Carrots for Michaelmas: Musings of a Catholic Wife, Mother, and Occasional Redhead

I’ve Got Greens and the Terrible Threes Growing in My Garden

Here’s what’s been going on outdoors in our neck of the woods:

Lots of park dates and outside play for this little guy. Baby girl is content to just sleep in the baby wrap with Mama while Little Bear gets his wiggles out. Although the terrible threes subsided a little bit in the past couple of weeks (perhaps due to extra time with Daddy during our trip), they were back in full force yesterday. You know the mother you see at the park that is carrying an infant and attempting to wrangle a misbehaving toddler? A toddler that is screaming, I WON’T! I DON’T WANT TO! when she asks him to throw away his trash, then succumbs to sobs when a kind park user cleans it up in his stead and he screams, “BUT I WANTED TO THROW IT AWAY! GET IT OUT OF THE TRASH SO I CAN DO IT! *SOB*”? That mother? The one that makes you say to your friend, “she has HER hands full. A little discipline? I would be mortified if MY child ever behaved like that!” Well, I am that mother. Nice to meet you. I now sympathize with all mothers of children who misbehave in public.

After a full-fledged meltdown in the car and an early nap, Benjamin surprised me by saying, “Hey, Mama. You know what? I love you.” He doesn’t usually say that out of the blue. Made the difficult morning worth it. Thankfully, he’s been good as gold today.

Our vegetable garden is exploding with wonderful things!

Bright Light Swiss Chard has to be one of the prettiest things ever!

Tomato flowers already! I can’t wait to eat tomatoes with every meal. Daniel has grown so many seedlings of different varieties.

We’ve been eating all the lettuce we can handle. Picking lettuce for salad 10 minutes before dinner time is so fun.

Cabbages are looking lovely!

My farmer.

This was our St. Patrick’s Day feast. Guinness Beef Stew made by Daniel, Spring Salads from the garden with Strawberries, and amazing Sweet Potato Fries by our friend Kaitlin.

What are you growing in your garden these days?

The Bounty of the Earth
March 1, 2012, 5:15 pm
Filed under: Farm Life, Feasting, Green Living, Husband, Seasons

My husband is a farmer without a farm. So, he has transformed our front yard into vegetable-growing-egg-laying-awesomeness. I don’t remember the last time we had to get store-bought eggs. The ones our chickens Feven, Daughter, and Gas Can lay (chicken names compliments of 3-year-old Benjamin) are amazing.

Right now we’ve growing more delicious lettuce than we could ever eat, peas, green onions, and wonderful herbs: dill, rosemary, cilantro, parsley, thyme.

I made seriously good chicken salad last night and it made the last day of February feel like summer. Oh wait, we live in Florida. The last day of February DOES feel like summer.

And strawberries are super in season so now’s the time to eat some up!

Here’s one more shot of our owl friend who likes to hang around to give the chickens a little excitement for the day.

And for sticking around until the end of the post, a sweet baby picture to tide you over until next time.

Blueberries for Benjamin
June 18, 2011, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Children, Farm Life, Green Living, Tallahassee Places to Go/See/Eat

Look at that expression! My dad and I took Benjamin to a U-Pick-‘Em Organic Blueberry Farm this morning and I took this one just as Benjamin said, “Kurplink, Kurplank, Kurplunk” as his first few berries landed in his pail.

Doesn’t he look just like Daniel in this one? We started out just after 7am (which was no problem because my son wakes me with his dulcet tones every morning around 6:15am). Benjamin was very excited and taking everything very seriously.

Well…maybe not too seriously.

The blueberries were gorgeous, sweet, and cool, covered in morning dew.

After putting about 10 berries in his bucket, Benjamin decided a taste test was in order.

They must have passed the test because a whole lot of eating and very little picking followed.

