winter “homestead”

I had pictures, but I accidentally deleted them. Damn. So I’ll have to give you a picture in words. I drove up to the land yesterday afternoon, my tiny car packed with stuff – spade, fork, picnic, tent (just in case I felt the urge to stay), wine to celebrate the occasion. We’ve had heavy rain the last couple of days, so I was interested to see what state the earth was in after that. The track from the road to the homestead was quite muddy – lots of lichens too, which I remember from earlier visits, but also small saplings growing up in the middle of it. Those I hadn’t noticed back in November, but I guess they were starting then. I’ll have to take them out soon (loppers are on the list).

When I walked into the homestead area, it was the bleakest I’ve seen it yet. The tall plants, all vibrant greens and yellows, that were filling it in September have all died back now; just the odd dry stalk standing up here and there. But as I looked more carefully, there’s life springing up in places. The wild garlic (or are they wild onions?) are growing in little clumps on the south side of the ‘stead, and what I take to be wildflower bulbs have pushed up bunches of leaves in the area where the track opens out into the farmstead. I look forward to seeing what they are when I go back, but already I think these are the first signs of spring!

My first walk around the homestead made me realize how much there is to do. It was warm enough to sit in the sun, but I couldn’t be still for very long. I measured the site, and reckon that the whole area could be comfortably enclosed by a 150′ x 150’ deer fence. A half acre of fencing might be affordable, and it’s a large enough perimeter, so I’m hoping I won’t actually notice it’s there. The earth was still soft and muddy on the north side of the old cow barn, probably because that side is shadier. I couldn’t decide where to put the veg beds on this first viewing, but I think I *will* use the three old tractor tyres for raised beds. I suppose my next job, while I’m saving up for the deer fence, will be to start clearing some ground. I left my new spade and fork, covered with an old grain sack, in the only old building that still has some kind of roof.

I did a couple of other things before heading home again. The first was to circle round the site a few times (well, three to be precise) picking up any rubbish. There wasn’t much, only about a carrier bag’s worth of old bottles and bits of plastic. Then I lit a candle where those spring flowers are just coming up, took out some little cakes I’d brought, poured a glass of wine, and celebrated Imbolc in a quiet, small way. Here’s to new beginnings, and a peaceful, fruitful, joyful new year!

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