I cannot foresee any day in the future better than this one. For as far back as I can remember, Stuart and I have been in a state of self-induced-chaos. Part of that is because we love to work. Part of that is because we've had to work to build the farm.
Our children are born, nursed, weaned, and sleeping through the night. All of my four chicks are under my wings as we go about our day tending to the animals and garden beds. They've labored alongside us, albeit with slightly less vigor (as they'd much prefer to collect the worms from the soil than plant the cabbages). Still, they've been with us on this property as we've built the chicken coop on a patch of bare soil, sunk perennials deep into the dormant soil, added over two dozen trees to the landscape, tilled and tended to the pastures, and orchestrated the renovation of the farmhouse interior.
It's fabulously imperfect, homemade, and crusty around the edges. I just don't get it. How am I here?
My newest fern is planted in a broken second-hand pot on the thrift-store cabinet in my kitchen window. The shelves below are filled with mismatched mason jars of every sort that we use for drinking glasses – the extras happily spilling over the on the floor which I constantly kick accidentally as I walk past.
Crumbs fill the cracks of my hundred-year-old kitchen floorboards.
HOW AM I HERE?! A place I love from my bones.
I've come to think of this “homegrown” farm much like the gardens that surround its walls. Each year, we've been able to layer in something else. Sometimes this is practical – like the roughed in laundry room we recently put in downstairs to get the washer and dryer out of the kitchen. Other times, it's done for the pure magic of it – like sowing an entire half acre of bare ground in bee feed wildflowers and grasses.
But can I be honest for a moment?
This is the very first spring that I'm not drowning. In pregnancy or in nursing or in work or in projects.
Lest you be fooled by my ability at the moment to see with a level head (this is a rare moment we must capture!) there is surely still work to do. But the work ahead feels much less daunting than the road we've traveled these past few years.
I suppose that's the whole point of spring, isn't it? To bring us hope.
I don't think it's a coincidence we've chosen to celebrate the resurrection in the same month bulbs from the cold, dark soil burst into a breathtaking display.
(In twenty years, can you imagine the display they'll put on?)
Yes, despite our youth-raged culture, I'll continue to argue that most things in life get better with time. The gardens are a prime example. Cared and cherished year upon year, they begin to dance in a way that's unexpected and lavish. The tulips and snowdrops have begun to spread and crawl amongst the parsley and chives, the trees are slowly gaining height and changing the shadows they cast on the graveled pathways, and last year's rose bushes are puffing up to fill their allotted spaces with more vigor and confidence. Though they're still in their “childhood”, the gardens are already beginning to sing a new song this spring. One I haven't heard before yet am eager to learn.
Six new lambs are staking claim to the animal pen and each time I see their soft, curly, coats, I'm reminded of the year we lost our first lamb, Pocket, because we did all the things we shouldn't have. And then, of course, there was the first time I milked our cow – a rhythm that my hands now know by heart.
Even the market garden is putting it's best foot forward this season after weeks spent laboring over its row formations last season. Many terrible years of attempting to grow carrots were put to death with our last carrot harvest – tender, sweet, moist roots that jetted down into the soil with healthy vigor (so much so we just finished eating the last of them from storage!).
Does this mean we've actually learned? We've actually grown? We've actually developed? Is that even possible?
I've been a novice at some many things for so long that it seems impossible for us to have any sort of knowledge valuable enough to share. But as I showed my bff Angela how to work a broadfork through the garden rows last week on her visit to the farm, it dawned on me: we're no longer beginners.
FAR from experts.
But we're no longer beginners.
For the first time in our adult life, we get to move on to “the next stage”. Like many young couples, we moved countless times in our first few years. Starting over at each home became a tiresome and laborsome chore. In fact, I've never experienced a “third-year” garden like I am in my potager this very season, always moving before my gardens had a chance to develop beyond infancy.
So here we are. Not at the beginning. Far from the end. Sandwiched in the middle where children grow, relationships with the land continue to develop, and wisdom from experience is applied to all manner of farm and kitchen tasks.
I think I like it here. I think I really, really, really like it here.