Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Slippery Slope of Life

Life has been exhausting the last few days here on the farm. Wednesday we were barbecuing on the back porch in the sunshine admiring the beautiful flowers of early May. Thursday was a day of praying for me as the outside invaded our small corner of the world. A young man had become lost in the fields and forests near our home and our day was filled with overhead helicopters and law enforcement officers and lots of them riding the back roads for hours searching for this young man before nightfall and the temperatures started dropping into the freezing range and a snow storm started moving in. Even the farmers were out looking for this young man who also was shall we say.......challenged. He was eventually found about 10:30 that night. Again we were reminded of the frailty of this blessing called life.

The scramble was also on to try to prepare the animals for the coming cold. Both mama rabbits were due to have litters and both did right in the middle of a snowstorm. We breed our animals to have their young in warmer weather to avoid this situation but just an example of another plan gone awry. As the snow began to fall it became evident it was an extremely wet and heavy snow. Tree limbs began to break, burdened by the new growth of green leaves holding heavy weights of very wet and heavy snow. Power outages followed.  

And snow drifted. 

And we watched as God's spring show was destroyed right before our eyes. 

And as a gardener my heart broke. I nurse these beds and tend them yearly. For almost 2 decades. They are such a part of my life. Many of the perennials in this bed were gifts from family members now deceased. Many started from seed years ago by me when I first moved to this little piece of prairie.   

And as the snow melts I know that my near future will be filled with cutting off the damaged foliage and allowing these plants to start anew. But the flowers are over for this year for many. I will miss them.

Last week the fruit trees were in bloom...peach, plum and apple blossoms abounded on the farm. I venture to say that these trees will not rebloom,  nor will they likely set fruit now.  Now for me that simply means that I squander my little stash of applesauce, canned apple pie filling and apple jelly and make it last another year. Same goes for that peach pie filling and jars of peach slices on my pantry shelf. But for those in my area who own peach and apple orchards I know that this storm will be devastating to them and the local economy. An economy already reeling from last years drought. I have said this before but I will say it again. Always can those bumper crops because I truly believe that God sends them for a reason. 3 years ago I had fruit coming out of my ears and I canned myself silly. Last year I lost a great deal of my fruit to drought conditions. This year to a late snow storm.  As the cycle continues next year or the one after I am due another bumper crop. I hope : ) So I plan accordingly, canning enough to fill in between those years of plenty is vital. 

As for my vegetable garden I will have to regroup and re plan. My green peas although cold hardy did not withstand 4 to 5 inches of heavy wet snow cover. They will have to be either replanted, or a fall crop planned for. I have cabbage and broccoli plants under lights awaiting being planted back in the garden to replace the ones the groundhog ate off. My plan is to plant a small crop now hoping that it doesn't turn excessively hot early. If it does then my cool weather crops will languish in those summer temperatures and not produce well. In that case new plan again. I will hope to take advantage of those cool fall temperatures to compensate for a lack of spring crops. Concentrating on a heavy summer crop of warm weather crops such as beans, corn and squash, easily grown and preserved, they will take the place of those lost spring crops. My potatoes and onions should come back. My young strawberry plants should recover but a spring crop may be pretty small.  I have to wonder how these storms will effect the prices in the grocery store as well. Fortunately for me I have had 2 years of bumper cool weather crops. With plenty of mustard greens in jars and cabbage and peas in the freezer from last family will not do without. With those vegetables packed in vacuum sealed bags they should last another year no problem with little or no frost buildup.

People think I am crazy that I never have less than 100 jars of green beans, as an example,  on the shelf. Is it because my family loves green beans, well yes. But more important for my family that is a 2 year supply. If my crop fails this year I have plenty to get me through to the next growing season. I have a years worth of mustard greens in jars on my shelf. Am I planning for a zombie apocalypse, not really, just thinking ahead that if my mustard gets flattened by a freak May snowstorm I have the luxury of shrugging and saying "O Well". After all, I still have enough to get my family through to the next crop, even if it is next year. Is that hoarding? No honey, that is just farming!!!!  

