight frost. There are still green beans in the garden so I’m keeping an eye on them, hoping they don’t turn to mush. I’m hoping at least some of the second wave of bush beans will get to dry stage. The second wave of Blue Shackamaxon beans are climbing well but have no beans on them yet. Some of the original Selugia climbing beans planted in spring got a new lease of life when we started getting decent rain and there are a lot of green beans on them, some of which are drying now. These are the green beans that made it into the vegetable and ham soup. It’s interesting to see the different habits and longevity of different bean varieties.

We have some nice patches of baby spinach and lettuces that we are eating from now. The lettuces I sowed in early autumn when we got some rain and the spinach self-sowed from summer plants that I left to go to seed. These days I am always trying to leave some plants to go to seed because it’s an easy way of getting food growing in the garden. The seeds germinate when the conditions are right for them and do better than transplanted seedlings. And it’s less work.

A self-sowed forest of baby spinach.

The first round of brassica seedlings that I sowed in trays didn’t germinate very well. I wasn’t sure if it was due to some old seeds or my lack of care for them, so I sowed a second round, rather abundantly. They germinated rather abundantly. I had little forests of seedlings. I pricked out plenty of the least leggy ones into cell trays to grow on before planting:

  • Broccoli: 42
  • Cauliflower: 36
  • Savoy cabbage: 18
  • Red cabbage: 12
  • Tatsoi: 18

That is a lot to fit into the garden. I haven’t actually planned where they are going and how many will fit, other than that most of them will go in the Front Plot. I still had a bunch of seedlings left though. Well, I basically grew some nutritious microgreens for my family. We ate these spare ones and The Little Fulla has been asking for more microgreens.

Knitting

Here are two baby hats I’ve knitted recently. The first one was supposed to be gender neutral for a friend’s baby but I was having fun making up the colour pattern and it turned out slightly more girl-like. The lemon colour is more pronounced than it looks in the photo. Our friends had a baby boy, so I knitted another more boy-like hat for him and the first one went to The Little Sister’s new baby girl. It seems to be baby season. I’ve knitted a hat for our Little Seedpod too, but you’ll have to wait to see that one.

I’m currently knitting a baby wrap for Little Seedpod. The problem is I’m trying to combine ideas from multiple patterns, so it’s taken some time to figure out what I want with what needle size.

Animals

The chickens are doing their thing, under the watchful eye of the young rooster. I have given all this young generation flower or botanical names, but since this black dude is the son of Winston Cheepers, the kingmaker, I felt like calling him Jack of Spades. The blue boy is called Sage. The hens continue to moult and look like a scraggly mess. More on the chickens later.

The two young roosters, mostly surrounded by the scraggly, moulting hens.

I was going to give the fur child high praise for doing a good job catching rodents lately, despite her old age. The birds may laugh at her but she still knows how to get a mouse. However, Nala is currently in disgrace for bringing a mouse into the house. It was the third one recently, but this time it was alive. And she LET IT GO. It made a bid for freedom under the china cabinet, unawares to Nala. The mouse is currently somewhere in our house. I think. Although, we haven’t seen it since that evening when it scuttled down the curtain as I pulled it shut, and disappeared behind the fireplace. We put out two mouse traps but there has been no mouse. I hope it hasn’t died somewhere. That was NOT part of my nesting plan…

The fur child, Nala, has hopefully learnt her lesson that bringing mice into the house is NOT part of her job description.

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