We've been spending the last couple of nights in the basement and some last week, huddled on the floor beneath a table, while funnel clouds swirl over town. Storms have been popping up suddenly and turning nasty. Our ears have been glued to the weather radio and our eyes peeled for dark clouds. We've been getting a fair amount of rain, often an inch or two a night, but not so much as a few miles north of us, where they have been getting 3-5 inches a night. Normally rain is a good thing, but in the low drainage lands of central Illinois, it can get ugly fast. Our basement is wet, but manageable.
And we've now reached the point of "it's not the heat, it's the humidity" part of summer where I scratch my head and try to remember why I am fond of central Illinois. I've been attempting to dry lambs quarters leaves, ridiculously so, in a week of near 100% humid stickiness. We've also been getting the porch ready for painting--cleaning and scraping. Hakim has been doing most of the scraping. I don't believe the fridge has stopped running today. And enough about the weather.
The yard is lush and moist. We've eaten a few strawberries from the yard. The raspberries are just loaded with fruit, more than I have ever seen. The peaches have put on fruit also, tiny and fuzzy. The potatoes are awe inspiring, and the tomatoes and peas and herbs actually started visibly growing, with all this heat and rain. It's been like early spring until this last week, and suddenly bam it's summer. My gramma's roses have finally bloomed in my yard after appearing to die when I planted them years ago. They smell like ROSES. The flowers/weeds are blooming beautifully, the dame's rocket, a mustard (yellow rocket?), spiderwort, catmint, pinks (dianthus), and everything else is growing beautifully.
I've been reading some books to Kaleigh by Robert Burch. They are really good rural stories, without schlock or violence or Drama. He has a very good way of writing about people and their thoughts and feelings. Good kid lit seems to be hard to find. Or maybe it's that we read too much, and we're running out of good stuff.
The farmers market downtown has opened up, and we have been enjoying it. We got 12 quarts of strawberries today, two flats. Kaleigh ate one at the park, sharing with new friends at a homeschool get-together (even though we are not Catholic, we were welcomed, and they are a great group of moms and kids). I am in the process of making the first carboy full of strawberry wine, and hopefully a second will follow tomorrow. I made a small batch of rhubarb wine, and we'll see how it turns out. I am cranking out the wine. I'm very motivated when I have no wine to drink, and we ran out night before last.
The neighborhood kids are cranky, which has been unpleasant for everyone. Kaleigh's been having almost daily meltdowns, not just because of them, but it sure isn't helping. The last month of school is always like that with them. Their bodies need to be outside in the fresh air running and they are trapped in small rooms with teachers who need to be outside just as much. School ended today, hooray.
Springfield's food not lawns is going well. Our number has been published in the paper along with news stories, and we've been getting a lot of phone calls. People are not only interested in the group, but have a lot of questions about gardening. It's difficult being an experimental chaos gardener, and having to answer exact questions about standard gardening. Lots of people are interested in growing at least some good food for themselves. Even my own brother is planting some tomatoes. His wife doesn't like produce because it's "dirty", but I guess food prices are getting expensive enough for him to want to at least grow his own. Or maybe it's the utter lack of taste that store produce has.
Our vermicomposting workshop went well and we've given away about 15 bunches of starter worms. We also harvested three kitty litter buckets full of rich worm castings, i.e., poop. I spread some around the garden plants right before all the rain started. I guess it's working.
My friend Kaya came into town last week from Colorado, and I spent a great day out with her. We went up to Funks Grove & got our year supply of maple sirup (they spell it that way). We had a fun time, visiting and talking, went to a greenhouse, walked around, and came back. She and her husband just bought their 20 acres in Colorado, and she has been thinking about and making plans for a self-contained mini farmlet with massive woods. They have about an acre or two of open flat land with black soil and a spring. What luck. I am excited for them, and I know they will be fortunate in their endeavors. Kaya is interested in permaculture, and she has already helped raise free range chickens.
Ah, I think the dirty rice for supper is about done, even though I nearly filled up on ice cream (today was the day for it). I need to finish making wine, do dishes, destem and stuff almost dry lambs quarters (finally) into jars....the homestead work is never done. But it sure beats being hired out for a living.