Setting up our farm has been a huge undertaking: emotionally, physically, financially, relationally, spiritually . . . in about every way, really. The days are full, and the list of urgencies seems to grow, rather than diminish as we continue to press on.
One of the things I love about homeschooling, although extremely time consuming in itself, is that it is something that requires me to sit down with my kids and focus on them. But I don't want to just be their teacher.
I want to be their mom.
And not just their mom, but their mom who invests in them, who encourages them, who showers love upon them, and who speaks words of His grace, truth, and hope to them.
It is hard to carve out extra time when the list of urgencies expands, until I remember the urgency in them - in the minds being trained, the hearts being shaped, and the years which pass by so quickly.
Still, there are those things that just need to be accomplished, and if they aren't attended to, the livestock, our food for the winter months, or the bank account will show the worse for it.
So I am challenged to bring our children alongside of me as I work and as I tackle these "urgencies".
Some say that I am raising up a troop of farm hands, and although it might slow me down now, they will be of great help in the future. True. Maybe.
I'm sure many have heard the stories of grown children who love their
parents but not the farm, especially those in farming regions. I don't want my kids to just feel like they are farm hands. I want them to feel like the farm has been placed in their hands.
Because of this, while I invite my children to come alongside me, being grateful for the time together, relationships built upon, and teaching being done, I am also seeking to instil a love of the farm in them.
This past Tuesday, after school was completed, I had another opportunity to put this into action. With rainy weather followed by a forcast of freezing coming up, it was time to finish up a few projects.
One of these projects was to get my garlic planted.
I have never grown garlic before. I have wanted to, but I have never had garlic to plant in the fall. After a facebook plea for sources for garlic and planting advice, two of my friends came to rescue - one being another homeschool mom and the second being our fellow Farm Crawl and Downtown Des Moines Farmer's Market neighbors, Blue Gate Farm.
Between the two of them I received 2 different varieties of garlic, about 3 lbs altogether.
These beautiful bulbs of garlic have been sitting in my house for about a month while I took care of other farm urgencies. And now that snow and cold weather were coming, I had garlic urgencies.
I explained to the kids that our days of fall coats were soon going to be traded for days of snow boots and snow pants, and with that, the ground would soon become too hard to work. Along with that, all of our garlic, which needed to be planted before the ground freezes, was still sitting in the house.
Over this past summer, my children have really began to understand where their food comes from. They have helped me considerably in the garden planting, tending to, and harvesting our vegetables. They have also lent helping hands preparing our produce to be frozen, dehydrated, or put into our perpetually going pressure canner.
With each food item they help me prepare, I place or let them place a little mark on the container.
And along with giving thanks for the Lord's provision for our family when we sit down to eat, I also acknowledge those who have helped me prepare our food, taking my accounting from memories of working together in the garden, from marks on items taken out of the freezer or pantry, or from helpfulness that day as the meal was cooked. (Not to forget Daddy's hard work in raising our meat.)
So when I asked the kids to separate the cloves of garlic for me in preparation for planting, they were eager to help. While they worked, I was blessed to watch unexpected cooperation unfold.
Taking the paper off of the garlic was a little trickier for my younger two children. When my oldest noticed this, he made it his task to peel the complete outer layer of paper off the garlic bulbs and then hand to the younger so they could break the cloves off.
They soon finished the task I had given them and continued on with their playing as I continued on with wrapping things up in the house.
We eventually worked our way outside, and I started my checklist, them bouncing back and forth from playing and helping as I needed. The evening was creeping ahead, but I finally got to the garlic.
I soon realized, however, that I had failed to plan a spot for planting my garlic. I wandered a bit, trying to figure out where to plant them until I remembered I had also failed to plant chives around my fruit trees over the summer.
It has been on my list of things to do, knowing that a planting of alliums around trees will prevent apple scab after 3 years. These alliums bring additional benefits too, such as repelling borers. Other urgencies popped in though, and I didn't get my chives planted.
With a bag of alliums in my hand and the sun fading away, I called my kids over to help me nest each clove of garlic in the winter homes I was making for them around my fruit trees. They carefully covered each clove up, happy to get their hands dirty, as I reminded them of all of the sauces and meals that we would use our garlic in and as I explained why we were placing them around our trees.
When we had finished encircling each tree, I thanked my kids and told them they could return to the corn stalk bales that had recently been dropped off in our front yard and that I would finish planting the garlic. It probably would have been nice to have their help finishing up, but I wanted them to also enjoy the benefits of temporary farm playgrounds as well.
My three boys quickly scattered away, eager to crawl through the tunnels formed by the rows of bales.
Hannah stood beside me. I asked her if she would like to go play as well. She replied that she would rather help get the garlic in. After all, it's fun to help grow her food.
I scanned my choices of where to plant our remaining garlic and chose the mulched fence line of my raspberry plantings.
We worked together, visited, and planted garlic. A sweet time together.
Two days later, the ice came, followed by the snow. The garlic was in.
Many days the urgencies of my tasks are weighed against the urgencies of training my children. Often, the effects of a task tended to are noticed more than the effects of a child tended to.
After all, raising children takes consistency, perseverance, and patience.
Sometimes I can combine these urgencies. Sometimes I can't.
On Tuesday, as we prepared and planted our garlic, I was reminded of this.
Having my daughter prefer to help me finish planting the garlic and spend time together warmed my heart that cool night.
And to see my oldest help my youngest as they separated the cloves of garlic earlier that day blessed my heart as well. When he shared with me what he was doing as they worked, I know he was being blessed with the lessons he was acting out of caring for others.
These lessons are often hard lessons to learn, coming from times of conflict, which come from times of being together (which happens a lot when you homeschool!).
So as I consider my urgencies for the day, I remember the urgency in being together. Being together to invest, encourage, shower love upon, and speak words of His grace, truth, and hope while we tackle the urgencies of life.
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Tools of My Trade
This book is a wonderful resource on companion planting in order to grow foods without the use of chemicals. It details good and bad companions, how various plants work together for increased flavor, productivity, and pest control. It includes information not only for the vegetable garden, but also for companion planting with fruits, nut trees, ornamental plants, and much more. Copies of this book can be found used or you can purchase a new copy from the link provided.