First Year on the Farm: Wins, Growing Pains, and a Few of our Favorite Things
Updated: Oct 27, 2021
"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
My best friend in the past year moved to their dream land on a farm as well. When they bought their home her husband said "congratulations, we just bought ourselves a lifetime of work". I chuckled when she first told me this (check out The Living Meadow Farm). However, then it was our turn to move shortly after and truer words could not have been spoken. A lifetime of rewarding, lesson learning, excitingly hard exhausting work.
Have you ever watched those DIY fixer upper shows? You know where the train wreck of a house looks beautiful by the end of a one hour episode? If so, real life is not like that (I say with a smile on my face because even though real life is way harder, it is also a million times more rewarding). For those of you who may not know our house was not move in ready and has required a LOT of work.
However, thru the wins and hard work we have gained so much. We have gained wisdom. We have gained valuable skills. We have gained so much insight (that has come with both laughter and tears). We have gained an amazing community. Let me tell you. We could not have done this with out our faith, our family, and our friends. God has blessed us with an amazing support system to teach us, challenge us, and encourage us. I share more of that in a future blog but for now let's focus back to our year one review.
Community support, this one is HUGE. Without all of you cheering us on, this dream would crumble. I was terrified this spring to put ourselves out there when we were not even sure if we would find success this year. However, your support, the kind messages, and the excitement has fueled our excitement. We truly believe God called us here and each like, comment, and purchase has confirmed that.
Roadside Stand, again, I was terrified! That voice of doubt - what if no one comes, what if they do not like the flowers, what if ___ crept in. However, I was humbly in awe each time the stand sold out. I honestly cried the first time. It boosted our confidence and I cannot say thank you enough. I am so excited for u-pick next year when I can meet each of you and share our farm.
Things grew!!! Okay, I know this should not seem like a shock but we really had huge success considering we dove right in with out much amending of our soil, without a soil test, and with very very limited resources.
Home is where the heart is. Our hearts started the year off very shattered and uncertain with the unexpected loss of my dad. We knew God called us here but suddenly that dream felt impossible. However, thru every victory and every tear God has been making this place feel more and more like home. We honestly couldn't imagine living in a more beautiful community and area. We are surrounded by God's beautiful creation, His daily reminders of hope, and we are surrounded by so many amazing friends, family, and new neighbors. This is home now and our hearts overflow.
Water Irrigation System saved us this year and I am so glad we made the investment. Especially since our 2021 spring started off with drought. Our sandy soil gets dry fast and I honestly feel our drip irrigation saved our garden this year.
5 GROWING PAINS
Weed management is a MUST - our budget is small, like really small. We held off on weed management fabric this year because life was getting expensive between remodeling, moving, and starting the farm. However, it is on our MUST BUY list for next year to ensure we find balance between work, play, family, and friends.
Sandy soil, this is a victory in some ways, lacks a lot of required nutrients for many plants to survive. While we did have many victories and healthy plants in the garden. We also had a lot of causalities and plants that failed to thrive. We are working on adding organic matter to our garden which will help establish healthly micro biomes, increase soils water retention, and encourage healthier plant growth.
Foliage and greens - OH MY! So every bouquet has focal flowers, filler flowers, and the addition of greenery/foliage adds an amazing touch. Prior to moving to the house I had put in a lot of research in hopes to have foliage and greens in abundance. However, most of them failed. Most failed due to the craziness of moving and our personal neglect. Some failed due to nutrient loss and scorched seedlings. I found myself spending a lot of time foraging for greens. My goal next year is to have almost 1/3 to 1/2 of our field be fillers, greens, and textury things (yes, I know that is not a real word).
Consistency is so important. I learned quickly burn out happens fast. I started our stand by opening it when I had availability but found that it was overwhelming. I then towards the end of the season tried to focus on 2 days a week. That was a HUGE key in finding balance. However, at that point I was honestly feeling burnt out. Also lack of fillers and foliage made it hard to make the bouquets that I wanted to offer. I want to make sure our best is made available in the stand and the gaps in our garden variety made it hard some weeks to pull that off.
Algorithms and showing up. We hit a hard stretch where we needed to take some time off to focus on our daughter's dental health as well as our start to the homeschool year. I learned quick that if you stop sharing stories or posts consistently then you fall into the "land of the lost" in the virtual world. When we started sharing again our views were a fraction of what they initially were.
5 OF OUR FAVORITE THINGS
Zinnias were the flower that opened my eyes to the world of growing cut flowers. They work hard, bloom abundantly, and last until the first hard frost of fall. Two varieties really stood out to me this year: Oklahoma salmon and queen red lime.
Strawflowers are so cool and create a beautiful dry flower. As their name states their flower literally feels like straw/plastic.
Dried floral arrangements (sometimes called everlasting bouquets) are going to be a focus for sure next year. I dried out a handful of statice, strawflower, bunny tail grass,
and globe amaranth for the first time this year. I am kicking myself for not drying a TON more. If you love essential oils they work great as passive diffusers too.
Pumpkin on a stick - honestly, I went back and forth on this one a lot this year. At one point I had decided that I probably would not grow it next year due to all the thorns. Then I cut a few and brought them inside. There is something so cool and unique about them!
Sunflowers, there is not much to say about this one. Sunflowers just scream cheer, joy autumn approaching, and happiness.
Thank you for joining us on this adventure. We are excited to keep on this trek of life long learning as we work to share our farm with you. One thing I love about garden life is that failures are not truly fails because knowledge is always acquired and we acquired a lot in our year one. I am sure we will be acquiring a lot every year to come. See you in 2022!
A dream does not become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work. ~ Colin Powell, former U.S. Defense Secretary