My summer dream was front yard landscaping, moving our shed off the driveway (serious, grandparents, why?), and a pergola over the back patio.
Instead I got a garden and cared about nothing else ever.
Sure, we didn’t have the time or margin to do those things, but something about our hard summer was made easier by growing things. No matter how busy the day was, no matter how tired I was, I ended my day watering my garden beds and checking the progress of my veggies.
If you look for the bright moments, you’ll find them in unexpected places and for me it was my garden.
The ironic part about this is the two garden beds we have were left at the rental house when our renters abandoned the property. They left tons of junk and two garden boxes in the garage. So in the midst of so much trash and stress, these two wooden frames were brought home and ended up being a quiet, restful part of the renovation mess.
I see you, God. I see you and your tiny gifts in hard, overwhelming things.
I see you seeing me.
As I immersed myself in becoming a full-time farmer, I had to buy a few things OF COURSE.
(Side note: Chris Graham HATES that I refer to myself as a farmer. I am well aware two garden boxes does not a farmer make, but I am living my best life in overalls and with a piece of straw hanging out of my mouth as I walk circles around my two small garden boxes. The more he protests my use of the word “farmer” the more I use it, because that is what marriage is all about.)
What’s weird about starting a garden is very quickly you’re planning new gardens and bigger gardens and perhaps within a few weeks you can live off the land and be completely off the grid? It gets very extreme very fast.
Except I can’t give up Amazon, so I think that means I’ll stay on the grid. Does Amazon count as on the grid? Who knows. Anyway here are some of my current favorite Amazon buys helping me to live my best country farmer life:
I’m not going to lie, for years, I’ve seen people with rain gauges, and thought WHY? It’s 2018, people. You can just open an app on your phone and see how much it rained. But guys, now that I’m a legit farmer, I get it. Since I have raised beds, I don’t have the benefit of the ground water more traditional gardens have. I have to water my gardens once a day or things start to die. But if it rains! If it rains, I get the night off. But not just any rain, I need a very specific amount to be able to skip the watering so the rain gauge is really important. I don’t want to know how much rain my county had. I need to know how much rain this very specific spot in my backyard had and so OF COURSE I had to buy a rain gauge.
I get it now. I see why it’s necessary. So I hope to level-up and begin all telephone conversations with a discussion of the amount of rain fall we’ve had, but I am not there yet.
Speaking of rain, I live on a well. Which for you city folks means lots of rain fills my well up and gives me plenty of water to use in the house. But if there’s not lots of rain or we’re going long periods of time between rain, my well is getting lower and lower. It takes pretty extreme conditions to get a well to a dangerously low level, but being frivolous with the water isn’t good either. So I bought a rain barrel, and Chris cut one of our gutter drains to fit directly on top of it so when it rains, half of all the water that hits our roofs runs into the rain barrel.
Obviously, this isn’t drinking water, but it’s perfect for watering my gardens and flowers. I read a million reviews before buying this one, and it seemed the only major complaint was it didn’t have tons of pressure if you hooked up a hose to it and tried to water a large distance from the barrel. We set ours up near the garden beds, and I just fill my watering canister from the barrel and then water that way. It’s been amazing, I’ve not run out of rain water all summer, and it’s been a great way to keep everything outside alive without using our well water.
(I understand those pictures aren’t really pretty or styled or blog-worthy, but being a farmer isn’t always about pretty pictures. Please understand I’m busy tending to the earth right now.)
Being a hardcore farmer means not squandering anything. So when I bring in my vegetables for dinner or weed the flower bed, I’m throwing all the yard waste into this compost bin with the hopes of using all the rich, smelly, nutritious soil to replenish my garden beds once things die and colder weather set in.
Coffee grounds, fruits, vegetables, weeds, dead flowers, and egg shells are slowly rotting and working their magic so that one day in the fall, I can spread all the rot on my gardens. It’s so gross but so amazing. I will say, I chose the WRONGGGGG spot to put this bin. I thought setting it near the garden would make it easier to run things outside from the kitchen, but it has attracted so many flies and gnats (duh, Mary) that once it’s emptied, I’ll be moving it away from the garden and the house.
Listen, even farmers have an off day, and I did not think that through.
