“Never will I marry a farmer. Never.” I thought those words so many times as I watched my parents struggle to feed seven children and fight the weather year in and year out. Rain when it was needing to be dry. Dry when moisture was desperately needed. I spent hours chasing cattle, feeding calves, helping with milkings…. Some of the cattle became the meat we ate. We milked about 50 cows, which provided the milk for us to drink. We raised chickens–both for eggs and for meat. Additionally, I was very involved with fighting to grow a garden in order to have food to eat year round.
The budget was tight and that garden meant needed food. It was our grocery store. Five gallon bucket after bucket of peas to shell. I got so I could do it with both hands at the same time. Buckets of green beans lined up to snip off the ends. Strawberries, raspberries, and Saskatoon berries to pick for mom to make into jams. I was so very scared of spiders back them, and they loved the berry patches. I was terrified to pick. Also, hours and hours of weeding. Then came the cold fall when we’d get off the bus and see the buckets yet again in the garden, but now they were on the end where the potatoes were planted. No matter the weather, when it was time to pick up all the potatoes, we would do it into the evening. We carried the buckets into the dugout (side of the hill where the underground storage was for carrots and potatoes). In the middle of winter we knew we’d be digging out the opening to that storage to get yet another pail to eat.
The farm in Canada where I grew up.
Many memories of the farm haven’t been pleasant. Work, work, and more work to just survive. I shudder to recall the seriousness of it. My husband, when we first got married, made me promise that we would NEVER visit the farm when tractor work was needed–especially hay season. I readily agreed. Yet, I’ve missed those potatoes. I now recall that those potatoes were so flavorful and were grown in the most beautiful rich deep black soil. They weren’t sprayed with any chemicals. Mom and Dad used the manure from the barn to till into the soil. The carrots were incredibly sweet. I remember being a young tike pulling them out when mom wasn’t looking–wiping the dirt on my pants–and eating them when they were still fairly small. It was our candy. We ate strawberry sandwiches and strawberries on anything during the summer–as much as we wanted to eat. Fresh raspberries in crepes and on ice cream and the best jam….
Now, life has changed. Oddly, I never knew that my future held a very bizarre twist of fate. I guess that my childhood has set me up with some quirks. I really do have to just laugh at myself. Growing a garden is now very important to me. Yes, my family could live on purchased goods. However, my garden has gotten pretty fair-sized. I spend hours studying seed varieties, plants, and gardening techniques.
My garden jungle at the start of fall with the colors hitting the trees and tomatoes on the ground, picked individually to keep varieties separate.
I carefully tend my “babies” each end of winter into spring. Those seedlings are critical to growing healthy, nutritious food that is uncontaminated.
Plants on racks growing indoors.
Recently hubby jokingly said, “The babies can go on a field trip today as the weather looks great!” I was helping the plants harden off from a chilly spring to outdoor survival on the porch. My husband is readily out there with me weeding, planting, digging, dunging.
Outdoor hardening off of containers of plants.
It’s become a great time to talk. He even helps me to can things, to make jams, to pick berries and…. Overall, I am pleased with where life has brought me. I kept that promise to myself–I didn’t marry a farmer. Although, amazingly, I have become one, and my husband is right beside me. Urban farming rocks!
You can also find Moopsee at Yahoo’s Canning2.
Interested in contributing to the Farm Bell blog? Read information here for Farm Bell blog submissions.