(Evidence) Benjamin’s pail is the one on top.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B (AKA “The Tremendous Mouthful”)

But can you blame him? Look how beautiful they are! The flower was Benjamin’s addition: “I picked this pretty yellow flower for you, Mama.”

My 23.5 week pregnant tummy seemed rather in the way. I thought I should get at least one shot of Baby Girl since there are so many of Benjamin.

Grandaddy and Benjamin strike a pose as we head over to the scales to have our berries weighed.


Blueberry picking seems an appropriate activity during the last of the Summer Ember Days when we pause to thank God for the bounty of His Creation.

The Burrow
October 29, 2010, 2:55 pm
Filed under: Green Living

My dream house looks something like this low impact woodland home.

Or The Burrow from Harry Potter shown here:

picture from Harry Potter Film Wizardry featured at Mugglenet


Eating by Season: Why I Like Having a CSA Share
October 25, 2010, 12:53 pm
Filed under: Books, Community, Farm Life, Green Living, Seasons

I’ve had a few people ask about the CSA we have a share in, so I thought I’d post about it with some background on eating seasonal foods. In the past couple of years I’ve gained great appreciation for the rhythms of the Christian Year and the way that by observing it, the story of the Gospel unfolds. One way to participate in the Christian Year is to feast and fast according to the traditions of the Church which, obviously, involves food. Sharing food with family and friends should ideally be a daily reminder of sacred things: The Last Supper, the Holy Eucharist, and the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (all connected, of course). If we consider the partaking of food not as a mundane event but as a sacred rite, then what we eat, where it came from, and who grew it becomes important. Something we are trying to add to the rhythm of our lives is the practice of eating seasonal food. It seems elementary to eat according to what’s in season but I for one was completely unaware of when foods were in season–they’re available at the grocery store all year round!

A few books have been really helped me understand some of these food issues.

Wendell Berry’s collection of agrarian essays: The Art of the Commonplace has been changing my life. Please read ASAP.

Barbara Kingsolver’s farm memoir: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a wonderful introduction to eating local and seasonal foods. I don’t agree with every little thing she says but it’s a delightful read and will make you want to plant a garden immediately.

I’ve also got some cookbooks that are divided by season that have helped me start to get the hang of seasonal foods.

One is Simply in Season, in the same line as More with Less. Not all the recipes are great (some are a little bit bland), but it’s still incredibly helpful for foundational ideas for cooking with seasonal fruits and veggies.

And I adore Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila Latourrette’s cookbooks which I think I’ve raved about before.

Our friend Marianna gave us Twelve Months of Monastery Soups and I ordered and love Sacred Feasts. I want to get From a Monastery Kitchen and some of his other books. I have never made a recipe from “the monk” as Little Bear calls him that didn’t turn out delicious. These cookbooks join the efforts of observing the Christian Year and eating according to seasonal rhythms because the author cooks frugally with the contents of a monastery garden for monks who are observing the Christian Year.

Having local seasonal foods available through our own vegetable garden and a share in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) also has really forced me to eat according to season.

Benjamin loves harvesting okra.

We’re still eating okra from our prolific plants in our front yard and our fall/winter garden of greens, leeks, herbs, carrots, etc, is coming in nicely. We divide a full share (enough veggies for four people) from Orchard Pond Organics with my parents and pick it up once a week. This is what our half looked like last week:

We got Spinach, Bok Choy, Bell Peppers, Butternut Squash, Summer Squash, Zucchini, Eggplant, Radishes, Cucumbers, fresh Basil and Eggs. I’m starting to lose hope that we’ll be able to eat it all before Wednesday when we get our next share. My plan is to try to use up everything but the butternut since they will last a good while.

My brother and I took Benjamin to the farm tour this weekend to see Orchard Pond. He loved seeing the chickens that lay our eggs. I took some pics with Garrett’s phone but I’m not sure if we got any good ones. I’ll post them later.

