I love how Facebook sends you memories. It makes me realize I post a lot of stuff. Sometimes, I am reminded that on a Tuesday a year ago we had a delicious dinner. Sometimes, I get a glimpse of where I was a year or two ago emotionally. Sometimes, I get to see how far we’ve come and sometimes I am reminded of how little things have changed. Today, my memory was our first morning coffee on the porch here at the farm. What a year it’s been for us. The Hummers are still here as they were last year; this crooked house is still full of love and hope. But my, how things have changed. We have chickens, goats, pigs, guineas, bees, rabbits, new dogs. Our house is pretty close to being finished. We built a giant flower bed and we have a garden.
This week, Steve has been under the weather. That’s an understatement. Yesterday was the first day he has been out of bed since last Sunday. Having lived with chronic pain most of his life, he has a high tolerance for pain. This has brought him down. I won’t share details out of respect for his privacy but I will let you know he’s going to recover fully and be just fine. This week has made me realize just how important partnership is here on this farm. For about 2 months, earlier this year, I was sick and unable to help outside. I’m better now but Steve had to take up the slack. Until this week, I didn’t realize what that was like. Just feeding and caring for the animals takes about four hours a day. That doesn’t include any real maintenance or building of infrastructure. That doesn’t include garden work or weeding the flower bed. I’m not complaining…..not even a little. I’m just stating a fact and most importantly, appreciating my sweet husband who generally does the dirty work. He has almost single handedly remodeled this house. Yes, Grace and I have helped but he has made the plans, picked up the supplies, did the hard stuff. I drew the lucky straw on the husband front. It’s amazing to live with someone who can build a chicken coop, cook an amazing meal, take a photo that takes your breath away and paint a picture. He never complains and he still takes time everyday to do something sweet for me. But I digress. This week, I had some moments of doubt. Can we do this? Can we really self-sustain? Is all this sweaty, hard work worth it?
I got my answer on Thursday when I made my trip to check on the garden. You see, at one point we thought the garden was a failure. In the Spring, we spent a small fortune on seeds…..lots of seeds, mostly unique and heirloom varieties. We bought all the right stuff to plant the seedlings. We installed a greenhouse in the mudroom. And not one thing came up. Ok, we did have a couple squash plants that made it.
So we had to start over. We bought some tender plants and planted them….in our soil that we have since learned is mostly clay. Our goal is not to use any chemicals so as we watered them every day, we were also watering the Bermuda grass that quickly took over. We tried landscape fabric (not cheap, didn’t work) and finally, we hauled in loads and loads of free mulch. We were still skeptical, but didn’t give up.
So back to Thursday, I picked a bucket full of squash, cucumbers, zucchini, purple hull peas, bell peppers, okra, banana peppers and homegrown tomatoes. I was so overwhelmed with emotion that l literally stood there in the garden, sweaty from the day, looked up to heaven, said thank you to the Almighty and cried.
That night, we ate a meal almost exclusively from our garden. And I was proud. I felt my Granny over my shoulder and could see her hands in my head breading the okra. I could hear my Pa’s voice saying, “Boy, we sure got a mess a squash today.” As we shelled the peas, I remember countless hours as a child on my Grandparents’ porch shucking peas. Steve and I compared notes about the best way to get the peas out. The only thing missing that night was my Pa and Granny at the supper table. I wish they could have sat down and had that meal with us. I think they would have been proud.
So many people have asked what our goals are on the farm. Thursday night was our goal. We want to sustain as much as possible from the food we grow right here on this land. We want to make enough money selling our goods that we can fund this lifestyle and be here at this place together….every single day. We want to share our bounty with our friends, family and neighbors and we want to leave this place better than we found it. We want to honor the animals that sustain us and give them their best life while they are here. We want to wake up each day and enjoy coffee on the porch (when it’s not too hot) and we want to go to bed each night with grateful for hearts for all the moments of the day that we are blessed with. We want to enjoy the beauty all around us and celebrate life here on the farm.
Today, I’m going to attempt to make pickles. My Aunt Sandy shared some of my Granny’s recipes. I loved my Granny and her pickles are my favorite. There are none better I’m sure she learned from her momma and perfected the recipes over time. She was not good however, at keeping records of these recipes. As Sandy read them to me…some from the backs of old receipts and envelopes, I’m pretty sure she didn’t write down everything. So I’m going to attempt it and I’m sure they won’t be as good as hers. But I’m going to try. Like the garden, I’m confident it’ll be a learning process. And I just hope that someday Grace will want the recipe and will try and try again…learning and experimenting and trying to build on those time honored traditions. That’s my hope for this Farm….to spend each day with my husband, building on tradition, creating new memories and living our best life right here on this land that God blessed us with. I cannot wait to see what pops in my Facebook memories next year. Hopefully it’ll be about our successful pickle making adventure.