Still in the garden and wondering about the downs

27 March 2009

We had a feeling there would not be many potatoes in that last lot we planted. Hanno dug them up yesterday and we only had about two kilos (4½ lb) from the entire bed. One end of the potato patch never flowered, the other end had a few flowers and was the area that gave us what we harvested, most of them are small potatoes. It's really disappointing when we prepare a bed, plant seeds and tend the garden to have little return for the effort. We try to live on what we grow in our backyard, it makes up the major part of the organic fruit and vegetables we eat, and when it fails, even if we work out what went wrong, it feels bad. We think we had too much rain and that adversely affected the potato crop. Rain is usually not a problem in our garden, but when it comes to root crops, too much rain over an extended period can rot the crops in the ground. Hanno is preparing another garden bed for our next potato crop.

We are also preparing the front garden for the wedding. Hanno has trimmed bushes, weeded the gardens and planted up a few new plants we bought last weekend. It's starting to look really pretty and we hope that by the end of June, the new plants will have grown and there will be a few flowers around, even though it's the middle of winter. Shane and Sarndra are in New Zealand now, working as WWOOFers (willing workers on organic farms) and moving around the country exchanging their labour for four hours a day in exchange for food and a bed. If you read this S & S, I hope you're still enjoying yourselves and meeting nice people. We miss you!

I had a comment from Julie M yesterday about our down days. In part Julie writes: "The reason I decided to post today has been on my mind for awhile. Reading everyone's posts breaks any preconceptions that leading a "simple" life is a painless and smooth journey, however no one has ever really given the stories of the "down days." Everyone has bad days, and I would imagine there is a time in this "simple" journey when it'd just be easier to chuck in the towel and give in the the tide of normality. I think what leads me to this query is that, perhaps everyone wants to highlight only the good while minimizing the dirty part of this journey, but surely this lifestyle isn't "perfect" (whatever that is?). We're all human, but I have yet to read any stories of a "bad day"... They do exist, right?"

Hi Julie, thanks for your comment. Although I have written a few times about a day not being great, or feeling down, generally our days here are actually very good. I think the common complaint is that we, the people who live this way, are not understood by those around us and are seen as a bit weird. That doesn't bother me, I've never been one to fall in with what my peers are doing, I think I must follow my own path, and usually I don't worry if others think I'm strange. Early on in my journey, before Hanno realised we really could live like this, we had a lot of discussions, sometimes heated ones, about this change and how if would affect us as a family. Even then, I felt we were on the right path and given time Hanno would see that for himself. I wrote about that yesterday and said that didn't make it more difficult, it made it more exciting.

Living this way gives you a power you don't have at other times. It's the power to take charge of your life, to learn what you need to know so you can achieve what you need to achieve on any given day. Sure, there is more work and sometimes it's hard and dirty, but it's satisfying work and it makes you feel you've really accomplished something, and that your day had meaning. I never had that feeling when I was spending and living a mainstream life. So even when things go wrong, or you have a down day, overall the prospects still look good so it doesn't impact like it used to. And so much goodness happens, it's difficult to emphasise the occasional bad thing. I haven't helped, have I? Maybe I'm the wrong person to ask.

The ladies meet for afternoon tea.

Let's see, our potato crop failing has been a downer this week, sometimes I don't feel like writing my blog, but I do it because I know people are reading and, without fail, when I finish writing, I feel better for it. Sometimes I wish we could buy something we need straight away and not have to save up for it, sometimes I'd like to go out for a drive, but I have work to do here at home, and I fuss a bit about using the fuel. But that's it for me. I am generally an optimistic person and not a lot goes wrong. I'm also much more philosophical about life's ups and downs now that I'm in my 60s. I know now that if something is wrong, it won't last, and life will return to 'normal'. I am also grateful to be surrounded by a loving family and friends. That support is always there, appreciated, and reciprocated. It makes a difference.

But let's open it up to discussion. How do others feel about Julie's question? Thanks for asking, Julie.

I want to point you towards a wonderful post written by Amanda Soule Mama. This week, Amanda wrote about a creative way to organise children. I wish I'd thought of this. It's such great simple idea and I'm sure it would work in the gentlest way while encouraging a work ethic and teaching children how a family works together for the good of all.

Thank you all for visiting me this week, and thanks for your lovely comments. I will probably be back over the weekend sometime to mark the millionth visit to Down to Earth. How crazy is that!