Petals and Thorns


It’s May! Yay! Those April showers certainly have brought the flowers and with them the blackberry  bushes. I have a love/hate relationship with those vines. Yes, they do provide the most wonderful berries in which I will gather and devour along my morning walk in the next few weeks. Those same vines are viciously cruel, leaving me looking as if I was dropped into a pit of wet and angry feral cats. It does not matter how careful you are, those beastly thorns will find the most vulnerable unprotected patch of skin to torture.

When we purchased our property two years ago it was wildly overgrown, there are still areas on our five acres that we have yet to set foot on. It’s been a battle with hedge clippers and a lawn mower but I am gaining ground. I am using all the tools I possess to claim my land and my future. Along with the multitude of scratches, cuts, and painful thorns embedded in my tender flesh are the lovely hidden surprises uncovered as I subdue my little plot of earth. Yesterday my prize was a tiny purple flower standing defiantly lovely in contrast to it’s prickly confinement. This kind of beauty is what compels me forward despite the pain I might endure.

Farmlife, as in all life is, is full of these moments where joy and pain walk hand in hand.  Last month we watched as one egg out of twenty miraculously hatched after 46 days of not so patient watching on my behalf. I had finally given up and decided to discard the last two eggs from the nest when I heard peeping coming from one of the eggs. I rushed to replace the egg to the nest before it’s mama returned and the next morning I was rewarded with the smallest little fluff of yellow I had ever seen. Joy! My hope fulfilled!     I made the decision to leave the duckling and entrust it to the faithful duck who had set there so long for this little lone survivor to hatch. I returned to find it’s tiny form cold and lifeless on the ground, it appeared to unsuccessfully follow it’s mother outside the shelter. Death and loss is always painful, even a tiny duckling not fully one day old can have an impact on one’s heart. Life can be brutal as well as beautiful.

It wasn’t even a full week later that another lone survivor duckling hatched , this time from our incubator. We had started with ten eggs but only four started developing. I had  begun to lose hope when a mistake on our sensor placement caused the temperature to rise higher than it should. Against the odds, this little one made it and the joy of this triumph was made just a little sweeter in contrast to the dismay I felt earlier in the week. Trials, pain, disappointments and such are the black lines in a painting that define and enhance the colors of our life. Hope and patience to wait for beauty in the midst of pain and loss is the intrinsic nature of a farmer. It takes faith to place those costly, diligently thought out seeds in the ground and wait for the fruit of their labor. So many factors are out of our control and yet there is no victory in life without taking risk and doing the hard work. Our labor may be painful and the risk come with a cost but we will not gain anything of true value without it.

I may be tenderly typing this entry with sore, berry bush thrashed hands but; I do have a renewed passion and gratitude for my life and that my friends is worth it.



Seasons and Seasonings

Autumn is not the easiest season to discover new things on my daily walks around the property, I could have chosen springtime and there would have been an abundance of subjects. I chose fall simply because it is my favorite time of year, I was born in October and I love the colors, pumpkins, crisp air and the smoke from fire places that hangs low to the ground. As I walk around the property I have to look a bit closer to see the changes but they are there. There are little decorations of the seasons that nature displays for those who care enough to look a little closer.

At this time of the year the tall grass gets weighed down by the rains and heavy fog; the leaves begin to fall from the trees revealing sights that had been hidden just a few days before. Our property was heavily overgrown when we bought it a year ago and we have worked to clear areas for future grazing; as we do, we uncover little hints of the past and those who were here before. One of my favorite discoveries is a set of two old -growth Spruce stumps with the marks of turn of the century logging. When you investigate closer, you notice a number of younger trees of different varieties growing in and on these stumps. The circle of seasons have no start and finish, they continue to come and go bringing with them death and life, new growth and rotting leaves and it all has purpose and value. The seasons of our lives affect us in much the same way, they add the depth and enhancement much the same way herbs and spices do for our recipes.

Living with a Chef, we have a very large spice cabinet and an herb garden filled with a sweet smelling variety to garnish and enhance our meals. The smell of sage recently filled my home as the dehydrator dried out a bunch to save for winter. This process got me thinking, “Are the seasons of my life seasoning me for the better?”.  I honestly haven’t enjoyed some of the “dry” times in my life, sometimes I allowed them to make me bitter. There were other times I thought I would drown in a flood of tears during a particular hard season, it weighed me down so I struggled to pull myself up. Separately they often didn’t make sense but as I evaluate them as a whole, with the perspective of age and experience, I can appreciate the complex combination of seasoning that has brought the  unique flavor of my life. I have decided to appreciate the complexities of each season and be like the Spruce stump that allows the dead and rotten things to bring new growth and life.