There are times when it seems like we do nothing but bumble our way through this farm life. Even though I grew up in the country and spent time around horses, all the things we are doing are fairly foreign to me. Kevin, has farmers in his family, but never owned a pet, outside of goldfish, before meeting me and only spent time in a garden when visiting his grandparents. By all rights, the last place we belong is here, not to mention, trying to figure a way of making a living (quite a modest living in comparison to the standards of most) from doing it.
There are harsh realities to living this life. Lots of mistakes get made. Money gets washed down the drain, both literally, as in, when one forgets to turn off the hydrant in the barn. And figuratively, like when buying a piece of equipment, for what seems to be a decent price, only to have it not work when needed and then costing a couple hundred dollars in parts and hours in Kevin’s labor. Death becomes an everyday reality living with these animals of ours. It’s no longer something that happens once in a great while, that can be pushed to the back of your mind until many years from now when it, unfortunately, happens again. Sometimes it’s our fault, something we neglected to watch out for or take into consideration which is followed by days of analyzing and reconfiguring to ensure that is doesn’t happen again. This I can deal with, it keeps my mind busy and the effort to make a change takes the sting out of the loss. What’s hard are the other times, when there are no reasons why, at least ones that we are privy to, nothing to be done, no changes to be made. Only the harsh reality of an absence remain. On days like those, there is a part of me that wants to run back to our old life in suburbia, in which, we were blissfully ignorant of where our meals originated from.
Some times Mother Nature plays cruel jokes, like giving us 70 degree weather for most of March, which allowed us to start planting almost a month early but then slammed us with a frost that killed the majority of the (prematurely open) blossoms on our lone apple tree. She brought cucumber beetles that wipeout all 30 of our cucumber plants, leaving us pickleless for the following winter. Then just to keep us on our toes, she throws in flea beetles, tomato hornworms, squash beetles and some sort of worm, that takes up residence in my dill seeds and renders them unusable. Which, considering our lack of cucumbers, means Mother Nature has one wicked sense of humor.
Then there are days spent cleaning up a huge mess the previous owner left, one that encompassed that apple tree. While Kevin, my dad and my nephew cleared stuff from the spot my mom and I talked of a stone-walled flower garden that we hope to put in there next year. We also discussed how sad the apple tree looked, void of any of its usual offerings. As they were clearing, my nephew found one small apple sitting on the ground under the tree, it looked perfect and they think they must have knocked it off while running the tractor through the spot. We took the apple and split it seven ways, each of us getting a taste. It was crisp, surprisingly sharp, but very juicy. The peel was so tart that it some how made the inside taste even sweeter. What struck me was that it seemed to taste the way an apple looks, what your brain imagines it tasting like before it hits your tongue. How rare, something in this life actually living up to expectations. Finishing, PJ impatiently asked for more, echoing how we all seemed to feel.
Huh? And here I thought the only thing an apple falling could teach us was the existence of gravity!