Morning on Whimsical Moon Farm

 

Now that Spring has finally claimed her season here in Central Indiana, morning has taken on a whole new vigor. “Lets make hay while the sun shines” is certainly fitting around these parts as the nearby farmers have their tractors revving at the crack of dawn tilling, fertilizing and, prepping the soil for corn and soybean. The farmers are about two weeks behind schedule so their activity has taken on a frantic pace. They will work well past sunset, their huge headlights on top of their tractors taking on an alien spaceship appearance. I half expect to wake up the next morning and see crop circles in the fields.

My morning always begins very early with the half-grown cats bounding from floor to chair to coffee table, taunting the St. Bernard while swiping at one or both of the Chihuahuas. It is feeding time on the farm.

A quick shake of the catfood bag, and all four cats come galloping into the laundry room, sliding to a halt in front of their food dishes. Then I check on the chicks scratching away on the floor of their make-shift brooder, refilling their chick feed and refreshing their water dispenser.

Mosey, the St. Bernard, herds me into the kitchen while the Chihuahuas dance between his legs and I get them fed and watered. Tossing a small handful of reptile sticks into the turtle tank, I get Kayla up for breakfast. She usually requests fruit smoothies, but this morning we decide on scrambled eggs with sauteed vegetables.

My chore list today consists of lighting our huge burn pile, clearing out more renegade mulberry saplings, picking up the last of fallen locust tree limbs from the last wind storm, and mulching the flower bed. I’m itching to get the garden area tilled, but I should probably wait at least another day or two for the soil to dry out. Our little front tine rototiller doesn’t chew through the dirt like Farmer Matt’s International tractor.

Besides the regular household chores, I check on the tomato and pepper seedlings under the grow light and determine they need more growing time before moving them to the cold frame to harden off. I get some sourdough bread rising on the stove top and take a gander out the kitchen window to see which birds are coming to the feeder. This mornig we have our male red-bellied woodpecker, several red-wing blackbirds, five goldfinches, a couple of nuthatch regulars, an unexpected blue jay, and a pair of cardinals, the male a vibrant red. We have a pair of turkey vultures nesting in our rustic old barn, but I don’t see them floating above the farm this morning. My roommate, Mindy notices a small bunny hopping across the back yard near the wood lot. Its tiny ears poking up out of the grass.

Mindy begins getting ready for work and I realize lunch is just around the corner.

It’s been a full and productive morning on the farm. The growing season is upon us and we can expect many more busy and hectic mornings to come.

Why an Herb Farm?

Last week I had an opportunity to catch up with a dear friend I’ve known since high school. We usually touch base on Christmas and birthdays, but my friend Pam (not her actual name) had called excited with the news of her forthcoming addition to her family. She was going to be a grandma and she was to the moon and back excited. I could hear the joyful exuberance in her voice and exclaimed how delighted I was for her.

She has been witness through many of my life incarnations including marriage, childbirth, having a developmentally delayed schizophrenic child, divorce, struggling single mom, and now farmer; and so we cheered her new life celebration and discussed my newest life stage.

Why an herb farmer?” she asked me, trying to understand what on earth I was doing.

I told her how I’ve always wanted to be a farmer, and she laughed agreeably reminding me how I always had my nose buried in Mother Earth News magazine or growing avocado trees from the pits in my windowsill, but she didn’t think I was actually serious.

She teased me about my “Lola Granola” status and then got back on the subject of her new grandbaby and when it was due to arrive. We ended our telephone conversation on a happy note, and promised we wouldn’t take so long to catch up again.

As I stood at the kitchen sink washing the dishes, I got to thinking about my friends question as I stared out the window overlooking our scrappy garden and wood lot. Why an herb farmer? Our farm’s four acres is tiny compared to the hundreds of acres of cultivated agri-corn and soybean that surround it. And that’s just how I like it. I prefer to focus on value rather than volume and find I enjoy the diversity of my small farm rather than a monoculture environment.

I’ve always known I wanted to become a farmer, and my vision has always included farmer as a lifestyle, not necessarily a job title. I formed an early relation with herbs, both growing them and using them for healing, cooking, and crafts. When I became an herbalist I recognized it as a calling, just like farming.

Combining my love of growing and using herbs along with growing vegetables, raising chickens and goats, and living sustainably just made sense to me. I didn’t see my farm and my herbs as being separate but more like a natural part of who I am.

As I consider the path my life has followed to where I am now, I realize that I have always been curious about alternative ways of doing things, whether learning herbal and homeopathic healing, birthing my last child at home with a midwife, or finding my spiritual relationship closely related to earth and nature, it makes perfect sense to me that I would grow an herb farm and call it Whimsical Moon. It’s foundation relies on alternative styles of farming (also known as traditional) including permaculture, sustainable soil practices, and raising animals naturally with plenty of space to thrive.

Herbs, as a market product have their own special niche and they appeal to a wide variety of needs and uses, including healing, crafting, and cooking. Working hard to make a living growing, gathering, and marketing herbs appeals to me on many levels. It fulfills my desire to live with the seasons and cycles of nature, to live as sustainably as possible, and to live with mindful intention focused towards healing and creativity.

So, why an herb farm? For me, it is a natural outgrowth of who I am and how I want to live my life. I enjoy the hard work of cultivating the herb gardens, learning the intricacies of marketing my herbal soaps, balms, and dream pillows, and writing about our experiences, both joyful and challenging.

Some of my favorite references include:

Carpenter, Jeff and Melanie. (2015) The Organic Medicinal Herb Farmer

Schafer, Peg. (2011) The Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm

Phillips, Nancy and Michael. (2001) The Herbalist’s Way

Soule, Deb. (2013) How to Move Like a Gardener

Peepers!

We have chickens! We brought home six baby chicks Saturday. Three Buff Orpingtons and three Ameraucanas.

I set up their brooder in a plastic tote tub with fresh shavings, chick feed, and a watering dispenser with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar added to help alleviate the possibility of disease.

I have a heat lamp hanging over them to keep their temperature around 80-90 degrees. We set their brooder inside our bathtub/shower to protect them from the rangy farm kittens that have grown into rangy farm beasts.

Mosey, our St. Bernard has taken it upon himself to stand guard and protect them as they cheep-cheep and forage around their tub.

In about five or six weeks they will be moving out into their Coopacabana  and should begin laying their eggs around five months.

Mornings begin early here on the farm and now we wake up to the chipper cheeping of the chicks. (I worked hard on that one!)

I hope y’all are having an egg-cellent, whimsical day!