- Bread and Crackers
- Coconut Products
- Cookies and Bars
- Fats and Oils
- Flours, Grains, and Legumes
- Fermented Vegetables
- Fermented Food Starters
- Milk and Cream
- Salt and Spices
- Snack Foods
- Supplements & Superfoods
- Yogurt and Kefir
- Books and DVDs
- Kitchen Tools and Appliances
- Non-Profit Organizations
- Personal Care
- Simple Food
I remember early spring days with dirty fingers sunk into cold dirt. These boys were much smaller then – four and two – but even at that tender age, we could see that this was exactly what they needed. Seeds were sprouted in so many ways on those long Sundays spent in the garden.
One of them was the hope that this agrarian way of life would pave a way in which we could provide the basics of life for our family while allowing them to spend their days living alongside their Mama and their Papa. For those days were long cubicle days for Stewart, followed often by long evenings of that extra work we needed to pay off student loans.
There was something about that time spent away – time you can never truly get back – that broke hearts big and small, and led us to seek out something different for these little loves in our care.
Fast forward a year or so and Stewart was quitting his job and we were preparing to move across the country with our two little men and little Annabelle on the way. We didn’t have much in the way of paid work lined up. We didn’t know exactly how this transition from bare land to food production would look. But we knew that this is what we needed to do and that the Lord would provide.
I was prepared for having less than we’d ever had. I was prepared for working harder than we ever had. I was prepared for Stewart to go from well-paid corporate job to minimum wage hired hand. What I wasn’t prepared for was how things really turned out.
That is to say, I was not prepared to jump into the land of the working-for-money while juggling babies, school, home, land, and work. The opportunities and employers we have been provided with have been tremendous and wonderful and literally a dream, to be sure. But I never quite managed to figure out how to be all there – for my family – while being all in on my work, which I had to be.
I’m sure it can be done, just apparently not by me.
And that very thing – the thing I could never quite bring myself to talk about in this space, for it broke my heart so – has been the hardest thing about these past two years of our agrarian journey. For all of us.
Which is why I am happy to say that, at least for a little while, I will be returning home – where I rock babies and feed the hungry masses and am really present for school and garden time and every moment in between.
I will still be a part of the Cultures for Health team, which we are so grateful for, and you can continue to follow along with our culturing adventures at the CFH blog. But I think we will be getting back to a balance that works much better for me, certainly, but also for every single one in our little family.
I never really left, not physically, but I am loving this process of returning home.
*Edited to add: The cutting back and finding balance I am referring to entails me working less on freelance projects for a while. Lord willing, we intend to continue blogging here in this space as always.*
It has been great fun to watch this new space come together. At times slow and at times faster than I can imagine, this project has involved so many helpers.
The sheeting for the floor was put down a while back and finished once we all kicked the flu. Because of the delay, there was more floor to add, and the previously laid floor needed a good scrubbing.
So sweepers big and small got to clearing the dust.
I happily took the best job in the house for a pregnant lady – floor scrubber. But I was not alone. That warm afternoon Stewart and I attacked it together, enjoying the rare moment for conversation while watching the children run about.
And then the paint began to fly. First a coat of white laid down by little hands and then a coat of gray.
While this poor photo doesn’t necessarily show it, we ended up with a lovely light gray floor. The hope is that this new floor will not be quite as absorbent as the bare plywood we have slathered in water, crumbs, butter, lamp oil, and so many more parts of our last two years.
Not that we have anything against a buttered floor.
I waddled down the dirt road the other day just as fast as a pregnant lady at this stage possibly can. They were all way out in front of me – one on his bike, one running alongside his brother, and Papa chasing them both with a little red head in the stroller.
He was running, chasing, laughing as they laughed. And I laughed with them and then it hit me.
When was the last time I saw this? Maybe early last summer as the garden was starting to take shape.