 This post is getting rather lengthy but I am going to impart some old lady wisdom here. I read so often on prepping and survival sites of people that make the remark that in case of hard times they will just go out in their back yard and throw some seeds in the ground and magically feed their family. Or they will find that acre or two of paradise in the country and live off the land. Always have a backup plan!!!!

I have begun praying for the farmers in our area. Because of extreme rainfall there are no spring crops in  the ground yet. Most years crops are planted in sometimes March and always April. Here it is May and it is snowing. These are people who many had no crops last year because of drought. Can they withstand 2 years of loss in a row? And imagine what this will do not only to the local economy of these small struggling communities but to food prices on the grocery shelf.  This area grows thousands of acres of corn, soybeans and wheat. But this storm stretched over many states. 

I am starting to sound like Henny Penny so I will pray that everyone reading this blog is safe and warm.

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter


  1. I am sorry! The snow is awful! (except for helping a drought, but the lateness of it is taking up your precious planting time).

    God's will be done I guess! The lack of food will effect the whole country, yet we are too ignorant to keep this in our prayers, we who are not farmers.

    Glad the young man was found.

    I just watched a PBS documentary on the Depression and the Dust Bowl. Perhaps our country is voting in our own sufferings to come by our disobedience to God's law!

  2. I also worry about the farmers and orchardists. The weather has been so unpredictable as of late. Seeing your deep snow fall is shocking, in May!

    I feel the same way about canning and putting up food for the lean years. We still have canned food from my bumper crop of 2010. I am really hoping to fill up the pantry this year, but we can only do so much.

  3. Prayers going out to all of you my farm friends. No snow here in upstate NY,near VT, but nothing planted yet either. I don't plant until end of May due to late storms and heavy frosts. Farm corn is not in the ground yet, first cutting hay may actually look good though, after the last few years of deep mud in May and June. No mud out there and that is really a change for us, hoping no drought, but we have so many ponds to pump for water that in these parts that is not an issue. Mucky pastures is a worse problem. Last year we had a real late frost too and local orchards took a big hit so we are praying they are spared this year. I can lots too, pickles anyone? I don't freeze as much as you do, down to one freezer after a major power surge blew one out. We also loose power here lots and do not have a generator. We heat entirely with wood, cook with gas, and always have a stock of water in buckets, cat litter pails, whatever, so we cannot justify a generator just for the freezer. not yet anyway. Canning and drying works well with freezer space reserved for meats. Our tulips haven't bloomed yet, just the daffies, and trillium, and some of the bushes are starting to bloom, like the forsythia and azalias. We have such a short spring, then quick hot summer, then off to fall. Like you I will also do more fall crops, but that varies according to how my old back is feeling when it is time to plant. This year it is telling me that fall will be the better choice. Hang in there dear farmwife friend. I bet some fruit will still take, enough for some fresh pies anyways.

  4. I am so sorry that you all and so many others have to endure this unusual weather. But I certainly admire your perspective and commentary. I think you have it figured just about right. You are an inspiration!

  5. So sorry for the weather your way. But so very happy that you are prepared, so many aren't these days.

  6. Oh my! All that hard work, and even more work to come. How devastating, and such a freak storm. It just missed us, and I am very sorry for your losses.

  7. So sad for the loss of spring flowers and plants, but you think like I do, can up everything in site during the bumper years. The snow missed us here in Utah, but we have had a late cold spring. I do so enjoy your blog and have been reading it for sometime now.
    Keep it up.

  8. I am sorry for your loss, I know that feeling from my own false starts that should have been plenty late to not be hurt by frost. It is sad.... but we just shed a tear and get up and start again.

  9. I do get nervous when we have a bumper crop and we peel every bony little bite of that fruit crop for the same reason...who knows what we will have next year.

    May the farmers who feed the nation catch a break for them and for the people who need their food.

    Many do not know the burden the weather puts on the economy. I dislike seeing family farms drop by the way side.

  10. Oh those dear little violets.. I live in Canada and have seen this many times but it is not good when you already have your planting done.. What a shame.. I loved finding your blog and will be praying for you folks..

