Tag Archives: hope

Spring Update

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Spring has sprung here in rural West Tennessee. The worst winter in about a decade has finally released its frosty grip on this red clay soil. What was brown and dead is now green and thriving again. There could be no better metaphor for my life as of late.

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Yes, I have come back to Tennessee and, while I can’t say that I am happy about the circumstances regarding my return, I am more than happy to be home. The frosty grip has been lifted and I am thriving again even if only in very small ways.

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The garden has been planted. The seeds have been sewn. The red clay soil has been worked and nutrients have been added to improve its quality. In a few seasons, if the hard work continues, it will be something to be reckoned with. There is so much promise and hope for the future.

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There are other projects in the works for the fairly near future. Two tables like the one I designed and helped to build in Florida (pictured below) will be built to suit the needs of my ever-growing extended family. Much furniture that came from my grandmothers house will receive new life. There will, of course, be pictures and details in the coming days.

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Yes, there is much promise and hope for the future. I could not be more thankful for the wonderful family that I have been blessed with. I am also eternally grateful to the incredible friends that I made in Florida. Both parties encouraged me to do whatever I needed to do to achieve my dreams. I am proud to say that, while I am still a bit flighty with the desire to go and experience other things, my heart remains firmly rooted in this red clay soil.

Until next time,
Claire

The First Mother’s Day in Four Years

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The First Mother’s Day in Four Years

This will be the first Mother’s Day in four years that I’ll be able to spend with my mom. Before now, I couldn’t bring myself to visit her grave. It hurt too bad. I haven’t been to see her since her funeral, actually, which will have been five years ago this July. This year, though, I hope things can be different.

My mom knew the triumphs and the struggles associated with being a mother better than anyone I can think of. She understood the lovey-dovey parts of being a mother to two girls as well as the traumatic and unexpected pain of losing her first child, an unborn son. She knew how it felt to struggle and succeed in raising a family in tough financial situations, but she also felt the crushing blow of being told in her early thirties that she would never again be able to carry a child. She was the mother of one child with a birth defect and another with common learning disabilities. She was a compassionate conquerer, a wise genius, and the most giving individual that I have met in my life.

This week, I am praying for all of the families and individuals who have mixed emotions – or even plain hatred – in their hearts for this holiday. I pray for all of the exhausted mothers with children, the bereaved mothers without children, the lost children without mothers, the fathers who wear two hats, and all of those who wish to become mothers but can’t.

You only get one mother. I think that’s what makes this holiday so hard for so many of us. No matter how you try to fill the hole in your heart – whether it’s a mother, grandmother, child, etc. – nothing and no one can take the place of someone you’ve lost. To those who understand, I am sorry for your pain; I know it all too well.

In spite of the pain, the loss, the longing, and the way that society tries to tell you how to feel, I do wish you all a Happy Mother’s Day.

From one motherless child to the masses in mourning,
Claire

2014 Garden Wishlist

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This crazy, tentative list is my basic plan for how to tackle the garden this year.  It is much better than last year’s plan because of the simple fact that there was no plan last year.  At all.  I went to the greenhouse, picked out some things that looked nice, and stuck them in the ground.  This year, however, there will be order!  Or at least as much order as you can ever expect from me.  Below is a list of plants and a number.  This number either refers to a) the number of that type of plant I wish to have or b) the number of containers I wish to have filled with them.  Keep in mind before you judge me that the goal here is to begin self-sufficiency over the next year.  While it might sound like a lot for a backyard garden, it should, ideally, provide for three people for 365 days.

