The Longest “TO DO List” Ever!

I’m sure that you’ve noticed the decline in blog posts this spring. Living in a 125-year-old house that is off-grid, heated with wood cut and split from our own forest and all that entails can be fairly time consuming. Writing books fills in the gaps, and now we are busy planting and getting things ready for our second year of running a CSA and growing food for 40 members! Yikes!

Hence, my lack of blogging. I wrote this post on a recent afternoon because I needed a break from the heat. We had this horrendous humidity even though it was still May. But everything is coming together really well for our CSA. I must admit, my frame of mind is pretty awesome right now because we actually got some rain. And as will become the norm, it was a lot of rain. A warmer atmosphere holds more moisture, and when it dumps it tends to be in heavier downpours or ‘extreme’ events. Toronto had more rain in one day than they usually get in the whole month of May. The major north south expressway, the Don Valley Parkway (often called the Don Valley Parking Lot because of traffic volume) was flooded for the morning rush hour. All six lanes. Apparently the Don River had trouble handling a month’s worth of rain that fell in just a few hours.

Here everything is moist and green and fantastic. The drought will come, but today, at this moment, I am content.

I remember planting sweet potatoes last year. Because I was putting them under plastic mulch I needed to make the soil moist, but since we were into the drought already, it took me two days of soaking the soil before I was comfortable planting. It just makes it so much easier when nature cooperates with moisture from the skies.

Michelle used to ask me what my plan for the day was as I headed out of the house on a Saturday morning. I would just say, “I’m just going to go with the flow.” I might plan to move some firewood, but before I got to the pile I’d find a blade that needed sharpening, and once I got it into the garage I’d see that pump thingee that I needed to try to fix, and when I went to retrieve the pump fixing tool I’d find that round thing-a-ma-bob that needed to go on the rain barrel so I’d take it over there and at 5 pm I’d finally quit never really knowing if I’d accomplished anything I’d set out to do but having moved from one job to the next all day long.

Right now we’ve got about 6 areas under cultivation, and we’re probably growing 60 different cultivars of vegetables. I’m in the process of planting the heating loving plants in the greenhouse, and getting irrigation installed. So I take my “go with the flow” theory of time management and ratchet it up by a factor of 10 and those are my days right now. It is very hard to focus on any one task when everywhere I walk, and I mean EVERYWHERE, I pass something that needs to be done, or planted, or weeded, or “cutworm inspected” or… or… or…

And it’s pretty exhausting, and pretty awesome. I have two mantras right now.

#1 It beats doing the layout of corporate annual reports in InDesign. I earn way less money, but it’s just such a nicer use of my time on this planet.

#2  If some of that extreme weather that is bringing tornadoes to the formerly frozen north descends on me while I am working outside, as I get caught up in the vortex and deposited who knows where, I will have no regrets. I am doing what I always wanted to do. I am getting poorer by the day financially. But my feeling of accomplishment and joy is very high right now.

I think it helps that we have 40 members lined up for the CSA this year. Last year, while I would have liked more, it was good to start with about a dozen. I wouldn’t have the confidence to take on 40 members if I hadn’t done it successfully for 20, during the worst drought I’ve every experienced. I say “20 members” last year because we easily had enough food for 20. Last year’s members had few complaints other than they were receiving too much food! I can live with that. So I’m really just doubling what I grew last year.

So each day I venture forth at 6 am with a list of goals for the day; plant more squash, eggplant, corn, spinach, etc. Till up that spot where the compost was last year for more corn. Plant another row of peppers in the greenhouse. Plant some more cucumbers in the glasshouse. Get the drip irrigation on the onions. Plant 2 more rows of early potatoes. Etc. Etc. ETC.

I usually accomplish my main goals. I kind of have to right now because there are time limits on our growing season. A few nights ago I finished planting some corn in a new spot at about 8:30 pm, as it was getting dark and the mosquitoes were getting bad. It was still really hot and humid even after the sun went down. And pretty amazing.

We’re surrounded by woods that are really, really green this spring. The soil just feels so much better when it has some moisture from the rain in it. At dusk a whole new cacophony of birds starts up. The Killdeer that has been chasing me around the garden has finally left me alone and the Woodcock starts it’s crazy fluttering and twittering sounds. And it’s a real “twitter,” not a silicon internet tweet. It’s the real deal.

The Whippoorwills get started around this time. They are far more enjoyable to listen to when I’m working in the garden than when I am trying to sleep. I swear they perch just outside my bedroom window and “whippoorwill” at Guns ‘n Roses volume all night. Can you imagine? No sirens. No cars. No neighbors arguing. Just these darn birds screaming at each other half the night. Who needs sleep?

(Go here; if you’ve never heard the sound of a Whippoorwill!)

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Michelle’s Note: Cam and I celebrated our 30th Wedding Anniversary yesterday! I thought our readers might enjoy this wedding photo from June 4, 1983.


5 Responses to “The Longest “TO DO List” Ever!”

  • Happy to hear that you are striving and thriving with your CSA after last year and your struggle with drought. I’m very curious to know how many acres you are cultivating for 40 members?

  • Richard Skene:

    Congratulations on your 30th Wedding Anniversary!

    And thank you for being an inspiration to all of us that seek sustainable independence too!

  • Gerrit:

    Congratulations on the anniversary from us. Best wishes.

  • June 4th is our anniversary, too. 25 years here.

    Love the garden story…pretty much ditto on that here, too, except that we’ve not planted much yet. Today we’re preparing the last of the beds and then I guess tomorrow I’ll plant in earnest. I have a few purchased seedlings: tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers started in the greenhouse and some romaine outside. That’s it. Unless you count the few things that survived the winter–one kale, one brussel sprouts, two parsley, and a dozen or so carrots. Oh, and we finally bit the bullet and put in two plum trees and a cherry tree–and there are blossoms!

  • John Wensley:

    Wow Michelle it took your wedding to get that man of yours in a suit, a tux at that.

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About Cam
Cam Mather and his wife Michelle live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and their CSA. Cam is working towards the goal of making his home “zero-carbon” and with his extensive garden he aims to grow as much of his own food as possible. He is available to speak at conferences and other events and has motivated many people to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.
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