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The Summer of my Discontent

December 31st, 2009

This has been a rough summer here at Chiot’s Run. We’ve been super busy with our business, which is good for the checkbook, bad for the gardens. Because we’re so busy we’ve had less time to work outside than we would have liked. We had a list of projects we wanted to complete and they’re all still on the list.
buildling_rock_wall_edging
I also had to deal with physical problem, so after months of pain, months of therapy and months of strict limitations on my physical activity, the gardens began showing a little neglect. My front flowerbeds remain only partially edged in rock walls.
digging
That new flowerbed I dug in the spring still lies fallow, at least I planted some crimson clover in it to improve the soil. I wanted to get a fall cover crop growing, but was not allowed to turn the soil. So instead I spent the summer doing this, resting.
resting_while_gardening
I did spend some time this spring building a lovely wall around my small cherry tree. A month or two later, my Dr said “no more heavy lifting for 3-4 months and only moderate lifting for a few months after that”.
building_a_rock_wall
rock_wall_edging
So, instead of spending lots of time building up the small retaining walls by the driveway and elsewhere the rocks sit at the edge of the driveway waiting for their final destination.
large_rocks
Since heavy lifting was out, watering by hand was out of the question. Mr Chiots installed a pump so I could use the rain water from my barrel system with the hose & sprinkler.
pump_lever
I also ended up with plants I didn’t get planted, digging holes was also not allowed. I had trouble weeding, too much bending over caused too much pain. It wasn’t until late this fall that I have been able to get out and put any amount of time in. I got a few things planted before the ground froze, I was at least able to weed the flowerbeds before the first frost. I’m finally on the mend and building up my strength once again. I love a good challenge though, so I’ll spend all winter to getting ready for spring gardening season.
running_shoestreadmill
I laced up my running shoes last week for the first time in over a year (injury happened towards the end of Oct in 2008, last day running was the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day 2008). I hopped on my trusty treadmill and started the slow climb back to running races and serious gardening. It will be a month or two until I’m able to run outside, perfect timing since I love running in the cold snowy weather. Hopefully by spring gardening season I’ll be ready to finish all those rock walls and turn all that soil.
shovel_in_flowerbed
All was not lost this summer, I could have spent the summer upset since I couldn’t do much, but instead I learned to love the process of gardening. It’s not a race to get things looking great right away. Gardening takes time, there are seasons involved, times for work and times for rest. 2009 happened to be a year of rest for me. I call it “The Summer of my Discontent”, but in a way I learned to be content. I’m not one to sit around and relax, but I was forced to do so this summer and learned the value of it. Hopefully in coming years I’ll be able to take time to relax and enjoy the fruits of my labor instead of working all the time.
pouring_champagne
Here’s to the tough times, these are the times we learn the most about ourselves and grow the most as person. I’m looking forward to 2010 to see what it has in store for us here at Chiot’s Run.

How you you summarize your 2009 gardening year?

Let Your Voice be Heard

December 30th, 2009

I think it’s important to be informed about what’s going on in government. I find myself writing notes to Congressman on issues I feel strongly about. I try to stay on top of food and agricultural legislation. It is hard to find the time to keep up on such things, but since I have the freedom to do so I think it’s important to make the time.

I read on Civil Eats a week or two ago about Monsanto’s GE (genetically engineered) alfalfa. I don’t know about you but the dominance of GE crops is of great concern to me. I’m especially worried since there’s not required labeling for them so we can choose products to eat that don’t contain GE ingredients. I don’t want to consume GE products because of the lack of testing, but they are not labeled, I have to shun pretty much all processed food.

Since I know a lot of you are also concerned about the prevalence of GE crops, especially in the food system I thought I’d share this article from Civil Eats:


Beginning in 2006, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) took legal action against the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) illegal approval of Monsanto’s genetically engineered (GE) Roundup Ready alfalfa. The federal courts agreed and banned GE alfalfa until the USDA fully analyzed the impacts of the plant on the environment, farmers, and the public in an environmental impacts statement (EIS).

