This true story is brought to you through a partnership between Indy with Kids and Indiana’s Family of Farmers.
I’d love to have a farm. This summer we visited the homestead of Laura Ingalls Wilder and I was taken back to when I first decided a farm was a necessary part of my future. There are a lot of problems associated with me having a farm – the biggest being that I get bored quickly.
I’m not saying that farm life wouldn’t be an adventure, it would. There’s mother nature to contend with, animals with minds of their own and children who like to explore and get into EVERYTHING. What I am saying is that the hard work would grow tiring to me and while I’m not opposed to hard work, all of my hard work has an end to it. My hard work consists of projects and then the next project is very different and the same old project very rarely returns. That’s how I like my hard work. I’ve always pictured farm life as a never ending project.
When we visit my friends on their farms, I love watching my children run and play and pick blackberries and absolutely lose their mind (in a bad way) when they see a spider and then absolutely lose their mind (in a good way) when they see a baby calf, kitten, chicken. That’s when it comes back to me, a farm is a necessary part of my future.
One year ago we purchased a house on an acre and a half of land. It’s thisclose to downtown, 8 minutes from every museum, tv station and grocery store, but there’s space to run, space to play, space to grow. Grow my family, grow my skills and talents, grow a garden, a tree, flowers…anything really. It’s like my own little farm; it’s hard work, hard work that doesn’t end because every single storm brings down limbs and branches and sometimes trees. There are weeds to contend with, blackberries to pick before the birds get them, flowers to collect, leaves to rake, lawn to mow and tiny baby trees that I’ve planted to take the place of the 8 dead trees we’ll be cutting down and cleaning up from for the rest of our days.
And I love it!
Marybeth Feutz can teach us all a thing or two about hard work and making farm life into projects. She has a huge backyard garden (yes it’s a garden even though it’s on a farm) where there are small projects that come together into one big project. First, she planted a couple rows of squash, pumpkins, watermelons, peppers, tomatoes and corn. Then days or weeks later she placed cardboard around each little plant that had sprouted so that the weeds could be better controlled, then she spread straw around it all so that she had a place to walk when it was muddy and also for weed control. Then she planted a few more rows of each of those crops. Then she repeated the cardboard/straw process. Finally, just a few weeks ago she started a third planting of most of the same vegetables.
Her farm is one of the best examples of breaking things down into projects, projects with due dates. Marybeth and her husband John have a cattle farm. It’s a lot of work to get cows pregnant, birth their calves, raise all of them and then send them off for butchering. Each of those stages (I’ve very much simplified this lifecycle) alone would be a huge undertaking. Marybeth and John live on a cow-calf farm. Their cows have a baby each year and then the calves are raised on the Feutz farm until they are six months old, then the calves are sold to another farmer who raises them until they are about 18 months old and sent to the butcher.
During our visit with Marybeth, my children played with her son Joseph. He shared his tractors, his sandbox and the task of picking blackberries off of the vines growing in their backyard. When it came time to leave, Marybeth sent us home with mint plants and a huge helping of blackberries. Want to know what we did with our blackberries? Check it out:
Scout and I used this easy Blackberry Cobbler recipe from Pillsbury and then added red wine to the berries and sugar mixture.
Last weekend, one of my beautiful neighbors brought us a giant bag of sweet corn from her family farm. I took a lesson learned on the farm and started in on it as a project. First, I processed most of it for freezing. The next day I cooked up a few ears for our family to enjoy. We’ll be using the frozen corn for some pretty great dishes in the future, maybe even some of Marybeth’s famous Sweet Corn Bacon Salad.