Stubborn Walk and Our Puppy














My DSLR has been needing some maintenance.  I should send it into a professional to get properly cleaned.  I kept telling myself that I couldn’t be away from it for 6-12 weeks as they said it would be.  So it’s been sitting there, waiting for me to do the cleaning like I did once before.  It’s such delicate work, that I was waiting for a time when I could concentrate, which doesn’t really exist in this home.  It’s been sitting there for probably over a month, and finally I realized that I’m going to want it ready to go when this baby comes, and to just suck it up and fix it.

I forgot how much I love my camera compared to my phone camera.  I did my best, and it’s working much better, but I can tell there’s still a button that sticks a bit, and I might have to bite the bullet and get it tuned up.  But not now.  I need it for the baby.

After it was fixed, the sun was going down outside, and I couldn’t help myself but to take a walk.  I haven’t even wanted to walk out to the mailbox since last Wednesday, it hurts so much to walk.  This baby sits so low.  But I stubbornly walked a little around the yard with the dogs.  It was just so pretty.

I was sick of sitting with my feet up.  My mental health required it.  It’s one of the most gorgeous times of the year in our yard, and I just couldn’t stand looking through the porch window anymore.

The meat chicks got out to pasture today.  Our old dog, Lena, who is a black lab/German Shepherd, and about 7 years old has been playing outside with our new “little” pup, Nanny, who is a Great Pyrenees/Anatolian Shepherd mix.  She’s about 7 months old, and already a bit bigger than Lena.  She still has some growing to do.  She lives outside with the sheep, and we got her for the purpose of keeping predators out of our yard, which both of the breeds in her do well.  They guard livestock, and are extremely serious workers.  They are nocturnal for the most part, hunting down predators at night, and snuggling all day.  Our last livestock guardian was 2 years old when we got her, as she was being re-homed by a family who just couldn’t meet the needs that her breed required.

A puppy is so different.  Soooooo different.

Lena tries her hardest to keep on top of Nanny.  They wrestle and play-fight.  Lena comes in at night just wiped out, often too tired to climb up the stairs to her bed in our room.  She naps whenever she’s inside and away from Nanny.  She’s lost most of her fat since Nanny came to the farm. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen Lena so fit.   She no longer lays around depressed like she did for months after our last livestock guardian, Missy died.  She snores from exhaustion, and is cautious of her hips when she does stairs.  Nanny is an energetic pup.

She’s getting into trouble, like most puppies do.  We finally got her to stop jumping on people.  She knows how to sit, and she knows how to come, at least as well as livestock guardians ever learn how to “come.”  (They consider it more of a suggestion.)  She’s killed 2 chickens.  I’ve heard from other breed-owners that it can take up to 2 years to get them to understand not to chase chickens.  She killed 2 kittens, but we believe that was an accident.  The 2 mama cats kept letting their kittens wander in the barn, and it stressed Nanny out.  She kept picking them up in the back of the neck, and bringing them back to each perspective nest.  She never felt it was ok for them to be away from their nest.  We think that she was too clumsy with 2 of them.

Then the other day, I was pulling out of the driveway and I saw Nanny picking up an animal from the rose garden, and heading back to the barn with it.  I stopped and called her over, and sure enough, there was a black kitten that she was holding from the back of the neck, ever so gently with her teeth.  It was so cute I nearly pulled my phone out, but the kitten was so freaked out that I just reached to rescue him from Nanny’s mouth.  Other than being a bit wit from her slobber, the kitten was fine.  I walked him back down to the barn, and lay him with his mama, which seemed to satisfy Nanny.

That’s not what’s going on with the chickens, though.  She eats those.  Knut ran out to chase her away from eating a chicken last night, and it turns out she was just eating a squirrel.  I have no idea how she caught a squirrel.  She’s ridiculously fast.

She’s a snuggle-bug with humans, and the walk was much more work than I meant it to be because I kept telling her to stop pushing and leaning against me for some snuggles when I was trying to take a picture.  Finally, Lena rescued me and enticed Nanny to a wrestling match, and then they went running all over the yard.

The kids are learning that they actually need to pick up their toys outside now too.

Or they’re destroyed. It’s not a bad lesson to learn.

Nanny has a good heart.  I can already tell she’s smart and eager to learn.  I can tell she has some great instincts.  But the fact that she’s an immature puppy is written all over her too.  Fortunately, they grow out of that.

Garden Plans






The sage and thyme are already turning green in the front flower bed.  I love just smelling their leaves between my fingers as I go for a walk.  I just love growing things.  It is like witnessing miracles constantly.