Some September Reads…
September 21, 2010, 4:16 pm
Filed under: Books, Farm Life, Green Living

I’m still plugging away at Wendell Berry’s agrarian essays: The Art of the Commonplace. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to read them. Each one is brilliant.

“We need better government, no doubt about it. But we also need better minds, better friendships, better marriages, better communities. We need persons and households that do not have to wait upon organizations, but can make necessary changes in themselves, on their own…A person who undertakes to grow a garden at home, by practices that will preserve rather than exploit the economy of the soil, has set his mind decisively against what is wrong with us. He is helping himself in a way that dignifies him and that is rich in meaning and pleasure. But he is doing something else that is more important: he is making vital contact with the soil and the weather on which his life depends. He will no longer look upon rain as an impediment of traffic, or upon the sun as a holiday decoration. And his sense of man’s dependence on the world will have grown precise enough, one would hope, to be politically clarifying and useful.” – excerpt from “Think Little”

“…it seems likely that the identity crisis is a conventional illusion, one of the genres of self-indulgence. It can be an excuse for irresponsibility or a fashionable mode of self-dramatization. It is the easiest form of self-flattery—a way to construe procrastination as a virtue—based on the romantic assumption that “who I really am” is better in some fundamental way than the available evidence would suggest.

The fashionable cure for this condition, if I understand the lore of it correctly, has nothing to do with the assumption of responsibilities or the renewal of connections. The cure is “autonomy,” another illusory condition, suggesting that the self can be self-determining and independent without regard for any determining circumstance of any of the obvious dependences. This seems little more than a jargon term for indifference to the opinions and feelings of other people. There is, in practice, no such thing as autonomy. Practically, there is only a distinction between responsible and irresponsible dependence.”-excerpt from “The Body and the Earth”

I’m also reading Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes. After getting a Ph.D. from Cornell, Hayes and her husband moved back to a family farm to grow their own food and be self-sufficient. Katherine suggested it to me and I’m finding it fascinating. As she warned me, I don’t agree with all of it but I would heartily recommend it.

“Committing her life’s energy to an employer has not made a truly ‘liberated woman.’ A homemaker’s primary job is not to be a consumer. The choice to cultivate self-reliance, curb consumption and live well on less money drains only the extractive economy, but feeds a life-sustaining economy. The pursuit of affluence, the ennoblement of excessive work and hyper-individualism are not manifestations of the American dream, but causes of a national nightmare.”-Radical Homemakers

One of the themes I’ve picked up from this book is the modern disdain for and even fear of labor. Working to grow food and cook it yourself, for example, is considered drudgery while sitting in an office all day doing a job you don’t like so that you receive a paycheck and buy processed already-assembled meals is respectable. It reminded me of the labor of delivery. Women are taught to be afraid of the pain of birth and so opt for drugs or an elective c-section. They trade the sacred experience of birth for a less painful (or pain delayed) version of delivery in which they are less involved or even uninvolved. Obviously, some interventions during birth are truly necessary and done in order to save mother and baby from great danger but the fact that one in three women deliver by c-section makes it clear that ALL of these interventions are not needed. The value of labor and pain are diminished as is our experience of life and living.

Our House, Part III: The Vegetable Garden
September 16, 2010, 2:44 pm
Filed under: Children, Farm Life, Green Living, Our Home

While choosing a house, one of our main concerns was having enough yard space for a large vegetable garden. Growing our own food has become really important to us over the past three years and it is so fun to watch Little Bear be excited about the garden.

okra flower!

Daniel planted some okra, peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes right next to the house as a start and then added 8 raised beds. The okra has been prolific but the peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes haven’t produced very much since we planted so late and its been so very very hot.

(weird iphone pic)

The first three raised beds are starting to produce nicely with beans, squash, pumpkins, herbs, etc. Daniel put in the other five a couple of weeks ago and greens, leeks, carrots, and more are just beginning to come up.

Benjamin is obsessed with watering the garden.

The hose is the best thing of his life.