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Gardening Together With Children

I really should not read.

It fills my head with all sorts of un-executable ideas and grandiose plans, and frankly, drives my husband nuts.

I just LOVE this book: Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots . It’s chock full of great ideas for gardening with your children. I love the watercolor illustrations, quotes and poetry. Some of the ideas make me want to go till up the front yard right now to create A Garden of Giants or A Flowery Maze.

I want to turn our old whiskey barrel into a water garden.  I want to make a sweet little garden in my holey old purple rubber boots filled with parsley, chamomile, Easter Egg radishes and Thumbelina carrots.

I can tell you how that will go in real life. I would put dirt in my old boots. Small children would see this and fill their every day boots, and probably Dada’s with dirt. I may or may not get the seeds planted. I would set the boots on the front step to grow. I’d probably forget to water them. Something may sprout. One day some child would see the boots, filled with dirt and half alive seedlings and they would decide to put them on, and have soil filled boots up to their thighs. And then another child would decide a hose was necessary, because, really, the hose is always necessary, and fill the boots with water, in addition to the first child’s legs, and the soil, and the seedlings. Then when they tired of that, they would somehow extricate said legs from the mud boots and come into the house. Probably across the cream carpet. And the beautiful little miniature garden in process would get thrown into the yard and get run over with the mower.

Possibly. I could be wrong.

I can tell you how gardening went today.

I Square Foot Garden. Kevin thinks it’s kind of silly because we have ALL THIS SPACE, and I want to truncate my garden to fit in the sunny spot right under the windmill, next to the clothesline. I do it like this because it’s close to where I am all the time. It’s near the spigot so I can water conveniently. When I had the traditional farm wife garden, out in the middle of the side yard, I never went over there, to weed or water. Let’s just say nothing really grew. Except weeds.

I’ve been really happy with my little Square Foot Garden. I don’t grow enough to can or store for the winter, but I’m not really in a stage where I can do that anyway. If I tried to put that kind of pressure on myself, I’d be miserable, and so would my chiddlers.

Anyway. It’s the 26th of May, Memorial Day. It rained last night so Kevin took a little time off to help me with the garden. My parents took the older three to a Memorial Day service, so we thought the timing was perfect. The parent-child ratio was 1-1. It doesn’t get a lot better than that over here.

 I needed to mix more of the “Mel’s Mix”–compost, vermiculite and peat moss–this is supposed to help keep the garden weed free. We had stopped and bought some seedlings yesterday, and I had saved some seeds from last year (we’ll see if they grow…). Kevin helped me find the tools I needed. One of the frustrating things about my life is I can NEVER find anything when I need tools. Kevin just doesn’t have a “spot” for stuff. And even though I DO, the chiddlers don’t, so when they can’t find their tools, they abscond with mine. I’m locking my new ones up.

We took off the lattice to mark the squares, raked off the leaves and accumulated debris, raked up the soil that was still there, mixed the “Mel’s Mix” in the wheelbarrow, and applied it to the boxes. Then he filled my new box with field soil. He had read of a way to garden where you just plant your seeds in holes in landscaping fabric, so we’re trying that. (Again with the reading 😉 ) I brought out my seeds, which had been stored in plastic Easter eggs (I read somewhere that it is an easy idea to store them this way), and planted some of them.

Sounds simple. Relaxing. Working side by side peacefully with my handsome husband.

I left out this part:

 “Denton, stop! Don’t dump the nails!”
“Where dis goes?”
 “Watch out Elivette! Stay back! I’m shoveling here!”
“What cuh-wer is dis pwant?”
 “Nooo!”
 “Here, go shovel in this box!”
“Why we do dis?”
 “Don’t stand on the cilantro!”
 “Why da ‘slantrwo hewre?”
 “Uh-oh!”
 “Elivette has the hammwer.”
 “Here, Denton, you can pull out this nail.”
“Why we need dis?”
“Leave the fabric alone!”

watering the seeds

“I dist move dis.”
“Don’t put your sister in the tomato cage! You’ll poke her eyes out!”
“What dis for?”
“What you wooking fowr? Dis?”
 “IN the box. Keep the dirt IN the box.”
“When it my turwn?”
 “Here, you can help me dig this hole. “
“I put da wadish seeds hewre?”
“Watch out for that rake!”
“Ugh! I want to pwant dem awll!”
“We can’t dump out all the seeds, Elivette.”
“When dey gwo?”
“Let’s not open all the Easter eggs”
“Dis many carrwot seeds?”
 “Ugh. I just swallowed a gnat.”

 Giving children the joy and wonder of reconnecting with nature? Introducing children to the pleasures of gardening? Cultivating wonder?

smelling the basil

Hopefully.

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Mother’s Day My Way

It’s now a week and a half past Mother’s Day.

Something like mothering got in between me and my Mother’s Day post.

