Thursday, July 1, 2010

Been Farmin' Long?

As I'm working diligently to not burn dinner, my husband arrives home from work, walks into the kitchen and says, "I want to go farming!"

At this point I don't care if the food is carcinogenously charred, I turn around with the hope that he is about to utter the punchline to his joke. But he's serious. He says he thinks it would be fun to do some farming again.

My gaze leaves him and is directed to our backyard, where a lawn in need of TLC or maybe even just a simple mowing stares back at me.

"Uh, you can't find the time to mow the lawn, and now you want to go farm?"

He smiles, gives me a hug and the conversation is dropped since a child or two is clinging to his leg, begging for some "Daddy time."

I know he won't really go do any farming, but I understand his desire to do it. We both grew up on farms in rural North Dakota, and the peaceful solitude that comes with farm life can be pretty appealing when you're in the midst of noisy neighbors and constant interruptions at the office.

I've even gone the "farming" route a bit myself. This summer is my first attempt at a garden. One of the amenities of our new home was a large garden plot. Just wish the previous owners would have left a green thumb behind.

Translation: I have no idea what I'm doing.

The only thing I really know about gardens is from a ghastly error I made when I was about 7 years old. My mother sent me to the garden to bring in onions for dinner. I didn't know what I was looking for, so she told me, "They're the things with long green stems sticking out of the ground."

Okay, that sounds easy enough. Except I failed to thoroughly inspect the garden before I started pulling up the first long-stemmed green things I found. Believing I was being a big help, I pulled up A LOT of them.

As I rush into the house, my mother gasps. "You pulled up my flowers!"


In my defense, they hadn't bloomed yet, and they indeed were long, and green. But she made a good point when she asked, "Didn't you notice there weren't any onions on the bottom?"

Oh yeah. That should have been a clue.

Again, whoops.

So flash forward 30 years to my own garden. I'm still having difficulty identifying the crop. For the first month I was afraid to go pull weeds because I was worried I would pull up the vegetables too. I don't know a weed from a green bean, to be quite honest.

Now I have an excellent grasp of what is a weed. And I've got a lot of them.

And not so much crop.

Not that I was expecting much on my first time out. But I am genuinely disappointed that despite all the corn I planted I don't have so much as a measley stalk. I had high hopes of making my way through rows of corn this summer, plucking ears for our dinners.

Just like when I was a kid on the farm.

I'll just have to use my imagination as I stroll the produce aisle in the supermarket instead.

On a positive note, I can grow lettuce. It's my pride and joy of the garden at this point. (Perhaps because other than the radishes, it's the only thing I can succinctly identify.)

My only problem is I have no idea when to harvest it. It looks nice right now, I hate to pull it up. Maybe it will get even nicer? Or am I missing out on delectable salads?

The whole process is pretty stressful, actually. Is it getting enough water? Enough sun? Did I plant them too close together? Not close enough? Are the weeds out of control?

This gardening thing was supposed to be relaxing.

That's probably what my husband was thinking when he said he wanted to go farming.

I also lived on the farm long enough to face reality. Which is, his first day out the grain truck would get a flat, the combine would need a part and just when things got going, he'd get rained out.

But that's farming for ya.

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