"Home is where the Heart is."
I know I mention my beloved little home quite frequently. It is my sanctuary, my escape from the world, my shelter from the storm of humanity, and it is also a the cornerstone of my freedom. Yes, it does tie me down, take my time, make demands on me, and yet it is so much a part of my freedom that I doubt I could ever give it up, or even share it easily. I know, it is a small, simple house. A 1958 Ranch on 1/3 of an acre, surrounded by farmland. I have wonderful, mature shade trees, including one of the largest and most magnificent Birch trees I have ever had the pleasure to know. There are 3 mature apple trees, the largest and gnarliest of which I have dubbed "my Apple Ent." There is also a Green Gage plum, an heirloom variety that is absolutely luscious. I leave a ladder under the tree when the fruit is ripe and every evening after work I climb the ladder, gorge on plums, and toss some down to my eagerly waiting dogs. It is a peaceful, pleasant, uncomplicated place. My corner of the world.
I bought the place, or more correctly, I managed to get the bank to buy the place and I send them a monthly tithe to live here, 2-1/2 years ago. I moved in over Christmas weekend of 2011. It was the best Christmas ever. The first night I stayed in the house it was so cold from having sat vacant and unheated for so long that I could barely sleep. It was like winter camping indoors. The first 6 months were filled with all the fun things of owning a home; every surface had to be cleaned and painted, floors were scrubbed, cupboards dismantled and reassembled, pegboard torn down, finding a place for everything, purging myself of unnecessary possessions, reveling in my freedom and independence.
So here I am, my third summer quickly approaching, and I have been hit with yet another Manic Nesting Phase. It comes and goes, my desire to build, repair, plant, paint. With the coming of the sun I feel the urge to plant. My first spring here I planted 2 Stanley Prune trees, a Texas King Fig, 3 grapes (2 White Himrod, and a red seedless), and herb gardens overflowing with varieties of sage, mint, lavender, thyme, rosemary, oregano, and tarragon. I grow heirloom tomatoes every year, and have a small raised bed in the back for salad greens and sugar snap peas.
This year I am adding more permanent plantings. I have 3 new apple trees awaiting their new places of honor. With the climate extremes we are seeing I wanted cold hardy and heat tolerant varieties. I settled on 2 heirloom trees: The Early Rambo (no relation to Stallone) that ripens in August, and the Roxbury Russett which ripens in October. Both are good for fresh eating, canning, and cooking. The Roxbury is great for storage, lasting up to 6 months. For my pollinator I opted for a Golden Delicious since they are a nice all around apple. I also have raspberries, and tomatoes ready to go into the ground, and the plants I have started from seed; heirloom sweet pumpkins, Blue Kuri squash, slicing cucumbers, and a profusion of sunflowers. I want to get my strawberry bed built, but that may not happen yet.
As geeky as I am being about gardening right now, one epic addition will be my mound garden, aka Hugelkultur. It is a way of building up a raised bed on a foundation of logs, creating a self feeding garden that holds moisture for weeks on end, is highly productive, and easily maintained. It is going to look fabulous when it is covered with the lush vines of my pumpkins, and with sunflowers popping up between the vines.
I am continually working towards being more self reliant. I want to eat off of my own land, to literally enjoy the Fruits of My Labor. I am making slow but steady progress to self-sufficiency. I know I will always need an income, so will never be truly self sufficient, but I can produce more and more of what I need, lessening my dependency on the rest of the world. Next year I will hopefully have my chicken coop built so I can get a small flock, and maybe, just maybe, I will get my bee hive. So many plans for the future! This is a main reason that I so love my little house, I see it as my ticket to freedom and independence. It is so much more than a mere house. It is my shelter, my sanctuary, my home, my sanity.