I am generally a bit cynical about “hallmark holidays”…days just made up to make money. I like the idea of  these holidays. Days to remember your loved ones, to honor those important people in your life. And even though I’m a big believer in capitalism, I just don’t love the commercialism. Take Valentine’s Day–tell your loved ones you love them, by all means, but don’t spend $100 on roses that day. I’d rather you thought of me with a heartfelt  $4.99 bouquet from Aldi than some over the top display. I hate the sense of obligation that has crept into a lot of these holidays. Even Christmas has gone way overboard. Merchandisers want me to spend my total allotment of gifts on “stocking stuffers”. Not to mention there is a sense of competition, whether people want to admit that is what they are doing or not, with everyone posting pictures of their presents and flowers on Facebook. Ridiculous.

Mother’s Day is no exception. I stay away from media for the most part, so I was really surprised when a friend wished me happy mother’s day on the preceding Friday. I responded with a blank look and a “oh, is that this weekend?”

She laughed and said, “you have five kids! If anyone should know when it is, YOU should!”

But I was kind of glad I had forgotten. I was glad to let my husband off the hook. Mother’s Day comes smack dab in the middle of planting season, with the 15th of May being some kind of magic day of “100% of the corn planted by then will grow” pressure-filled deadline looming on the horizon.

I was glad that I had forgotten too, because I remembered the heartache it was when we wanted to have a baby but weren’t pregnant yet, and didn’t know if we ever would be. Then I felt like all the Mother’s Day stuff was a slap in the face.

I know the day brings unimaginable pain for those who have lost babes.

As it is, for this stage in life, I never get the day off. I never get A day off.

sideways foxglove

I was glad I had forgotten. It was better to not have any expectations. It was freeing to wake up and know that it was just any other day. I could relax into the fact that Kevin would have to work, and getting the kids to church by myself was my reality. It went well.

I was glad to get the handmade cards filled with effervescent love from my sweet babes. I was fulfilled sending out texts to my mama friends–in the words of a wise one I’m blessed to know–my mama tribe– who are walking this path of building love legacies alongside me to encourage them, and be encouraged in return. I was warmed when we stopped by the grocery and nearly every person we saw was carrying out a bouquet or a plant for their mama.

My amazing mother-in-law and my babiest last summer

I was glad to do the tasks throughout the day of being a mama. I was so relieved I had gotten past the day should be all about me, and that I could just let it BE. I was happy to have my mother-in-law over for supper. I was thankful Kevin quit early and grilled out. I was glad he and she put the kids to bed so I could finish working on our closet design. I was glad I let it go. I was glad I had forgotten.

Because really, no matter what your situation was like, we can never, ever in one day be thankful enough to the mama who brought us into the world,  or  to the mama who raised us.

My mama and papa
and my three littlests last summer

To quote the sentiment of the card my awesome brother sent to my mom, “Mom, I very much appreciate you giving birth to me and all the work it was bringing me up all those years…so here’s a card.”

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Farm Life

Planting.  Fixing. Hay making. Gardening. Mulching. Growing. Fixing. Long days. Working. Always the fixing. Exhaustion. Busy from sunup to way past sundown.

Kevin has been working his marathon days in the field this week. I’m glad. I truly am. After all, I would like to eat and buy stuff next year. The crops must get in. The work must be done.

He got a new planter this year and has basically rebuilt the whole thing. I, honestly, can’t tell any difference when I look at it and don’t know what he’s talking about most of the time. But I stand there supportively when the guys who DO know what all he’s invested in it are giving him kudos. I know how talented he is and am so very proud of him!

We’ve had rain delays too–the hay mower almost got stuck in the field the other day, but he pulled out in the nick of time.

Iowa is about 70% planted which only serves to add to the pressure of “getting it done”. It’s frustrating when you try to tell someone you’re proud and excited that it was the first day planting and they respond with “I see fields with corn coming up all over the place. First day? What!?”

Yeah, I know. 70% of fields are done. I just said that. It’s frustrating how few people understand what farming is all about and how much is out of our control. How much faith a farmer has to have in God to take care of the rest. How much faith a farmer’s wife must have in her farmer.

He’s had break downs every day but he just keeps on fixing. The piles of seed corn in our garage are dwindling. He’s working at breakneck pace. He still makes me coffee for the morning. He’s exhausted. He doesn’t have enough time to stop to eat.

Yet, when we take him pizza out to the field he takes time to listen to the tales of the day (which in some of our children’s cases, take a v.e.r.y. long time to tell). He puts all the children up on a hay bale just to make them laugh. He nuzzles the baby. He kisses his daughters and tells them they are beautiful. He tosses his son up in the air and chases him round and round.

Sometimes, I am jealous and irritated and think mean thoughts to myself like “Oh, yeah, well even if he’s trying to do the work of three men and a small boy all at once, at least he doesn’t have someone following right behind him undoing the work he just did. At least he’s lean and strong and can still bend over properly.  He should have more energy than me, he’s not growing a human.”

He’s working so hard. He’s doing his best.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. We’re going to just do the same thing we’ve been doing the past few weeks. I’m going to mother our precious gifts from God. He’s going to provide for us. We honor one another by taking care of “our” area. We honor one another by respecting the talents and giftings God has given us.

Soon there will be time to sit down together and just be. Not now. But that is one wonderful thing about life on the farm. There are seasons and it changes. Soon it will be different. But for now, it is like this.

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