Getting Back To Your Roots
I can feel my blood pressure dropping as I drive out to my friend’s house in the country. I take the exit and head north on an old highway surrounded by fields of yellow wildflowers and cardboard signs for fresh picked strawberries.
Sandy, along with her husband Michael, live in a small house on five acres, and they come as close to anyone I know to living off of the land.
They raise chickens, ducks, quail, honeybees, rabbits and their newest project is sheep. They have been getting their land ready to bring in sheep this spring, and the kids can hardly wait.
I had told Sandy that I would do my share of work in her vegetable garden this year in exchange for some produce, so one afternoon last week Sandy called me to tell that it was time to come on out. Michael had tilled the ground, and now we were trying to beat the rain that was coming in.
So after I got my kids off to school, I headed out. I turned down the gravel lane to their house and smiled when I saw Sandy and Michael together in their garden getting ready.
Everything on their land seems perfectly situated. It is a little piece of paradise to me.
Michael had run lines of string to follow, because he likes his garden planted in neat rows. He joked with us about keeping our lines straight, and when we ran some string for the next row ourselves, he had to come and fix it.
Sandy handed me an old coffee container full of seeds. I love how they don’t waste anything out here on the farm. Everything serves multiple purposes.
We dug right in, putting seeds in the ground. Rows and rows of purple hull peas into tiny little holes we poked with our fingers.
It never ceases to amaze me that a plant grows up out of the ground from a tiny seed.
I love how planting is a faith journey. You put your little seeds in the ground. Then you wait and hope, and soon something new grows.
After the purple hull peas, we planted okra. Okra seeds are so tiny that I kept accidentally dropping more than one in a hole. I struggled to hold on to my little handfuls of okra seed while we put in four rows of okra. Sandy wanted to plant mostly okra and purple hull peas, so that she can let her neighbors come and pick. She’s going to put up a little honest box where you can leave some money when you pick vegetables from the garden.
She saved some room though for zucchini and yellow squash hills. She made mounds along the rows and I came behind her with four seeds for each pile of dirt.
From the garden you can see Michael and Sandy’s Pavilion. Larger than their house, the pavilion is a gathering place for family and friends. Our sweet friend, Beth and her mother came out and brought us lunch while we were planting, so we took a break to sit in the shade of the pavilion on porch swings and around a table.
Our yummy lunch came from the Fried Pie Shop in Jacksonville. I had a pimento cheese sandwich and a fried peach pie, both of which came wrapped in red checkered paper. We washed it all down with Sandy’s sweet tea. And Oh. My. Goodness. It was so amazing. And so lovely.
If you’ve never had a fried pie, well, you should rectify that immediately.
I was so full I wanted to sit all afternoon in the pavilion, but soon it was time to say goodbye and get back to work.
We finished planting in the late afternoon, so Michael went ahead and tilled up some more ground for Sandy’s famous sunflowers. She brings them to town in huge bundles and makes us all smile.
She and I ran to the Farm Co-op for farm seed.
I had never seen seed sold in bulk bins like they had at the Farm Co-op.
When we got back to the farm with our seeds, Sarabeth was arriving with all the kids from school. Simon was so happy to get to come to Miss Sandy’s house. He loves it even more than me. He shot out of the car and headed to the chickens. He found two eggs to bring in the house and then he was ready for fishing.
Sarabeth and I were amazed at how the kids stayed down at the pond and fished until it got so dark that they couldn’t see anymore.
It’s like when you’re out at Michael and Sandy’s, the rest of the world and all its troubles sort of washes away. And for a few minutes, you can just be a kid.
Sandy scattered her sunflower seed and fixed up some snacks for the kids. Michael built a fire in the pavilion and the kids made s’mores while we sat around visiting. It was a perfect end to a perfect day.
We drove back to town and fell asleep to the sound of rain beginning to fall. Perfect timing. I was so happy that it had rained all night that I didn’t even mind too much that I was so tired the next morning from my day in the field.
I LOVE that our family gets to have a glimpse of farm life through this sweet family. I was reminded this week of something I heard farmer Jim Carroll say at Bean 2 Blog last year. He said that if you look back to your roots far enough, you will find farming in your family. Most all of us have descended from someone who has tended the land for food.
Understanding and experiencing food growing is such a beautiful part of preparing great food for my family, and I want my kids to pick up on that somewhere along the way. I hope they will each tend a little piece of dirt at some point in their lives, and be amazed when new life grows.
A special thank you to Michael and Sandy for letting us share your life on the land!
And to Beth for bringing us sustenance and great company!
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