How far had he come? I remember a couple of months ago a man who could only work a half day, and that completely drained him. I remember three months ago a man who could work some half days and other days could not get out of bed. I remember a man five months ago who was frail, not himself, who seemed to be holding on by a thread some days.
And now, this.
Running and chasing and laughing and tickling our children. Throwing his little girl in the air while they both grin and chuckle big belly laughs. Working full days on this and that, working on the new floor, up before me and breaking up firewood.
We never know how long these things will last – health or the lack thereof – so I try not to see it as being over the hump or on the other side in any way. And we both know he still has a ways to go.
But man, it was a joyous morning to see our Papa and his little ones at it again. And we give thanks to the Lord for the healing He has granted.
“Remind me to keep it simple this year.”
This from the man who has busted up large areas of clay soil by hand two years in a row. He who has planted in February-May and seen so much whither away in July and August and who now keeps it simple by necessity. But that warm January day had us both looking towards the garden and I understood exactly what he meant. Come planting time, it’s just too easy to get carried away and forget where we are and what we’ve learned.
I don’t really make plans anymore, at least not in the usual sense. Instead, I write reminders down which kind of look like plans to the uninitiated. So this, the Garden Plan for 2014, is more a reminder than a plan. Please send it my way when the nights warm and the seeds are being ordered and I have a new infant to care for but just can’t stop thinking about the garden.
This year we need to keep it simple:
More perennials. It seems unlikely that we’ll ever look back and say “I really wish we hadn’t planted those fruit/nut/shade/nitrogen-fixing trees five years ago.”
Sweet Potatoes. We had a couple of really good varieties that we tested out this past year and it seems like a good idea to stick with those. These are fairly low-maintenance and we’d like to keep it that way.
Beans. Those black eyed peas that made me gasp when I saw how many were ripe for the picking, those are the beans for me. Their is talk of fencing in more area for the beans so that we’re not competing with the chickens for them this year. Again, these are pretty low-maintenance.
Greens. This is the one area where we’re going to put a bit of oomph into the soil. Concentrating on creating one large bed of nutrient-rich soil for various cooking and salad greens seemed like a great idea, when Stewart mentioned it, so I’m all for it.
Of course, like all of the other gardening that has gone on here, I won’t be of very much help this year. So this little reminder is Lord willing, dependent on Stewart’s health and the many other things that go on in our little world. But I need a reminder like this too because even if I’m not the one planting, I sure can be an over-gardening enabler.
Gardening books we’ve drawn inspiration from:
- The Resilient Gardener
- Gardening When It Counts
- Backyard Farming on an Acre
- Sowing Seeds in the Desert
What are your 2014 gardening plans?
It might just be me, but I find the end of pregnancy so much more exhausting than those early days of new, sweet smelling, always-feeding baby. Perhaps it is because we’ve always had people waiting, and waiting, and waiting for our wee ones to come into the world and, personally, I prefer to not put a date on it. Or, perhaps it is because every single baby has waited until the very last minute to find that ideal position. Procrastinators, just like their Mama.
Either way, I could happily spend these final weeks at home, getting everything in its place. I’m not a hyper-nester; I’m not a super tidy person in general, I suppose. But something about a baby coming does keep me standing at the counter baking, trying (and failing) to keep up with the dish pile, and always finding things that need a place.
Oh, who am I kidding, if the dish pile is ever smaller than yesterday’s and the floor gets swept, it’s a good day. My version of nesting is keeping up with those two things, making sure we have diapers and little tiny jammies out and ready, and baking up a storm. Even the baking doesn’t last anymore. Every huge batch of this, that, or the other disappears twice as fast as I think it will and I wonder how it could be I who is growing a little life and not these ravenous, not-even-close-to-teenage boys.
This morning it was fried eggs, those oat biscuits above, and yogurt. Our seven-year-old ate twice as much as I did and just now, not more than 2 hours after breakfast, proclaimed he is hungry. It’s a good thing he’s so useful around here, and frankly, would probably make a better housekeeper than I.
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