The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: 2019 - a look back

We had such a busy year at Windy Thistle. Some things worked and some things just did not. One of the good things is the beauty of our glen. When you drive down the hill into our glen, the woods abruptly change to small woodland meadows and a small copse of open trees and below you is the whole homestead, surrounded by woods. You can see the meadows, the pasture, the gardens, the beehives, and the chicken pen and the American Rambler we call home - all from above.

The front view halfway down the glen and turning into the driveway.

Things that worked this year: The chickens did well and so did Henrietta the Turkey. They are fine and picking up on egg production, we're back up to two a day out of nine hens in winter. That's good! The herb gardens did very nicely as did most of our vegetables. We brought in a lot of produce and passed along those goodies to folks who love fresh food!

Just part of the daily harvest in August. There were other goodies, too, eggs, hot peppers, green beans, the bounty from the gardens was lovely!

Our classes started this year and we had so much fun while learning about things like Canning and Soap making - the two most popular classes. We also held a pie class and the pies produced were very tasty! Our first class of 2020 will be 1/25/2020 - BREAD BAKING

Pouring soap batter into the mold.

Lots of finished products after an afternoon of laughter and good times with our students.

The Mile High Apple Pie baked by my daughter-in-love Donna, so tasty with such a flaky crust! YUM!

This was also the year we became beekeepers. This has been more of an adventure then I ever imagined. I also didn't imagine caring about a bunch of insects as much as I do but there you have it. I worry about them surviving the winter, they are in cluster right now and we rarely see them. We won't open the hives until March. We have done all we could and here's hoping they live to see the spring. Many hives do not, so we are prepared for this to be one of the ugly things. One of the other ugly things was the 22 stings I received for being a stupid first year beekeeper! We'll learn!

A healthy frame of bees, so happy to see it!

The bad things that didn't work. Cabbages - I planted them in the lower paddock and they literally drowned. We had so much rain that I didn't have to water the gardens all summer but the cabbages still split from all that water. The cantaloupes and watermelons were also a bust. They were eaten by something, all but one cantaloupe that we didn't find until it was over-ripe. The chickens got that one.

We also failed with our potatoes in a feed sack. We got one small bowl full of little seed potatoes that we will be planting in a potato tower this time. We had high hopes and planted out five sack and well, we won't be trying that one again!

These are really pitiful potatoes. We'll be planting them again, instead of eating them.

We take the failures in stride and try to learn from our mistakes. It's always an experience. One of the other ugly things around here is the way the gardens look while they're being built. We use a no-till method and cover the ground with cardboard, thereby making the vegetation underneath into compost. We'll cut holes directly through the cardboard to plant out our seedlings this spring and we'll cover it with mulch at that time. While this method leaves the ground as natural as possible without plowing, it's not pretty until the cardboard gets covered. Still, it works and we are turning the Missouri clay into friable soil as we go.

Making a new garden for garlic.

All in all, it was a nice year at Windy Thistle. We met new friends and laughed at ourselves. We grew a lot, both physically on our farm and spiritually in commune with nature, always awe inspiring. Our mission for 2020 is to share our knowledge with more homesteading classes, our fresh produce and the peace and quiet, back in the woods, in our hidden glen. Come visit us in 2020!

Come visit!

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