Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Welcome to Our Hillside Garden!

Writing about the garden requires more experience than I have... so my darling husband has agreed to give you an introductory tour. We are fairly new at this gardening thing, so any suggestions or feedback is always appreciated! Enjoy!

Contrary to my wife's better judgment, she has graciously agreed to let me guest blog on her site. Today, I'd like to share a little about our garden, what we are attempting to achieve, and how we are going about doing it.

First of all here are some of the things we have planted so far this year:

Long Term (perennial) plantings:
            Peach Trees (planted last year, replaced one this year)
            Blackberry bushes (Planted last year)
            Asparagus (planted crowns last year, they are producing now)
            Strawberries (planted this year)
Short Term (annual) plantings:
            Sweet Peas

Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to plant my leafy greens and brassicas this year in spring: lettuce, spinach, kale, broccoli, etc. If only that pesky thing called a job wouldn't get in the way! However, we are exploring the idea of planting some lettuce & spinach inside during the heat of summer.

It's now time to get my summer crops in the ground. We are planning on planting:
            Yellow Summer squash
            Sweet potatoes

One of my problems is that when I do something, I like to do it all the way! Go big, or go home! It gets me into trouble frequently... Anyway, the first year, we were able to successfully grow most everything we wanted to. We had some trees die (plums and a couple of peach) as well as blueberries. However, everything else that we planted in the garden grew miraculously well! In retrospect, I should have listened to the advice of my priest. Novel idea, right? His suggestion was to choose the areas I wanted to plant, and cover it with plastic to kill off the weeds underneath. This would have saved us some labor, but we also wouldn't have had all that wonderful produce!

This is our second year in our little house on the hill, and we have loved the fact that we own a little over an acre of land. We have a beautiful view from our house, and while the hill provides a beautiful view, it also provides a challenging topography for farming and gardening! One of the challenges we have here is the soil. Our soil is quite sandy and rocky. Where it isn't sandy/rocky, it has veins of clay. Much of the land has sandstone bluffs, and we are fortunate to have a beautiful example on the backside of our house. In addition to the sandy/rocky and clay-filled soil, the native weeds and grasses are a bear to deal with! So.... what to do?

We initially began to amend the soil with more organic matter--manure, compost, and mulch. The sandy soil is quick draining, so it is important to add more vegetable matter in the soil to help retain moisture and provide nutrients. The clay, on the other hand, is so dense that it does not allow air for the roots to grow. The good thing about this, though, is that with yearly additions of mulch and compost, we can fairly easily improve the soil. However, the quantity of mulch that we need has proven to be HUGE!

The overall size of the garden at this point is probably about 1/4 of an acre., and much of that has to be mulched.

We have made two big changes to the garden this year, both of which are an attempt to reduce mowing/weeding. The first thing we have done has been to widen the layout of the garden to facilitate easier access. By making every other row about 5' wide, I can now drive my mower towing the garden trailer behind between the rows. This allows me to mulch easily. Secondly, we are putting down weed cloth between the rows and mulching over them. This already has helped tremendously in keeping down the grasses and weeds. Hopefully, by the time we are finished with laying down the weed cloth, we will have reduced our labors. We shall see!



Friday, April 25, 2014

Introducing... Aidan Matthew!

Hello Everyone! I apologize for my recent absence... I was bringing new life into the world! Aidan Matthew was born on February 27th (10 days overdue). He came in at a whopping 10 pounds, 3 ounces! We have enjoyed the last 8 weeks getting to know one another, hosting a rotating door of family from California, and celebrating Pascha, the Feast of feasts! What a blessing!

We named Aidan after St. Aidan of Lindisfarne, keeping with our Celtic names. His middle name, Matthew, is in honor of our little chapel and its patron, St. Matthew the Apostle. We feel so blessed to be a part of this parish family.

Here is a little about St. Aidan. Hopefully now I will be able to get back to sharing what is happening with our life on this little hill. :)

*Photo courtesy of Katie Cariker Photography


St Bede (May 27), in his ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PEOPLE praises Aidan for his humility and piety, recommending him as a model for other bishops and priests to follow. He was not attached to the things of this world, nor did he seek earthly treasures. Whenever he received gifts from the king or from rich men, he distributed them to the poor. On Wednesdays and Fridays he would fast from all food until the Ninth Hour (about 3 P.M.), except during the paschal season.

From Lindisfarne, St Aidan traveled all over Northumbria, visiting his flock and establishing missions. St Oswald, who knew Gaelic from the time he and his family were exiled to Iona, acted as an interpreter for Bishop Aidan, who did not speak English. Thus, the king played an active role in the conversion of his people.

One year, after attending the services of Pascha, King Oswald sat down to a meal with Bishop Aidan. Just as the bishop was about to bless the food, a servant came in and informed the king that a great number of needy folk were outside begging for alms. The king ordered that his own food be served to the poor on silver platters, and that the silver serving dishes be broken up and distributed to them.There is a charming illustration of this incident in the thirteenth century Berthold Missal in New York’s Pierpont Morgan Library (Morgan MS 710, fol. 101v). Aidan, deeply moved by St Oswald’s charity, took him by the right hand and said, “May this hand never perish.” According to Tradition, St Oswald’s hand remained incorrupt for centuries after his death. St Bede says that the hand was kept in the church of St Peter at Bamburgh, where it was venerated by all. The present location of the hand, if it still survives, is not known.

St Oswald was killed in battle against the superior forces of King Penda on August 5, 642 at a place called Maserfield. He was only thirty-eight years old. St Aidan was deeply grieved by the king’s death, but his successor St Oswin (August 20) was also very dear to him.King Oswin once gave St Aidan a horse and a cart for his journeys (the bishop usually traveled on foot). Soon after this, Bishop Aidan met a beggar and gave him the horse and cart. The king heard of this and was disturbed by it. He asked St Aidan why he had given the royal gift away when there were ordinary horses in the stables which were more suitable for a beggar. Aidan rebuked him, asking if the king regarded the foal of a mare more highly than the Son of God. At first, he did not understand. Then he fell at the bishop’s feet, weeping tears of repentance. Asking for forgiveness, Oswin promised never again to judge St Aidan’s charitable deeds.

St Aidan raised the king to his feet, declaring that he had never seen a king who was so humble. He prophesied that Oswin would soon depart from this life, since the people did not deserve such a ruler. His prophecy was soon fulfilled, for St Oswin was murdered at Gilling on August 20, 651. St Aidan departed to the Lord on August 31, less than two weeks later. He died at Bamburgh, by the west wall of the church. The beam on which he was leaning to support himself still survives, even though the church was twice destroyed by fire. The beam may still be seen in the ceiling of the present church, above the baptismal font.

On the day St Aidan died, St Cuthbert (March 20) was a young man tending his master’s sheep. Looking up, Cuthbert saw a vision of angels bearing someone’s soul to heaven in a sphere of fire. Later, he learned that Bishop Aidan had died at the very hour that he had seen the vision.

At first, the holy bishop Aidan was buried at Lindisfarne on the right side of the altar in the church of St Peter. In 664 the Synod of Whitby declared that all the churches of Britain must follow Roman practices, and that Celtic customs were to be suppressed. St Colman (February 18), the third Bishop of Lindisfarne, was unable to accept this decision. Therefore, he decided to retire to Iona, taking the bones of St Aidan with him. Celtic customs survived on Iona until the eighth century.

*Information from the Orthodox Church in America website (oca.org)

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014


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