Week of May 9

Charlie is learning how to walk by slowly holding on to and pushing a small stool and stepping along with it. He is making great progress! He’s been trying so hard and we are very proud of him.

Charlie seems to like chicken shawarma and pickled turnips. That’s my boy.

The thing that has the biggest influence on my day is the length and quality of sleep the night before. Two things seem to affect that the most: What I eat (heartburn/reflux) and when I go to bed.

I found another nice morel in our yard! There was a third that I didn’t catch in time and it shriveled up. Still haven’t found any in the woods yet.

What I thought were black eyed susans coming up along the fence turned out to be mugwort. Whoops.

We have another small garter snake in our yard this year. This one likes to hang out in the front flower beds. It is a bit smaller than the one that hung around last year. I haven’t seen any black rat snakes in the yard yet this year.

I’ve noticed a lot more cardinals in our neighborhood this year. And this seems to be a banner year for maple seedlings. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many come up.

We are trying nasturtium in pots on the porch this year so they can cascade over the railing instead of just laying on the ground. They’ve sprouted in the pots, so we are hopeful!

Mowing season is here. Thankfully our electric mower is quiet enough that I can mow with Charlie in the carrier without either of us needing ear protection.

More sawing and moving wood from the trunk of my neighbor’s downed tree this weekend.

I participated in a cool project this week. Kristin Henry is collecting data on mail delivery timed. Kristin sends some stuff to you and you let her know when it arrives, then you send something back. If you are interested in participating, fill out this form.

Currently reading:

Cool things I found online this week:

Slim Gaillard, who Charlie and I’ve been listening to while we eat, made up a lot of slang for his songs and wrote a dictionary for them:

On soil and regenerative farming:

Almost single-handedly, through trial and error, Tolly has developed a new and revolutionary model of horticulture. At first it looks like magic. In reality, it’s the result of many years of meticulous experiments.

Two of his innovations appear to be crucial. The first, as he puts it, is to “make the system watertight”: preventing rain from washing through the soil, taking the nutrients with it. What this means is ensuring the land is almost never left bare. Beneath his vegetables grows an understorey of “green manure”, plants that cover the soil. Under the leaves of his pumpkins, I could see thousands of tiny seedlings: the “weeds” he had deliberately sown. When the crops are harvested, the green manure fills the gap and soon becomes a thicket of colour: blue chicory flowers, crimson clover, yellow melilot and trefoil, mauve Phacelia, pink sainfoin.

Soil is fractally scaled, which means its structure is consistent, regardless of magnification. Bacteria, fungi, plants and soil animals, working unconsciously together, build an immeasurably intricate, endlessly ramifying architecture that, like Dust in a Philip Pullman novel, organises itself spontaneously into coherent worlds. This biological structure helps to explain soil’s resistance to droughts and floods: if it were just a heap of matter, it would be swept away.

It also reveals why soil can break down so quickly when it’s farmed. Under certain conditions, when farmers apply nitrogen fertiliser, the microbes respond by burning through the carbon: in other words, the cement that holds their catacombs together. The pores cave in. The passages collapse. The soil becomes sodden, airless and compacted.

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