Bringing the Late Iron Age to Life

Agricultural

Happy Harvest Home – or Mabon

(Some modern thoughts): Today, the Wheel turns and we enter the time of darkness. Today marks the Autumnal Equinox – the mid-point of Autumn when the days are now becoming shorter than the nights and the colors become more vibrant. Perhaps, because the Autumnal changes are more evident now, that is why people have come to believe that the Equinox is the beginning of Autumn, instead of it being the mid-point. Lughnasadh was the celebration of the first harvests (and opened the Door to Autumn), Mabon is the middle harvest celebration, leaving Samhain as the final harvest celebration and the opening of the Door to Winter (first day of Winter). Seeing as how most modern people are no longer connected to the cycles of the seasons – with all their attendant chores, it’s easy to see how the confusion was generated.

Anyway, my garden experiment was, shall we say, a bit less than successful this year. While I had quite a few things sprout and grow, there was just too much shade for them to all bear fruit. I did manage to get a handful of beans – not enough to really use in cooking, so they’ll hopefully become the seed stock for next year’s trial. Where I had a number of squash blooms, I only had one (1!) squash – and something from underground got to it before I could. The worst part is that it wasn’t fully ripe (or even full-grown) before they decided to taste test it and figure that it wasn’t yet good to eat. So, I am letting it go. Maybe it will mature enough (even off the vine) that the seeds will sprout for next year, but I’m not holding my breath.

So, later this autumn, I will be culling about seven or eight trees of various types: box elder (bloody weed tree), catalpa/catawba trees, and black walnut. I’m leaving the black locust tree, as it is fully mature with a height of about 90 feet. A bit big for me to tackle myself. With luck, this will open up the slope (even with the house built into the west end of the property) so that I will have a better harvest next year.

(Back to in-persona): Today is the Equinox, according to the elders. Now starts the dark time of year and we have to make sure that all preparations for the winter months are well underway. There is really no time for much in the way of celebration, since there is so much work to do around the broch and settlement. With luck, we can get the rest of the barley and oats harvested, and the hay put under cover – so long as the rains hold off. We were told that our wheat wouldn’t make it, since the winds have too much saltiness to them (and the season is too short, even with planting early), and the naysayers were right. So our wheat experimental crop did not turn out at all.

There is also making sure that all the roofs are in good order so that the wind driven rains and snows later, don’t cause any sicknesses with the animals that we’ll be over-wintering (or that the humans here don’t come down with any fevers as well!). I need to also go out and see if there’s anything left in the hedges worth harvesting. I’m hoping to find some late season herbs that can be used to bring some flavor to the pottage, as well as can be added to my cures. Must make sure my stores are ready for winter!

After Lughnasadh…

1 June 2017 Late afternoon

1 June 2017 Late afternoon

Lughnasadh has come and gone, and with its passing, autumn has begun. Still, I have to wait until after the Autumn Equinox before I can start taking out trees. While I can’t take out the trees in my neighbor’s yard, I can at least give my little patch of ground a better chance at more sun by taking out a few (bunch) of them. I probably won’t wait for the leaves to have fallen before I start preparing the area I want to grow my grains. First up in rotation will be barley, to be planted before midwinter for a spring harvest. Then, I will plant my einkorn for a later summer harvest. After they have had their time, I will plant some red clover to give back to the soil the nutrients my grain crops have taken from the earth. I will also be increasing the size of my garden, and maybe relocating it slightly.

I have not given up on either this project, or my dream of working toward an Iron Age feel to my backyard. I will admit that having a yard that is completely on a slope, with no real truly flat area, can be somewhat discouraging at times, but I will prevail! I never expected this to be easy, but at least it keeps me healthier.

Spring is here

Heard my first mourning dove today. For me, they have always been the heralds of Spring. Even though the Cornell site (All About Birds) shows them as being year round in Ohio, I never hear them during the winter months – and not just because I’m indoors.

Soon I should be getting back to my persona story blog entries. I just wanted to post about this because I like to make note of when I first hear the mournful sounds of the mourning doves.

Imbolc & the 1st days of Spring (MM*)

To some, today is Imbolc Eve, to others Imbolc isn’t until February 2nd. Either way, it is a celebration of the first stirrings of Spring – or the coming of Spring.

Astronomically, the mid-point between the Winter Solstice and Vernal Equinox won’t happen until sometime on February 18th – when the sun reaches its midway point between its southern most rising (closest to 23° 30′ declension)  and its ‘truest’ Eastern rising (closest to 0° 0′ declension). The morning of February 18th, at least in my part of the world, the sun will rise at 11° 23′ and reach its true midpoint (11° 15′) in the early daylight hours. On February 19th, it rises at 11° 01′. To me, the “First Day of Spring” will be February 18th, and I will be eagerly awaiting the arrival of our last frost date (which, isn’t officially until May 15th here in Ohio).

So whether you are playing close attention to the Sun’s movements, or just celebrating the accustomed Solar festival, I hope everyone has a  wonderful Imbolc/St. Brigid’s Day and that the coming growing season brings you much happiness.

* Since this was a longish title, “MM” means “Mundane Musings” 🙂

Sunny, but shorter, days

Seeing as we have been enjoying an unusual spate of balmy days, I have been taking advantage of the weather to get more things done outside. Getting the newly reclaimed land ready for spring planting has been more demanding than at first thought. I still don’t know how rubble rocks from the broch made their way all the way into this unused field. Or perhaps it’s just that the rocks are so prevalent… either way, getting them out of the field – as well as the bracken and other unwanted plant roots – has kept me pretty busy, along with all the other things I have to get done to prepare our little household for winter.

Mundane vs. persona – My persona has different challenges than I actually have in reclaiming land. For her, there would be no trees to deal with removing, but she would have rocks, shrubs and various other low-growing plants. Me? I have three more trees to remove so that my proposed location for my garden and cereal crop experiment will get enough direct sunlight. Admittedly, the amount of direct sunlight may be toward the lower end of the spectrum in desirability, but that’s all part of the experiment.

ready-for-stage-two