Farm Life, Gardening, Self-Sustaining

Being a Farm Girl is Hard Work

Nearly every morning, after my first cup of coffee is poured, I take it out to the garden and sit on the swinging bench that overlooks the weedy stretch of space we’ve attempted to make our garden this year. And every morning I feel an immense pride for what we are accomplishing. I sit in the sun, the scent of peppermint mocha creamer drifting pleasantly to my nose and smile because our family did this.

There were no guarantees. We went into this gardening season as first timers with a pretty good sense of direction thanks to the gardening tips we’ve picked up over the years from our parents. And although the weeds are everywhere, at all times, and in constant need of attention, what our garden is providing for us right now is becoming more and more apparent as the days pass.

In the kidney shaped rock garden where the lime zinger sedum and hostas sit across from blooming irises, zinnias are starting to work their way up. Beside that are two tires – one large tractor tire that was going to be designated for strawberries and a smaller car tire that houses a tumbling tom tomato plant and dill. The larger tire now is home to several wave petunias and I look forward to a season of watching them spill over the old, torn rubber.Tire Gardens

The garden then opens up and the real fun begins.

So far the plants that have shown great promise from seed are cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, chard, carrots, sugar snap peas, pole beans, cantaloupe (I think), butternut and spaghetti squash and radishes. Oh, the freakin’ radishes. I’m not sure why we decided that three 20’ long rows needed to be planted but here we are, in radish heaven. Luckily the girls and the hubs eat them so they’re not going to waste. We’re pairing them, fresh picked, with as many meals as possible.

The transplants that have managed to survive are tomatoes, peppers, crookneck squash, basil, chives and brussel sprouts.

Tomatillos

We’ve had to replant a few things after some rows failed to produce fully. The cucumbers needed another try as did some sugar snap peas and pole beans.

Around the yard we find more bounty that existed long before we moved in. The apple tree is showing promise, as are the plum trees and even the choke cherry bushes.

We’re still waiting to see if the potatoes and yellow onions will show themselves after a week or two.

Add to this the six raspberry plants offered by some kind farmer’s that stopped by today to move an old tractor that’s sat abandoned for several years.

As I read over that I realize that a year or two ago seeing something like that would have made me say “Wow, that’s amazing! What fun!”

Hm…fun is a word I would use sparingly.

My six year old said – after a good hour of sitting among the rows of carrots and chard while picking weed after prickly weed and with a derisive wiping of her brow, “Gosh mom, being a farm girl is hard work!”

It is. It really, truly is. And this is just the beginning.

Our first attempt at chicken hatching was a disappointing flop. In a few days we’ll know whether or not the second attempt took. If not, I’m not sure what we’ll do at that point. There’s still an opportunity to take some chickens off my parents hands so that we have them here and laying. But if this round isn’t successful I can honestly say I’ll be a little heart broken. We’ve been meticulous in watching to make sure the incubator doesn’t run too hot or cold, keeping the humidity just right. I guess time will tell.

We’re still openly discussing goats and sheep and hope to find an auction in the area where we might be able to land both for a good price.

The journey, thus far, has been inexpensive. Hard, yes. Time consuming, absolutely. Discouraging…without a doubt. At this time there is currently a trap set on the outskirts of the garden for a woodchuck that has done a pretty handy job of leveling a few of our brussel sprout plants.

But as of right now, all of this has been accomplished for under $50.00. A half-off employee discount at the local greenhouse doesn’t hurt but still…for under $50.00…everything you read about earlier.

I sometimes spend more than that on produce in a month just for feeding my family.

Now, the idea that there will be a run of months where I don’t have to, where there will be the opportunity to can and preserve to make the food last is as rewarding as seeing those plants grow day after day. Fresh salads, pickles…even the idea of vinegar and onion cucumbers makes my mouth water and brings me back to days at my grandparents lake place, sitting on the screened in porch and dipping into an ice cream pail filled with them.

It was a little daunting at first, watching my husband till up that huge section of un-worked land and thinking “I’m going to fill that with produce.”

The more time we spend in it though, the more we plant and the more we show our girls the importance of tending a garden, the more benefits I see coming out of such an ambitious move not just in regards to sustaining our family but showing our children the importance of good, hard work and the educational value of watching things grown from seed to table.Lettuce

It’s something I would encourage anyone to do, even if the idea of operating an amateur green thumb is a little scary. The worst that could happen – the three to five bags of seed you bought for under two dollars a piece provide nothing. The best? You have your own carrots and radishes from your own garden and know exactly what went into growing them. Nothing wrong with that at all.

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