Friday, May 30, 2014

A Girl's Best Friend

My daughter tells me that a girl's best friend is her horse.  I don't personally know this to be true, because I can't quite get over my fear of these large animals to form that bond.  However if you hang out with our "barn family" for any length of time, an intense bond between the two is evident.  I don't have to understand the bond to support it or see that it's tangible....

Thursday, May 29, 2014


Earlier this year I purchased a very large seed order from a seed company in Sharon Spring's, New York.  I had never used their seeds before, but decided I would take a gamble and see how their products performed.  I was impressed.  Every seed I planted came up and I venture to say we had 600-800 seedlings.  For weeks we planted and planted.  Our gardens looked amazing!  And that is when the flood hit last week.... 

We ended up with 4 feet of water standing in our garden, 5 feet of water in our house, and not a seedling (or furnace/central air unit!) survived.  My first call was to my insurance company, hoping to get some help with all that was lost in our basement.  My second call was to Landreth Seed Company to get our garden back in some sort of working order.  (A big deal if you depend on your garden for half the food you eat in a year...)

The seed company representative assured me she would get my order in the mail that day, and I had been watching my back account like a hawk all week waiting for the funds to come out so I could see when my seeds were shipped.  No money was ever taken out.

Last night though my seeds were in our mailbox, The Reluctant Farmer immediately replanted, and still I noticed no money had been deducted from our bank account.  I called Landreth this morning to make sure they got their money, and was shocked when I was told:  "Those were a gift from us to you.  Happy planting, happy summer, and may you have enough rain to water your garden, but not destroy your life." 

Thank you Landreth Seed Company!  Not only do your seeds perform brilliantly, but your customer service does too.  You will forever have a customer in us here On the Urban Farm, and your goodness was humbling. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Pay It Forward...

All last week I worried about hail killing my tomato plants.  I spent all that time and effort nurturing those babies from seeds to plants, and BAM!  Mother Nature gets a wild burr up her butt and drops 15 minutes of hail and 6 inches of rain on us last night.  Quickly my tomato count went from 129 plants in the ground to 3 survivors.  (Bum, bum, bum...)  She gave us quite the gift of water, I tell yeah!  We had 5 feet of water in our basement, our furnace is a complete loss as it was completely submerged, we have no flood insurance and the house smells terrible!  If I sit around and think about it, it is down right depressing.  And anyone who knows me knows, when I get depressed I eat.

So tonight, I got called into work, and on my way home I decided to stop at Chipotle.  There was a guy behind me in line, and as I watched him I thought to myself:  "You know, I have had a crappy day.  I am going to turn that around and buy this guy's dinner." (Nothing makes me feel better than giving to someone else!)

As we got up to the cashier, I turned to the man, asked if he wanted something to drink and explained I was buying his meal.  What happened next was a God moment.

He looked at me, and said: "Are you serious?!"

I smiled and said: "Yes.  Absolutely!"

He quickly picked me up in a sort of bear hug and exclaimed:  "You have no idea how much this means to me!  My house flooded last night. we have no renter's insurance and my wife and I lost everything.  We were hungry so I decided to come here to eat, and I was just counting my money to see how much I would have left.  God bless you!"

I smiled, and told him I hoped things would start to look up for him.

He hugged me again, and thanked me once more.

I was reminded today the value of being kind to others, of just how important random acts of kindness are, because you never know what hell the other person might be walking through....

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I wonder

She watches me with a silent peacefulness.
Asking to be loved and showing her appreciation in return.
She is a wise being and often times she leaves me wondering what animals think.

How much do they know?
Are they grateful?
Does she remember her previous owner being murdered?
Was she confused when she had to leave the only other house she called "home"?
I suppose, in essence none of that matters here.

We don't talk about their past.
Not with her.
Not with any of the other animals that share our life.
I want them to remember the kindness of the human spirit.
I don't want their soul to be bogged down by the "rescue" stigma which only allows them to live in the past.
I want their hearts to be filled with love, peace, and presence.
Those are the greatest gifts I can give them....

Monday, May 19, 2014

Oh, Hail No!

