Up and Down: A Look Back at 2010

What a roller coaster ride the year 2010 was out on the farm!  Who knew life in the country would be so exciting?   What is the phrase – “the glory of victory and the agony of defeat”? That comes closest to describing this past year.

We started out smug.  The greenhouse was up and the seedlings started out nicely.  The joy of not having seed trays all over the kitchen and living room was sweet.  Perusing the seed catalogs was fun because the possibilities had become possible, not just wishful thinking.  But we all know smug is not attractive, complacent is dangerous and the last week of January 2010 was heart breaking.

The temperature went down to 17 and stayed below freezing for 4 days.  The blue norther was carried in by strong winds that blew our hoop houses apart.  We lost 52 of our 58 citrus trees.  The rest of the planted vegetables, even protected by frost blankets, were lost too.  The agony of defeat. (Honesty compels me to confess that unlike in the movies, I don’t cry pretty: runny nose, stuffed head, hiccups and of course there is the howling and honking.  I scared the dogs.)

In time, we cleaned up and replanted.  The seedlings in the greenhouse had survived and we scrambled for replacements for which we had no backups.  Winter turned to spring and we celebrated our first peach crop.  There were four different varieties of peaches, three of plums and oh heavenly day, the nectarines were a triumph of juicy sweetness. Our daughter married a wonderful man; we acquired a new son.  We had chefs come out to visit and get to know the source of their food.  We had them dig potatoes and help bring in the vegetables and so now they understand our end of the food production business.  And we cooked lunch for them.

Summer brought wonderful tomatoes and an amazing bounty of peppers.  In August, we discovered the hidden and overlooked watermelons under the new citrus trees.  Our screen porch ended up looking like a scene from “Attack of the Body Snatchers”, the pod nursery.  At night it was sort of creepy.

Fall started with the sweetest green beans we have ever grown and wonderful sweet potatoes. Change of season means a welcome change of vegetables and tastes, and as we slipped into winter we snuck in one late crop of yellow zucchini and eggplants that made our Thanksgiving dinner really special.  Family joined us and our niece made her first sweet potato pie by digging her first sweet potatoes: another convert for local and fresh.

Winter rolled in Thanksgiving weekend along with broccoli and cauliflowers and cabbages and five kinds of kale.  And so 2010 came to a splendid end.  And 2011?  January saw potatoes planted, and leeks and onions set out, and the peaches came into bloom.  And now at the beginning of February, sleet and snow and sub freezing weather for 4 days and the peach crop has probably been destroyed.  Agony.  But due to extraordinary effort and uncounted rolls of duck tape, the citrus trees have been protected and are thriving. Joy.  And so begins another year on our hardscrabble farm, just the simple, peaceful life in the country.

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