USDA released its draft EIS on December 14, 2009. A 60-day comment period is now open until February 16, 2010. CFS has begun analyzing the EIS and it is clear that the USDA has not taken the concerns of non-GE alfalfa farmers, or organic dairy farmers seriously, for example, having dismissed the fact that contamination will threaten export markets and domestic organic markets. You can review the EIS here and supplemental documents here.

This is the first time the USDA has prepared an EIS for any GE crop and therefore will have broad implications for all transgenic crops, and its failure to address the environmental and related economic impacts of GE alfalfa will have far-reaching consequences. CFS is spearheading a campaign to make sure all affected parties know and are involved in the public process and have the opportunity to comment.

This is a call to action to all who have concerns about the environmental and economic consequences of uncontrolled nation-wide growth of GE alfalfa, to all who believe in the public’s right to choose to eat non-GE food and the farmer’s right to sow the crop of his or her choice, and to those who care about the impacts of pesticides and invasive weeds on biodiversity and endangered species.

Farmers, dairy producers, scientists, public interest organizations, and all concerned citizenry must make sure their voices are heard in this important process. At this stage, the most critical thing anyone can do is provide public comments indicating their concerns with GE Roundup Ready Alfalfa.

In particular, the EIS dismisses the significance that GE alfalfa will broadly contaminate non-GE alfalfa. Opinions, studies (published or unpublished), anecdotal stories, and testing data about how contamination will occur and /or demonstrating that contamination has in fact occurred are critical.

The EIS also dismisses the significant adverse economic effects that GE contamination will have on non-GE conventional alfalfa seed or hay growers (e.g., export markets), or dairy production that rely on non-GE and organic alfalfa hay for forage. Studies (published or unpublished), anecdotal stories, and economic analysis showing harm through contamination is essential, especially markets that are GE sensitive or reject GE outright.

Submit your comments to USDA APHIS No Later Than February 16, 2009.

December 24th, 2009 By Zelig Golden

Since this is one of the first times we’ve had a chance to actually voice our concerns directly about the GE crops I’d like to encourage everyone to get involved. Let the powers that be know that there are a lot of concerned citizens that don’t want GE crops contaminating our farmland, organic crops, and our food system. GE alfalfa would further contaminate our food system even more, think about all the animals that are fed hay. Head on over to regulations.gov to let your voice be heard!

If you’d like to stay on top of food and agricultural issues the Center for Food Safety is a great place to go. Here’s their article about GE Alfalfa.

Let the Light In

December 29th, 2009

We love having our windows open in the spring/summer/fall, so we keep screen in them. They’re wonderful for keeping bugs out, but they do take away some of the light that would shine through the window.

Usually Mr Chiots and I take the screens out of the windows when the weather turns too cold to keep the windows open. I spend the afternoon cleaning all the windows so that as much light as possible comes through the windows during those cold, dark winter months. This year we got busy and forgot to take them out until last week.

I don’t know if you can tell in this photo, but the screen was left in on the left window and taken out on the right. It does make a huge difference (hard to capture). It’s kind of cold, but the first warm sunny day above freezing we have I’ll be out washing windows to make it even brighter inside. The screens are up in the attic, they’ll be washed next spring before going back in the windows.

Do you take the screens out of your windows or leave them in?

Quote of the Day: Harlan Miller

December 28th, 2009

I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.

~Harlan Miller


I’m sad to see Christmas has come and gone. We had to work on Saturday so we didn’t get to enjoy our usual day after Christmas traditions. We did take part of yesterday off though to relax and take in a little more of the season. I think one of the things I love this time of year is the peacefulness of it. Even though we’re still very busy this time of year, it seems easier to take time off here and there for family celebrations and for ourselves.

What part of the holidays would you jar up for the rest of the year?

The Suspense Was Killing Me

December 27th, 2009

On Thursday I wrote about my niece’s homemade gift to my dad.

After many great guesses, I figured a photo of Hannah and her inspiration would be fitting.

It’s Beatrice, her guinea pig made out of salt dough. My dad loves it of course, because it was made with love by his granddaughter.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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