Rural life

Planting a dream

When we moved out here, we had so many hopes and dreams for this place. We saw gardens and livestock and hard work that is healing to the soul. We saw our children growing up in the country air as they learned to tend to the seed in the ground to attain the harvest they hoped for. Even as we waded through waist high grasses that fall evening when we decided to make an offer, I could see this place as we wanted it to be.

Now it is hard to see past the failure.

The dog I had to give up.

The chickens he killed.

The dog I had to give up.

The geese and ducks she killed.

The harvest that was lost to hail, to weeds, to drought, to geese.

The trees that didn’t survive.

The hives that starved out their first winter.

The son that I lost.

And I realize how much my perspective affects my perception of every thing around me. Because even though I see the shadow of failure in everything we have attempted, we still have a nice start toward the chicken flock we want. We still have three breeding pairs of geese that will be ready to raise goslings in the spring. We still have a breeding flock of guineas that gave us a new batch of keets this year. We have a pony and a minihorse that bring our children joy and chores they are happy to do. We have two heifers, one with a bull and the other to be bred in December so that we can have milk and calves next summer. We have two hives that seem to be doing well. We still have our orchard.

And despite the drought, we still brought in our largest harvest ever and still have over 2000 square feet of turnips waiting to be harvested for the cattle.

I’m trying to look at our missteps not as failures, but as lessons borne of experience. Lessons which will make each year a little more successful than the last. Lessons that we were seeking when we first started talking about moving out to the country.

That’s hard because Mattias’ death cast a shadow over everything. It left me with a sense of loss and profound failure that seeps into everything I do.

But that isn’t where life ends.

Which is why I have sitting in an online shopping basket seeds for this dream. A collection of common and not-so-common herbs, most of which come with edible flowers to fuel my floral jelly hobby.

And each night I spend a little time getting to know these herbs and how to grow them and how to harvest them and how to use them. And I’m getting just a little excited to watch this garden grow.

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0 thoughts on “Planting a dream

  1. There’s a common gardeners’ saying: “No garden is ever so great as next year’s.” One of the best parts of living this life is the dreaming. So many people are working toward their next cruise, a new car or a bigger tv. I think the dreams we have for our lands and family are more energizing and sustaining… even through the loss. I think you are totally inspiring with all you’ve picked yourself up from. Some days we run, some days we just get one foot in front of the other or even stand still, but the dream of a better life, not just better things, is so much more empowering. You’ve done very well. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Alison. I have always joked that my favorite season for gardening was winter because that’s when I planned for spring and my harvest is huge and the weeds are never a problem until I plant that first seed. It sort of goes downhill from there. 🙂

  2. I can’t help thinking often about what could have been if Woodjie weren’t disabled. I so wanted to homeschool him. The “what if” is hard to move on from with any really big thing. The reality is you never really do.

  3. It’s interesting as I read, the thoughts I had are what you came around to at the end. The first seven “failures” would have been viewed as learning opportunities for your children, and I’m convinced that a positive spin would have been found for them…if it had not been for number eight on your list. Number eight makes 1-7 about a thousand times more difficult to handle.

    1. It does make it so much harder. It’s strange in a way. It seems like losing a few geese wouldn’t bother me after losing a child, but each failure brings up the feelings from losing him and it makes it almost unbearably hard. 🙁

    2. I get so upset at the little failures, too. They all bring The Great (perceived) Failure to mind.

  4. Dana, I’m really glad that you have been able to put all the failures into perspective – that it is your perspective and the fallout from Matthias’s death that colours your view, I think that is amazing that you can do that, and that you continue to persevere with your plans despite the pervading feelings you battle against. I loved hearing about your hobby – perhaps you will be showing your jellies at the shows next year when your daughter shows her poultry?! Congratulations on a bumper harvest despite the drought – sounds like you have that part of farming sorted! Jen x

    1. Thank you, Jenni.

      I actually had wanted to exhibit some jellies at this fair, but none of them turned out as nice as last year. They tasted good, but they just weren’t that pretty. Still practicing on getting that consistently!

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