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homestead happenings: spring days

2013 May 2
by Rachel Turiel

Spring days, 2013:

Me: Wake up. Shuttle seven tween chickens outside in laundry basket (clean up inevitable poop from two minute commute). Water hundreds of seedlings and their hundreds of shirker brother and sister seeds who remain uncooperatively underground. Tend the too-bereft-to-grow grass in our sparse and puny “lawn,” while attempting to remove clumps of uninvited grass spearing robustly out of garden beds. Develop new parenting skill: hearing the children playing outside when I can no longer see them. Tell Dan that tonight we really need to get the kids to bed early, really. Shuttle seven tween chickens back inside in laundry basket at night.

Rose: Count days until 6th birthday. Invent deviant games involving chickens. Throw self at Mama for slowdance when Rolling Stones sing Wild Horses, believing song is actually about horses.

hh - spring5

The Roseness of Rose.

hh - spring8

Deviant chicken game: chicken zipline.

Col: Build things out of things. Lose important stuff (socks, water bottle, sun hat), find even more important stuff (bottle cap, dead beetle, beaver-gnawed stick).

Dan: Find cast off elk antlers on weekly hikes. Bring kids bonus owl pellets from hike, announcing gleefully: they were in the exact same place as last year’s owl pellets! Watch basketball on computer at night. Tell kids in morning that our team (Denver) beat Baba’s team (SF). Not laugh too hard when Rose asks: was Baba playing? Call wife from work to utter lascivious comments.

hh - spring6

Me: Try to remember to ask Dan about hikes and the antlers he finds (though he doesn’t need to share his stories, and will often tell me offhandedly, after dinner, after getting kids to bed how he tracked a mountain lion to 30 yards away. Oh that). Trip over boat Col is making from rubber bands and sticks. Scoop Rosie into arms and dance to Wild Horses, feel her legs clamp around me. Know I am luckiest Mama alive.

On the homestead:

:: The tomato infirmary. At least 1/4 of my tomatoes have what I’ve diagnosed as curly top virus, and more are falling everyday. I’ve been quarantining them and practicing saying, “I might not have any tomatoes this year, and that’s okay.” So far I sound as convincing as Richard Nixon circa 1973.

hh - spring7

:: After some tricky business involving hurt feelings and exclusivity we took a day to study Emotional Intelligence in Rose’s homeschool co-op. Wow. The beautiful thing is kids have way fewer layers of defense built up than adults. The hard thing is that we’re all wired for self-protection, which often translates to blaming others, i.e.: “you’re mean, you’re not my friend anymore!” instead of “I’m hurt and sad, and I don’t like feeling this way.”

The kids acted out scenarios in which 2 kids are playing and 1 kid gets left out. Everyone wanted a turn to be the left-out kid who then speaks up and says, “I’m feeling hurt and sad. I want to have fun with friends too.”

hh - spring2

Left-out child scenario, take 3.

We also used this matching game, Feeleez, to simply name feelings. The kids really gravitated towards “happy” and “sad,” but eventually we got to: disappointed, frustrated, scared, lonely. Marshall Rosenberg’s books about Non Violent Communication were helpful for me when preparing to teach. Hint (as per Rosenberg): if you say, “I’m feeling that….” this is not a feeling.

hh -spring

The 4 kids also decided that it was not OK to leave anyone out during homeschool co-op. If 2 people want to play together alone, they need to make a playdate. And then they went back to status quo: “Okay, lets say that we were sisters and our mother died.” “Yeah, and then we decide to move to Africa.” “Yeah, and I only have one arm.”

:: Col got married last Monday. He wore an off the shoulder black cape and his bride (who later whispered to Rose, “that was so embarrassing”) carried a bouquet of grass, comfrey, geranium and kale.

hh - spring3

We babysit three sisters every other Monday, and bless Col’s sweet little heart, he’s always game for their plans.

:: Homeschool engineering, or physics, or something.

hh - spring9

Pour the water in one end of the 20-ft, semi-buried pipe…

And create on the other end, inadvertently…a fountain pool for chickens!

Which is to say, if you’re looking for Col this summer, check the dirt pile.

