My husband suggested with a smile that this post be titled, "Summer of Woe Continues," but I don't really think that is appropriate since today's disaster was my fault. I made a mistake, possibly even a couple of mistakes. I'm not even sure exactly what the mistakes were, but I'll eventually figure it out. The result of the mistake(s) is that the bottoms blew off a jar of hot peppers and a jar of dilly beans in the canner. Yes, one jar is upside down, and I have no idea how that happened!
I wasn't joking a couple days ago when I wrote that my husband learned to make jam, and I discovered that I'd been doing it wrong for six years. I should ask him to make dilly beans and hot peppers, and I'll probably figure out what I did wrong today. Most people are terrified of making mistakes. I think that's why I'm here living my dream and they're still in suburbia saying, "I wish ..." So many people say they could never do ___ because they don't know how, and they stop right there. They're surprised when I tell them that I did not grow up on a farm. I was a suburban newspaper reporter and mom with a dog, two cats, and an aquarium. That did not qualify me to start milking goats, making soap, and spinning wool.
When I say, "If I can do it, anyone can," I'm not being modest. Sure, I've read a lot of books, and I have to give credit to all the wonderful mentors I've found over the Internet, but a lot of what I've learned out here has been through the mistakes I've made. Whenever someone buys a goat from me, I always tell them to feel free to call with any questions. "I may not know the right answer, but I'm sure I can tell you what doesn't work!" Mistakes are the most under-rated learning tool in the universe. And many times when you read or hear conflicting information, the only thing you can do is jump right in and find out for yourself what's right.
We made a mistake the first time we built a chicken tractor, a movable pen. We wanted it to be light enough to easily move, so we made it out of PVC pipe, chicken wire, and a tarp. We were quite proud of ourselves with the finished product and put the baby chicks out there. A couple hours later, a storm blew in, and the chicken tractor blew off. All five of us were out there in the pouring rain gathering up soaking chicks. The storm had also knocked out the electricity, so we couldn't take them into the barn and put them under a heat lamp. Young chicks have to stay warm, so we brought them into the house and put them in front of our fireplace, where we started a fire.
My husband made the next chicken tractor with lots of wood so it wouldn't fly anywhere! Problem with that model is that it is so heavy, it's nearly impossible to move. Then he added removable wheels that lift up the pen for rolling across the grass. He made three pens like that, but I still don't like them, because they have to be moved every day, and they are still too heavy for me to move by myself. I didn't mind them so much for the mama turkey and her babies because they didn't make much of a mess, so they only had to be moved every three or four days. Now, however, with the mama hen and her chicks, it does need to be moved every day or two.
The mistake that wasn't ... Last winter, my daughters dumped pure rabbit manure on this flower bed. I thought for sure the daylilies would be dead. Lots of people say that rabbit manure is too "hot" to be used directly in the garden, but obviously, these flowers love it!
Making mistakes is not the cheapest way to learn. My gardening skills are terrible, although I don't think I'll ever give up. Bottom line is this -- how badly do you want something? I want my own fresh organic food, and I want my own beautiful flowers. The vegetable garden gets bigger and more successful each year, but we have our failures each year. I still struggle with the flowers, but I can grow gladiolas and daylilies. I've managed to kill lavender at least a couple times, and I've lost count of the number of rose bushes that have died under my care. But I'll keep trying, because I love lavender and roses.