Planting: the Ongoing Saga

Planting: the Ongoing Saga

The theme of my existence lately has been: “Planting: the Ongoing Saga”. In fact, it’s listed as such on my giant farm-chalkboard. With frequent rains, labor-intensive bed preparations, and the many other demands upon my time, planting has been a slow process this season. Farm-overwhelm has hit me right on schedule, and finances could be better. Yet, for the first time in three years I am not divided between two homes. The farm has my undivided attention, and I can just BE on the farm─and just be me. And I am really loving that.

planting: the ongoing saga
Planting: the Ongoing Saga

Part of the reason planting has been this on-going saga, aside from the fact that it’s just me, myself, and I doing all of the work, is because it’s just been so darn wet this season!

The Rains in Maine

It’s been an incredibly wet season here at Runamuk Acres. The rains in Maine are a blessing, though, after the last few years of drought-conditions we’ve experienced in this region. We’ve really needed the water, and I’m grateful for the weather. Personally, I really enjoy storms for the energy they bring. The scent that pervades the landscape after a cleansing rain is invigorating and refreshing. I’m thankful, too, for saving money on my water utility, and not having to water the garden has been a huge time saver.

The downside is that I am having to work harder to keep up with the weeds, work in the rain when possible, or wait for conditions to improve. After getting a late-start in the first place, having to prioritize the livestock over the garden earlier this season, any delay now is painful. Frost-free growing days are limited in this region.

Bed Preparations

Planting anything at all involves quite a bit of bed preparation. This includes clearing last year’s debris from the bed, or clearing the weeds from the plot with the stirrup hoe, followed by loosening the compacted soil with the broadfork. Then, I’ll go back over the bed with the hoe to work in any amendments we’ve top-dressed the bed with. Using a steel garden rake, I level and shape the bed, so that finally it is ready for planting into.

This is our first official year growing no-till. Up until last year, I was still rototilling the soil─trying to get ahead in establishing gardens here. Yet, it seemed like the tilling was causing more issues than it solved─stirring up weed-seeds, having to wait on availability of tractors and men for help with mechanized equipment. So, when my lawn tractor quit on me halfway through last season, I decided it was time to make the leap to no-till gardening.

Thankfully, the smaller Garden 1 is more polished and took less effort to reign in for the new season. In the larger Garden 2, though, I am still creating beds, and probably will continue to add beds for the next couple of years. It’s a lot of work for one solo lady-farmer, but slow and steady wins the race, lol. In a few more years, these gardens are going to be downright sexy!

Planting: the Ongoing Saga

Sexy lettuce!

As soon as I have a bed prepared, I am planting into it. In this way, I’ve planted out my onion starts, cabbage, broccoli, and lettuces. For the first time in 3 years I’ve planted carrots and beets, hoping I have a better handle now on the weed-pressure. The snap peas are well up and climbing permanent trellises I’ve installed, with radishes growing at their feet.

This season, I’m giving a three-sisters’ garden a shot, with the traditional corn, squash, and beans planted on a pretty primo section of the garden.

Every year we add another round of manure and compost to garden beds, and now, going into year five, you can really see the improvement in the soil. The tilth and moisture retention are so much better. Worms and other soil life are plentiful. Crops are healthier; the harvest more abundant. It’s really wonderful to see.

I’ve got zucchini, summer squash, and cucumbers in. Some of my tomatoes are in, but half still await their big day. Pumpkins and watermelons for my CSA have been planted. Yet to come: remaining tomato plants, peppers, beans, and even potatoes, which may not make it this year, sadly. We’ll see.

Funds for Winter Hay!

At the same time that all of that is going on, I am trying to secure my funds for this year’s winter hay. I buy it off the field at discount from Hyl-Tun Farm in Starks. Having my hay tucked up in the barn is so much easier for me than it would be to try trucking it one car-load at a time all winter. With the back seats down, I can fit 8 bales at a time in the back of my Subaru Forester, but since we go through 2 bales a day, that would only be enough for 4 days, and not really feasible. Plus I save a good chunk of money buying it off the field like that.

