Monthly Archives: March 2019

In Shape

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“You know, it’s almost spring.  You really need to start working out every day so you can get in shape for planting season.” my in-shape, husband Joey said.

“Mmmmm hmmm….” I mumbled back without looking up from the school materials I was looking over.  In my head, I thought to myself, “I have plenty of time to get ready for planting season….waaaaaaay more time than anyone could need to get in shape.”

Well, you can imagine where this is heading!  I spent the rest of the winter putting off exercising, and spring arrived faster than a bolt of lightning.  Before I knew it, I was sending my students out the schoolroom door and telling them to enjoy their spring break!

Despite the fact that I put off exercising all winter, I was pretty sure that I could just “wing it” for all the planting sessions that would be happening on our farm.  I would be helping to plant thousands of onions and hundreds of pounds of potatoes.  We would be doing all of this planting by hand, but did this bother me?  Naaah!

Planting began, and about halfway down the first row, I realized I had made a slight mistake.  By the end of the first row, I realized that things were not going to work out as I had planned.  “Winging it” had turned into trying to survive it.

As the rest of my family members passed me singing songs with cheery smiles (I am not kidding.), I had to face reality.  I had to admit it. Joey was right!  I should have gotten in shape!

I’d like to say that this year is the only year that this has happened, but I have to be truthful. This same scene replays itself almost every year!  Honestly, you’d think I’d learn my lesson!

The truth is, gardening season and I have a complicated relationship.  I love our farm, providing fresh produce for local folks, and helping others learn about becoming more self-sufficient.  I love watching my husband make hundreds of beautiful plants grow in the greenhouse and in the fields.  I love hearing him share his gardening knowledge with other folks.  He is truly amazing!  But, people always assume that I since I’m the farmer’s wife, I am also amazing at growing things and have hundreds of nifty garden tips.

Well, I’m here to tell you, that’s not exactly true.  Wanna learn how to do a vintage hairstyle?  I’m your gal!  Need to know how to make an angel food cake from scratch or how to churn butter?  That’s me!  Need to know something about how to teach in a modern one room schoolhouse?  I can fill you in!  Want to know the best way to keep your tomato plants up and going?  Ummm……we’d better ask Joey.

I am great at many things, but being a garden expert doesn’t exactly hit the top of my list.  Ya’ll, I have even killed aloe vera plants before.  True story.  Thank goodness for Joey!  But also, thank goodness for me.  Thank goodness for me?  Yes, for me!  Even though Joey is definitely the driving force behind our little farm, we work together to make things come alive.

He plans and directs, I (along with the rest of our family) help.  I send out emails, keep our farm Facebook page updated, and keep our website going.  He helps folks with gardening advice.  I help folks with vintage clothing advice.  Okay….so maybe that part about vintage clothing advice doesn’t happen very often, but I’m pretty sure that I have helped a couple of ladies figure out where to order vintage style dresses from.

My point is that it takes us both.  Even though I may have been out of shape for planting season…again…I did get some things planted and was a little bit of a help.  I guarantee if I asked Joey to update our website or send out a farm email to all our subscribers, he’d be a little out of shape in those two areas.  We each have been blessed with different gifts and when we work together, it makes everything work out just right.

 

Greenhouses and Gratefulness

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The past couple of weeks have been full of surprises here on the farm.  As you know, last month we had a major crop loss when mice got into our greenhouse and devoured several of our crops. Through the generosity of family and friends, God blessed us with the financial means to buy more seeds and restart.  The mice alluded capture, but a good friend provided a temporary solution to keep our tender plants safe – stack the trays on top of slick sided pots.  Thankfully, this has worked well!  The little plants and herbs have been thriving, but….we ran out of room!  Usually, Joey does our spring planting in three rotations.  Once the first plants and herbs are old enough, he is able to move them out into a sun heated hoop house where they can start to get used to a little cooler temperature.  However, the crop failure forced us to plant two rotations at once.  There simply wasn’t enough room for all the trays.  There was only one solution – fire up the “little” greenhouse.

On our farm, all of our greenhouses and hoop houses are designed and built by Joey, using whatever materials he had on hand or that we were able to afford.  We have the “big” greenhouse, which is built off the back of Joey’s shop, and we have the “little” greenhouse, which is in our backyard.  I love the little greenhouse for so many reasons.  It was the first greenhouse that Joey ever built and almost all of it was built with materials he had on hand.  The little greenhouse has windows and doors that had been saved from remodeling jobs of the homes of various family members.  When we first started using the little greenhouse, our daughter, Elizabeth spent many hours “helping” Joey with the plants.  As a result, the walls are full of crayon markings and pictures that she drew when she was little.  When I walk into the little greenhouse, I can still picture Joey standing at his potting bench and Elizabeth sitting at his feet happily playing with a tub filled with potting soil, water, and rocks.

When we built the big greenhouse, the little greenhouse became a temporary place to hold extra plants.  Joey was thrilled to have the extra room and the nicer heater that the big greenhouse offered.  As the years went by, the little greenhouse began to look a little shabby.  It was built with untreated lumber and, predictably, it began to crumble a little.  Each year, Joey would talk about having to pull it down, and I would tearfully ask if we couldn’t keep it just a little longer.  Happily, he was always so busy that he never had time to tear it apart.  Plus, it kept coming in handy for the extra plant storage.

Fast forward to this week!  With the plants threatening to burst out of the big greenhouse, Joey had to do something – and fast!  He spent quite a while looking over the little greenhouse and then got to work.  He took out the old pot-bellied wood stove and gave it a good cleaning, replaced two windows that were cracked beyond repair, replaced boards, and braced up walls.  When he was all done, I was amazed!  The pot-bellied wood stove had a crackling fire going in it.  The handmade wooden shelves were clean and shining, and the little greenhouse lived again!

Once the temperature in the little greenhouse was warm enough, the whole family was enlisted to help get the plants from the big greenhouse to the little greenhouse.  Two vehicles ran back and forth between the greenhouses and you’ve never seen trays of plants move so quickly from one place to another!  The only downside to the little greenhouse is that Joey has to keep a constant check on the pot-bellied stove to make sure the temperature stays where it needs to.  Other than that, it is a fabulous surprise to have it up and going again.  Joey has warned me that all his repairs are only a temporary fix and that eventually, the little greenhouse will have to come down.  But, for now, I’m delighting in seeing it in use again and enjoying all the memories that it brings back.  I’m also thankful to see our little plants growing and thriving.  What a blessing!

Speaking of blessings, we were surprised this week to find notes of encouragement and donations to our farm from two different couples.  Both were left when we were not home and it was quite a wonderful shock to find these gifts.  Their encouraging words were further confirmation for us that we are on the right path.  Words can’t describe how much it means when someone cares enough to show their appreciation for our farm and family.  It is something that we will never forget.

In the next couple of weeks, we will continue planting, continue working, and continue praying.  We are so grateful for all that God has blessed us with and look forward to a wonderful spring season!