I can honestly say that we are blessed. My husband and I were both raised with small town roots and beliefs. You look out for your neighbor and help them whenever they need. If your neighbor needed a new roof put on their house, you gathered the entire family and helped. When you needed something, those neighbors were there to assist. It was kind of an unwritten rule. We attended church every weekend, no questions asked. Our parents insisted we earn things ourselves. How else do you learn than by doing? We didn’t come from money, times were tough. We were homegrown and farm raised.
My parents raised two kids on a small farm, raising nearly almost everything we ate. With a small farm, there was work- and lots of it. We had no choice but to pitch in on the farm, mucking stalls, mucking out the pig pen, hauling livestock to fairs for showmanship, then back to the farm. Tapping hundreds of sugar maple trees to make maple syrup. Hauling maple sap in five-gallon buckets through deep snow, dumping them into the tank on our farm truck, then back to collect more. Plucking thousands of weeds out of our enormous vegetable garden every summer along with tons of stones and rocks that the tiller would kick up. Feet barefoot, buried in the warm soil of the garden, harvesting ripe, juicy heirloom tomatoes by the bucketful. Varieties of tomatoes my grandfather grew- such as Better Boy, Kentucky Beefsteak, and German Johnson. My father made our tomato cages, by hand. We put metal stakes in the ground, aside each tomato plant. Then attached a homemade tomato cage with bailing twine when the plants were young. As they started to grow and flurish, those cages would support the plants, keep everything up off the ground and let us harvest ripe tomatoes easily. As kids, we may not have loved every moment- working constantly, dirty hands and sweat running down our faces. But, it gave us roots, values and eventually we loved every moment. Insisting we work hard in order to put food on our table made us realize how fortunate we were. Homegrown and from scratch created well-behaved kids (for the most part) and made us respect others.When we were done with chores in the garden or with the animals, there were home-cooked meals to prep and dishes to wash. We said Grace with each meal and were truly thankful for everything we had, including a loving family. Clothes were hung outside to dry on a clothes line. I’m shocked to see how many young adults these days simply do not have a clue how to do things by hand. Modern technology is wonderful, but perhaps good old-fashioned ways are better. Mowing lawns with push mowers instead of fancy, not to mention super pricey ride on versions. Insist the kids put the Xbox remote down and get them to help out- wash dishes, fold laundry, vacuum, bring the trash to the road. How else are they going to learn, if they are not asked to contribute to the chores around the house? If a big thunderstorm were to blow through and cut power off, would these young adults know how to brew coffee or cook food? These old-fashioned methods would do them some good in times of need. You need to learn how to walk before you can run. Let’s apply the same concept with daily life.
Our son Mason is Autistic and has ADHD. For one of my book signings recently, he helped me bake blueberry coffee cakes. I will say, it took me a little extra time than I planned- but he was a wonderful help. He cracked all of the eggs, measured the milk and sour cream. Then helped dump all of the ingredients into my mixing bowl. He asked to put an apron on, just like Mama. Then, without even being asked, went over to the sink and hand-washed every single measuring cup, utensil and bowl we had used. Wow! Guess we did teach them something.
This week I’m harvesting cucumbers by the five-gallon bucket. The kitchen is prepped and ready to make homemade Bread & Butter pickles- just like my Grandmother made. I’m also prepping for Hillsborough Farmers Market and testing recipes for future blog posts. Hope you all are having a wonderful summer and harvesting plenty from your gardens! Get the kids outside to help, barefoot in the garden. What’s a little dirt? You can wash it off with a hose.