  11. Sorry for your loss & hoping your young rabbits are doing well. It won't be long & new things will be blooming in your gardens. That storm system stayed just to the west of us...less than 20 miles, so no snow or freeze here(in eastern IA). Good thing, as our pear trees were just starting to blossom & we had a horrible crop due to drought last year (pantry is down to only 8 jars left). We've gotten a lot of much needed rain as of late & our growing season has been delayed some, but things are looking up here. We're just now seeing the asparagus sprouting & the morels starting

  12. Feeling your pain as I'm down here in So. Mo. Although we only got a trace of snow the cold has set back spring planting a month, the rain has made the gardens basically unworkable and the early potatoes/peas are a loss. Happy to find my box of spinach,lettuce,carrots, and beets suffered no damage. Our apple trees had just completed bloom time so there is hope. Rest of orcharddone blooming. Lost all my lilacs, white and purple which to me is worse than the potatoes! I love love love lilacs. Now they say a couple days of sun and warmth and then rain AGAIN. Guess I should be grateful that horrible bout of flu left me weeks behind planting my greenhouse.

    Makes me wonder what this summer will bring...drought? Rain in excess? Like you we can every scrap every year and fill in with produce from the Amish market. Guess as gardeners we are naturally optimistic so we'll replant and hope for good conditions so we can plant more for fall harvest. Good luck with your garden plans. Enjoy your blog

  13. Darn.. That storm missed us here in Ohio.. We're enjoying low 70s & sunny weather..

    Im sorry your beautiful flowers & crops got clobbered.. I used to have many fruit trees and it seemed like every 3 years was a bumper crop for me.. Sounds like you're due..

    I agree with you regarding food.. All of my family are/were farming folks & hunting & fishing folks..and lived on the land.. they put up everything they could, when they could.. As they say.. "when the sun is shining.. make hay!"

    Stay warm & be thankful for every blessing in your life.. You are indeed truly blessed.

  14. I feel so bad for you, but don't loose faith. This has been a strange spring in many parts of the world. Your in our prayers. Steve

  15. So glad the young man was found! The woods can be dangerous for anyone. I enjoy following along with your life and all you do.I am inspired to work towards your example. I am just starting out, steps! I hope to someday have enough food canned and dehydrated to be able to feed my family no matter what the weather may bring. Thanks for sharing your life! Darlene

  16. I just started following your blog. I'm so sorry to hear about the storm damage. You are wise to be prepared, and should be proud of your efforts.

  17. I am so sorry. :( Know I am praying for you guys and your community. I pray often for all farmers. Its a precious occupation that this land takes for granted. May the Lord fill all our land and its barns with plenty! Nodroughts, floods, or any other distruction. And may He restore all thats been lost. In Jesus name Amen
    The Simple Lady

  18. So very sorry about the loss of your beautiful flowers and your fruits and peas! You are very wise and hard working to put up all when you have a bumper crop. I am in GA and when I went out a little while ago, I was shivering and that was in long sleeves, which is unheard of in GA in May! We have had 2 weeks of overcast skies and rain, and I found our little doeling, (4 month old) shivering out in it this morning. The older goats apparently wouldn't let her in the barn last night, mean old things! I had to bring her in and towel her dry and hold her til she stopped shivering. She's all set up in her own little place in there tonight where the others can't bother her. This weather is very odd this year, though. Such a blessing that the young man was found. God Bless and Prayers to you and all farmers! I love your blog! :)

  19. It is disheartening when the weather turns and all those beautiful plants are damamaged.
    I've been biten by the gardening bug extra hard this year. I have seeds started everywhere!! I joke that my house looks like a greenhouse is taking over and I know I've planted way too much, much more than we can use. But I plan on sharing what I can't use and I also have plenty of space in flower beds and such so there will be a place for each plant to be sure, that is if they all come up and thrive. I agree its not hoarding, or prepping for a zombie appocalypse its simply being prepared for whatever may come, whether that is freak snow storms or loss of employment, whatever comes be prepared to meet it head on. Thanks for sharing such thought provoking and inspiring information, I truly enjoy reading here!!!

  20. In times of entry, prepare; in lean times make stone soup. The strength of homesteading is flexibility, esp. Variety of crops!


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