Gardening isn’t a hobby for our family.  It’s in our family culture.  It’s the way we fill our freezer for the winter.  It’s addicting.  Once you go to garden produce, it’s really hard to go back to grocery store produce.  My kids absolutely love our garden vegetables, and are incredibly spoiled by them.


But how on earth will I manage our huge gardens this year in my 3rd trimester, and continuing on after the birth of our baby?

I have been brainstorming, and mapping out some ideas.  We have one huge garden on the south side of our property.  Our kids have named that garden: “Gardentopia.”  It can grow massive amounts of food.  In past years, though, we have wanted more space.  That’s why we dug up “Versailles” which is the French style beds near our chicken coop.  It has a makeshift fence around it since it’s by the chickens.  The beds are smaller, and we can do some different gardening techniques that we like to experiment with in that space.

I think the major thing that my car accident 2 1/2 years ago taught Knut and I, as well as events surrounding previous births, is that I have a high pain tolerance, and if the pain is so bad I have to communicate it, he should be on high alert.  We also learned that I have limits about what I can handle, and be stubborn about it.  I can’t do everything.  I have some factual needs.  Also, we learned that when my anxiety attacks start waving in, our whole family shuts down.  My mental health just effects so many people right now.

Let’s just say we’ve come to a place in our marriage where Knut has become very protective of me both mentally and physically.  We have both seen me go into a dark hole, and neither one of us wants me to go back there.

But not planting a garden would be tragic on more than the surface level.  If we just leave it, weeds will grow up and age and leave thousands of seeds that I will be battling for over a decade to come.  That idea sounds incredibly discouraging.

So this presents a challenge for this whole garden thing this year.  Our family needs this garden.  The garden needs us.  Our whole summer always revolves around it.  Our health revolves around it.  What we do with our kids all day revolves around it.

So my first thought was to just fill the large Gardentopia with roots that require little maintenance and late harvest, up to 2 months after the birth of this baby.  Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and onions.  We’ll just plant more than we need.  Then in Versailles, I’ll plant just a few fun crops, like a few fresh tomatoes, some peas for the kids to snack on in early summer, and maybe some salad greens.

Knut and I were brainstorming what to do, and he suggested we just plant a cover crop on Gardentopia.  Just pull back our mulch and cover crop it for the season.  He and his farming partner have been experimenting with cover crops, and have some extra seed we could buy from our business.  That way we get nothing out of that garden this year but we protect it from being overrun with weeds for years to come.  That would be amazing.

We could plant a few fun things in Versailles for the kids to manage.  I love this summer salad: equal parts cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil and fresh basil.  It eat it like it’s an addictive drug.  I’d love to keep a few tomato plants and salad plots just for fun.  I may also keep my rainbow carrots up there in Versailles too, because they make me smile like crazy.

But what about winter? I said.  How can we just give up our garden produce for those months?  He wants us to get a CSA share this year.  I’ll get a box of produce for our family every week, and we’ll have 10 harvest events a year where we can get massive amounts of produce for freezing/canning and he can be around to help on those days.  It’s much easier to have big family harvest days with all the kids than asking them to do the gardening for me 2-3 hours each morning all summer.  That way I’m not harvesting on my hands and knees various crops daily all summer.  I’ll still have my strawberries and raspberries to handle daily in early summer, as we cannot force them dormant for the year (nor do we want to!) but the kids are actually really good at helping with those ones.

I was concerned about the price of buying a share, but as I have been hospitalized past pregnancies for completely preventable things like exhaustion and dehydration, he basically said it’s less than half the cost of 1 hospital visit, so it will save us money in the long run as opposed to me once again trying to do everything and ending up sick.

But it turns out, that our local CSA is moving it’s delivery boxes to about an hour from our house.  We can still get their produce at our local grocery store, but that’s not a desirable option when we’re looking for some bulk produce.

So, we’re looking at some options.  We’re calling around to some vegetable farmers.  We’re going to make this work.

I don’t know if I’m more excited that my garden will be tiny this year, or that my husband is really prioritizing keeping me sane and healthy during this pregnancy.  When we were first married, he had this picture in his head of peasant women who would give birth and head back to the field because it was harvest.  I was told over and over again from family members the story of someone local giving birth and then canning all their cherries for the year that same day because you just can’t afford to lose your food for months.  Women who put aside their pain and emotions and just do what needs doing is just so esteemed here.

I think all moms do that to some extent.  I think sometimes that putting aside our pain and emotions and just doing what needs doing might be the very definition of motherhood.

