Category Archives: Backyard Farming

Our haphazard attempts to become more self-sustaining.

Channeling My Inner Farm Girl

A couple of weeks ago, I put in a new raised bed for our vegetable garden.  For the frame, I “repurposed” the former bottom bunk of my son’s bunk bed (he’s moved up to the top and is using it as a loft).

Bunk bed on its side next to the grass I’m going to remove

Usually for big physical tasks like removing sod, I call for my husband to help me out. But, alas, Mr. Muscles was busy exercising the muscle between his ears and writing a paper (he took two classes this Spring and was crazy busy). So, I was forced to woman-up and do the job myself.

I used a shovel and cut the sod out chunk by chunk, then shook each clump of grass to get as much dirt off as I could before I tossed the grass into the wheelbarrow.

All the sod cut away, one clump at a time.

As I worked, I started wondering — how did I know how to do this? I realized I  must have learned it from  my Dad.

My Dad is in the middle surrounded by his female offspring and next to his mother

We had a vegetable garden every year, and I remember my Dad showing me how to shake off the grass clumps to save the soil. I feel like I don’t remember many details from my childhood, but I do remember the big tomatoes and cucumbers that Dad grew every year.

My little sisters, with Tamara holding a basket of Dad’s produce

My little sister and brother, showing off the produce from the garden

And I wondered about how my Dad knew what to do, and that led me to my grandparents. They also had a backyard garden, plus my Grandpa was an amazing rose gardener.

My grandparents on their porch, with some of my Grandpa’s roses showing below.

I lived with my grandparents for a few years when I was in junior high school. The walkway into the backyard was narrow and it ran next to a planting bed that my grandparents planted with flowers and herbs. As I walked to the back yard, I’d brush the parsley and smell the zinnias that were growing in the bed. To this day, whenever I chop parsley I’m transported back to those golden days in  a sunny California yard.

My Grandpa and my uncle, with the garden behind them.

I’ll have to ask my Dad and my uncle, but I assume that their parents taught them to garden. My grandparents grew up in Belleville, IL, which was home to many German farmers, and my Grandpa grew up on a farm. So I wondered, as I shook the soil out of the clumps of grass to make my new planting bed, how far back could I trace a line of farm people who had done the very same thing? And as I thought about that long line,  I realized that I want to continue it. And that means getting my boys away from their computers and out in the yard more so that they, too, know how to grow their own food.

My new planting bed, planted with tomatoes (surrounded with red plastic).

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Pigs are cute!

I’m starting a campaign to raise awareness of pig cuteness.

Micro piglet hugs strawberry.

Hint: You can go here to sign the petition to ask Tyson to stop using gestation crates.

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