I’m halfway through this book, which is so good and so long and seems longer because I had to put it aside to read this book, which came in via library request, and is the very definition of psychological thriller and I loved it, even if I felt like I needed a shower after finishing it.

The kids and I recently finished Under Wildwood (the sequel to Wildwood), which we all loved so much that when the kids got crabby with each other I could often stop the downward spiral by saying, “hey! do you think Prue and Curtis will ever get back home?” Now we’re reading a new Will Hobbs book, who is master of the coming of age adventure story.

What are you reading and planting and singing, dear people?



Definitely not about wild horses.

40 Responses leave one →
  1. May 2, 2013

    Love that Rose doesn’t match her socks. That’s a current trend with my little one’s too. Just read The 12 Tribes of Hattie. So so good! I want to read Gone Girl but I’m resisting – don’t typically like psych. thrillers, but I’ve yet to hear one bad review. Maybe. Hope the sun is shinning and the days are warming up for you guys. We had another 6 inches of snow yesterday. Of course I would prefer rain at this point, but as it melts today everything is super green, so that’s always good! x

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      May 2, 2013

      Katie – we just read about your bonus snow in the paper this morning. Jealous. Are you inching up close to average snowpack? Rose and Col wear mismatched socks because, goddamnit, we have huge sock problems, AKA disappearing, shrinking, holey, lost socks. This morning Rose put on one white and one light pink sock and said: “Hey, they almost match!”

  2. May 2, 2013

    oh my god, i’m melted from handsome in pink and col’s matrimony, and tie dyed watermelon and that chicken gondola lift. i buy it, you are def one lucky mama!

    we are

    reading: every book in the moomin series
    planting: hopes and dreams and inspirations for moving
    singing: kate wolf and harry nielson (fern is obsessed with “the point”…i bet col and rose might love it!)

    much love to you rachel and wishes for those shy seeds to become intrepid sun seekers.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      May 2, 2013

      Handsome in Pink! My new sponsor, more on that soon.

      Those moomin books made me laugh outloud.

      Excited about your hopes and dreams and inspirations for moving.


  3. David permalink
    May 2, 2013

    I’d like to confess that in 1995 I traced my right hand with my middle finger tucked down (like it was missing) on the inside of bathroom stall door at Carvers and wrote under it, “Let’s do some living, after we die.”

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      May 2, 2013

      And Carvers had the nerve to remodel over that!?!

  4. Molly permalink
    May 2, 2013

    I have a six pack of patio tomatoes (about 4 or 5 inches tall, sturdy) trying to get (bottom leaves yellowing) by in their original packaging of my rear windowsill. Come and rescue half of them for a better home, at your leisure.

    We have some herbs sprouting, some green onions, some microgreens. Last year, I got a half dozen plants from friends and neighbors which I thought I’d really killed due to not watering, in their pots. But I didn’t – they are coming back. So I put them in the ground and have periodically watered. Chives, rhubarb, a little purple flower, and some other kind of flowering perennial. This weekend I’m really going to get some dirt to mix with the horsepoop in my raised beds, and I’ll put some spinach in there, or something like that.

    I’m harvesting dandelion greens, and have moved beyond smoothies to sautees. With mushrooms, and thinking of goat cheese and eggs. I made a convert out of a friend who recently discovered dumpster diving – this is the dumpster diving of gardening.

    I am reading Anne Lamott’s Some Assembly Required, and my girl and I are listening to an audio book in lieu of morning video. I just ordered a short stack of feminist books for little girls, instead of attending The Little Mermaid’s local live production, which I had mixed feelings about. I ordered things like “Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women,” Pippi Longstocking, Adventure Annie, and Harriet the Spy. I don’t usually order new books, but something had to be done, for some reason.

    We are singing “Starfish and Coffee” by Prince. Lyrics here:

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      May 2, 2013

      Rose recently brought home Little Mermaid from the library and I dutifully read it to her while choking on my own disgust. The mermaid gives up her voice so she can go on land and find a man she is in love with, a man who she met for 2 minutes. We had a big discussion after that.

      I loved Harriet the Spy as a kid. I think ordering new books are sometimes in order.

