Friday, November 7, 2008

Walls and Wheat

I've never been well versed in the world of trucking, but we've rubbed elbows a bit as of late as our wall block needed to be shipped, via 45-foot semi, to Petrolia from Corvallis, Oregon. We received a call last week telling us that our block would be delivered Wednesday. The details seemed a little vague, particularly regarding a specific arrival time. This mattered since we needed to have forks on site to offload the 28 pallets, and we do not own forks.

When we returned home from our town trip Tuesday, there was a message stating that the block would arrive the following day. First thing in the morning, Drew called the trucker up, and they talked about specifics. Finally, Drew asked where he was, guessing he was on the road somewhere in Oregon. "I'm in McKinleyville". Whoa. That's just north of Arcata. We had to figure out the fork thing in a little less time than anticipated. Fortunately, a neighbor had forks that would fit Drew's tractor, which was great, as this meant Drew didn't have to go right back to town to rent equipment.

So the truck arrived around noon, and they got in here without a hitch. The only challenge for the day was that it was raining pretty steadily, though not as bad as it was several days earlier. Drew unloaded the neatly wrapped pallets, and lined them up to the north of the house site. They now resemble an odd, post-modern cubist sculpture, or random installment, or maybe a castle, depending on your art persuasion. We haven't opened any yet, but I am dying to tear into the plastic, and handle a block, and maybe even place it atop our foundation, just to see what it looks and feels like. I didn't really anticipate it, but having the blocks here feels really significant and exciting!

My other exciting project is my winter wheat beds. Drew machine tilled long, four-foot wide rows to the east of the existing veggie garden to plant winter wheat, which to me seems to be a brilliant use of winter rains to generate useable, nutritious, edible biomass/green manure. It's been difficult to locate a known entity of wheat seed. Not only is wheat rather scarce due to high prices this season (resulting in scrambled buying), but hardly anyone is growing wheat and other grains on a small scale. I had an extremely difficult time finding any cultural information about the wheat seed I did find for sale. At long last, I found DirtWorks in Vermont, through a local farmer, Kevin, who runs Shakefork Community Farm in Arcata. His business is a grain CSA, growing small-scale organic grains right here on the north coast. Thanks for the tip, Kevin!

My 25-pound sack of wheat seeds arrived today in the mail, and I immediately enlisted Ella to help me spread the tiny, elongate seeds on approximately 800 square feet of bed space. Ella loved shoving her hands into the bag, and pushing the box along as I scooted down the rows sowing. I kept telling her "We're growing loaves of bread!" Since it had rained after tilling, I had to chop-rake the area just to get the seeds lightly mixed in with the soil, a lot of work when you consider the amount of bed space. I am definitely feeling the tension of that job in my neck and shoulders tonight, not to mention the hot spots on my palms. Anyhow, with luck, I will be harvesting wheat berries come May, and the weather will be right for drying it...I'll keep you all posted.

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