Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Planning Planting

One blessing about living where I do is that I can plant all year round.  It also ups the pressure on me, because I feel like I need to plant all year round; there is so much to learn, so many things I do not know.  Since my climate is typical to Hawaii and not typical to North America, no book or website is going to quite right. 

What I would like to do is to have a continuous harvest of a variety of different vegetables and fruit, but also have a ton of some things all at once (like tomatoes and cucumbers) so I can put some things up. I would like to have enough of this continuous harvest to sell in a format similar to a CSA, because a little extra money is never a bad thing.  I would also like to be able to sell composted manure and seedlings.  Self-sustainability and food security on an island, particularly an island like Hawaii Island which is rich in agricultural resources, starts at home. 

Although I am an English teacher, I am always looking for away to get the issue of self-sustainability and food production into the classroom. (I wonder if I can somehow partner with the Hawaiian culture teachers who have that lovely mala out back???)  Although my land is far from any school, really, it would be lovely to be able to connect my farm to a school, somehow. 

I am not sure how much of that last bit is my wish/need to put my life back in balance.  It helps to have the kids and I at the same place, but I still feel a bifurcation between home and work.  The cusp times are the hardest when I feel like I have to worry about both places - in the mornings while I am getting ready for work or at the end of the school day when I am trying to wrap up the day and plan for all the things that need to be done when I get home. 

And then there are those ambitions:  a really BIG garden intensively planted, a cupboard full of my home-canned everything, boxes of produce to sell to people who enjoy local food, but don't have the time to go to the Farmer's Market, whole week's meals produced at home, and last, but not least, a family cow or two milk goats. 

When I realistically look at the demands of my job and my kids, it just feels very overwhelming.  I am gone for 12 hours a day and when I get home - I am tired.  Because we are committed to cutting down our enormous electric bill, the laundry just takes more planning, because we have less income and my pay schedule has changed, bills take more planning, because I am committed to cooking home made meals based as much as possible on things I grow or scratch make, meal planning and preparation takes a bit longer.  I rarely ride, which makes me feel guilty about the cost of the alfalfa cubes.  I spend about 10 minutes a night with the sheep, petting them like big wooly dogs, checking their condition and peeking at their eyelids, because darn it if sheep don't take a nose dive alarmingly fast if you don't keep up with them.... I give the dogs about two minutes of regard (usually thinking, "Wow, you seriously need a bath - what have you been rolling in?")  and then I am in the door, trying to figure out dinner, homework, and what stage the laundry is in (sopping wet, needs to be hung, half dry, stiff as a board dry and ready to fold), and what else it was I was supposed to do when I got home....  I know most working mothers have the same issue with time and compartmentalizing, but the farm is a whole level of planning and responsibilities on top of what my life used to be as a working mother. 

But hey, today I lent out two of my favorite young adult novels (both by the same author), helped a 10th grader do a good job on his homework, got a glimpse at two truly chicken-skin level senior thesis statements that amazed me with their depth of thought about the Hawaiian culture, had a great cross curricular discussion with my math counterpart, and rescued the rather depressing failure that Period One was turning into with a lively discussion about expectations and how the unexpected not only produces humor, but also reveals something about culture and society - not bad for a class that five minutes before was falling asleep.  Hopefully, going home will produce small joys, as well.

Watching Sweetpea chase chickens is always a good start.  I hope she doesn't grow out of it. 


Chicago Transplant said...

Hi NancyDe,

Thanks for the update!

There are times when I envy the life you live. I wish I could spend more time gardening, but it gets really difficult living in a third-floor apartment in Chicago in the middle of winter. Lucky you live Hawaii! (And luckily, I can spend three weeks visiting family and gardening on Maui during the winter break.)

I've been wondering, does anyone else in your family take as much pleasure in gardening, tending to the sheep or riding as much as you do? Are these things the ways in which you can revel and reflect in solitude? (Just being niele.)

I wonder if I would have the energy---if I could make the time to maintain a farm in addition to pursuing a teaching career.

All best wishes!

NancyDe said...

No one really likes the gardening part (including me) although I enjoy the satisfaction of eating my own vegetables, the starting of the garden is just so much work...my youngest likes the horses and the sheep, though.

Kelly said...

You have so much on your plate. You try to accomplish so much. I know the feeling and give you a pat on the back. Being a teacher is such a task. It too takes time and planning. I tend to let things like laundry slide. Then we need underwear. There just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day.

NancyDe said...

I used to let laundry slide, but am adjusting to the hanging drying thing - you have to plan 2-3 days ahead! I am sure it is good for me.