Poverty, birth, and unmentionables

How do you decide what to read next? For me, its a variety of sources and a great deal of serendipity. I found The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times in a list of “nonfiction that reads like fiction” books. I like nonfiction reading, so it isn’t hard for me to find something that is enjoyable. The “nonfiction that reads like fiction” label is probably used with good intention, however I find it off target. The books are well written? Have a strong plot? Are enjoyable? Are easy to digest? I’m not coming up with a good alternative description for these books, but you will quickly come up with one.

I loved The Midwife, which is the memoir of a young nurse that trains and practices as a midwife in 1950’s in London’s East End. Jenny Lee works out of a convent that provides nursing/OB/GYN services to the poverty-stricken neighborhood. Through reading this book, I met the naughty (or senile?) nun that eats at least half of a cake intended for the entire convent. I also met the pig-enthusiast nun who assures the janitor that rough pig intercourse is normal, as they observe it. I also learned the secret to a happy marriage, even after 24 children!

What I won’t be doing is discussing this book with my mother. Okay, perhaps the secret to a happy marriage, but not the naughty bits. I don’t prohibit my mother from reading this book, I just don’t want to talk to her about it.

When I recorded The Midwife in my LibraryThing list, I was thrilled to see that it is the first of a trilogy! It is followed by Shadows of the Workhouse and Farewell to the East End. These books will be approached with caution, as it is always difficult when the first book isn’t nearly as good as the second or third. I didn’t find the second or third books in my library, so I promptly purchased them (an unusual activity for me).

Fall to winter


I’m thankful for our public servants and those who keep an eye on them. I attended the county board of supervisors public hearing for the 2012 budget in the morning and the public library board meeting in the evening. It is a challenge to match revenue to services, however we can meet this goal if we work together.


It sounds like guns firing at varied distances from our house, but it isn’t good hunting weather out. Heavy, wet, white snow is falling everywhere. I suspect the globs of snow falling from the cottonwood trees onto our poorly insulated roof are making the gunfire noise. I went out to photograph our first snow and was treated to the loudest thunderboom that I’ve ever heard in the snow.

The first snow

Quince tree bowed in the snow

Cottonwood trees in the snow

My culture shows because I’m more concerned about my roof caving in because of  heavy, wet snow than militant hunters who will apparently hunt in  any weather. For the first time in my life, I shoveled a roof (at least part of it). I was well soaked by the time I got back into the house.

While the snowing continued, the sheep went out to eat in the front yard (the mobile electric fence either shorted out or simply tipped over). By the time I got back to photograph the evidence, the snow had already blotted out the muddy hoof prints.

What was recently yummy kale

I’m thankful to have  a short, fat, old glassblower for a friend and to see him quoted on Science Friday!

Photo of wet newspaper

Transparency in the media

I should have picked up my paper before it got soaked.

Growing dirt

It was a beautiful November day today, perfect for growing dirt. The process is focused on plants we can eat. A few hardy plants are still producing.

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard November 5, 2011


Kale (started from seed by Carol E.) November 5, 2011

The next step is the weeding, which only really ends when the weeds can’t be seen through the snow. I thought you’d like an larger view of the gardens rather than a closeup of the weeds.
Garden patches in front of barn

Gardens November 5, 2011

 The weeds are pulled and gathered into a bucket or wheelbarrow.

Weeds in wheelbarrow

Weeds in the wheelbarrow November 5, 2011

I’m happy to show you the detail after weeding!

Fall asparagus

Fall asparagus stumps November 5, 2011

The weeds go either into the compost pile or to the animals for power composting.

Compost pile

Compost pile November 5, 2011

The laying hens have already eaten most of the leaves on these weeds. It’s satisfying to provide weeds as a treat to the animals. Pigs are the most appreciative.

Laying hen with weeds November 5, 2011

Laying hen with weeds November 5, 2011

The most recent meat chickens haven’t been out on pasture and aren’t sure what to do with weeds.

Meat chickens with weeds November 5, 2011

I’ll let you fill in the next step in the process. Then, ta-da, there is nice dirt to supplement the gardens with.

Adding fresh dirt to the garden November 5, 2011

I’m looking forward to a great asparagus meals next spring!