Monday, March 28, 2011

Farmer 'Risa

Realized the other day, while driving home with ducklings in my lap, that I've officially made the transition from Goofball Garden Obsessed to Hobby Farmer. This is the first time in 16 years I've spent more time on edibles in the garden than creating a haven for birds and butterflies.

Not that I've given up that pursuit entirely. It's simply not the current priority. Eventually, the plan is to create an "official" Audubon Society approved Wildlife Habitat here but feeding the family comes before my Cinderella-esque fantasies of singing and dancing around the yard while the birds and squirrels and all of nature sings along with me. Go ahead. Laugh at the mental image. You know you want to.

Okay, so I'm well aware the likelihood of both ducklings being female (I chose the two smallest in hopes of increasing the odds) and therefore, egg layers is 50/50 at best. I may end up with a couple of drakes or one of each which will put a little bit of a dent in the plan to gather eggs for the family. This leg of my journey to reasonably sustainable suburban living might result in nothing more than another couple of pets and some fertilizer for the garden.

But I'm going to keep trying.

Growing vegetables has been a tough task the last couple of years. Depleted garden soil, lack of funds and zero shade in a near tropical climate cooks most plants. Especially if you don't have a well to provide unlimited quantities of free water to keep things well hydrated. I've kept plugging away at it while still mostly focusing on tougher perennial flowers so as not to feel like a complete garden failure.

The prospects are much better this year. The soil in the backyard is richer than I've played with in years, lots of trees nearby will prevent a desert climate come July, while still allowing enough sunlight for things to grow. Our new location also adds to better prospects. Most of the neighbors grow vegetables. There was curiosity about the hay bales in the front yard (best sun) but not a neighbor looked down their nose at what would have been considered an eyesore in our former neighborhood. This means I have more yard to work with, despite being on a smaller piece of land.

The seeds planted a couple of weeks ago are doing well. They've been kept outside which should prevent shock later and I planted more than I need to make sure there will be enough viable seedlings.

Now comes the tough part. The obsessive in me would love to start ordering more seeds and plants online or through catalogs. She would also like to forget the budget and stuff plants into every conceivable space NOW. Patience is not my strength here... but I'm putting on the brakes, looking at the priorities as well as my current abilities and hoping to find a balance between the urban homestead that will takes years to create and the reality of what we can reasonably do now.

The flowers and shrubs currently sitting in pots will give me plenty to do in the months to come and I've taken the steps to, I pray, provide more than snackage from the garden this year.

I'm trying to be patient.

Which means... *sighs* the dwarf nigerian nanny goat will have to wait.