Today on the farm

Today started out good. I got to keep my niece overnight and most of the morning, which is always delightful. We played and napped and had a generally nice day.

And then the real fun began. Today was manure day! Now, that might not sound so fun to most people, but it’s music to a gardener’s ears. I talked my dad and brother into loading the dump truck with composted horse manure and bringing it down to the garden. As soon as the tractor scoop hit the manure pile, I was all smiles. It was BEAUTIFUL compost- rich, dark black, just the right amount of sponginess. It smelled like gardening success and money! It was the kind of manure that you know will grow great veggies. And, it was completely free! I knew I’d find a way for all those horses to be sustainable!

It seemed like so much compost when it filled the dump truck completely. But once it was dumped next to the garden, the pile looked so insignificant compared to the huge clay pit the garden has become. And it was pretty paltry- it spread over about 1/2 the 65 x 165 ft garden. On a positive note, the soil looked amazing where we did get to till the manure in, a great blend of the black manure and the orangey-brown clay. It’s going to shed water a lot better and be so much richer for growing in.

We were about to go get another full load, when my grandfather arrived. This is where the day took a decided downturn. In the past few years, my grandfather has started forgetting things. The man has always had a sharp mind- he’s still practicing law at 78 years old- but he doesn’t remember a lot of things anymore. He makes copious notes for work so it’s not as noticeable or problematic, but it makes dealing with him on the farm nearly impossible.

Take the garden as an example. I’ve been talking to him since December about wanting to plant a garden of my own this year. He was more than happy for me to do that as he’s only planted tomatoes, peppers, and okra the last couple of seasons. He just wanted me to let him know what my plans were, as he always needs to feel like he’s in charge even if he isn’t. I was fine with that- it’s his garden space after all.

So I tried to talk to him about it several times. I took him the seed catalogs I was looking at. I made a list of the varieties I was interested in. I asked his opinion. I asked if there were things he wanted me to order for him. Every time he would say “That sounds good but we’ll talk more about it later.” After months of this, I just went ahead and ordered what I wanted to. I knew he had already planted tomatoes, peppers, and okra (shocker) but they weren’t heirloom, which is what I was interested in. He had planted in the southern garden, so I planned my garden for the northern one.

Anyway, today he pulled up just as we were tilling in the manure. I could tell that he was upset about something and I had a feeling it was going to be my fault. He cornered my dad where he thought I couldn’t hear him and started saying that I hadn’t talked to him about any of this other than to say that I wanted to plant a garden, how I was just doing whatever I wanted without consulting him first, and how he needed the garden space. So my dad called me over to explain the situation.

As I said, the northern garden is 65 x 165 feet, in addition to the 50 x 130 feet in the southern garden. He’s only planted about 1/3 of the southern garden and I can’t use up all of the northern one. I told him that I wasn’t planning on using all of the northern garden so he was more than welcome to use what he needed. I told him some of what I was planting. We got into this tangled argument about gardening styles (he doesn’t understand why I would want to plant  in blocks instead of long rows), what to plant (he’s upset that I’m planting onions and eggplant because he doesn’t think we need them), and just how much space each of us actually needs. I’m trying to be as concessionary as possible since it’s his garden, but I’m finding myself more and more frustrated by the whole situation. It’s no one’s fault he can’t remember the numerous conversations we’ve had, but he won’t admit that he might have forgotten something and I can’t wait forever for him to make a decision.

So, for now, unfortunately, everything is put on hold- again. He wants to see my garden plan and I’m sure I’m going to have to change everything to suit him. Is it SUCH a big deal to change things around to make him happy? No. But it will take time that I don’t really have. So many things should be in the ground already and now there is another roadblock. Sheesh.

Then, to cap the day off nicely, one of the 2-year-old cows delivered prematurely and the calf was stillborn. I’ve been watching some of the others so closely because they seem like they are ready to explode, but I wasn’t worried about this one. It was her first calf and I feel so bad for her. She was just standing there in the field looking lost. She kept licking him to wake him up. We moved him out of the field to encourage her to go get some water (she wouldn’t leave him) and so the coyotes wouldn’t be in the field around the other calves, but she keeps going back to look for him and calling out. It’s so sad.

And that’s the nature of farming, the constant ups and downs. More calves will be born and this one will soon be forgotten. The garden will get planted one way or another. But for today, it’s been a bit of  a headache with a dash of sadness.


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