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The time has come to return to the garden
EGG CARTONS are what the Schendel-Dremsa family are using this year to start plants for their dream garden. Their approach is proof-positive that nothing particularly fancy is required for those wanting to launch into growing food for their families.

GAYS MILLS - Sunday afternoon, I sat in the sunny spot on the floor in my kitchen, poking ancient seeds into ancient Miracle Grow potting soil mounded up in my egg carton planters. 

“We really should be having the kids do this,” Chasca said as he towered above me observing my procedure. “It will help them learn more about where food comes from.” 

Since going into quarantine, food has been a high priority thought of ours. Because for one, what else comforts you like a good meal? For two, what makes you feel more secure than piles of food? And for three, what makes you feel more accomplished than producing your own delicious, nutritious noshes. 

We’ve always dreamed of being homesteader types. With the gigantic perfectly planted garden, turning a profit on eggs  that came from our happily clucking hens, heck maybe even milking Old Bessie. The dreams all seemed limitless. 

But now, that we are stuck in the middle of this moment that feels like an alternate universe, having these skills seems like something that would really put one at the top of the heap. 

When I first went into isolation, I spent nap time cruising around Seed Savers Exchange.  Luckily for me, everything I wanted was in stock and ready to go. They weren’t able to give  an estimated time of arrival for the seeds but they assured me that they’d be coming. 

Fast forward a few weeks and Seed Savers Exchange is totally shut down for new orders. It seems as though everyone had the same idea as me at the same moment to get that Victory Garden of sorts put in. 

The last few years we haven’t really had the ideal spot to put in the biggest garden you’ve ever seen like we dreamed of, but all of that is going to change this year. I can’t quite spill the beans yet, but trust me, in a couple of weeks, I’ll have a juicy announcement for all of you–my dear readers.

In the meantime, though, I, like many of you am spending my time looking at garden plot ideas. Reading about companion gardening, and spritzing my ancient seedlings. 

Thatcher did get to do some planting, but he stuck with some scarlet sunflowers. He meticulously filled each three-inch pot with spoonfuls of dirt before diving his little finger in and wiggling it around making a home for his seed. He lovingly patted each and offered up the sweet affirmation “good little seed!” 

Promptly this morning, he pushed his chair over to the makeshift seedling zone up high out of the Waylon zone and announced, rather disappointed, “Nothing has grown!”  before hopping off his seat and hobbling away with his shoulders slumped. I assured him, that at least one, should probably come up and that it just takes time.  

Until then and until I can slam all of the rest of my seeds in the fresh warm earth I can continue to pour over my research, and make a list of what I want to get from the Village Greenhouse. 

Our second homesteading operation we’ve decided to take on once again is of the clucking variety. 

We decided to try meat chickens once again this year, but admittedly, I’m taking the easy way out. 

Previously, we went with the Red Rangers from Sunny Side Hatchery. They’re a slow growing, dual purpose chicken that is rather lively and scrappy. 

So lively and scrappy in fact, that when they see their siblings getting the chopping block they turn and hightail it up into the woods and don’t come back for days. Nothing like chasing wild  chickens in the hot August heat through the woods to really make you question your life decisions. 

In an effort to avoid that this year, we are going for the big, fat Jumbo Broilers. The description boasts a fat happy chicken in only eight weeks. 

When consulting with Chasca about how many we should order his answer was simply. 

“Get a bunch, chickens make good currency.” 

With all of this action, and being home all the time in isolation, I also thought the natural next move would be to get a puppy. We’re done having kids so why not get a puppy to grow up with the human puppies we already have. Chasca disagrees with this. But, we have plenty more weeks of isolation in the future for me to wear him down on the topic.