Gardener vs. Farmer

My dad gave me his first copy, because that’s what he had with him in his office, back in 1992. He had several of them, ready no matter where he was.

This edition is circa 1977. My father thrust this book into my hands when I asked for his gardening advice for the 8,000 time in 1992. I was renting my father’s childhood home from him. My grandma had died, and my parents bought out my dad’s brothers and were renting the house. Me, my kids’ dad and two male friends from La Val’s (my parent’s restaurant) rented the house in El Cerrito, CA. I was the only one that did anything remotely gardening. I could get the guys pick blackberries and wash dishes if I told them I’d make a blackberry cobbler. Men are simple creatures sometimes.

I love this book. I picked it up again tonight to figure out what to do with my arborvitae (Thuja) that had basically died completely. It clearly got the equivalent of plant “freezer burn” in some recent winter, and most of it died. It’s looked like crap since we bought the place. I read about it first, to make sure I wasn’t going after it willy-nilly with the chainsaw. It should be mentioned that I bought myself the chainsaw a few months back to trim fruit trees, and it is my new favorite tool. I also now own a sharp circular saw blade I put on #youknowwho’s my weed wacker, and I installed the blade myself.  One does not have to be a mechanic to do this, I promise.

Before I attacked the tree, and after:

Won’t #youknowwho be surprised when he drives up after dark after teaching his electrical students? Look at the photo on the right. See the two posts that stick up above the bottom of the fence? I have a sign I paid for to have custom made last summer, and #youknowwho’s mother’s day job is to make sure it is installed for me. It’s my only request, other than people let me the hell alone chill on that day.

I am a force of nature. I have the will of a small country. My kids’ dad used to call me the “anvil of God,” which when we were together I thought was a huge compliment. I have always been able to manifest what I really want, if I want it badly enough. What I realized after we chose to split up that his nickname was not a compliment. He felt like I dragged him along, unwilling. He’d watch me do things like chainsaw a dead arborviate, and shake his head and tell me I was doing it wrong. After a decade or so, he just hid in the house with a book and a beer. He stopped participating completely. Somehow he was never compelled to do his own projects. He also didn’t like the potential that I’d fail. But failure is part of life. I am proud to say that he is fully immersed in his own projects after buying a very old and run down house. I’m so happy for him.

All that said about my internal gravitas, while I was taking down dead trees I was thinking about how lazy I really am. If I were actually a farmer, whether a hobbyist or not, I would not go and work for about 90 minutes and feel like I “deserved” something. (I was telling myself the whole time I got a beer after.) After that amount of time working the property alone I fully was telling myself stories about what I could eat or do because I’d worked so hard in the yard. Farmers do not think they deserve something just because they work hard. They just expect to work hard.

I remember once coming up to Oregon from San Francisco when my kids were little. One of my sisters also came with me, and she had an infant.  Her baby was still nursing as was Liam. My sister had even owned property before. But when we arrived, less than 15 minutes into our visit, my mom donned her Giants cap, put on her plaid work shirt, hopped on her riding mower, and headed into the yard. This was April 2000, 18 years ago. In my naive, not-understanding-what-it-means-to-be-a-farmer-or-a-rancher, I thought my mom was ignoring us.  And that she was maybe just a tiny bit crazy. (Sorry mom.)

IMG_7562I understand now how much work one has to stay on top of in order to make the work not inundate you. She probably knew it was going to rain, or her lawn was dry enough to finally mow after drying out. She probably knew she needed that window, because tomorrow she had to go into town to get groceries, or go to Dr. appointments, or wait for the large animal vet to come out and check on her cattle.

I honestly don’t know anything. I admit this freely now. I realize how much freedom is also in that acceptance, that I don’t have to know everything! That I can stay out of my head and just BE. Yaay!

I am not a farmer yet. I want to be. I feel like that is the direction in which I yearn.

This is my garden plot. It was tilled up when I asked my neighbors for help and if they’d loan me a rototiller. They just came over with the tractor and did this.

One day I will have beauties like these goats to tend to, and their poop to compost into my garden. That will add work and pleasure and gifts.

This week marks the 1 year anniversary of buying this property. I am so honored and blessed. I can’t believe we made it. It was by the skin of our teeth.

If you want to read about our journey in the first 6 months of this property, and flipping a house we didn’t intend to flip in our Halsey house, you can read about it on #tinyempire.

Candy and I are in love.

Find your tribe, and be HERE, now.



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