Truck for Sale! $1000

I’m not gonna lie. Finances have been a challenge here. Still trying to get back on my feet after last year’s pig-tastrophe, I’m pleased that I’ve been able to keep the lights on, the house heated, and everyone fed. The car is back on the road after the winter’s hiatus, but in desperate need of some TLC. Both dogs are due for vet visits, and Beebe desperately needs to be spayed before we end up with big Beebe-puppies romping around here.

There are days when I wonder if continuing to solo-farm isn’t just madness─some obsession of mine that I can’t let go of. But I don’t want to do anything else, either─and there’s my commitment to conservation to think about, too…

Breakups, though, are an opportunity for growth and change, I firmly believe. A chance to reinvent oneself. Make big changes in our life. Don’t think for one minute that I’m not making the most of that. I’ve got some irons in the fire that I’m not quite ready to share publicly yet.

sheep for sale
Finnsheep for Sale! DM fmi.

Meanwhile, to come up with the $2000 needed for the winter hay, I am selling my truck, “Big John”. A 2000 Chevy Silverado 1500 4×4 Long-Bed. He’s in fair condition for an old guy, but still has a lot of work left in him. For someone with the skills to make the necessary repairs, I think Big John will give them their money’s worth. I’m looking to get $1000 for the truck, which will give me half my hay-money.

NOTE: Here is the link to my marketplace listing. Please contact the farm with inquiries.

The other half I’m hoping will come from the sale of half a dozen sheep. Ideally they would contribute something to their own upkeep, aside from the service they provide in maintaining the field. I’ve posted listings on Craigslist, Uncle Henry’s, and Facebook marketplace, and had a few nibbles, but so far no takers.

I still have 6-weeks, though, to come up with the funds, so I’m optimistic it’ll work out. You can help me out just by spreading the word, if you’re a local reader and happen to know someone who might be interested in either the truck, or a few sweet sheep.

Just Being

At this point in my life, I’ve lost faith in the honor, valor, and reliability of men, and I’ve decided to take a break from relationships. I guess that’s what all my talk of “I’ll do it with or without a man” really comes down to… Disappointment.

Loving Me Right; Pierre Alex Jeanty
Poetry by Pierre Alex Jeanty.

All too often people speak without intention. They mean well in the moment, but lack the follow through. For me, that’s a big deal. I’m a very linear thinker, and very literal. I feel guilty when I can’t fulfill promises, so I’m careful where and when I make them. This isn’t strictly a guy-thing, so please don’t think I’m some man-hating she-b*tch─I’ve seen it across the board. It seems to be a societal thing, more prevalent in this modern day era than it once was.

Perhaps I am living in the past─a social throw-back to yester-year….

At any rate, I am only too happy to hold onto those old-school ways. If only to stand as a living example to others, proving that we don’t have to drink the kool-aid. We don’t have to adhere to die-cut standards, work 40-hour work-weeks for “the Man” for a few years’ retirement before we die. We certainly don’t have to drown ourselves in stuff and debt─entire lives lost within our cell-phones. We don’t have to be reliant on industry for every little thing. We don’t have to believe what the corporations want us to think─that we’re not capable of producing. They want us to be dependent on them─for food, household necessities, medicine─because that’s how they make their money!

just being
Just being.

As much as it hurts to let Deron go, just being back on the farm full-time has been wonderful─a relief really. Farm-work is never-ending, and good for the soul, too, so I have plenty to keep me busy. I find contentment in my work. Practicing self-love, I am doing nice things for myself. I take myself out on occasion. On the weekends when BraeTek is gone to his father’s, I take myself for walks in the woods, make myself special meals, and watch lame movies only I like.

With plenty of time for self-reflection, I’ve come up with a plan for some big life-adjustments. Those changes are already underway, new habits being practiced, even if I am not yet ready to tell you what they are. Just know that for the first time in my (nearly) 43 years, I am being fully and unapologetically me, savoring the work that I have been called to, and moving on as best I can. Everything else will come in time.

Thank you for following along with the story of this lady-farmer! It truly is a privilege to live this life, serve my family and community, and protect wildlife through agricultural conservation. Check back soon for more updates from the farm, and be sure to follow @RunamukAcres on Instagram or Facebook! Much love to you and yours, my friends!

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Runamuk Acres Conservation Farm