But the longer we’ve been married, and the longer I’ve been a mother, the more short-sighted that image has become.

It elevates mothers from creatures God designed to rest at night as well as one day a week, to these super-human-above-God’s-design goddesses.  Our culture says that mothers don’t need rest, and we turn into these PPD zombies and people wonder why we don’t just get with the program.  I have been there, and done that.

Going back to God’s design is something my quiet time has been continually drifting towards these last few years.  I’ve written about it here before.  God designed us to rest, pre-fall, and we should not feel we are above his design, or that is a part of our sin-nature.

And when are we going to figure out that community is required for some people to get rest?  The commandment to rest is not an individual one, but a communal one.

I remember after Ingrid was born, my midwife handed Knut a long list of things I wasn’t allowed to do, and a very tiny list of things I could do.  She didn’t even want me walking down our stairs for a few days.  Knut carried me, and I felt silly.  But my midwife had told him and he followed her rules to the letter.  I had no responsibilities for weeks.  Knut and the kids took over.  That never happened after any of my other births.  Knut would help for a day or two then, and the doctors would say things like “take it easy.”

But my midwife had built up such a trust with Knut.  She liked him because I liked him, and he felt she respected his input.  She was the first person to figure out why I was always anemic in pregnancies, and why I always tested positive for GPS in pregnancies and she was able to rid me of both of those things through diet, that changed everything.  I had never experienced pregnancy and energy at the same time before then.

So when she told Knut that I needed to just rest after birth for a few weeks, he listened.  And he was pleasantly surprised how much faster I recovered from birth and how much less zombie-like I was.  PPD was simply a thing of the past.  I just needed the rest.  Seriously, why don’t we always do this in our culture?

There’s something to be said for working with your body’s design, instead of trying to work above it.

So, per Knut’s idea, we aren’t doing a big garden this year.  This fact is still sinking in for me.  Our big garden will be cover-cropped.  This year I’m growing a baby, and we don’t want to distract my body from that goal.  We’ll have our little Versailles for our fun summer traditions and delicacies, and a CSA…or something…for our winter storage.  I’m so relieved.  I don’t have to do everything this year.  Whew.



I am hitting my usual August haze.  I’m consistently 2-3 days behind what I should be doing, which usually makes me stress.  I’m not stressing at all about being behind now, but I’m not sure if that’s a good thing either.  I feel like I should care that things aren’t running as efficiently as possible.  The culture here that I’ve noticed since moving to the farm says that worrying is responsible and stress pushes you to finish.  I should be pushing myself more.  I should but…eh.

Welcome to August.

I’ve been taking a lot of walks these days, when I should be doing other things.  I’m just drinking this season in!  This year our garden was completely mulched, (known as the “Back to Eden” gardening method, also known in the trade as “sheet composting.”)  It was a big experiment and I’m just loving it.  I have never enjoyed gardening as much as this year.  It was a ton of work on the spring end of the season, but it has really paid off.

Weeds have been so easy to manage, even with the soy bean mixture fiasco.  Yes, the strawberry patch is crazy now, but I’ve sort of let it get that way and focused my energy elsewhere because I plan on digging them up setting them in neater rows this Fall.


I just keep walking out to my gardens throughout the day.  I walk around them, check on various plants, search through some cucumber vines, look at growth that I never remember or write down.  This is the first year I can actually say that gardening has been a sanctuary.  I’m so behind on canning, mostly because I’m going for these walks, picking handfuls of weeds here and there, talking to my plants.  It’s getting bad.

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Garden Takeover

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We are thick into the season where the garden literally takes over our life.  No matter how much the weeds have taken over, garden produce for the year has gone from the trickle of strawberries, to now a full out invasion of peas, beans, broccoli, cabbages, as the raspberries wind down.  The tomato plants are heavy with green orbs that look as though they may blush any day.  Then life outside the garden and kitchen will virtually shut down.  The cucumbers as well look like they will be ready to be pickled by as early as next week.  I’ve never grown my own pickling cukes, so I don’t know how long that season is.  I know very little about it.  Last year we were given lots of cucumbers by some of Knut’s cousins who had excess in their garden, and the fermented dill pickles I made were to die for.  I could sit and eat a whole jar if I let myself.  I knew right away I could no longer go back to store-bought.  The garden has ruined me for yet another food that I no longer want to buy.

I am so joyously ruined.  Silje jokes that I’m ruining them all for life because they will never be satisfied with normal food and will be forced to garden as adult.  I tell her it’s all a part of my evil plan.

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