Friday, May 15, 2009

doing and being are one

When we were finishing up the planting of the corn, that old song “Family Affair” started playing in my head. Pretty much everything for us is a family affair.

The day finally came around to get the corn planted. First there were the plowing and the disking days, of course. Then the potatoes got planted, about 170# of them. Then it set in wet again, and busy-ness and commitments and things we had to do besides, and the corn was just a tad late for us. Not that it matters all that much. A lot of times stuff planted early sits there and doesn’t grow much while it is cool but when planted when it is warm it really takes off fast. This is why sometimes in the summer when we are trying to stagger things being ripe by planting things every two weeks, stuff not planted at the same time will mature at the same time anyway. Seeds don’t actually obey the seed packets you see. But still, it feels antsy when things are late getting planted.

The day to plant the corn had been anticipated; the “I think we’ll get to plant it on Thursday,” sort of anticipation. And the day before, “I think we’ll call all hands to the garden tomorrow for the corn.” And again the morning of, “If we thaw some chicken and make some deviled eggs, we can gather salad from the garden and have a big chef salad with grilled chicken after we plant the corn.” So everyone knows it. And everyone has seen it done and done it before so they know the work, know what to do.

Everyone made sure they ate something for lunch. Lunch for us usually isn’t very formal but a picking out of which leftovers you want so you don’t starve before supper. Breakfast and supper are more formal in that we make something and we eat together. Not that we don’t eat lunch together, we usually do. And not that in the hot part of summer, we don’t have dinner in the hot of the afternoon and snack for supper, we do. I guess maybe you have to be part of this family to understand how it flows and works like a well-oiled machine.

Husband went to the garden first to start the preparations. Before long the kids actually got antsy and said, “Isn’t it time to go down now?” Yeah, ok, let’s go. Boots on and bathing suits under clothes. A big jug of water. The big tomato plant we’d wintered in the window sills. A bucket and knife to graze for the rabbits. Food for the dog. Ready. Set. Go.

In the garden, husband had started laying off the rows. The girls placed the seed while eldest and I covered. I should have remembered my gloves because I got a blister on my palm from the rough handle of the shovel so I switched to the hoe. Youngest had a job but I was so busy with mine, I don’t remember what his was. I don’t know how many rows there were, each of two kinds of corn (bloody butcher and hickory king), but a lot. Because we grow a lot of corn. It takes about a pound of corn to make two big pones for our family for supper, and it takes about 2 ½ ears to make a pound which is a little over one corn stalk per meal and we’ll figure on eating it every day. That’s how we plan on feeding ourselves. And we’ll try to grow at least twice that much. We’ve had several good corn years but if there’s a failure we want to have enough in storage to see us through. Think of the seven fat cows and the seven lean cows.

We planted the sunflowers too, lots we hope (we have no idea what the germination will be). The potatoes are mostly up and it will soon be time to hill them. Before ten days or so we’ll need to make the thread net over the baby corn plants so the crows will leave them alone. We harvested lovely lettuce and spinach and garlic and onions for the salad, and I toured the rest of all that is growing. The kids swam in the creek.

I asked the kids at one point, “Did I make you come to the garden to do this, or did you choose to come to the garden to do this?” Because, you know, I hadn’t really asked, I’d just coordinated with “It‘s time to go to the garden now” thing. They looked at me like I was a crazy lady but then said, “Because we wanted to plant the corn.”

No doubt that it helps that they know where food comes from. And that isn’t the store.

And it rained on the just planted corn last night! Even now the thing-that-is is stirring, swelling, growing, moving from a kernel in an ear to making an entire plant with two more ears full of kernels. It produces something, is productive, and thus is a model for me in my own life, doing and being.

Oh, and desert was blueberries frozen from last year, and fresh cream whipped that was as yellow as the buttercups the cow lays down in.

7 comments:

Mr. H said...

I am so impressed with how you are raising your children, they will reap the rewards of the knowledge and values you have instilled in them for many years to come.

"They... threw themselves into the interests of the rest, but each plowed his or her own furrow. Their thoughts, their little passions and hopes and desires, all ran along separate lines. Family life is like this - animated, but collateral." ~Rose Macaulay

Our motto, like yours, is to grow twice as much as one needs in order to be assured of having just enough.

Mike

CG said...

I know that I am blessed BY my family. And we all have a very good life here on the farm.

I love the quote too -- collateral, yes.

Wendy said...

I think my children feel like yours do about our lifestyle - they do it, because it needs to get done, and not always because I direct them toward the task, and I think that I spend (probably far) too much time worrying about whether it's what they want or what they're forced into because this is the lifestyle *I* have chosen for them. Ultimately, I believe they will be better for having had this experience.

I'm still trying to figure out how much food we eat so that I can get a handle on how much I have to grow. The challenge, for me, is finding food plants that I can grow in non-traditional ways, but that will give me a very large yield - like growing potatoes vertically or growing tomatoes upside down from the eaves of my house ;).

CG said...

I don't worry about it! It is a sustainable lifestyle. When the empty unsustainable lifestyles crash, my children won't. While other children follow fads and think things like having blue hair is important, my kids make their own lives unimpressed with such facades.

Maybe it helps that they are brilliant! And hardy. But then again, maybe such brilliance and hardiness came from the life they've led . . . here on the farm.

Wendy said...

When I really think about it, I do know that my children, too, make "their own lives unimpressed with" those things that impress other children. They are who they are, and they are very comfortable with that. It's actually pretty incredible for me to watch - as I grew up one of those people who was always concerned with what others thought. It amazes me that *I* was able to give birth and "life" to these little amazing creatures.

I think it's a lack of exposure to "schooling" ;).

CG said...

well, I have known so-called unschoolers who needed to pose for every picture, dye their hair, wear freaky clothes and dog collars and such, all to impress somebody else. I do think it is a great thing is to be who you would be, do what you would do, even if no one were watching.

rowena___. said...

beautiful, brilliant, and so well said. thank you for sharing this, it has greatly encouraged me today. {{{HUG}}}