Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The End of an Era- Redneck Style

We had a time of sentimentality this weekend.  Time passes and it almost is like bidding a dear friend goodbye forever.

When we first moved to this house and started raising food on our single acre, we had no children but the one in my womb.  We also didn't have 2 nickles to rub together.  Money was so tight that if it wasn't redneck and hillbilly, it just wasn't.  

We got goats when I was pregnant with #2.  We put grain in a barrel in the porch (where the chicken grain was stored) and square bales of hay sat on pallets in the garage.  One, maybe 2 bales of hay was all that could be stored at a time or else Husbandman's car (who's was the only one short enough to fit at all in front of the hay) was left outside until the goats worked their way through the hay.

This all changed when we acquired a new shed.  We bought the property with two metal sheds, or shall I say two rust sheds.  One is inside the pasture and cumbersome to get to.  The other stores lawnmowers, the rototiller and other items.  So this new acquisition could be considered our barn.  First of all, its a much higher quality shed and thus has a floor and no rusty holes for mice and rats and snakes to use as private entrances.  Secondly, its spacious.  We had decided to purchase a shed and , for frugality sake, measured how small it could be and still hold all the things we wanted to store in it.  Then friends who were moving sold us their shed, which happened to be double the space for less than we had anticipated spending for the bare minimum.  So the next trip to the feed store was a big trip, with the trailer, buying 6-8 weeks worth of feed.  Previously we hauled out to the feed store every 7 to 10 days.  Its a 25 minute drive one way and I couldn't go and have room for a bale of hay with all 4 kids.  Husbandman couldn't go after work and still bring home the one child who attends preschool as he usually does.  So doing fewer trips with a trailer and storing large quantities is a very welcomed change.

But that meant disassembling the pallet rack we made for the hay.  And sweeping all the hay, for the last time, out of the garage.  And rearranging that whole area to hold bikes and kid toys.  And it was incredibly nostalgic, though you may call me nuts.

I don't think it would have affected me so much if it had only been the final removal of all things livestock from the garage.  But we also made the decision to abandon our small garden.  This was the very first garden we put it.  We had 2 very young children, the youngest just 3 months old.  We were reading a Mother Earth News to each other one May morning and came across an article about laying newspaper down right on top of grass and weeds, compost on top of that and planting straight into the compost.  We had a pile of left over pennysavers from our paper route and we had friends with horses who had offered us all the compost we wanted.  We started that very day.  I still remember the little guy sleeping in his baby bucket in the shade of a tree and our daughter using her shovel to spread compost and handing me papers to lay on the grass.

And since, like I said, we had no room in the budget for actual fencing, but had rabbits and turtles and lots of other creatures who would love to eat this garden, we had to find a fence.  So pallets again.  My husband came home with load after load of pallets from a company next door to his office.  Slowly the pallet fence grew until it stretched the entire perimeter.  But that wasn't the end of the pallets.  They kept coming and soon I had tables for planting seeds.  You see, if I plant seeds directly in the garden, ants and squirrels make off with them.  So I put them in pots which cannot be left on the ground or they suffer the same fate as well as getting poked and dumped by little hands.  My seedlings had to be elevated to have any hope of survival. So beside that garden were my stacks of pallets that acted as seed tables.  And things grew and we ate.  And we wanted more space so the very next year we did the same thing to an area more than double the size.  I kept both going and life was good.

Then this summer happened.  Appointments and busy-ness and a rogue goat wiped out that garden.  Nothing was growing in it but roselle and weeds.  The weeds were so thick I couldn't see the scrap tile pieces I used as my walkways.  I finally decided I needed to mow it.  By this time the pallet fence had fallen down and we had enough money to buy 2' fencing and enough step-in posts to keep the critters out.  So I took down the wire fencing, which was more like pulling it out with how entangled it was with weeds, and went at it with a lawnmower.  I then covered the entire thing with plastic, still planning to use this as a garden in the fall.

And about a year ago my seed tables were replaced by nice stainless steel tables a friend bought from a restaurant going out of business.  She had her husband were going to be slaughtering a few chickens at our house and were less than impressed by our set-up... which was an overturned Rubbermaid tote with a plastic bag taped to it... found these tables and bought them for permanent storage here.  I put my seed pots on them and when we slaughter something, the seed pots get set on the ground, the surface gets scrubbed and we have a beautiful processing area.  Those tables were kept in front of the little garden, right along the drive way.  And had a tendency to get just as weedy as the garden.

It got to be that when I'd drive up to the house and look at it objectively, as I sometimes do to see the biggest eye-sores, these tables with the weeds and the pots and buckets and, well, junk, they really were quite a pimple on the face of our property.  So we moved these tables to alongside the new shed which helped it blend in a little better too.

But this weekend, while looking at the little garden, and thinking about building raised beds around the perimeter as a weed-proof wall, and the 2 pecan trees, 1 citrus tree, 2 pomegranate trees a host of persimmon trees and a loquat tree we'd like to find places for, I simply pulled up the plastic, dug out the tiles and decided to let it go.  The established grapevines are here as well as the roselle which I'm not sure will be a perennial or what so its not like the land is carved from the face of the earth and left as an empty pit.  I'll decide what trees will occupy this site and how, along with pineapples, strawberries and that thorny dragon fruit,but it will no longer hold garden beds.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure the neighbors will still have opportunities to groan and our necks will be as red as ever, but for us, for now, it feels like things have really changed.  Having extra income to buy supplies to be able to do something properly has made a huge difference.  I like the difference, don't get me wrong, but the memories are sweet.  So very sweet.  My life is so rich I could live it over and over and over and never grow tired of it.  Rich or poor, enough or in want, we have always had such precious memories.  May this be the case forever.

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