Do you have garden dreams? Not the nighttime ones where vines reach out to grab you. The daydreams where vegetable reach for the sky, and weeds, especially thistle, are too low class to get a ticket in. You know the picture perfect scene where your soil is dark, rich, and heaped high in wide beds with permanent walking paths in between; so lush and soft that the rototiller is retired and asleep in the garden shed.
It’s my fall and winter dream until late spring brings a reality check with thistle and grass racing to get a strong hold.
My reality garden is nothing like my dream one except for small patches that keep my hopes and hands reaching. The main reason is that I jumped into ‘Holy Cow’. The name my neighbor christened my first garden. Now I have added a south garden before the north one is tamed along with bushes and trees to the three apple trees to form the beginning of a permaculture orchard. We completely ignored the advice of the experts to start small and build. Wisdom took a back seat to the need for a large amount of produce as we have many mouths to feed and difficulty with digesting store products.
There is just no shortcut available without negative consequences. But what spurs me on to keep the gardens big is the view of full waiting rooms at the Cancer Center of America. Talk about motivation. Cancer is in every one of us all the time. It is misshaped cells. I have some Follicular cancer cells in a nodule in my thyroid. They just are not clustered and growing. A healthy body gives them the boot to the outside on a regular basis. So I’m ignoring the expert’s advice to start small and will push forward. The gardens may not be pretty but they are productive. Pretty will have to come later, functional comes first. Now to just find the time and energy to keep up, we have ideas there too. They will probably be blown out of the water as we struggle to keep our daughter and her family going, but hey, a girl has to dream.
So if your garden ain’t pretty, don’t sweat it. It’s what comes into the house and onto your plate that matters, not the picturesque state of the plot. You don’t eat dirt so give it to a few weeds if need be. Oh I’d love it if my garden looked like a picture out of a magazine and I’ve had gardens like that years ago. But that was at the other house where I’d tamed the soil and pushed it to a more acidic level that did not invite weeds like thistle. We had nastier grass there though with deep, deep roots that were a yard long.
What’s important is that I still garden despite life’s hard trials and that I enjoy everything it has to offer. Well, not the thistle. Scratch that but last summer we had the most divine cucumbers I’ve ever tasted in my life. You had to pick them among tall weeds but they tasted no less sweet. Gardening isn’t about just the beauty. It’s about flavor, nutrition, and tucking away the harvest for the lean winter months to please the eye and the stomach.
There is an intense emotion you experience when you look upon jars full of ruby red beats, green beans, and orange pumpkin that sit upon your shelves coloring your winters. Someday I hope to once more have a pretty garden but it won’t be worth the trade if it greatly lessons the hours spent with our grandkids or our children. Gardens don’t cuddle you and kiss you goodnight.
My daughter and I were talking on the long drive home from the airport. She was returning from another chemo treatment, which happens every two weeks. Life is coming into perspective for us all. Facebook is filled with graduation pictures of her friend’s children. She doubts they understand the blessing it is to see a child graduate from school. There is a good chance she will not see her oldest, who’s thirteen, walk across the stage. We don’t truly treasure what comes easy. Sacrifices and trials makes gifts all the sweeter. It’s what puts things into perspective.
Life never quits interfering with our goals and dreams so we stand against the raging storms and adapt in the hope that we are refined enough that Christ finds of worthy. These lessons are redefining our goals, our perspective on life and maybe someday we will see beauty in the weeds in our garden, or at least there purpose.
Lack of time and money is teaching us a lesson. The beef are a huge investment of both. We just don’t have enough pasture. We will butcher both beef this fall and in the future purchase a steer of the size it takes to finish off in a few months. Until then we will save up to buy or adapt and greatly lower our consumption. I will greatly miss a bum calf unless prices dictate we can sell it at an early age for profit and have the milk. I hope I can resist. They are so….. cute!!
We are dabbling in he the idea of a few Dorper sheep, see the cutey pie in the right hand side of the picture, but that needs investigated further. Our pasture could hold a few sheep and of course goats.
We will not give up on our dream to be more self-sufficient, to become whole physically, spiritually, educationally, and socially. A goal we can not fully reach in this life time, but death is just a portal to a land of new adventures and growth. Self-sufficiency is not easy but nothing worthwhile is. So I won’t give up on my garden dreams but I will adapt. Sometimes that means an attitude adjustment – simply looking for the blessings among the thistle. Much like we look for the blessings among the trials. For now I’ll cherish having my children around me and snuggle my grandkids tight.