Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Farm journal

I am recording our first year of farming to dispel and/or confirm all the romantic notions I had in my head when venturing into this... Let the reader be the judge.

Our first day on the farm! We drove around for a half an hour looking for it. The GPS said it was in the middle of this gorgeous residential neighborhood but we couldn't for the life of us find it. Finally, on a whim, my husband turned into this dirt driveway between two mansions and there it was, in the back. I am a little annoyed that the farm is in the middle of this upscale neighborhood because that means that every day, to and from the farm, we will be tempted to covet... the expansive lawns, the three car garages, the apple orchards in the back yards, the stone exteriors to the mansions, the gigantic outdoor pools with fountain spouting rocks, the flawlessly era-replicated architecture...

At the farm we were anxious to get to work so the boys and I started filling a wheel barrel with rocks from our quarter acre. We probably got 10% of them, but hey, that's something. The ground was soft. Our feet sunk in a few inches with each step. I encouraged the boys to not be afraid to get dirty. I was most excited about the fact that the kids could just run around freely and get fresh air without me worrying about them, or watching them like a hawk like I would have to in the city. Saphira wanted to hang out mostly in the car though, which caused us to nervously watch her from afar in the field- afraid, I guess, that she might fall out or slam the door on herself or something.

Timmy made one raised bed with a lawn-mower like machine and then made one walking row on the right and started the one on the left when the machine broke. He made the rest with a rake which was exhausting. Brandon and I smoothed the bed and removed rocks that were brought to the surface. We had to keep reminding the kids (and ourselves) not to walk on the bed, because we needed the dirt to be fluffy for the beets we were planting- a root crop. It will probably become second nature after all the beds are made, with all the nice rows in place, and after the plants start cropping up, differentiating the walking paths from the growing beds.


Then Brandon and I sprinkled organic fertilizer. The fertilizer was like rabbit food in consistency- a little smellier. I used my hands to spread it and it felt good to get dirty. On the first day of farm class I had to write a paragraph about myself and I wrote how I love the stimulation of all the senses that takes place in farming: the feel of the dirt, the smell of the fresh air, the sounds of the birds and bugs, the vibrant color of a red pepper, the unsurpassed taste of freshly grown produce. So, here I was, on the first day, feeling that dirt between my fingers, and loving it.

While Timmy and I labored we kept thinking about our ancestors who did this first. I kept remembering how the colonists chopped down trees to clear a field and the ridiculous amount of work that is. All I had to do was toss a few rocks out of a field (that has been farmed on before) and that, alone, seemed like too much work. It's interesting to note that he was thinking of his Cambodian people and I was thinking of colonists. Is that because we feel an unconscious connection to our own blood, I wonder?

The one romantic notion that was quickly dispelled, I was quite dismayed to discover, was the whole "family bonding" thing. I still hold out hope that we will have lots of laughing and playing together this summer as we undertake this venture. Buuuut, for today, there was quite a bit of bickering. Me, snapping at Brandon that he was "doing it wrong" and Brandon and Dimitri fighting over a stupid little shovel. Dimitri deliberately walking on the raised bed to piss me off. Saphira ending the day with non-stop crying because she was tired. Oh well. Tomorrow is a fresh start. (Wolfie wasn't there because he got invited to his cousins house by his Aunt, which is rare. Plus he was at a field training yesterday. And he perpetually picks on Dimitri and I figured we would have enough stress on our first day as it is).

We planted the beets with this cool seed spreading tool. It took a while to set up, which made me impatiently think that it would be easier to just drop the seeds in ourselves. But once we got it going, the tool turned out to be pretty darn cool, much faster and more even than we could have done by hand. There was a measuring part that helped you make straight rows but I thought it was stupid because you have a two foot area: how hard is it to "stay on the side" or "stay in the middle". So we didn't really use the tool. I could have done the lines perfectly, but I let Timmy and Brandon do it and the lines are crooked. I don't really care. Obviously the reader is starting to gather that I am a layed back sort of person. We will see how this plays out over the course of our year. There are advantageous to my personality though. I think it makes me a good mother. If you are uptight, it makes for a miserable time raising four kids (and if the Lord blesses us we will have more).

The last step was to water the rows, but it looked like it was going to rain, and the forecast for the next day was rain, so we decided not to. 24 hours later, as I write this, it has yet to start raining. ha ha.

Before we left we peeked at our neighbors 1/4 acre to compare her row of carrot seeds. Her rows were perfectly straight, emphasized by the darkness of the rows of wet soil. We told ourselves that ours wasn't bad. But hers definitely looked better. Our mentor, McKenzie, might have a frustrating year with us. She seems to have a high regard for neatness in farming. Probably for good reason. We shall see.

As we piled in the car, tired; and quickly, to appease the screaming toddler, I felt immensely dirty. And I cringed at the thought of all that mud entering with us- cloth seats, I might add. Oh well, I thought. I might as well get comfortable with the idea since we have a whole summer ahead of us like this. We'll definitely vacuum it a lot though. In the car we scarfed down the strawberries, carrots and grilled cheese sandwiches I made. The sandwiches were soggy, the strawberries spilled and we daintily picked up the carrots, cringing at the thought of the fertilizer and dirt on our hands (though we did rinse in cold water). So our romantic lunch, turned out to be: not so much.

At home we all showered and bathed. I just couldn't get that feeling of dirt off my hands though. I lathered lotion on them. I'll have to buy a gallon of lotion for the summer.

All in all, our first day was a success. All of the Cambodian relatives are so excited to get out there and join us and I can't wait to have them. Oh, and, I got a tan, which is pretty cool. I'm going to be a blond bombshell by the end of the summer.

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