Monday, May 28, 2007

And they're off!

Vegetable Plant Inventory - May 28, 2007
65 tomato (yes, 65. no, we're not sure what we'll do with them all.)
14 basil
5 broccoli
4 cucumber
8 purple bush bean
15 pepper

garlic, lettuce, carrots, beets, zucchini, pumpkin, butternut squash, acorn squash, yellow squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, Minnesota melon, hops, rhubarb, onion, radish, herbs, raspberries, potatoes. Whew.In the past few days, we transplanted all but a handful of our plants into the gardens (upper and lower), and it feels so good! (and there's so much more room in our dining room, aka greenhouse). Our garden's new tomato zone looks like a stonehenge of cedar stakes in the ground. We have 20 more tomato plants up for grabs, if anyone can use them! Also, can anyone use fresh rhubarb? Say the word and it's yours.Please pray the we don't get a freak overnight frost this late in the spring. And also put in a good word with God that our garden goes weed-less this summer...and that we find a stash of time in September when we have to figure out what to do with all the surplus. At this point, we can't wait for that day. Here's to mulch and rain and big, fat, red tomatoes.Ellis's new favorite activityThe lower garden, newly fenced and electrified - take that, deer!
Luscious peonies from the front yard

Saturday, May 26, 2007

...and the storm taketh away

Mama Nature must think we sit around all day and eat bon bons, because clearly she thought we needed some more to do. The old girl went on a rampage a couple of days ago and littered our property with tree remains during a thunderstorm, taking out Mistie's fence with this pine. It was pretty exciting! It was a good thing the wind was coming from the south, because otherwise my horses could have been squished like the Wicked Witch of the West, with only their hooves sticking out from beneath the branches!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Nine is fine

Owain at 9 months: perpetual mover; monkeylegs crawler; equine enthusiast; book reader; high speed page flipper; over emoter; chore partner; food thrower; hot tub soaker; easy laugher; sometime sleeper.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Birth Story

It's been too long since I've written, really written. I have to admit I've missed stretching that particular muscle. I often blame sleep deprivation, or my lack of energy, or that there are just too many other things to do on a farm, but honestly sometimes I feel as if my creative well has dried up, and this makes me sad. My good friend Charles is convinced things will begin to flow again once I start deciding what it is I want to tell my son. In honor of that possibility, and to commemorate Mother's Day, and in celebration of getting a straight five hours of sleep for the first time since Owain's birth 9 months ago, though trying to describe giving birth is kind of like trying to lasso an ocean, I'm going to tell my birth story.

Birth is, like most other elemental aspects of life, a paradox. It is a process at once miraculous (a person comes out of there!) and mundane (women do it all over the world, every minute of every day) - an experience completely specific to each mother, and yet universal in that we ultimately feel connected when we do it, to our own ancestors and to women everywhere.

I don't know how many of you have carried a baby in your womb longer than 40 weeks, but those who have know that time gets all wonky, especially if you are committed to letting the baby decide when (whether!?) s/he will make their appearance. You also have a real understanding of the term "great with child." I was pretty sure of our conception date and also pretty sure of my burgeoning whale-like silhouette, hence I was very sure that despite my midwife Paula's calm ministrations ("a due date is an estimate," "the baby and your body know the right time") my baby was LATE and wanted OUT. It was hot, too. Really hot. The fat Fred Flinstone feet were tired. The mama was getting desperate. Jay was a hero, taking me anywhere with air conditioning during the day and thrashing through weeds and underbrush on the farm with a machete at night to release his own stress (as a result, he had a nasty case of poison ivy when Owain was finally born).

It was a little silly what we tried in order to meet Owain: spicy food, a few stiff drinks, acupuncture. Jay saw more bulky-awkward bedroom action then he had in months. I cried all over my midwives. Once you get that pregnant, you're going in for a weekly check-up, and I begged them to just say "see you next week" instead of "see you when you're in labor" because I didn't want to get my hopes up. I had days of calm and good humor, when I'd actually saddle up and ride, trying to trot the baby out, and days when I laid on the couch in a hormonal funk, practicing my best glassy-eyed stare.

Then on the 14th day past my due date, the day we had some tests scheduled at the hospital to make sure everything was still okay in there, my water broke in the early morning - a warm, welcome relief. At first, I laid there in stunned silence, knowing that I would not be suspended in time in my swollen state, that the child was going to find his or her way. We called my mom and dad, who came to the farm from the cities. We called Paula, who had me checking for signs of infection and timing my contractions. We played a game of Scrabble through the contractions out on the deck. Despite my not-so-delicate condition, they didn't let me win, I remember that. The heat had broken and it was a beautiful day. We drank lemonade and ate lots of good snacks. I remember at one point looking out over our farm, drenched in life, and thinking that soon I'd be sharing it with my dawdling child. It was wild to think that Jay and I would leave two and come back three.

I called Paula when the contractions got stronger. She said, "It will be time to come to the birth center when Jay is calling me about the contractions because you aren't able to talk on the phone." That time came pretty quickly, and by 2 p.m. or so we were driving the seemingly interminable distance to Menomonie. When I arrived at the birth center, dear Krista met me with a big hug, and even though my contractions were pretty strong by then, I was flooded with joy. Paula and Karen were already there too, and I was glad.

