Disclaimer: I am not one for emotional posts or putting my life on social media. I love my family and husband and cats and horses but you likely won't see any of that on any of my feeds - they know it and I know it and that works for me. I have nothing against those who put it all out there - I actually love some of the emotional and inspiring posts from my friends and family but it just isn't me. It's a little outside of my comfort zone. (My personal FB page has a wedding picture as my profile pic. We got married 5 years ago and it hasn't changed once since!) But today, I was reflecting on the events of the past few weeks and I had to step outside that zone. I had to let people know about the amazing people that surround me every day and have shaped the person I am. Most of them will never see this - Micheal is not on social media and doesn't 'follow' anything or anyone! We coined my dad the family "techie" but blogs are definitely outside his wheel house. Mom loves Pinterest and Facetime but that's where it ends. My mother and father-in-law are also on the outside edge of the tech world; they text, call and email - period. And to be truly honest, I'm pretty new to all of this also. I often think I was born in the wrong era. I should have been a homesteader, or at the very least, grown up where the only phone was the family landline. I am most comfortable 30 minutes out of town on a dead end gravel road with minimal neighbors and my pets and the wildlife as company! This post is so that you know about the people who give me my strength and ground me every day. Hopefully you will understand why the foods we produce taste as great as they do - they were produced by blood, sweat, tears and LOVE.
The weather is a funny (or not funny at all) thing! With the wet fall last year and the rain this spring, I was feeling soggy and down, along with most farmers in the area. The soil out here is full of great nutrients - but it's heavy with clay and does not dry out quickly. It also HATES being worked with while wet. This poses major problems for any gardener and farmer. Normally I would just sigh, say "there's nothing I can do about the weather" and wait it out. I might miss an early farmers market or two; maybe the tomatoes would set a little later than usual and I would fill my raised planters with veggies instead of flowers this year or, I might just produce more short season veggies. Not this year - this year I have a new CSA, people depending on me, a timeline to meet and the highest of expectations for myself and this new venture! So many seedlings were waiting for their permanent spot in the garden, while others were outgrowing their starter pots in record time. I had never transplanted broccoli twice before!
What's a girl to do?
I waited and fretted, weighing the options - I considered buying miles of plastic to roll out at the slightest sign of rain, working up the saturated soil and hoping for the best, even renting land - nothing seemed viable. I was starting to feel desperate. I called my sisters and voiced my concerns, trying to get it off my chest. Jess suggested tower gardens (her new aeroponic venture is so exciting) - but I needed a much bigger solution! I had slaved over developing a detailed game plan for this spring but the days were slipping by and nothing was going as intended! Micheal would come home and walk the garden with me, bring in skidsteers, rotovators and harrows to move the soil to help it dry, but nothing helped. All the machinery in the world can't fix wet clay! He would tell me “Don't worry, it’s still early", "You aren't alone, nobody can do anything with this weather", “We will figure it out Sar”. He lives in a world of men and trucks and machinery - where you make things work and if they don’t work willingly, then you change the game plan and force the desired outcome. He works long days and spends hours solving seemingly unsolvable problems. His optimism gave me a little more hope and I really wanted to believe him but I worried that the one thing I needed (more time) was the one thing even he couldn’t change. And then came the weather warnings for our area with rain being forecast that would set me back weeks.
Hours before the storm was destined to strike, I headed out to the garden in desperation to see if anything had changed since I was there six hours earlier. I found this…
Micheal was working out of town, but he had sent out a truck and had loads of beautiful, sandy, well composted soil delivered right to the garden’s edge. My father-in-law was out with the loader, moving the pile off the road. I climbed in a skidsteer and went to work building long beds on top of the native soil. I was half-way through the pile, the sun was almost down, lighting streaked across the sky, thunder rumbled in the distance and the first rain drops hit the window. My phone rang immediately – “Keep going until you start picking up mud on the tracks. I’m a few hours away and I will try to get there to help as soon as I can.” I grabbed the last bucket of dirt, placed it in a row by the light of the skidsteer (and the lightning in the sky) and headed back to the shop. By the time I parked the machine, rain was coming down in buckets. When the rain finally stopped, I went out to survey the damage – I wasn’t sure what kind of mess I had made in my panic in the dark. And although I am handy with a set of pallet forks, my skidsteer bucket work leaves much to be desired! The rows looked ok and the native soil wasn’t as bad as I had envisioned! As I raked out the piles, and picked out a few pieces of turf and gravel road that had snuck into my bucket the night before, I began to reflect on the entire situation. How lucky am I to have someone who would go that far to ease my worries and completely turn around my desperate (in my mind!) situation even though he was swamped with his own work and had been putting in ridiculously long days for months on end. I can’t even express how much this gesture had eased my mind and meant to me. Ladies, if you have a man who goes to great lengths for you and your dreams - hold on to him (especially when he has access to lots of machines and equipment)!
And then my phone rang again. Mom and dad were wondering how everything was going. Had we got the rain? Was the garden ruined? I told them about my night and how, after a day or two of warm weather, I thought I would be ready to start getting all those patient little seedlings in the ground! The next thing I knew, they were packing up their side-by-side and heading up to help! I got my love of gardening from my mom, but I wasn’t sure she knew what she was signing up for. We often spend days in her flower beds weeding, transplanting and visiting but this was an entirely new scale. They arrive with gloves and sunscreen in hand and set to work helping to haul plants (which by this time were scattered all over my yard), setting up watering systems, raking, planting, seeding and fencing. My sister, 2 year old nephew and almost 1 year old niece Facetimed us in the garden, took a virtual tour, offered words of encouragement and laughed at 'grandma's crazy hat'!
On day two, my mother-in-law wandered out to see how we were doing (gardening really isn’t her thing) and asked how she could help. One great thing about all those overgrown seedlings is that as we emptied tray after tray of plants, the garden came to life - immediate gratification for me and all my help! We spent four days in the garden catching up on all the work that had been delayed. I tried to let them all off the hook, send them home to relax, but they wouldn’t leave until we had everything caught up.
I would still be transplanting onion seedlings today in the first garden row without the extra helping hands (I may have over done it with the onions this year)!
I am truly blessed to have so many amazing people with so much love in my life! My cup (and garden) is full!