Tuesday, March 9, 2010

First Garden

(No, the house isn't leaning backwards, the garden actually sloped downhill but the crazy woman holding the camera leveled the garden and tilted the house)

Plowing the gardens reminded me of this photo, taken in late spring 1976. We moved to our land in August 1976, after almost a year of building on weekends. The house was nowhere near finished but we moved in anyway and pretty much camped in it for the next year.

We had few of the tools we needed to live in the country. My first husband bought the old truck you can see in the photo. It ran long enough to get to the farm and died. He also bought a 1952 Ford tractor with pretty close to the same result. We had some hand tools and a beasty rototiller that was a workhorse.

Our land was grown up in small trees, with a woodlot of about 30-35 acres. We cut back enough brush the first year to clear a place for our house and garden. The first garden was rough--lots of roots, rocks and briers. But we planted anyway, and had fair results considering we added nothing to the soil, which you can see was mostly clay, and highly acidic.

The boys loved living out in the country. We'd been two years in a townhouse in town and it was not for them after our little house in the country in Virginia. When we moved, they were happy as they could be. Our neighbor's boys, a mile away, meant they could take long runs across the hills to go play. No neighbors anywhere close meant no one watching over them or getting them in trouble, a problem for them in Ravenswood where there were so many eyes!

Looking at this photo, I realize how young they were when we put them to work. Jon is six, going on seven here, and Derek, in the background, would have just turned five. But look at them! I don't recall a lot of complaining, either. Of course, I was right there with them, and what boy doesn't like messing in dirt? It looks like they're both barefoot which was pretty normal. Now I look at it and think, snakes! copperheads! Oddly, we lived here for about 6 years before we saw a copperhead and it was dead in the driveway. God must protect fools because the possibility of poisonous snakes never occurred to me, even when we spent hours picking berries. So innocent.

This was over 30 years ago and looking at this picture, I see so many things that have changed. The house is as finished as it's likely to be, we have grass and a deck and porch, the briers are no more, the gardens are fertile, the brush is beaten back, the boys are grown and gone.

If I could change any of it, it would be to have my four mopheaded boys back again, running barefoot across the ridge, calling out to each other and laughing with the sun in their faces and the wind at their backs. Yes, I would like that.


  1. What a wonderful photo - and the angle is a hoot, crazy lady! LOL The beginning of the post got me to thinking of you guys camping out in that part-house. Over here, our pump went out for much of the Winter here, and we were Laura-Ingalls-Wildering our water, pulling it out of the well and heating it on the stove. The things we'll do when we want to be independent and on our own land. LOL On the flip side, there are so many things right now that I miss, good times and important days from long ago. Sigh. All in good time, I suppose.

  2. I can just imagine you hauling water! Our first two winters were like that, because in 76 and 77 we had some terrible winters--lots of deep snow and temps as low as 30 below. Our first winter, the pipes were still above ground--so like you, we hauled a lot of water. Now it seems so civilized, hot and cold running, indoor toilet, fridge, electricity...back then it really was like camping out, 24/7.

  3. wow, that IS camping out at its finest! LOL. Me? I am a city girl at heart.

  4. City living is a challenge to me, so we're even, gigi! I'm intimidated by the complexity of it. It's interesting how we find our own places in this world--it would never do for everyone to be city dwellers, or for everyone to live in the country, would it?

  5. Oh Susie. Look at the boys in the garden. So young and innocent. And yes, they did chores at a young age, but they seem to be enjoying it. I think you've been a WONDERFUL mother and role model. You taught your boys at a young age that you have to work for things. Nothings free. That's probably why you have such successful, well rounded boys. You should be so proud. On a funny note, do you remember the first time Jon brought me to stay at your house and I brought my hair dryer. Oh, how he laughed at me. It was so pretty at night out there with the sky so full of stars (we called them diamonds in the sky) and the oil lamps burning. How peaceful. (until chic and rake would argue)....those were the best times..(until chic and rake would argue). Just kidding. I loved chic and rake. Hope I made you smile. Keep those memories and pics coming. Your blog is like a TV show I'm addicted to. I love it.
    Love, Jeanie
    Tell Papa Larry I said hello. I havent seen him in ages.

  6. They were beautiful on that ridge weren't they? I'd like to have my kids back young again too. Especially the day we hauled that tree out of the woods and stuffed it in the wood stove!! :) Jon was so good spirited. Even when a little boy. All of them were and are. And I will always remember the 4 of them running across that ridge. Beautiful.

  7. Jeanie, I had forgotten about the hair dryer! That's so funny. Derek and Aaron sure did butt heads back then--some things I'm happy to leave in the past! It reminds me of my sister Judy and I and how we fought and argued when we were young. I quit fighting with her when I realized she was bigger and stronger than me and could beat me :0 Kids--they don't change much from one generation to another.

  8. Hey Granny Sue!

    Your farm sure has came a long way since then. I'm sure it is amazing to you to see how different your place looks now. My kids love planting the garden and have been doing it since they could probably walk! lol

    We built our house and moved into it before it was finished too. It was a good 3 months before we had carpet and a good 6 months before we had kitchen cabinets. Looking back those were the good days.

  9. This picture made my heart ache for you. It also made me smile. The way you made the house look like was tilted is brilliant.


  10. I tell my children, midst the chaos, busyness and craziness of raising a family, STOP! Enjoy this! Enjoy these times. This is the best time of your life! You will look back with wonder, joy, regret and nostalgia!

    The garden photo is endearing; the boys were "made proud" to be so helpful.

  11. I love the photo-and the thought of you not even thinking about snakes-you were just thinking about making a life for your family-and I think you totally succeeded.

  12. My kids loved getting out in the dirt and helping when they were young. Unfortunately, some of that willingness goes away as they age. I would love to have a pause or rewind button to push every now and then,but I don't, so I will just have to cherish the memories I have and make more along the way.


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