It has been a rough week around the farm in terms of weather.  I have been coddling my tomato seedlings for 10 weeks, being ever so gentle with them, hardening them off, making sure they have enough light, etc...  and I have been impressed with just how beautiful this year's plants have turned out.  That is what led me to have a complete melt down on Sunday.  (And when I say meltdown, I mean 3 year-old style complete with crying and yelling!)

Sunday, The Reluctant Farmer and I got my mom's garden up and running for her.  We were in a hurry because we had stayed longer than we had meant to and were in a rush to get some of our own tomato plants in the ground too.  We noticed an obvious storm brewing in the distance, however we quickly pulled 45 tomato plants out of the greenhouses and started planting.  Not even 10 minutes after we got them in the ground, the storm that blew through started dropping golf ball sized hail all over my tender tomato seedlings.  It was traumatic for me and the plants.  I went back out to the garden and it looked like the after math of a tomato plant genocide.  There were little tomato plant pieces everywhere!  What came over me next was nothing to be proud of....

Every "f-word" that was not said during Lent was screamed as I threw my shovel like a discus athlete on a track field.  I stomped, I cried, and finally I realized I should just suck it up and move on.  I know by now there are plenty of things I can't control in life, and the weather is one of them.  Tonight we managed to get all of the tomato plants replanted and where a few of them look rough, with over 120 tomato plants I can loose a few and still be okay.  Sometimes I just have to remind myself, it's all about prospective....

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Celebrating Gotham Style

Several weeks ago I received an invitation to my nephew Cooper's 4th birthday party, but try as I might I just couldn't find the right present for him!  That is when I sent out "bat signals" to a very important man in Gotham City,  and much to my amazement the masked hero himself stopped by for a visit to help us celebrate Cooper's birthday party in style.

Everyone had a great time, and Cooper was amazed by Batman. After everyone got their questions answered regarding Batman's car, belt, cape, and flying ability, Batman hung around to sing Happy Birthday to the birthday boy and then he was off to fight crime and save lives elsewhere.  (And save lives he does, Batman donates all of the proceeds from his appearances to St. Jude Children's Hospital in the donor's name!) 

Pretty amazing gift by all accounts if you ask me.  
I think Cooper would agree....

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Radiant beauty...

Last night The Reluctant Farmer and I were privileged enough to to attend an art show where my sister showcased 3 pieces of her art.  Abby creates these incredible collage pieces, and in the past when I have seen her work I have been impressed, but I must say last night when I witnessed her work, I was just in awe.  The three pieces she had were titled "Behind Closed Doors" and each piece dealt with an aspect of a very dark time in her life and her journey through physical abuse, depression, and abuse.  

To look at these pieces, to revisit these feelings, to see how far my sister has come, and to witness the healing that has occurred really moved me.  More than I ever thought possible by art.  For several hours I was so moved by these pieces all I could do was stare at my sister from behind the lens of my camera.  I just wanted to capture the essence of her, and to feel the energy that was surrounding us on this magical night.  I took picture after picture, and in each one Abby's brilliance and personality just radiates from her.  I could have taken pictures of her all night....

God has a sense of humor.....

I have come to the conclusion that teenagers are proof God has a sense of humor.  They might also be the reason for the national homicide increase, thus due to the fact that they know EVERYTHING, you know NOTHING, and the fact that the adult hands are nearly the perfect size to fit around the teenage neck.  Anyway....

Tonight, I go to pick up Katzya from her dad's house and she is doing her laundry.  Please keep in mind she has had nearly 2 hours to wash and dry the load of laundry she was working on, yet it still was not done when I got there.  We were in a hurry as we needed to get out the barn to feed the horse, so I merely suggested she set the dryer for 30 minutes and we would return to make sure her laundry was completely dry after the horse was taken care of.

Me:  "Please just hurry Katzya!  Throw your clothes in the dryer, set the dryer for 30 minutes, and let's go."

Katz:  "I'm hurrying!"

Me:  "Don't forget to empty the lint trap before you turn the dryer on.  We don't want to set your dad's house on fire!"

