Yesterday I took a deep breath before diving into a painful chore list.  After burying my sweet broody hen and her almost hatched eggs in the compost pile, I chopped down seven beautiful eight-foot-tall apple trees we planted as seedlings; for two and a half years I’ve fussed over them with natural sprays, homemade compost and water (their first summer was a record drought and our irrigation broke, so I hauled five gallon buckets through the orchard to keep them alive.)  Isaac and Grace scurried with me to catch our three pet garden ducks so I could deliver them to the butcher; trying to beat the rain, I frantically shoveled a truckload of mulch in the exhausting effort to save large parts of the garden Bermuda grass continues to hold hostage despite an entire winter of laying feed sacks and mulch to control it.  The evening found me reseeding and replanting the many tomatoes, squash, peppers and berries that I’ve already replanted and replaced two or three times this year.

hard to cut down such a beautiful tree

Last night I slept the deep, achy sleep of a farmer.  This morning I carefully crawled out of bed, barely able to convince my muscles to do the morning chores.   After re-bandaging my blisters and making coffee, I limped to this peaceful porch where I’m attempting to put the last couple of months into words.  I’ve written this post twice before, but before I can come back and finish it, I’m in a different state of mind.  Last week I had a rather uplifting piece ready for finishing touches, but then I had to go weed eat for two hours (Scott loves yard work, but he is gone again for four months) so I was fighting the grumps.  By the end of my sweaty ordeal I almost had my attitude in check- that is until I managed to hit a pile of fresh dog poop and spray every inch of my body with it.  I wasn’t fit to write after that- definitely not thoughts fit for the publicJ  There are days all my senses are pacified here, the birdsong and breeze leading me to happy places in my heart.  Then we have a string of minor disasters that beat the breath out of me.

surprise potato bug infestation

Our third summer on Thirsty Goose Farm is starting out as calamitous as the previous two.  Fire blight spreading through the orchard (therefore the chopping of beloved trees in order to save the others), potato bugs destroying the potato patch (first time they ever came – and it was a brand new patch!) ducks turning into gangsters- they plucked and pummeled my sweet little broody hen to death.  Our little nannies suddenly sick with worms, almost lost my pet goose ( got his head twisted up in the fence while playing that strange game with our farm dog- thankfully Lisa and Grace where there to cut him out of the wires), the Bermuda grass continues to exhaust us, a flash flood washed away our second planting,  both mowers were down again so a frantic juggle to get them fixed before the farm turned jungle, bugs somehow infested eighty dollars of spelt berries (so now it’s very expensive chicken feed instead of bread),  and wax wing moths destroyed the beehives awaiting this year’s bees.  It’s disheartening, humbling and quite honestly, I’m tired of writing about it!  And I imagine you are tired of hearing about it!  When is this farmer girl going to get it together and write about something going right?

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pet ducks turned gangsters.  One way to end up in my freezer!

My natural inclination is to want to do everything right now and have it perfect the first time- the typical first born over-achiever.   If having five children didn’t break me of such delusions, this farm will!  There are few “As” in this field; one has to be at peace with sixty or seventy percent survival.  And there are exorbitant taxes to nature- the birds and bugs have to eat too.  And the voles.  And the bunnies.  When it comes to farming, Ignorance is not bliss- it’s loss.  The apple tree drama was my own fault- apple trees just don’t do well here due to few chill hours and all the fungus, that’s why people raise peach trees!  Wisdom would have been to stick with what the locals have found success in.  Sure, there is room for experimentation and bravery, but one should know what they are doing before taking on such a battle.  As far as Bermuda, that is a losing battle and I know it, we were just hoping to get a couple more years out of those beds we spent so much time on.  I’m researching plants that might be compatible with the grass so we can stop spending all our time weeding.  The Jerusalem artichoke and asparagus seem to be doing well, so I’m considering propagating and specializing in such crops.  Work with what you have and stop whining about what you don’t.  How’s that for a deep spiritual lesson?!

Kitty had too much catnip
Popeye dancing for Emily

What is going right?  Well, my sweet little Olive Oyl (our Royal Palm turkey hen and Popeye’s partner) hatched all nine eggs last week!  Turkeys are known to be poor mothers, but this little hen is fantastic!  The peach trees are huge and healthy.  After four plantings, we finally have a really nice lawn (no more red mud- hallelujah!)   Our kind neighbor, Randy, came and built us an adult sized swing set- it’s amazing!  A lovely woman moved in with us last month and she prays for us every day.  I have two diligent missionary friends living here and working for rent- that takes so much weight off my shoulders.  Scott and I enjoyed ten glorious days in Europe with a friend before he left (celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary a year late.)  We are getting regular rain.  I have the sweetest neighbors ever and so enjoy their company!  Several friends and family are visiting this summer – I’m so excited to see them!   It’s so easy to get stuck and grow weary in the disappointment; the reality is if nothing ever grows here, it’s still a beautiful life.  I have grown.  For some, classrooms, churches and books are the right setting for learning about God.  He knew a farm was perfect for me- so He blessed me with seven acres with a view!  Hopefully the lessons will eventually bring forth fruit (and vegetables:)

Olive with her nine healthy babies
Scott and I on Lake Geneva
beautiful Italian farmland

10 Replies to “Growth”

  1. Honey, I can so relate to your Bermuda grass dilemma! We are home and jet lagged from our recent humanitarian trip and it’s time to plant, but I have been pulling endless roots of Bermuda grass instead of planting my raised beds. In weariness of body I’m tempted to buy bushel baskets and go to other gardeners in season to buy food to can. Yet there is something gratifying about harvesting from your own plot. I suppose it’s a sense of victory over circumstance. I love you.

  2. I adore you’re writings. So raw. You always are so real. That’s what I love most about you…you get what you see….no pretense.

  3. Praying often for you all and the future of the farm. May God continue to guide you and grant you wisdom.

    David P Wilson


  4. Love you Lalena, your blog is better and better. I am so looking forward to seeing you soon. I might even get dirty in the dirt with you as long as you pro.ise to scare any snakes away.
    Hugs and see you soonAunt Muriel

  5. Lalena,
    First of all, thank you so very much for taking such good care of me the morning of my surgery at Greer! You are such a wonderful nurse and His light illuminates from you. My daughter, Anna, also speaks highly of you. Home with her beautiful baby, she is not ready to yet return although she misses seeing you all.
    I love reading your blog; you have a way with words and truly make your life on the farm come to life! Hope nature cooperates with you this summer. Jeanie B Malone

    1. thank you for your encouraging words Jeanie! Your daughter is a delight and I’m blessed to work with her. You have every reason to be very proud:) God has been very good to you and I!

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