This is all new to me. Well, genetically I have a background in farming and I did grow up in the valley that feeds most of the world, however, a backyard garden is the sum total of my farming experience. I started this adventure knowing there would be pitfalls and mistakes. Totally learning as I go here, friends. But the coolest part is…I am still learning! Nothing to do with curriculum and methods, but cool new things that are broadening my horizons. Another exciting bonus will be the talented and knowledgeable people I will meet in pursuit of my own knowledge. It is liberating to be driving this ship, determining what I want to learn and explore and experiment with as time passes. I will pick my classes and the time slots, to use a metaphor from my previous life. In just four months there have been many lessons learned, of which I will share a few.
Water. I got in trouble because of water. A little background: when we built our house it is close enough to the county water access at the road that we were required to use it. We had planned on getting a well, but when told we had to get county water it seemed silly to pay for a well at that time. It has always been in the long term plan due to crop and livestock needs. So when I planted my vegetable garden and the berry bushes I invested in and we had a couple weeks of temperatures in the 90s with no rain…I watered those kiddos everyday with the longest hose you can buy hooked up to our house. Well wouldn’t ya know, Johnston County started calling my sweet husband every other day to tell him I was watering illegally. Then he went for a building permit and the illegal watering was noted for our address. At that point he was given a refrigerator magnet with the county watering schedule clearly detailed on it. Ohhhhhh…oops. Didn’t even think about that. The guy at the county said, “Well if you had an irrigation well…” Right, a well. Sigh.
My kids have to be trained to spend all day outside. I thought it would come naturally, the need to run in the sunshine until you dropped. I had grand notions of picnics outside because they wouldn’t want to come inside. Not yet. I said “yet” on purpose. I’m not saying I expect them to be outside every minute of every day, but a little more stamina would help. For example, this morning I went out early after breakfast to work in the garden and encouraged the kids to come outside with me to play with the huge bucket of new sand toys and shovels we got yesterday. (Thank you to Roses for the great discounts!) It’s overcast and muggy, definitely not hot. They lasted 30 minutes- with new toys and nice weather! I have done countless hours of work outside while they lounge on the couch watching TV in their underwear. Hopefully as they get older their tolerance for outdoor work will increase. I’m in trouble if not. In the mean time I will run up to the house to open popsicles and enjoy the evening hours when they like to play outside with Daddy.
This is a very experimental growing season. I have learned about tomato/ tobacco worms that are enormous and destructive, including the drowning technique suggested to kill the evil vermin. My daughter has become essential in my fight against this first enemy as she has great eyes and can spot the buggers very well. I have learned that my first attempt at pickles was too salty. They were really fun and easy to make though; the combined smell of the vinegar, garlic, and dill in my kitchen made me so happy. Just gathered enough to make a second batch this weekend, and fortunately the plants are doing wonderfully so we should have a good number of batches this summer. I have also learned that I am in love with the produce I am growing in unexpected ways. The sight of a squat, fat pickle in my hand is very reaffirming. I am not sure what it is reaffirming, maybe that I am capable of growing my own freakin’ pickles, but nonetheless, I feel satisfied. And quite possibly one of the cutest things I have ever seen is a baby melon. Tiny watermelons and cantaloupes are just so adorable! The known potential of yumminess is underlying as well, but again it is just so satisfying knowing there will eventually be a big ole melon to cut up in my kitchen. (Just as a sidenote, the hilarity is not lost on me that I am going on about how much I love fat pickles and cute little melons. LOL!) The one experiment that I am most looking forward to, however, is the salsa making. For that I just need my tomatoes to get big and red. I’ll be waiting over here……
These are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned as a new Farmer Mama. By the way, it cracks me up when I tell someone that is my new career and they ask what that is. A farmer. And a mama, I say. Seems self explanatory to me, but I guess that’s counter-intuitive to most. These lessons have made me have faith that this growing process is a healthy one and one that will make me, and my family, happy. Certainly the lessons to come involving farm animals will be educational and entertaining. Stay tuned, my friends.