This isn’t farmer related, but I love them so much so I’m throwing it in anyway. See those cute little green trees sitting on my front porch? They’re fake.
I’ve tried for years, at this house and our old one, to keep small shrubbery-type trees alive in pots. I love the look of it. But it’s freaking impossible for me to not kill them. Overwater? Check. Underwater? Check. Too much sun? Check. Not enough sun? Check.
So I ordered these from Amazon, planted them in my pots and covered them with real potting soil and I’ve been smug and happy about them ever since. I like to tell people they’re fake when the come to the front door, which I think defeats the purpose, but no one believes me when I say it.
You don’t have to tell everyone they’re fake if you get them, but I just get too excited to keep it to myself.
Actually, this isn’t mine. I’m squarely on the gas grill side of this argument, but someone I’m married to really wanted a charcoal grill. He got one for Father’s Day because when else should you get someone a gift they don’t need just to make them happy? So now Chris is slow cooking ribs and being obsessive about the smoke flavor in the hamburgers he’s making us for dinner. It’s kind of annoying, but us farmers have to be patient and sometimes that means with our farm hands.
(I can’t stop laughing that I just called my husband my “farm hand.” He’s going to love this post so, so much. Normally he edits before I hit “publish,” but I’m going to hope there are no typos and just let this one surprise him when he goes to the website. What a blessing it is to be married.)
That’s it for now–basically I just explained EVERYTHING you need to know to be a successful farmer and live off the land. Please refer any other questions to my farm hand, Chris Graham.
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The Chris Graham says
Should’ve let me proofread… smh
Chris Graham, get out of here.
This made me smile. The only thing I grow successfully is weeds. I plant my flower bed every spring with great hope, but right now that bed has a few spots of beautiful color and a lot of green weeds. At least the weeds are green, and not brown and crumbly like some of the flowers. My husband grew up on a farm and has the touch, but he only tends to the vegetables, not to the flowers. And the weather here did not allow for a successful garden this summer, so both areas are a sad, sad sight.
I will think of you and smile, Farmer Mary, as I survey my weed patch. Maybe next year will be different…
Kim, I went YEARS only growing weeds so I feel this on a soul level.
Sigh…all y’all are doing is everything I miss about living in a home instead of an apartment.
Have you tried some bucket gardens or windowsill herbs? You can be a farmer too! Obviously, I use the term verrrrry loosely. 😉
Lyn (flowerparts) says
Oh man. What is with men and charcoal grills? My husband sold our gas grill and kept the charcoal one (slow cookin’). He also has a pellet smoker (even slowwwwer, but delicious). It has been several years since we had a gas grill & he does the grilling. But I still just don’t get it. And now I need a rain gauge. We have a sprinkler system so we just have to turn it on, but we have two pretty latge gardens ifor the suburbs. But I would love a rain barrel for our herbs and potted plants on the deck.
You totally need a rain gauge, it will take you to the next level in your farming. 😉
I’m a farmer too! I live in the city, but I have chickens and a dream, and can grow a nice zinnia, so basically I could run a 4H club by myself. Just kidding, but a gal can dream.
Teach me your zinnia ways, please. And adult 4H Clubs SHOULD really be a thing!
Lauren M says
Compost tip: When you move your bin out farther, keep a closed container in your freezer where you can dump your compost. It will keep it from getting stinky. We compost at a community garden down the street, and we fill a container in our freezer with compost. When it’s full, we take it and dump it.
That’s such a good idea! Thank you, Lauren! In the summer, running it out there isn’t too bad, but I was concerned with what to do in the winter when I don’t want to make a trip out there every evening. So smart.
Becky Schneider says
I love love love this- I grew up in a small town and we moved to the farm when I was in high school. I am still part owner of that farm, but haven’t lived there in decades….we have four tomato plants this year….and one of my tomatoes is finally getting red! I told my husband I was going out to bring in the harvest this morning! (farm hand needed to stand by….) Two early girl tomatoes….they look great. (I have about $25 in the plants and soil and cages and stakes…so those are $12.50 tomatoes….they had better taste great!)
Yay! Those are some expensive tomatoes, but I just know they’re going to be so, so good! 🙂