Katz:  "The lint what?!"

Me:  "The lint trap!  It traps the lint from the clothes that you are drying and you must empty it after every use or you could start a fire."

Katz:  "Don't worry mom, our dryer doesn't have a lint trap." she says as she rolls her eyes like I am the biggest idiot that has ever roamed the earth.

Me:  "Katz, every dryer has a lint trap."

Katz:  " Not ours.  I would have noticed a lint trap for sure!"

This sentence is coming from a child who wouldn't be able to find an elephant in the living room if she was staring right at it....

I removed a pile of socks from the top of the dryer, and low and behold, I unearthed the lint trap.  I show it to Katzya.  I remove the screen, show her how to empty it and teach her how to put it back together.

Then suddenly I get all the recognition I could ever want on this fine Mother's Day weekend....

Katz:  "Whoa, who knew?!  Mom you are really smart!"

I'm not sure what she was more amazed with, the fact I actually knew something OR the fact that the dryer had a lint trap, but you know what?  I'll take it as a compliment and the best mother's day gift ever!  As the mother of a teenager it isn't everyday you are right, heck I think the last time I was right was 14 years ago when I decided to become a mom.  But hey, who's keeping score?!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Keep your feet to yourself!

For the last 4 weeks I have coddled and protected over 400 seedlings.  I lovingly cradled them as precious seeds, gently placed them in soil that was kept at a constant 75 degree temperature, provided them with water, and 192,000 lumens of light.  I transplanted the seedlings as their containers got too small, all while they were growing away, and finally the time came.  Last night, I transplanted 20 Mortgage Lifter tomatoes and 4 Purple Cherokee tomatoes into the ground.  I fretted about this decision, because now that they have left my care, I can no longer protect them from the outside world.  From things like birds, squirrels, Labrador Retrievers, or FEET.  That's right I said feet.....

After worrying about my little babies all night, and fretting over their safety, I roll into the community garden tonight and 2 of my Mortgage Lifter's had been flattened.  Please note they were not flattened in a "the wind whipped me back and forth" sort of way, but more like "a shoe flattened me" sort of way.  (This was also evident by the large foot print that was imprinted in the soil surrounding my plants...)  I was sad, but ran home real quick, grabbed 2 more tomato plants, replaced the assulted ones and was just getting ready to leave when a gentleman shows up and starts working in the garden next to me.  We exchange pleasantries, I offered him a few heirloom Cherokee Purple seedlings that I had left over, and WHAM!  

With his back to my garden, deep in thought with his hand scratching his chin, his big foot lands on my plants!  I kindly said:  "Excuse me, I think you just stepped on my tomato plants."  He looks down at his feet, which have now moved off my flattened seedlings and replies:  "No, I don't think I did.  They look sort of wilted to me.  Maybe you should water them more often."  This is the part of the story where I execute my ability to filter folks, even though I think my tongue was bleeding at this point....  

I said:  "Oh, they have been watered, kept warm, prayed over, and given everything necessary to live for the last 4 weeks.  Look at the other 22 plants, they are just fine!  I wonder what would cause the plants right in this particular spot of the garden to have been crushed twice?!"   

He looked at me, shrugged his shoulders and goes:  "I don't think you should expect 100% success in gardening anyway.  You always have those plants that just don't make it."

In my mind, all I could think was:  You're right sir, you always have those plants that don't make it, but mine stand a better chance without your shoes on top them!  The Reluctant Farmer will be erecting a fence tomorrow.  One to keep out rabbits, squirrels, and feet.....

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Tools behind the transformation

After I came in from the garden tonight, I watched as dirty brown water ran down my arms and into the drain.  Inside I laughed, because no one would ever guess the hands providing their healthcare were the same hands that were elbow deep in compost, manure and dirt just hours before.  

I owe my amazing transformation to these little guys, tools of the trade around here as of late.  These three simple tools transform me from garden life back to professional life in mere minutes, allowing me to switch roles at a moments notice.

When I looked at them tonight, laying in the soap dish, I was overtaken with their beauty, simplicity, and purpose.  They constantly have their work cut out for them....