If you’re just tuning in, this is a recurring series in which I document each month of our lives out here on our 66-acre Vermont homestead. After leaving urban Cambridge, MA in May 2016 to chart this wholly different life, we’re experiencing a constant learning curve of exploration (and plenty of stupid novice moments). Check out last month’s installment here and check out the best and worst moments of our first year on the homestead here.
June is like a jungle. Everything is swift and overbearing: the rains are pelting, the plants are riotous, the sun blazes mercilessly. Our summer is brief, but shocking in its severity.
Plants grow so quickly that garden beds are transformed in the span of a day or two. You’ll swear you just weeded a patch that’s now consumed by weeds, utterly incapable of fathoming that a plant can set root, sprout, and flourish under such a time constraint.
We stand open mouthed, gaping at what nature brings forth, wondering how best to insert our ministrations. It’s a miracle we’re not snared in place by a rapid-growing vine wending its way around our boots. The plants seem to know their window of opportunity is short here in Vermont and they’ve all internalized the maxim of seizing the day. Never have I seen so much accomplished in such a short period of time by foliage.
In The Garden
I would say that things appear moderately less dire in our garden than I brooded last month. While it’s true that quite a few of our seeds didn’t germinate–and a number of our starts perished–a good deal appears to be thriving (or at least surviving… ). The kale is coming up in tiny kale-like clusters, the beans are climbing up the beanpole Mr. FW built for them, the sunflowers look hale and hearty, the rainbow chard is chardin’, the cilantro looks bushy, the peas are popping, the dill looks delish, the pumpkins are coming right along, the tomato and pepper plants are dandy, and my miracle arugula continues to sprout. Our asparagus finished its brief season in early June and is now growing into the tremendous miniature trees it puts forth in order to germinate for next year.
On the negative side, our basil is about the size of the head of a pin… I’ve never seen such miniature basil leaves! I have a feeling we will not be making pesto like we did with our excess basil last year. And the cucumbers seem a bit small for their age, but maybe they’ll catch a second wind and take off before the summer’s out.
As longtime readers know, we are the proud owners of an egregiously large amount of rhubarb. The previous owners of our homestead must’ve been serious rhubarb aficionados because they planted huge, healthy, plentiful rhubarb plants. Thank you, previous owners! Last summer I scrambled around harvesting rhubarb every few days in little bits.
I made rhubarb compote, I gave a lot of rhubarb away, and I chopped and froze a bunch (not to mention the baking of pies and breads and cakes… ). This summer, not wanting to devote quite so much of my life to rhubarb, I decided to do one HUGE harvest when the plants appeared at their zenith.
You’re only supposed to harvest 2/3 of each plant and so, following that guideline, I picked all my rhubarb in one go. This netted me an enormous pile and we decided to make a compote/jelly to can. This being our first foray into the world of canning, it was an experience that deserves a post all its own… I promise to regale you soon. The spoiler is that it did work and we now have 24 pint-sized mason jars of rhubarb compote in our basement!
Off The Homestead
Owing to the delightful visit from my in-laws in June, we spent a fair amount of time off the homestead. We took a family trip up to Montpelier–capital of Vermont–and enjoyed a free tour of the State House as well as a stroll around the adorable downtown. Another day trip took us north to Burlington, Vermont, one of the cutest towns in America, I’m sure of it.
We love living in a tiny state where everything is easily accessible and you don’t have to drive far in order to appreciate the charms of different locales. And as previously shared, June was also the scene of our ninth anniversary baby-free trip up to Portland, Maine!
In addition to the productions of the vegetable garden, the flowers on our property went wild in June. The yellow globe flowers completed their season and were quickly supplanted by our blooming lilac bushes and, my favorite flower of them all: peonies!
Although the focus of our labors are the vegetables, I do enjoy bringing fresh flowers into the house during these balmy summer months. There’s something to be said for appreciating a flower simply for its remarkable beauty.
Flowers also remind me of how quickly time passes–they bloom for a few weeks and then wither. Their entire purpose is lived out in less than a month. But despite their ephemeral nature, they live fearlessly and fully. A good lesson for me, I think, of how very much can be accomplished in how very little time.
Our apples trees now sport baby apples… as well as a moderate infestation of rose chafer beetles, which we’ll be working to ameliorate. A good reminder of the lack of perfection inherent to, well, life in general.
June was mostly temperate, as summers are wont to be out here, which means we’re able to skate by without air conditioning in our house. We did, however, have a few soaringly warm days, which sent us all outside in an effort to become the beneficiaries of slightly less hot breezes.
I hung the laundry out to dry and took my bread machine onto the porch in an effort to not heat up the house. We ate homemade hummus and fresh veggies for dinner, Frugal Hound panted incessantly, and Babywoods ran around feral, wearing only a diaper. We survived.
Trail Brush Hoggin’
This month, Mr. FW hooked the brush hog up to our tractor and cleared a few of our trails that’d become overcrowded with entrepreneurial flora. He’s not able to take the tractor up into the woods for our massive loop trail, but it can manage the path to our pond as well as our upper field. Since we hike daily, having these open foot paths through the woods is a high priority. It’s also another example of the benefits of owning one’s own farm equipment.
I discussed in my homestead one-year-review that we’ve had to spend a fair amount of money this first year in properly equipping our farmstead with the tools and machines we need, but every time we do something ourselves–and don’t have to hire someone–we’re reminded of the compounding gains of frugality and a DIY mentality.
Want More Fotos?!
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Onward to July frugal comrades!