      Also, I would take half of your tomatoes, I could repot all six for us in some luscious composty soil and maybe you could keep them at your house for another few weeks, as my poor greenhouse seems to be infected with that virus.

  5. Amy permalink
    May 2, 2013

    Chicken zip line!!? Rose is my spirit animal. I love her playful ingenuity!!

  6. Emily permalink
    May 2, 2013

    I don’t know anything about that book you just got from the library, but Ahab’s Wife is better. ;>)

    I recently finished Cloud Atlas, for myself. The kids and I are in the midst of the Wolves of Willoughby Chase series. Somewhere around the middle I guess, it’s a bit hazy. Which is not to say that I wouldn’t recommend it. They are quite good.

    I’ve been moving perennials around in the garden. I once read that this is like room redecorating for gardeners. I’m thinking moving phlox is like curtains, frankly. I’m ready for the meaty work of vegetable growing, but I’m determined to have the bloody flower beds done so I can ignore them for a few more years.

    I’m sorry about your tomatoes. :>( very sorry.

  7. Peggy permalink
    May 2, 2013

    Oooh – I loved Gone Girl. Crazy book, right? Had me guessing the whole time, and left me needing to re-read the last 10 pages or so because I couldn’t grasp what I had just read! Love your descriptions of your days – they sound similar to ours….on many levels, although we don’t have baby chicks running around! I did love and agree with one of your recent posts how you said that Dan thanks you – even for the ordinary, every day things you do – and how it’s important. Chris does the same and I would always tell him not to thank me for just doing what needs to be done – but you are right- we do need to hear it….so now I say “you’re welcome!”.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      May 2, 2013

      That makes me happy to know Chris is full of gratitude for you, and shares it!

  8. Ellie permalink
    May 2, 2013

    I love the chicken Zip Line! How hilarious.
    Normally, I am jealous of people who have time to read “new” books during the school year, but I am teaching Wuthering Heights to my junior students this week, which happens to be one of my favorite books of all time…if ever you need a dark, depressing read, this is your book.
    Here’s hoping your tomatoes make it….

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      May 2, 2013

      Ellie, reading is only my 2nd favorite thing to do after breathing, so it’s not exactly like I make time for it, it’s more like it keeps me alive. :)

  9. May 2, 2013

    Oh jesus there are a lot of things I like about this post:
    -off the shoulder black cape
    -Yeah, and I only have one arm.
    – chicken zipline
    – lascivious comments to wife
    – owl pellets
    …just to name a few.

    Also I always jump from your blog to the library webpage and put whatever books you mention on hold because I always like them.

    Gone Girl = scrub yourself vigorously and constantly while reading! Agreed.

    We are listening to Never Cry Wolf, reading Lost in the Barrens, just finished Owls in the Family, and I am personally reading Walking on the Land, which are ALL by Farley Mowat and make me see every moving creature as a possible food source.


  10. andrea permalink
    May 2, 2013

    My heart is now squished inside a chicken zipline/half buried pipe sandwich.

  11. Rachel Kohnen permalink
    May 2, 2013

    The last line of Gone Girl still haunts me.
    I am reading Amy Tan’s “Saving Fish from Drowning.” I must be on a Chinese author kick because it is my fourth in 4 weeks.
    I am waiting for my lazy spinach and lettuce and mache to germinate.
    I was gleefully happy on Monday to unload a whole wagon of composted horse manure. Crazy looking forward to a bountiful garden.
    So how would you ask a 20-month how they are feeling when they start scratching faces and pulling hair? Blerg. I am singing “I know you are upset but you can’t hurt me (or Lucy or Ian). Be gentle” I don’t have a rash…she is just crazy quick on those fingernails to my cheek!!
    I am also crazy jealous of homeschool/send-to-school system that you have. Almost enough to move back…

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      May 2, 2013

      You could try giving her some feeling options, like: “Oh sweetie, are you feeling angry with Mama right now?” or “You are mad that you didn’t get to eat all of your sister’s cake, and now you want to hurt her, huh? We don’t hurt each other in this family but we could run really fast down that hill together, or go get another snack, or throw this ball at the wall.”

