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 year....my 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