A New Farmgirl and the Family Farm

A new little farmgirl is joining our family this November.  During Emily’s ultrasound yesterday I watched in awe as the little skeleton baby moved her knees into her chest, moved her arms, and turned her head.  Is there anything more amazing than new life?  My daughter is five months pregnant.  Her five year old, our beloved Maryjane Rose, is overjoyed to have a sister coming.  We have so much to show her!

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New life is everywhere.  My garden beds overflow and bees, goldfinches, and hummingbirds delight in nectar as a baby squirrel eats walnuts from the tree.  I am not sure if there will be any left for us again this year.  There were plenty of mulberries to go around though.

No matter what new endeavors I take on, no matter where my life and studies take us, I always end up back to this place.

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“I keep asking myself what I do I want to do now?  What are my goals?” I told Emily while we were waiting for the doctor.  “And all I want is to be able to live on a big family farm, take the grandkids to see what is growing in the gardens, check on our general store and restaurant, and be together living sustainably.”

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“That’s all I want too,” she responded.

At dinner the other night, my son has it all planned out.

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In the end, all I want is to live close to the heartbeat of the earth, surrounded by family and community, and live sustainably.

It is time to can peaches today.

The Greenhouse?

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There is a large mass of building on the property.  The caved in root cellar burrows beneath it, the stucco and plastic paneled building serves now as a place to store items.  Trash and treasures abound in the light filled space.  It once held a giant pomegranate tree and rows and rows of water plants.  Our landlords used to own a business selling plants for ponds and I can imagine the place filled with flowers and greenery, with a large pomegranate tree as the center of its universe.  Two snow storms and disability turned the now dusty greenhouse into a storage unit.  We keep our Christmas items and canning jars in there, ourselves.

When Tuesday supper club came around this week, the landlords (I prefer the term neighbors) entered the kitchen smiling and chatting.  Dianna looked at my organization black board in the kitchen and the to-do list.  One item is to start ninety-eight tomato, eggplant, and pepper seeds.  I said I was going to line all the window sills and hope the cats didn’t get it.

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“Why don’t you just use the greenhouse?” she asked.

I’ll admit, I thought since it was filled with items it wouldn’t work as a greenhouse.  Not proud of this, folks.  I had a dumb moment.  A greenhouse is still a greenhouse.  And I have a greenhouse, y’all!  Another perk of this lovely property we have stumbled upon.

Out of Space Farming (finding garden space in unusual places)

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We need a bigger garden in the next house!  This is always our mantra.  The next house will indeed have a bigger garden and I will inevitably run out of space.  We have already begun saying it again.  This quarter acre garden is the largest we have had and succeeded at but the drive to farm and garden and grow more veggies and succeed at the farmer’s market and at filling the root cellar leaves me looking for nooks and crannies of dirt.  I need more space!  Our lease doesn’t run out for another garden season or two so what is a farmgirl to do?  Find space.

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A palm reader once told me that I would be farming in pots.  Yeaaah, sure.  Pots of farm vegetables are reserved for the day our kids stick us in an apartment.  Pots of vegetables are for when you don’t have a yard to tear up.  And pots are expensive!  I don’t want to go out and buy all those pretty ceramic pots.  They would break in the first hail storm anyway.  (You can see my wheels turning here, can’t you?)  What about five gallon buckets?  I could put them between the rows of the garden!  I could line them up the driveway!  I could fill the porch with them!  So, off to Walmart we went to get five gallon buckets.  I needed over two hundred dollars worth.  Yikes.

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I wrote on our website and on our Facebook page our wish list for the farm including five gallon buckets.  Two different folks wrote back that we should check the bakeries at the local grocery stores.  That seemed odd, but the frostings and other products come in those buckets and they just throw them away.  (Read the ingredients on those suckers and never buy a cake or donut again.) So, back to Walmart we went and scored a few buckets.  Every time Doug thinks about it, he pops by the bakery and gets me more buckets.

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I have nine buckets of peas going next to the house and they are coming up wonderfully.  If an impending hail storm were to come, I could easily move the buckets to the covered porch.  Twenty seven tomato plants and ten peppers will hop into buckets of potting soil as well.  Okra, green beans, pinto beans, and more will find their way in a cushy bucket to grow.  They will line the house and wherever I can sneak them in.

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The other place I found was this patch of driveway.  It is a hill of sand and ants.  It has been overlooked long enough!  I will plant medicinal herbs there.  I will dig a hole, put some garden soil in it, then drop the plant in.  I plan on this being a spiral design down the little hill with thick hay in between the plants.  (Speaking of which, the hay was free too.  It was sitting at the feed store, moldy and unwanted.)

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One could also use a children’s swimming pool with a few holes drilled in the bottom filled with potting soil.  It could easily fit in about any size yard.  Most any large container or few feet of overlooked ground can hold vegetables and fruits.

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Anyone can grow vegetables.  A south facing window can provide all the salad fixings one would need.  We new farmers just need to look at space with new eyes.