Friday, April 17, 2015

Till, Till, Till!

*100 points to whomever gets the 1980's movie pun in the title!*

I was raised on a dairy farm in rural central New York, but my husband was raised in the suburbs of a very rough urban area. I have always joked that he picked the most country of the girls in my family, because I don't even like small village or suburban life. Give me wide open spaces! Little known fact: While most people think Manhattan, Long Island, and the general NYC area when you say you're from New York, approximately 85% of New York State is rural farm land, mountains, and forests. 
A big, sturdy straw hat:
My husband's declared " Ginger Gardener
Must-Have" he bought for me
Since moving to our rural sanctuary, though, my lover has become more and more in touch with his inner country boy. As he has seen the potential in our land and experiences the joy in working it, he has become increasingly excited about it all. He now could care far less about fancy coffees, computer things, and musical instruments, and instead is eager to take any excuse to visit Lowe's, Southern States, Tractor Supply Company, and anything with "nursery" or "garden" in its name. Today as we left TSC after having spent much time staring at baby chicks and mulling over supplies for next year's plan of a chicken tractor and our own flock, he said, "You know, I think I was always meant to be a country boy." Not much else makes a farm girl's heart sing more than her man learning her song.
   Our seedlings are finally taking off, and we need a place to put them. Since we haven't saved up enough for a rear-tine tiller yet, I've taken on the project of hand-tilling the first go-round, then giving the soil a few days to rest, dumping on the compost, and renting a tiller from Home Depot(only $86 for 1 day!) to do the last step. The goal for next year is to put down a "lasagne garden" bed this fall, so next spring we have great, rich soil ready to go. For this year, since time is not on our side for the 4-6 week wait a lasagne bed needs, and the ground has never been worked into a garden(therefore we have tons of grass to contend with), I'm hand-tilling, then rototilling to finish the job. 
5 rows down, 20 more to go!
   What is hand-tilling, you ask? Okay, maybe you didn't but, and maybe you don't care, but I'm going to tell you anyway. Hand-tilling(our version, anyway), is me with a spade, digging down 1.5-2 feet into the topsoil, turning it over, one 30-foot row at a time, and my sweet little helpers going behind me, armed with metal rakes and hoes, chopping up the chunks. It is very hard work, but my kiddos are shockingly eager despite the sweat. I even have a pup helper! Doesn't matter which end of the garden they're on(we swap back and forth, and switch in the middle so nobody's getting hit with rakes or hoes from over-zealous swings), that little Australian Shepherd sticks close by his flock of human lambs and "keeps them safe." He even does some digging, too! Of course I have that one kid who always finds reasons to slip away and not help, but that's nothing new. Since toddlerhood he's been the one who, when they're told to pick up their toys, will be quietly and nonchalantly present in the room, moving ever so slowly, but if you actually tune in to what he's doing, it's a whole lot of nothing. Gardening, despite his excitement, is no different. But for all the balking, even my 2-year-old helps. He is our designated water boy, carrying the big 32-ounce jug of water up and down the rows, handing it to whomever asks, and taking it inside to Daddy when it needs a refill(Daddy's currently on the injured list so no tilling for him!). 
Water Boy whining that he's hit his limit
Even though we work in the hours of the day when the heat is not the most intense(right after breakfast and after dinner a night are our favorite times to work), said 2-year-old is also a great gauge of when it's time to take a break. In general he's a pretty active, happy-go-lucky kid who gets into his fair share of mischief, but when he has a job to do he is very purpose-driven. When my little water boy starts getting weepy, though, that's my sign it's a good time to go inside. Rest time for an hour, thin and water some seedlings, fold a couple loads of laundry, then out we go again.
   We're ALL pretty excited to get the garden in and growing. It's kind of crazy how much the garden has over-taken even our daily routine. The kids are more diligent with their schoolwork each morning because they're not only eager to finish for the day and get outside, but eager to finish the school year altogether so they can skip that step completely. We're about 10 school days from the end of our books, so if we stay on top of things, we should be done by May 1st. Then I'll need to double up on my batches of homemade sunscreen to make up for all the time we'll be outside.
The Cooper Tiller
I can see this being problematic in the future when we have things planted,
But right now it's just cute.


  1. Love !!!

    This is one thingbim most excited about when we get pur house. Were also getting a large green house soni can grow thing year round si ce Ontario has very little farming season

  2. How do you make homemade sunscreen?? :)

    1. 1/2 cup cold-pressed organic coconut oil + 30 drops carrot seed essential oil. That general combination has an approximate natural SPF of 25-35. Works well to keep all my kids, including my fair-skinned kids, from getting burns.