It is hard to pinpoint exactly when I became so obsessed about gardens and farm animals. My earliest connection with gardening probably would have been at age four or five. One year my family, probably prompted by the prophetic council to be self sufficient, grew a garden. I hardly remember anything about it. It really is all a blur. I think I remember the tall corn stalks reaching high over my head, but that is it. The family garden did not continue. In fact, not much maintenance continued in our backyard. It was a sprawling meadow with two peach trees, one cherry tree, and one apple tree. The rest was a meadow of weeds. I think my busy father did try and bring some order to the space. Grass had been planted not long after my parents moved into their brand new split-level home, but behind our house was a huge field, which at various times was farmed. Seeds from the weeds in the field quickly took root in our Magna soil and were as happy as could be. That was just fine by me, in fact I loved that yard. I could lay down in the tall grasses, catch bugs, and create my own magical world. I usually played outside from sun up to sun down, and the backyard was the most fascinating place to spend my time.
I also fell in love with fresh produce. Thanks to local farm stands, and our backyard fruit trees I grew up on sweet corn, flavorful tomatoes, and the most succulent peaches. Oh the glorious peaches! Thanks to the irrigation water that would often flood our property our peach trees were very productive. Each summer and fall the branches would get so heavy they would droop under the heavy weight from the soft, sweet fruit. Some years the branches would actually break, because we never pruned. We just let nature take its course, which lead to many of my first garden follies, but I digress. The fresh produce, especially those fresh peaches were heavenly.
As I grew up, moved out, and started doing my own shopping I was sadly disappointed at the lack of tasteful produce in the grocery store. It would be years before I could even attempt to grow my own. I lived in apartments for the next 7 years and didn’t give much thought to gardens. I’m sure if I’d had the passion I do now I would have attempted some little patio garden spot, but overwhelmed by life’s responsibilities it never entered my mind.
Fast forward several years to 2005 when my husband and I bought what we thought would be our starter home. A quaint little fifties bungalow, which is just a fancy way of saying small and old enough to need serious repair from time to time. Despite its problems though my little house has grown on me. After all of the years of apartment living I will never again take for granted having my very own space to do my own thing, and make my own. We didn’t start gardening right away and I don’t even know if it was my idea to start out with. I think my husband first mentioned the idea. He dug up some ground in the backyard at the very top of our very sloped hill. Not much grew. The cornstalks were small, and the ears it yielded had just a few large kernels. One year we got spinach and not much else. We let the weeds overrun most of the bed and our anal neighbor so afraid our weeds would somehow drift onto his property applied weed killer to our garden, including the spinach. Thankfully he no longer is our neighbor. His grandmother who owned the house moved and the house was sold. The grandson, our spinach killer, purchased a house up the street and now has his own immaculate yard far away from our less than perfect one.
In 2009, my husband made us a raised bed. We purchased dirt form our local garden store, and hauled it in my father-in-law’s old trailer. It was a dramatic day including flat tires, dirty faces, and sore muscles, but by the end of the day we had our very own raised garden bed. Joyfully we planted blackberries, raspberries, what we thought were seedless grapes, and other herbs. It lay just outside my kitchen window and I fantasized what it would become. I saw myself happily preparing dinner and flitting outside to gently clip herbs for the night’s dinner.
It did not work out as perfectly as I would have liked though. The blackberries and raspberries after a few pitiful years died. The grape was in fact full of seeds, and the sage liked it’s spot so well it thrived and each year threatens to take over. It is a work in progress. We eventually built two beds at the top of the hill to replace our dug out garden and gradually the task has fallen onto me to garden. Each year the promise of fresh produce, especially tomatoes calls me back to the garden to try again, despite last year’s mistakes. I even added chickens to my backyard, a story I can’t wait to share. Each year the desire to spend hours digging in the soil and working outside has strengthened until it is almost like an itch I can’t scratch, especially the days I’m stuck at my desk working long hours. I view it almost as a fever, a farm fever. I imagine my next project, lush vistas, my clucking birds, and a simpler life. I can’t wait to share with you a little bit of what I obsess over, so at least perhaps they can live here instead of invading so much of my thoughts. I hope you’ll stick around.