Rain snow sleet mud

Now it’s early April, and the sun is coming out from time to time, hinting at warmer days ahead. It’s glorious, feeling the sun reach my bones at last.

And I find myself wondering what I did with the months of January, February and March.

Gardeners diligently work in the seed starting room when howling winds outside reach deep into the tree canopy, and fling dead and weak bits to the cold and muddy ground. I did not start seeds, or sharpen and oil my tools, or order and organize seeds (more things farmers do in winter). Every morning, there were new branches on the path; one wild night, a tree broke in half, fell, and smashed the fence down. The clouds hung low all winter; it rained, it rained, and it rained some more. It snowed; it sleeted. Power went out. I did not remember that there would be a garden someday. What did I do to prepare for the season during the first quarter of the year? Not much.

I remember when I was dreaming of this place, I called my future self a farmer. Even the phrase “hobby farmer” seemed too cute, too diminutive. I read books and blogs, and watched videos of small farmers putting in rows of this and that, erecting cold tunnels and green houses, and thought, “Yes. That’s what I want.”

But now I really see what farmers actually face, and I know they do not get nearly enough credit for the work they do. I underestimated their labor, even while thinking I had a clear view. This website address features a “dot farm” URL and one of my Instagram accounts is @las.flechas.farmstead, and let me say now that calling what I am doing “farming” is a bit embarrassing. I had big dreams, and I really believed I could make a go of it, mostly by myself, and in my 60s. This just demonstrates how little I understood what farmers do, each and every day, even when the ground is pure mud, and the skies are threatening to dump more snow and rain.

Today I embrace the role of gardener, and I still have so much to learn. I had a really good year last year with tomatoes, tomatillos, cucumbers, gourds, pumpkins, and melons, but beans? Cauliflower? Greens? I put in so many seeds and baby plants that never really took off. I made goofy mistakes, like putting cold weather crops in the ground in May, for example. I naively thought that this farmstead project was about me, my effort, my intentions, how much I wanted it to work, how hard I tried, how carefully I tended what went in the ground. No. Not so.

But I’m glad I had that big crazy dream, because it fueled my ambition to get out of town, buy land, and get started on growing food.

Last Thanksgiving and Christmas, I made pumpkin soup for the dinner table from the pumpkins I grew — such a satisfying experience.

I’m starting late, but I think I am going to have the best year yet out there in my vegetable garden.


1 Comment

  1. Gregório

    Seems like this is the perfect year for a late start, weather-wise! Sounds to me like you were reacting appropriately to the seasons.

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