On Being Rich

Day 50 of 365

Today feels like a milestone. I have been writing in this blog every single day for 50 days. Most days, I do not have time to write nearly as much as I would like. I have stories about sneaky chickens, special wild birds, and howling chipmunks, but I realize that summer is a tough time to be writing in a blog. There are baby chickens everywhere, and I somehow had two additional classes I wasn’t anticipating teaching land in my lap a few weeks ago. But, despite these obstacles, I have written something every day, and that counts, right?

Today was farm share day again. It’s normally on Thursdays, but the strawberries were so ripe that we decided we had better do an early farm share day this week. Plus, the sugar pod peas were ready, and we learned a long time ago that, when it’s hot, you have to move quickly on the sugar pod peas.

Today’s farm share included fresh strawberries and strawberry jam. Aren’t they beautiful?

I am marveling at our strawberries. It’s their second year of berries, and I can’t believe how generous these plants are being. It’s the chicken poop compost. Ron read years ago that it is the best fertilizer. I absolutely believe it.

I keep talking about how “rich” we are. We’re so rich we eat fresh strawberries for breakfast. We’re so rich, I made strawberry jam and still had berries left in the blow. We’re so rich, I have made smoothies with fresh strawberries with dinner three nights in a row!

I find it interesting that I measure wealth in strawberries. I also measure wealth in eggs. In December, I am poor, but by late February, I am so rich again! Right now, I am extra rich because we have strawberries AND eggs.

And the raspberries are coming, and the Oxheart carrots are getting bigger, and I am pretty sure the corn will surely be knee-high by the Fourth of July. I am feeling extra grateful of late. Things seem extra good. Even Kate’s baby is starting to thrive.

I am superstitious, so I am knocking on wood as I write these words.

The Generosity of the Strawberry Plant

Day 45 of 365

I have loved berries for as long as I can remember. I suppose everyone would say that, but berries to me are nostalgia and comfort and joy and beauty. Maybe everyone feels that way about berries?

For me, there’s something extra special about strawberries. Since I was little, they have forever been my favorite food in the world. My great grandmother had a strawberry patch–and she made jam and let me pick berries–and my world was always better at her house. Strawberry ice cream is my favorite ice cream. If I was really lucky, I would get a strawberry shortcake on my birthday. When I was 8 and then 9, I really wanted one of those Strawberry Shortcake dolls. Today, I am convinced I need a farm dress in strawberry print. There must be pockets, of course.

When Ron built raised beds for me to plant strawberries in, I did my research to find a great local berry. Ron was generous with the chicken compost, and our strawberry plants seem very happy in their beds. This year, however, they have outdone themselves. I was a little worried when I saw so many flowers pop up in the spring. I worried about berries being too small. I should not have worried. The berries are perfection. I mean, imagine the perfect strawberry–perfect in size, shape, texture, taste, and color–and that’s what our beds are full of this year. It feels like a miracle.

In fact, today, while picking strawberries for our farm shares, I was so overwhelmed by the beauty of these berries and my hopefulness at sharing them with others that I got a little teary.

Yesterday, we had some friends out to our little farmstead, and they have small children, two girls, who are very little and just fantastic. I think the oldest is about three years old. They came out to meet the baby chicks and pick strawberries. And I have to tell you that the the oldest is a person after my own heart. She seemed to love the chickens, and she really loves strawberries.

I told her she could eat the berries as she picked, as they are organic. We never spray anything, of course. I told her to just watch out for squirrel bites and to not eat those. She was definitely on the lookout for squirrel bites after that. Once she quit worrying about squirrel bites, that kiddo dove into those strawberries, and it made me so happy that I thought my heart was going to burst from the joy of it. I mean, what’s better than a kiddo eating organic strawberries with joyous gusto?

I ate some too. I think we all ate some. The sun was shining, the breeze was cool, and the strawberries were–as you know–perfect. We picked so many berries that I thought surely we had made a dent in them, but today, when Ron and I went outside to pick for the farm shares, it was like the strawberries decided to be extra generous from all of that joy yesterday. I am certain, just absolutely certain, that the strawberries felt all of our gratefulness yesterday. They must have.

And I’m fairly certain the strawberries decided to be extra generous in return.

The Strawberries Are Coming

Day 37 of 365

Tonight, I am worn, just not as worn as my husband. Ron is expanding our little homestead and having to build a new fenced area for new chickens. He chops cedars, digs holes, and installs fencing all by himself. I don’t even know how he does it.

But when he’s doing that from dark to dark, I am doing all the other stuff. If you have ever lived on a farm or homestead, you know that “all the other stuff” is a lot.

But I have quick updates from life here on Sands End Farm:

  1. The baby Eastern Phoebes are still around! I saw them playing in the yard near the strawberries today. I am over the moon about this, but that empty nest is still tough to see.
  2. Today, when I was grading essays and trying to entertain my adopted brood at the same time, I discovered that my little Lavender Orpingtons, who are the sweetest birds I think I have ever seen, will sit on my arms while I am typing on my computer. They just ride along as I moved my hands from different keys. I have to get a picture of this soon.
  3. And the strawberries are coming. Strawberries are my favorite food in the history of ever. I will have to write more about them soon, but we had about a dozen ripe strawberries today, and the beds are fuller than I have ever seen them. I am hopeful!