  12. May 2, 2013

    Chicken zipline… I couldn’t stop giggling.

    Reading: A Walk in the Woods, which makes me want to get out of Florida ASAP.

    Planting: Tomatoes– although I think mine have that curly tomato thing going on. And the birds keep eating them. Jalapeños and peppers are going strong!

    Listening- Justin Timberlake. Heck yes. And the Cave Singers.

    I love peeking in on your life, and dream of raising beautiful, inquisitive children like your own one day. Thanks for writing! :)

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      May 2, 2013

      I loved Walk in the Woods. Love that they ate so many snickers and were fairly grumpy the whole time.

  13. Claire permalink
    May 2, 2013

    The chicken zipline is brilliant! Have not planted anything yet! Agghhh. Will have to do all starts. One of favorite books ever is Will Hobbs’ Kokopelli’s Flute. Zoë loved it as well.

    Sorry we didn’t hang out this evening! But hope to see you at Stephanie’s this Saturday.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      May 3, 2013

      Kokopelli’s Flute was the first book we ever read by him, now we’re on our 5th!

  14. Chi-An permalink
    May 2, 2013

    Planting: Got a late start this spring, just planted carrots, snap peas, pumpkins, and sunflower seeds harvested from my kids’ school. We’re trying potatoes this year. Theo just transplanted some tiny succulents we received as party favors into a larger pan, he is intent on nurturing a succulent garden in his room.

    Reading: I just finished reading _Far From the Tree_ by Andrew Solomon, a monumental book (1000 pages) that I loved. It was stupendous and incredibly thought-provoking. I have to admit that I gave up on _Gone Girl_ about 30 pages in- I was just tired of reading about people being unkind to one another, and it felt like it was just going to get worse. Theo has been reading Simpsons comic books, Miranda is hopping between _Little House on the Prairie_ and Ivy + Bean books. Hubby has been trying to slog through _A Dance with Dragons_ (5th book in the “Song of Fire & Ice”, aka Game of Thrones series) for about… um… 6 months.

    Singing: I’ve had Coldplay’s “Viva la vida” stuck in my head for over two days now, and Theo sings the Minecraft version of it, which is not helping. Miranda insists that she loves a song she learned in choir today, only she doesn’t remember the words or the tune or the title. And we are all singing a song of warm weather, long days, and cold popsicles as we enjoy our mini-heat wave.

  15. lau permalink
    May 3, 2013

    chicken ziplines and water fountain for chickens…..they are the best!
    Gone Girl ….it was not what I expected at all and was so good.
    Reading is 2nd to breathing for me as well. I am pretty sure you have probably read Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I am currently reading Out there (in the wild in a wired age) by Ted Kerasote. It is not new at all but if you haven’t read it already I think you would enjoy it. (so would u MB :D )

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      May 3, 2013

      I like Ted Kerasote. Will check that out.

  16. Melissa permalink
    May 3, 2013

    we have sprouts popping up in our garden from seeds we planted. also, our cat may or may not be using the garden bed for a litter box. what to do??? chicken wire?

    avi and leeor just finished the Sand Witch and continue to delve into the captain underpants series (god help us) while i am reading daily rituals, mason currey’s gathered clips of zillions of great artists/thinkers/writers/dancers daily routines. so inspiring!

    and i just talked to pregnant and pp teens yesterday at their high school (be still my heart, and they could benefit from that feeleez game, for sure. still processing the small group time (in which a 15 told me about her heroin addiction and her baby’s removal from her care and i could hardly blink before the next girl chimed in).

    looking forward to the weekend. mama needs a rest. ps. i’m on my way to committing (: i had pay pal open this week and then chickened out (no pun intended!) . . .

  17. Melissa permalink
    May 3, 2013

    lost track of all the parentheses in that rambly comment there, which says more about how i feel today than anything else!

  18. May 3, 2013

    Wow! Wedding and emotional intelligence and antlers! Sounds fun!

