We have had our first 80 degree day now and the land shows it. The grass is growing thick and high, the blossoms are now beginning to drop and leaves are bursting out everywhere. This is really the prettiest couple of months we have here and I am trying to enjoy it. Summer appears long, hot and dry in the not-too-distant future.
The fruit trees are also leafing out. As they do so, I see my pruning errors in stark-er relief. I also realize that entirely skipping pruning the pomegranates was probably a bad idea. They looked so small, but they are up and at this whole growing thing and could use a little clarifying. I am hoping they will not be past remedy come next winter. I may need to research summer pruning of pomegranates. We fertilized all the trees, got the moldy hay spread around their bases and topped it with some bark mulch as well. I really wanted radial hardwood chips, but could only do so much. I have found permanent tree labels that should work—time to get them ordered.
We did a lot of work on the berry rows this week. The raspberries, blackberries and kiwi are all in, so we just need to plant grapes this year and put in the supports. We are using t-posts and wire as per this method. I have read that there is a type of wire called berry wire. It is supposed to be “softer”. I am not sure what soft wire might be like… I need to research and determine whether it is worth the price. I am trying to keep my OCD side from having conniptions right now. When the boys heeled in the plants, they took the blackberries out of their containers, so now I don’t know what is what and, of course, I could not plant varieties together. Another issue, of course, is that my plant guarantees are pretty much useless since I won’t know what something is if it happens to die. Also, the rows are not straight. Aaaaaaaaaah!
Grace and Jordan helped pick rocks from the holes before we planted. Grace exclaimed “It’s a rock!” every time she found one, and Jordan expressed doubt that it really was a rock whenever she found one. Elijah and I just had a good laugh as we worked.
Bethel, Jordan and I spread compost and straw on the strawberry beds. The chickens had gotten into the beds and done a little “thinning” while looking for bugs and trying to find an adequate dust bath spot. They made kind of a mess, but I wonder if it might help a bit. The beds have been quite crowded (between not feeling well and “when to do dormant-period maintenance if one’s strawberry bed never goes dormant?” inaction) and I could see this sparser arrangement being better for them. Even if the rows are not straight. Aaaaaaaaaaaah! There are a good number of blossoms and developing berries. I am hoping for a good harvest.
The blueberries have gotten their 1st helping of cottonseed meal and are awaiting their mulch. I am thinking about planting these potted ones out with their new compatriots. We have a spot that should get some afternoon shade and that has been acidified by a nearby pine tree. I will probably still need to figure out shade cloth for the hottest months, but I think they all have a reasonable chance of success and happiness over there. I am also planting a variety of serviceberry over there that is supposed to do well in our zone. We shall see!
In the kitchen this week—a batch of dill pickles and three more quarts of marinara sauce. The marinara has never been as good as the first time. I think it is just due to the tomatoes, but I am considering using my mom’s recipe next round. It should be about the same processing time in the canner.
And we have only one in diapers now! Woohoo!! With the other kids, potty training has ended up waiting until the child gets sick of diapers and does it themselves. When I wanted them out of diapers it was just an endless parade of tears, tantrums and accidents, but as soon as they decided, it was over and done with. But just to throw a monkey wrench into my expectations and modus operandi, Grace is an extremely patient child, including being patient with yucky pants. Attempts at encouragement and having her try to go on a schedule were completely unsuccessful and so, this week, we just took off her diaper. She was a little sad at first, but settled down to being patient again. A few issues, but she’s doing great and handled her class at Church today (1st time out of the house) like a champ. Tomorrow we’ll attempt a short road trip as we go to pick up a food order.
I received some rather bad news about a friend of mine this week. She is my age, a mom of twelve children (the youngest just turned one in January) and has just been diagnosed with a cancer that modern medicine hasn’t really been able to get a hold on. We are praying for a miracle. I met her and another mom-of-many back when I had three children and was unsure how much longer I should/could keep going with having babies. The two of them had much in common and would sometimes sit and talk about their experiences and insights while I listened and tried to pretend that I had a clue. The things I learned from them changed how I looked at motherhood.
- I learned that they didn’t have children because it was easy for them to do so, but because they were obeying the promptings of the Spirit. Upon learning that my friend was pregnant (again?!), one rude young relative asked my friend, “Was this planned?” My friend answered, “This is part of His plan.”
- I learned from them that each child brings both blessings and challenges essential for the growth and perfecting of the mother. My other friend said that as each child made her a bit better, she figured Heavenly Father would need to send her 100 in order for her to become perfect.
- I learned that we don’t necessarily see what is missing before a baby is born, but their importance is plainly evident after birth. When rude people would assert that my friend had too many children, my friend would ask, “Which one should I not have? Look at my children and tell me, which one would we be better off without?”
- And after hearing their stories of how hard it was to announce their pregnancies to family and friends, I learned that a pregnancy, no matter how inconvenient, how quick on the heels of the last, no matter which number, no matter the age or circumstances of the mother is always a reason to rejoice and congratulate. Yielding your life to God is never an easy thing, no matter how many times you have done it in the past and being given the stewardship of one of His children is no small matter.
By the end of a couple years of being friends with them I had decided that these wonderful women were not so odd, that they had clear vision and good reasons for the choices they made, and that their reasons could be mine as well. I pray that my friend will recover so that she can continue to share her love and wisdom with her family and others whose lives could be changed by her influence.
What greater gift dost thou bestow,
What greater goodness can we know
Than Christlike friends, whose gentle ways
Strengthen our faith, enrich our days.