Tomatoes – 15a
Corn – 100a
Straight-neck yellow squash – 8a
Okra – 20a
Green beans – 20a
Zucchini – 4a
Potatoes – 10b
Onions – 10b
Garlic – 5b
Bell peppers – 6a
Pumpkins – 4b
Watermelon – 4b
Blueberries – 2a
Strawberries – 2 bundles, as they are sold
Pinto beans – 20a
Asparagus – 10a
Peppermint – 1b
Spearmint – 1b
Spinach – 10a
Cucumber – 2a
Basil – 1a
Chives – 1a
Dill – 1a
Oregano – 1a
Parsley – 1a
Thyme – 1a
Aloe – 1a

As you can see, there is a lot of work to be done before I even begin to plant.  I would like to think that I can handle this vast and lengthy list of plants with only my minimal experience and yet-to-have-purchased almanac to guide me.  This list is not really going to be part of the ledger I hope to keep of garden production.  Some things may not make it into fruition and other things may be added to the list later on.  Rest assured, photographic evidence of this mammoth undertaking will arise as soon as I have something to show for myself.  Truth be told, I will be proud of myself if I even get to do half of this stuff, as it will still be an improvement over last year’s garden.  If anyone out there has any suggestions regarding any of the aforementioned plants, I am all ears!

Until then,
Claire

New Hope for the Spring

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I have been setting goals today, y’all!  It’s pretty much just a list of smaller goals and how to achieve them with the long-term goal being self-sufficiency.  I’m not sure how long it will take to be fully self-sufficient, but I know it doesn’t happen over night.  Or even over a year.  This year, the idea is to test the waters and see just how much food we can produce and store for our little patchwork family and whether or not it is really more cost-effective.  Since gardening seems to be something that we just do in these parts, I can hardly see us stopping in the near future.  I can see, however, that we have a lot to learn.  The following is a list of things that I hope to accomplish before the end of March or so as spring begins to fade into summer.

1) Finish cleaning out the barn.  We have two rather large barns on the property that are full of junk.  We have had about three marathon cleaning runs on the Back Barn but it’s so dusty that after an hour or two we have to call it quits.  The space could be incredibly useful to us, we just have to take the time to make it that way.

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2) Plant a herb garden.  I have the desire to cultivate my own herbs in pots that can be moved around based on their individual needs and brought inside to enjoy year-round.  This should only be a small undertaking, but I’m not ruling anything out.

3) Finish the compost bin and start composting.  We have some of the basic construction already underway, but I broke the hammer.  Actually, “broke” is the wrong word considering that I managed to bend it.  Yes.  With the gracious help of He-Man’s dad, this project should be done and the composting underway in no time flat.  *fingers crossed*

4) Till the garden and make it bigger.  Last year’s garden was a decent size, but I am ready to go bigger.  We have crazy amounts of dwarf okra seed that I saved from last year’s harvest that I want to take advantage of and I have compiled something called the 2014 Garden Wishlist that, in another post, will show just how ambitious I’m getting.

5) Get the early crops in the ground to start the garden off with its best foot forward.  Last year there was no crop rotation.  Everything got planted at the same time and if it grew, it grew but this year I know better.  Early greens as well as potatoes, onions, and garlic (which will all be done in containers for easy harvest) will go in first.

6) Buy an almanac and actually read it.  I have always wanted and almanac but never actually took the time to buy one so if my assessments in #5 are a little off, I’ll figure it out sooner or later.

(photo courtesy Wikipedia)

7) Buy and learn to use a home canner.  This is also something that I have wanted for a while but never actually got around to buying.  I realize that not everything can be canned but I already know how to dry things and use the freezer so we won’t go there.  This is all about putting back some of what we produce to see how much is left over (if any) by this time next year, with the goal being to have a surplus and eventually a stockpile.

8) Keep a ledger of how much was spent on and produced in the garden.  Not only will this help me to decide whether or not this is a cost-effective way to spend 3/4 of the year, but also how many plants we need for the next year in order to attain self-sufficiency.

Eventually, perhaps many years into the future, I want nothing more than to never have to go to the supermarket again.  I want to be able to produce all of my meat, cheese, milk, and vegetables right here.  Is that so crazy?  That’s not to say that everybody should do the same, I just think that it is the lifestyle that I would like to pursue.  AND, in case you’re wondering what you can get me for my birthday this spring, I will be accepting solar panels, daffodil and iris bulbs, goats, and bee-keeping equipment. 🙂

Until next time, my dears,
Claire