This past month marks one year in our Craigslist home. As I look around our house, around our property, and at our son, I am amazed at how much has changed in just one year. Fitted with our (mostly free or used) furniture, the walls adorned with paintings and pictures and familiar piles of books, laundry, and dust in the corners, our house is now a home.
Over the past year, I relished the changing seasons. Each shift in temperature brought a new adventure, from learning to plow our driveway to trading the use of our hay-filled fields for half a pig. The gaping hole I felt on each 75-degree California Christmas day was filled when I woke up to a winter wonderland last December… everything was right in the world again!
While I knew I would look forward to the changing seasons, I did not expect the unique surprises each season brought to our property. We moved into our home in October 2016, thus missing many of the flora and the fauna of the year. Winter’s thick blanket greeted us shortly after and it was not until life returned in the spring that I began to realize the unique joys our property has to offer.
Trilliums are one of my favorite flowers. They are a protected wildflower in our area, blooming for about a week each May and quickly disappearing until the following year. Though their life is short, they make their presence known by blanketing the forest floor and boasting of brilliant white petals with the occasional purple hue mixed in.
Early spring also brings lilacs to our area. The scent alone brings a unique joy to my day as the purple and white lilac bushes gently wave back and forth in the wind.
I never knew how brilliantly orange poppies could be. When the poppies burst forth this year, I was in awe.
Vegetables and Herbs
Morel mushrooms are the equivalent of gold around these parts. Each spring, hundreds of “hunters” take to the woods to search the base of rotting stumps and the moist forest floor for morels. Restaurants offer a pretty penny for morels and menus boast of “Morel Mushroom Soup” and “Steak and Morel Sautee”.
As I walked back from the mailbox this past May, I nearly tripped over my feet when I noticed two small morels peeping out of the grass. Upon closer examination, I found another, then another, then a whole clump in another location. I quickly gathered the largest and planted flags next to others (so we would avoid stepping on them while we let them grow). We feasted on morels and had plenty to share with my parents.
At about the same time the morels came in, ramps (very similar to leeks) exploded on the forest floor behind our house. We added them to veggie stir-fries and I hope to make a Ramp soup next year.
Oregano abounds in our yard! My goodness, oregano grows thick and tall in our front fields, providing a perfect opportunity for homegrown spice!
Our driveway is lined with beautiful mulberry trees. In full bloom, the deep purple berries are a delicious treat (complete with a beautiful purple/red stain to boot!).
When we moved into our home, the previous owner pointed out a pear tree and told us that the tree didn’t really produce any fruit. I have no idea what he was talking about! We enjoyed several weeks of juicy pears.
Mr. Adventure Rich discovered a patch of grapes planted in the yard earlier this year and quickly set to work. He set up wiring and worked to train the grapes to grow up on the wires to allow for better sunlight and health. We may have been a little late getting them up and going this year, but we look forward to getting an earlier start next year!
Oh, the apples… as I mentioned in our recent Adventure Challenge, the apple trees did not disappoint this year. We have thoroughly enjoyed learning a few new apple recipes to help us consume our apple crop.
With great flora and fauna comes great responsibility…
As I reflect back on our first year of home ownership, the flora and the fauna we discovered throughout the year brings a smile to my face and a warm joy to my heart. But it also brings a newfound sense of responsibility.
When we purchased our 10 acres home, we knew there would be work and outdoor chores to complete. What I did not expect was a sense of responsibility to the plants we discovered on our property. The apple and lilac trees need pruning, the grapevines need training, the morels need protection for their delicate flesh… they need care and assistance from Mr. Adventure Rich and me to thrive and continue to produce fruit.
I have never been much of a green-thumb, but I now look forward to cultivating and maintaining the vegetables, fruit, and flowers we were blessed to find on our property.
Lessons from the Flora and the Fauna
With our newfound sense of responsibility and stewardship towards the flora and the fauna growing throughout our property, I discovered several takeaways I hope to apply to our routine next year.
Lesson #1: Educate ourselves about the various plants we discover
I am slightly embarrassed to admit I had to Google half the plants and flowers that popped up throughout the year. Again, I have never been the garden cultivating green-thumb. So when it came to identifying and learning about plants, I was starting from scratch.
I plan to dedicate time this winter to learning and researching the plants we have on our property (now that we know what they are!) in order to create a plan for cultivation come springtime.
Lesson #2: Start Early with Plant Maintenance
We totally missed the boat on several opportunities to help our plants this year. Only one of the several apple trees received pruning and the grapes were trained to the wires too late in the season. Our goal for the coming year is to set time aside in the spring to the maintenance of our plants for both their health and a more robust harvest.
Lesson #3: Pay attention throughout the year
I’ll admit, I did not touch many of the plants throughout the year. Maybe that was a good thing… but maybe a few of the plants and flowers could have used an extra watering or some trimming (?). With my planned wintertime research, I hope to be more knowledgeable and better equipped to keep the plants happy and healthy throughout the summer.
Lesson #4: Plan for harvest and utilization of the crops
Each season brought new flowers, fruit, and vegetables to our yard. But I was often unprepared and did not have a good plan for harvesting and utilizing the abundance before it went bad… leading to waste. Rest assured I am already scheming the applesauce and mulberry pie recipes for next year and a few flower arrangements for our kitchen table when the flora is in full bloom. Plus, I hope to share the excess fruit, veggies, and flowers with our friends, family, and neighbors.
Alright… so, anyone know of great resources for homesteading help and learning how not to kill all of the plants on our property? Great recipes? Fun stories of your homesteading success?!?
Always an Adventure,
Mrs. Adventure Rich