Homeschooling is going even better than I had expected. We are sticking to a strict schedule in the mornings, with a steady core curriculum in math and language arts. In the afternoons we do Latin and, after that, we launch into our history/science module. I’d say the last one is our favorite along with logic, Latin and word roots. This is the pile of books accumulating in the subjects we’ve chosen for our science/history module:
Yes, I know. But Amie and I both agreed we couldn’t start “History” with written history, or with the first humans, or the first life, or even the formation of our planet and so… we began with the Big Bang. And obviously we can’t do history apart from science. So: wonderful stuff!
Our first home school field trip was to the NOFA Mass Winter Conference. During lunch Amie went shopping at the stalls, all by herself. She had $5. After chatting with each farmer and herbalist and activist and whatnot, she got some fancy lip balm. We also bought bumper stickers. This one is her favorite and ended up on her cello case:
On Friday we had our next field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts, which has a great homeschool program. I got to walk the halls for an hour and a half, and located this poster:
Soon we’ll have to open those seed catalogs and start planning the garden. At the NOFA conference I picked up a lot of information on trace minerals. We went with a group and divvied up the workshops among us. Next week we meet to discuss the many gardens now in play: our personal gardens (about four, some of them quite large), three large Community Garden Plots, and some School Gardens as well. These come with town-wide compost systems that take in scraps from the schools’ lunchrooms, pounds and pounds of coffee grounds from a local coffee shop, and now, also, kitchen scraps from the local Whole Foods. Lastly, the surplus goes to Food Pantries and shelters in the neighborhood.
I’ve not had time to write much here, but please stay tuned!
People have begun dropping off their rotten pumpkins! We have a couple of gigantic ones and quite a horde of little ones in the pile already.
Someone couldn’t wait to enjoy the feast.
It’s geology! Layer after layer of compost.
This pile had gone cold. I lifted up the Earth Machine, which you can see in the background. I love the design of the Earth Machine: as it tapers up, it’s easy to lift off while keeping the shape, making it easy to fork up. It took two heaped wheelbarrows, because it had compacted so much (cause of its going cold), to move to an open compost bin in the back. The top stuff, which had just been added, ended up at the bottom and so I’m fairly confident the critter won’t even know there’s raw egg and some meat in there.
This huge brussels sprout was pulled from one of the school gardens and on its way to the compost.
I had ideas for a different kind of composting.
Sorry to be so absent. It will get worse. We are traveling to India on the 10th – will be back on New Year’s Day. That is the plan. Thing is, our passports are still at the Indian Consulate without any explanation, or response to our emails, and no one ever answers the phone. If they don’t arrive today, we’ll have to travel to NYC to get some resolution. A huge hassle! And then, if we can’t make it, tons of money will be wasted, but mostly, we won’t get to see my husband’s family, and Amie’s great-grandmother will be extremely sad. It is too stressful…
What I do when I get stressed is I go out into the garden. I checked on the lettuce and spinach int he hot box: they’re all doing well. I moved some more pumpkins into the Earth Machine in the hoop house and topped it off with shredded leaves (the aroma!). Then I peeked under the row cover to see what’s growing. A photo-essay.
I shredded a leaf pile today, the one in the back. Here I am dropping leaves into the shredder (best Freecycle ever!), which you can’t even see for the pile. There are more piles, some even larger, on the property, and of course still lots of leaves not in piles (yet?). As you can see from my previous post, we have lots of trees, a mix of pine, beach and oak. Plus I let my neighbors dump their leaves on part of the front garden. I think I’ll let that pile compress on its own.
This work makes you sweaty, tired, dusty and stink of gasoline fumes (which some like but that’s not me). Yet it is also very satisfying to see that huge pile of mostly air reduced to this compressed, moist, lovely smelling mound of biomass.
Meanwhile, at the bottom of the hill, more pumpkin orphans were being dropped off, bringing the total to 36! I didn’t have the wherewithal to weigh each (any) of them, so I’m not sure of the tonnage, but I am sure of the neighbors’ enthusiasm for this project. I keep saying: Ah, the last pumpkins, but they keep on appearing under my mailbox.
I joined the a team of parent and teacher volunteers who are working to make the school system in our town greener. We’re working on getting the recycling going. Especially lunch time is a problem, a big black hole that apparently eats only trash.
I’m still baking, only not as much – a bread every three days. Though in this picture it looks like it was forged in the fires of Mount Doom, Bread No.13 turned out very nicely, with the perfect moisture and crumb.
The rains let up and I got the chance to plant the hot box, in 54 F weather! I hadn’t until now because the temperature o the soil registered 82F until a week ago. What a long burn that was! Now it’s at 73F, perfect. In went a Winter Lettuce Mix and some Rainbow Chard. Let’s see how they do. I need to locate the sensor that attaches via a cable to my digital thermometer. This cable is just long enough to reach from the hot box to the bathroom window.
Today we came home from Amie’s cello lesson to this:
We could not believe the size of that giant pumpkin! There were also bags of more pumpkins, goopy pumpkin guts, and a couple of gourds. The latter I would have to cut up somehow, they’re so hard, or maybe I’ll try drying them for bird houses.
The haul filled up the wheelbarrow and much of the compost bin. Once I get the shredder going I’ll fill up the gaps in the bin with shredded leaves.
The neighbors are really into the orphan punkins this year. Maybe I could get a more elaborate system set up, a large three bin system down the hill, near the mailbox, where they could drop off vegetable kitchen scraps? A neighborhood composting facility… And once we get chickens, we would doubly appreciate the scraps. Mm…
I’m going to ask my tree removal neighbor for all his wood chips from now on to do this in the veg garden. I could easily fill up those garden paths with wood chips and leaves. These paths erode so badly, especially the ones that run in the direction of the (slight) slope. It would also keep the weeds down, and be a haven for the worms. A permaculture function stack!
What a day today was. 65 F and sunny. The bees took the opportunity to take some cleansing flights and dump out some more dead bees, and we got to go outside too, to rake leaves, and leaves, and leaves, and play…