After a few minutes of laboring and talking downstairs, for the third time in my life I threw up. All my good snacks and lemonade - back out where they came from but in messier form: a sign that hard labor was nigh. And oh, was it. Jay and I went upstairs and got into the birthing tub and that's when my birthing Id made its appearance. By all accounts, I had a powerful labor. Owain was hung up in my pelvis, and the contractions reached a place where they were coming without breaks. It was a stretch at first for me to realize that my stoic Scandinavian self would have to give way to the (significantly noisier) cavewoman within. Indeed, windows at the birth center would need to be closed.

For my birth I had packed a bag that included a massage wand, essential oils, CDs, snacks and a Scrabble board for me to play between contractions. I'm not sure that bag ever even got opened, because Jay and I were working hard together, in survival mode, for several hours. I believe I entered an altered state of some sort, perhaps my body's way of coping. We labored in the tub, on a bed, spooned tightly together. Paula checked me and determined in her birthing woman wisdom that Owain needed help moving down, so I started to walk the stairs. Two at a time. This was my toughest job yet. Ever. Jay was with me. I struggled, because hard labor is not conducive to climbing stairs. In fact, it feels wrong. At one point, Karen grabbed me by my arms and had me look into her face. "You're experiencing a very intense labor," she said, "you must keep on." And this was a turning point for me. I felt validated. I pushed up and down the stairs, and then I was pushing Owain. On a stool, against Jay, against Paula, and in the water again. And my own mother and my sister and the midwives kept at me with food and drink and cold cloths for my head. And my husband was baptized by most body fluids you can think of, and continued to hold me, holding firm. And the pushing felt good and hard and regular, and my body knew what it was doing, and I was happy because I was doing and not just enduring. Though I was drained, I had purpose and the baby was coming and I could do this.

Owain arrived peacefully amid the tempest. They had to rub him down a bit to get him squawking, which is what often happens with water births. When I look at the pictures, I hardly recognize the blonde amazon propped against her husband in the tub, too weary to cry, babbling to her big, healthy child. She looks strange and powerful. She looks to have received an ancient gift.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Green Goodness

April was one of the longest and shortest months of my year so far. There has been so much going on, I feel I hardly have time to sit down and reflect on any of it. So, for lack of a clearer writer's head this evening, here is simply a list of thoughts & reflections of the past few weeks, and a few photos to boot! Love and May flowers to you all---

- April opened with snow and brown, brown, brown everywhere outside. Today it's 70 and sunny, the green is getting richer in color by the day, and there are even blossoms on the fruit trees. I walked into my parents' back yard on Sunday and was overcome by the smell of mulberry blossoms - ahhhh.

- Easter was celebrated at Aunt Becky and Uncle Ralph's warm home - another gorgeous day, a smorgasbord of delectable food, ball in the park, and some good time spent watching Ellis throw rocks into Becky's little pond.

- Chris, Ellis and I took a weekend trip to Fargo to visit Chris's Nana. Lots of Scrabble, goofing around with Ellis, and much excitement about the pool at Nana's apartment. Ellis swam up a storm...all his practice in the hot tub has paid off. He holds his breath for 5-10 seconds after jumping in and hardly takes a breath before asking to get out and jump again. Watching him made me so excited for the boys to be at Golden Lake this summer.

- Work has been busy for me with more days in the office than usual. It's good, but I'm ready for our "routine" once again. I've had hardly enough time at the farm lately, and it's exciting but overwhelming to look out at our rich garden soil, understanding that there is still much to accomplish before plants can go into the ground.

- The lower garden by the barn looks fabulous with beautiful new set ups for the hops and raspberries. We have been thrilled to receive loads of new raspberry starts from Doug, Chris's mom's new husband - we hear they bear big, juicy berries, so we're excited to watch them take off. The upper garden was plagued by grass last year, so it's been a battle to get rid of it this year, calling for full re-mulching of the space. Very time intensive, but hopefully it will pay off for the rest of the summer!

- There are probably close to 75 starter plants in our dining/living rooms, ready to be planted at the end of May. Tomatoes, basil, broccoli, peppers, melons, squash, and a flower box full of growing lettuce. The starts sit by the window sill, all leaning toward the glass, looking like they are begging to go out and play. Soon, little vegetables.

- I turned 32 in April and let me tell you, I feel about 72 today. But a few hours ago I felt 22. And playing with Ellis, sometimes even 12. My body seems to be falling apart in new ways each day, and yet I'm always amazed at the drive and energy I find when I'm in the midst of a progressing and beautiful project. Even just the drive back to the farm this morning made me feel more alive, seeing and hearing and feeling spring.

- Charis and I actually had a night out last night...we met up with good Menomonie friends for a concert at the Mabel Tainter theater by the Wailin' Jennys - a folk group of three women with tight harmonies and beautiful songs. It was well worth the long drive and little sleep afterwards - good music and good friends to soothe the soul.

- Yesterday I had the joy of holding a day-old baby boy. Our good friends Kevin and Alison welcomed their little Emmett into the world on Monday and it was incredible to see them and be with a new baby again. Another life-giving experience for my weary head and body.

- As Ellis and I pulled into the driveway this morning at the farm, I asked Ellis if he was happy to see Owain again. When we stopped, he jumped up and ran to the house, chanting, "Ow-n!, Ow-n!, Ow-n!" It's hilarious and sweet to watch them play together, screeching and chasing one another around the house - they just love each other so much - I can only imagine what the coming years will be like with those two.

I'm the last person up tonight at the ungodly hour of 8:15. I'm off to treat myself to some reading before bed. Looking forward to another day, digging in the mulch and chasing Ellis tomorrow. Peace. Becca