On Saturday morning, I was scanning blogs and came across a post about making willow baskets. I was completely intrigued. I mentioned to John in conversation that morning that it would be fun to have willows on our property so I could make baskets too. I could picture myself making baskets with the kids.
Later that day, we were wandering by a garden shed at a demonstration farm and John asked a man working nearby what plant was leaning up against the shed.
Those are English willows, the variety people make baskets out of, the man explained. They are grown from cuttings.
When John said that I was interested in willows, the man shared a couple cuttings. There was a whole six hours from reading about willows to when I had the willows in hand. If only all of our ideas worked out this serendipidous-ly!
Now I have to figure out where to plant them. It will be three years until I have enough to make baskets, but it’s nice to know I’m working in that direction.
One experiment we have going this year is cutting our own hay. We don’t have the land to cut all of our hay (or the time with the method we’re using), but we can cut some of our own. We bought two European scythes; one is currently equipped with a grass blade and one with a brush blade.
I had tried scything at a farm demonstration last year and was intrigued with the idea. It fits in with our hand tools and homesteading and zero carbon nights of mowing with the reel mower.
John had never tried the scythe until we purchased one, and he loves it. Scything is work, but it’s a relaxing motion and very satisfying. It’s fun to see the long stems of grass lying cut on the ground. It’s also handy when the lawn gets out of control and too long to cut with the reel mower! Not that this really happened or anything. (wink, wink)
We learned from another goat farmer over the weekend that in Europe historically people cut brush and dried it for their goats to eat over the winter. Goats are browsers so it’s healthier for them and they get more nutrition from eating more than grass hay. So far, although we have mowing grass figured out with the scythe, cutting brush has proved more difficult. It’s a good goal to work on though.
In my quest to beautify our homestead, I’ve been collecting cheap but nice perennials slowly whenever I get the chance. I bought some from a lady in our town. I got a couple early clearance deals at Lowes. I went to a plant exchange and got some more, although some I can’t identify. It’s fun and that’s the most important thing!
Any new farm/homestead/garden things you are trying this year? Any talented farm/homestead layout people that want to share your skills here?