    Reading: I just finished David Sedaris’s “When You Are Engulfed in Flames” (I know, I’m like two books behind his output, but so hilarious), Jennifer Haigh’s “The Condition,” Sarah Braunstein’s “The Sweet Relief of Missing Children,” and “Before They’re Gone” by Michael Lanza. Now I’m reading “Daddy Longlegs: The Natural Education of a Father” by John Price.

    I’m not the planter, but this morning I spied garlic spikes (I did plant those last fall), and lots of pea seedlings and greens poking up in our garden.

  19. May 3, 2013

    i love rose’s mismatched socks and that you titled it, “the roseness of rose.” oh my. and col’s losses and then oh so important discoveries…balance in a child’s life is so important. and dan’s lascivious phone calls… hee hee :)

  20. May 3, 2013

    reading: people’s MINDS, but also about to start a book about Dude who tight-roped b/t the two high-rise buildings in the 70’s (the title escapes me.)

    planting: very late greens, some onions, some radishes and carrots and potatoes, some new creative intentions and ideas.

    singing: little made up tunes, lots of Ani Difranco and the “OH HELL YES I GOT THIS SHIZZLE DON’T YOU EVEN STRESS, GIRLFRIEND” hymn of growth and desperation.

    also – col’s wedding pic? made me cry. like, i got salt on my tongue and a sweet ache in my heart from thinking of that boy turned man turned husband.

  21. May 4, 2013

    I’ve been dying to talk about Gone Girl but no one I know has read it.
    Reading: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, having loved Bel Canto. Just finished reading When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit with my big girls, which is wonderful and leads to some very interesting and hard discussions, and the third Ramona book with my little girls.
    Singing: Happy Birthday rather a lot lately.
    Planting: Seeds of doubt, mostly (and trying to weed them out regularly).

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      May 7, 2013

      Sounds like anyone reading Gone Girl needs a small support group. :)

  22. May 4, 2013

    I read Gone Girl a few months ago and pretty much neglected my kids for three days while I inhaled it. So weird but man was it good!

  23. May 5, 2013

    Oh My! I just “found” you about a month ago and your writing is so awesome. I am an unschooling mom on the road and we used to have a little homestead and can relate to so much of what you write. Thanks for so much rawness and beauty!

  24. Emmanuelle permalink
    May 6, 2013

    I think this is the tenth time I read this post – still grinning from ear to ear.

    It makes me want to be a Dandelion chicken in your homestead, just for the pleasure of witnessing (and hearing) it all.


  25. May 6, 2013

    lascivious is one of my favorite words.

    reading: teach your own by john holt.
    singing: songs from south pacific, the play rich just finished performing in. “i’m in love with a wonderful guy” and “nothing like a dame”. they are pretty darn catchy tunes.
    planting: rhubarb, raspberry castoffs from a friend, greens greens greens. potatoes. leeks. transplanting the swath of celery seedlings that volunteered under the blueberries, where i had laid down the bolted stalks as mulch. playing to our strengths here in the coastal realm- holding myself back from planting peppers too early. our tomatoes are wee tiny babies compared to yours, and i am sorry for your loss. also planting: johnny jump ups in rich’s old popcorn popper. ps i have 6512 hollyhocks with nice big leaves- hoping for blooms this year!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      May 6, 2013

      mb: love “playing to our strengths here in the coastal realm.” Yes!
      Also, some broccoli stalks I left behind as mulchy neglect, are sprouting! Crazy!
      And…yes, I believe this will be the year of the hollyhock blooms! So excited! (yes, I used 5 exclamation points in this post)! (okay, 6).

  26. Angela permalink
    May 13, 2013

    Ahab’s Wife is one of my VERY favorite books. Though I have to admit, I wouldn’t mind if it were twice as long! (Moby Dick also tops my book list, and she does SUCH a good job weaving in that story into her book that it’s just that much better.)

  27. June 4, 2013

    Taking some time to catch up on your blog, which is lovely. There’s so much that I love in this post. Those Feelez match game tiles look kind of hilarious and so spot on. I’ll have to check out Wildwood and Under Wildwood. And, I know this isn’t the point of the picture of your kitchen/dining room, but I *love* how much light you have in there and how open it is even though I know how small you’ve said it is.

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