October 25, 2011

Of Canning and Combines

Dear Tomatoes, 

I know I waited for you all summer and I know I complained last season because you were so damn slow and I wanted you so badly and I know in January I do nothing but lament the fact that I have none of your T for my B and my L, but now, with chapped hands and the smell of simmering sauce still in my hair, I say to you: 

Good riddance.


This weekend, the forecast called for a hard freeze and that meant the pressure was on to finish up a few key tasks on the farm. Namely, tomatoes and tomatillos in the high tunnel and chickpeas in the field.

Let me tell you, Willa is a big fan of the tomatillos.
So, Saturday, Willa and I gleaned all we could from the already frozen-black vines in the tunnel and on Sunday, we spent the morning canning tomatoes and tomatillos.

After 8 hours (and a 4 a.m. wake up), this is what I had to show for my toiling and boiling.

As I've written about before, I'm more of a blanch-and-freeze kind of girl (although I've recently been turned on to dehydrating and I think I'm hooked). Every year, I vow not to can tomatoes. But, I somehow convince myself to try one more time. And again, I am reminded of why I'd rather not, thank you very much.

Tomatoes are why God created dehydrators. And the "canned vegetables" aisle at the grocery store.

After my morning, I needed sun and dirt and so I just barely made it to the farm in time for one last round with Jacob on the old Massey 510 -- the machine my grandmother bought in the 70s and the combine I rode around, and around, and around, in as a kid with my Dad.

Dad came out to help and waved at me, laughing, while I drove the combine into the yard. "Now, that's a sight," he said.

I really love the combine. There's something about the whir and the belts and threshing and the chaff and the motion. I just dig it.

So does this guy.

Isn't it funny, how a life you never imagined can turn out to be so perfect.

October 5, 2011

Chaos and Order and the Beauty of Chaos and Order

I've said before that farming is really an exercise (often futile) in managing chaos.

Weeds overtake your vegetables. Hail destroys your wheat heads. Frost zaps your cucumbers. Coyotes eat your turkeys.

Nature gives us chaos. We try to make order. We level ground. We plant in neat little rows. We build tall, straight fences.

I think about chaos and order a lot on the farm -- the quest for one, the fight against the other -- and how really, we shouldn't try to make it an either/or thing.

Life is sometimes about order. Sometimes it's about chaos. For me, farming is teaching me how the two can coexist.

Because on the farm, it's just as easy to find perfect order...

As it is to find perfect chaos.

And both are perfectly beautiful.

(Vegetable portraits by Jacob Cowgill. See more on the farm's Facebook page: www.facebook.com/prairieheritagefarm)


Speaking of chaos, we celebrated Willa's entrance into the world this weekend.

The day was filled with friends, family, a parade and *several* puppet shows. It was quite a party.

I found myself teetering between inexplicable joy and tearful nostalgia.

It's unavoidable, and perfectly OK, a friend told me, for these first few birthdays to be a little bit about you becoming a mother, just as much as they are about celebrating the person who made you a mother.

Two things, then, were worth marking with hours spent making carrot cupcakes:

  • Motherhood is a humbling, flailing, incredible, strengthening, awe-inspiring, didn't-know-I-could-do-that, kind of thing, and

  • The world is quite certainly a better place with this little person in it.


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