Here’s something you don’t see every day: Me, doing manual labor!

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Well I mean, it’s not like I’m a princess or anything (I would LIKE to be, sure, but I live on a chicken farm for pete’s sake!) – I saw and stack wood, and have even made marginally successful attempts to split logs, when my avoidance levels are really high. I clean out the chicken coop, I lay cement and I’m putting that wood floor in upstairs – but digging a hole? In the garden? Not usual.

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See, Raven and I have this division-of-labor thing when it comes to prettying/fixing up the place. He takes care of the outdoors, I stay indoors. The lines get blurred sometimes – he did the plumbing, which is technically indoors, but I paint anything he builds outside. He built my big shelf-potrack thing in the kitchen, so I didn’t kill his plants while he was in Windsor. It balances out.

Basically what this is about is plants. I don’t have a “black thumb”, although that’s what I tell people, because it’s easy for them to accept that someone is just a poor gardener. The very few plants I’ve had any kind of relationship with have done quite well. The silly truth is: I’m afraid of the darned things. There’s no good reason – I was never lost in a forest, or locked overnight in a greenhouse, or anything. I just find a lot of plants very creepy.

I’ve been working on it, though. This year I really think there’ve been some breakthroughs. I’ve got quite a good relationship with several of our saplings, and I even got along with the poppies – and if you’re familiar with the seed pod of a poppy? That should have sent me screaming into the house for the entire month of July! But, I was fine. And I’ve been enjoying gathering plants for dyestuff this year – although arguably, I just enjoy “gathering” things; I like canning vegetables and stacking wood too. I might be part squirrel.

The other day, I asked Raven how he felt about my having a dye garden on the berm – which right now is just a big curvy pile of clay covered in wildflowers. At first his response was cautious, and I thought maybe I was pushing too hard in an “I’ve already said we can get sheep, why won’t you leave me alone you fibre-crazed maniac?” kind of way. It turned out, however, that he was just thinking, and about two days later he startled me by suddenly launching into a description of how such a garden could be landscaped on the berm, and what stages one would have to do it in, and what kind of plants would have to go in first, and what it would need to be fertilized with… he went on for quite a while. I tend to zone out after a bit, I’m afraid, but I believe there is a Five-Year Plan.

Understood by both of us, however, was the fact that when I said “can I put a dye garden on the berm”, I actually meant ‘can I put a dye garden on the berm”. When I asked the question, I had been thinking something along the lines of “fight back some of the kinder, gentler wildflowers, and put in basil”. Raven however, has come up with an elaborate tiered structure of fieldstone walls and staggered beds. Which is how I wound up holding a shovel.

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He’s right (he often is; it’s very annoying) in five or six years it’s going to look beautiful. Right now, however, it looks like a whole lot of shovel work!

At least I have my chickens to “help”.

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“I’m helping!”

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“You wouldn’t dig under a sleeping puppy, would you?”

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“I am a princess. Wake me when you’re sewing again.”

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