Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spring at Acorn Abbey

It's been a rough week for the writing life. I started editing my first 13 chapters (45,000 words so far), and much to my horror I found myself moaning--on every other page--"This is fucking awful!"

"This isn't just a shitty book," I thought to myself. "This is the shittiest book I've ever read. And it will be--yes, I can guarantee it--THE WORST BOOK EVER WRITTEN."

For two days I sunk into a minor (though still gloomy) depression, hardly able to get out of bed to open up the dreaded Word document again. Add to that my financial troubles (I had to replace my serpentine belt to pass inspection, which cost me yet another $100+), and my uncertain future prospects, and it was a perfect storm for a couple days of despondency.

I just read my book over again and decided: "Well... it's not that bad."

Thankfully, spring has arrived at Acorn Abbey and a little hard physical labor was just what the doctor ordered.

We are growing our garden from seed. Soon, our spring crops will be taken out of doors and into the garden. We are growing cabbage, celery, Brussels sprouts, spinach, and snow peas. (Later we'll grow our summer crop from seed including tomatoes, squash, watermelon, etc.) It is--I will posit--a universally human pleasure to watch things grow, and it certainly has been a pleasure for me.

We are in the process of revitalizing David's soil. We've mixed in loads of organic fertilizer, lime, and compost before churning it all together with the tiller.

I also--and this is going to sound insane--tied almost two miles worth of fishing line above the fence (400 ft. perimeter) to keep the hawks from swooping down and attacking the chickens. Since I've put it up, there hasn't been any more hawk encounters.

Here I am about to smooch my favorite chicken, Patience, who's the closest thing I have to a girlfriend.

And here's David's cat, Lily, who--in the seven months I've lived here--has exhibited nothing but disdain for me. The last time we "played" together (and when I say "play" I mean when I try to pet her as she sprints away), she drew blood from one of my knuckles.

Next step, is planting our crops in the garden, digging an asparagus bed, and building a fence within the fence to keep the chickens out of our crops.


Meve said...

Go Ken! Keep up the writing because I'm going to be the first person in line to buy your book. My blog doesn't have very high traffic, but I plugged your blog nonetheless this morning--hope you don't mind :-) Take care, Eve

Seth Miller said...

I'm a sucker for garden posts so please keep them coming.

Unknown said...

What a wonderful environment to write a book, mixing in physical labor and the great outdoors. I have no doubt your final draft will be a much anticipated and enjoyable read, if your past blog posts and stories are any indication of your abilities. Keep the faith!

Constant Writer said...

If your book is anything like your blog, it really can't be that bad. You really do have a great writing voice and unique perspective. And I totally agree about the joy of watching things grow. I'm working on an avocado seed at the moment and it's getting pretty tall considering it's still winter!

Anonymous said...

Haha, I like how she's the closest you have to a girlfriend and Patience is leaning away like, "ew, mister!" to your kiss! hahaha!

(not to rub it in too much) =]

Ken said...

Eve--what an honor! Thanks for the plug. I'll keep writing!

Seth--I really should be doing more posts about life here at Acorn Abbey. I'll try to do better. David has a great simple living/ sustainable agriculture blog here:

Josh--thanks man. I'm definitely in "writing mode," and apart from a little outdoors work every day, I'm living the life of the mind. Probably because of this, I've begun to fantasize about embarking on grand physical adventures.

Constant--I should have pointed out that there's lots more stuff growing here: climbing roses on the fence, flowers, trees... David wants this place crowded and full of life, and I'm happy to watch the beginnings of it.

SF--The kiss, I'll admit, was not consensual. I'm hoping that she just doesn't like beards...

Josh P said...

Ken, despite your claims, I've read 4 chapters of the book and can assure your readers it is quite good and will not disappoint.

tentaculistic said...

I have been so confused about the chickens until I finally found your older post about working for room and board... ah, now I got it.

Hope you enjoy the outdoor work and even the chickens (yours look nice -- maybe I just lived with a bad batch of chickens? Although I don't hate chickens nearly as much as ducks, mainly due to ducks' wet poop that sticks to *everything*).

Have you read the part of the Omnivore's Dilemma in which he talks about Polyface Farms, and their really cool methods of farming/raising animals? It made me really admire the intellect and forethought that farming can require... funny because I think so many people think of farming as mindless work. The more I learn, the more wrong I realize that view is.

Ken, another book that might ring a chord with you is Shop Class as Soul Craft. Not that you have much time these days to read books, in place of writing them.

Hey, when you publish, can you also do it in an electronic medium (like Kindle or ePub) for us minimalists who prefer one e-reader over a bunch of hardcopy books? That would be so greatly appreciated!

Ken said...

Josh P--Your encouraging words are appreciated as always. I'll get the book up to standard; it's just going to take a while.

Tent- Yes, we have some nice chickens. I'd wager to say that they're the happiest chickens on this side of North Carolina, too. I've read "Omnivore's Dilemma," and loved it. Great book. Sustainable agriculture is something I'd like to learn more about. I think I've heard of the book you've mentioned--and it's certainly appealing. I have nothing but respect for the manual trades; many such people ought to be considered artists. Here's a nice quote from St. Francis:

"He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist."

IF the book gets published--and I can't emphasize that "IF" enough--I'm more than positive that the publishing company would offer it in digital form as well.

Anonymous said...

Your book can't be has bad has the frist four chapters of this lady's book called "I want to Marry Your Daddy" all I can say about the book is the title is the best part about it.

I think I need to build my own Acorn Abby.