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Fruits of our labor

 

Life in the slow lane

Look at this picture, what do you see?

I see a recent day’s haul from our garden and chicken coop. Over the past couple years, we’ve spent a lot of time and money clearing the land, preparing the raised beds, nurturing plants from seeds and weeding/pruning our garden. By most seasoned gardener’s standards, our first garden in our new home was a failure of epic proportions. But I don’t look at it that way or at least I don’t any longer. 

During a recent trip to our chicken coop, it hit me. I’m looking at five eggs and three tomatoes that we grew on our own land. Add some bread, and mayonnaise of course, and I could literally feed my family a meal from this harvest. We did it! Something we’ve been dreaming about for years has finally come true. And you know what? The journey was much more fulfilling than the destination. 

It’s so easy to get caught up in results. We live in a now society. One where I can realize I need inner tubes for my daughter’s bike and with a couple swipes of my phone, those odd-sized inner tubes arrive on my doorstep the next day. And we’re not exactly on the beaten path. We are used to getting what we want right now no matter where we live or how rare our request. I wonder if our ability to have anything we want on our doorstep in 24 hours is removing some of the meaning and fulfillment of life? I see the implications all over our society. Most good things take time. Think about your best friend or that talent or skill you are really good at. Those things didn’t come in 24 hours; they took sustained, consistent effort and sacrifice. Dare I say the harder it is and the longer it takes to achieve something, the more lasting and sustaining the results will be. 

Take our garden for example. We literally created our garden and yard from a steep, wooded hillside. It’s taken us a couple years of back-breaking work. When we first purchased our home, my main concern was not having a place for a yard and garden. My grandparents were farmers, growing and raising nearly all of their own food. So, gardening and self-sufficiency is in my blood. And unless you are the direct descendant of the Royal Family, it’s in your blood too. We have almost four acres but very little open, flat land. After dreaming, clearing, grading, building and planting; we’re finally starting to reap the benefits of our hard work. These eggs and tomatoes represent so much about the past few years for me. 

  • I remember each harrowing wheel-barrow load of dirt down the hillside. 
  • I remember Jack helping me select the wood for the raised beds. 
  • I remember my wife and kids selecting the seeds and raising them inside our house.
  • I remember the mess the baby chicks made in our foyer. 
  • I remember the friends who helped me turn a mobile chicken coop into a permanent one. 
  • I remember the chicken-naming ceremony my kids imagined on their own; Jack even brought the label maker down and they taped the names to the chickens’ legs. 
  • And I’ll never forget seeing my kids in the garden chasing the chickens and shouting with joy the names of the chickens as they caught them. “Zen” was pretty easy to catch but if you heard a lot of screaming, it meant that “Carrie Underwood” had been captured – no easy feat.

Our garden represents so much to me: dreaming, self-sufficiency, being outside, trial and error, hard work and most importantly – being together as a family. Our labor has yielded so much more than a few eggs and tomatoes; it’s yielding a happy and contented life. 

Now, look again at that picture. What do you see?