On Day Two of garden clean up, I woke up to a beautiful sunny morning, more reminiscent of May than March. I decided to get an early start as I wear out in the afternoon. I began by feeding Stinky and the Maremmas, letting the sheep out, feeding chickens and then Cider and I set out to work.
The big winds that knocked down so many trees also sent small limbs and twigs all over the ranch. A LOT of them are in MY yard. We also get blessed with all the tumbleweeds and mustard on the ranch for some reason. Any loose trash on this side of the Steens manages to wend its way to my gate or the rock wall on the side. I normally don’t begin this chore until April, but it is such a beautiful day, I decided to tackle it early. I grabbed a pitchfork and started pulling tumbleweeds out from all the plants along the 200 some odd feet of rockwall. This wall is about 100 years old and makes a great backdrop for my climbing roses, vines, sunflowers and hollyhocks that come up in the summer, along with various other flowers. I stacked the tumbleweeds in a big pile and stomped ‘em all down like Randy told me to, so he could light them on fire when he comes home for lunch. I discovered this is probably best done in boots as opposed to backless tennis shoes as there are stickers. I then proceeded to transplant a couple more iris and another lilac from the 100 yr old bush out front.
I grabbed a leaf rake and started raking tons and tons of leaves out to the middle of the lawn so I could run over them with the riding mower and mulch them all up. All the limbs and branches, I had to pick up and stack in a pile, as the parts for our shredder/mulcher should be here next week and they will make great mulch for the garden this year. It will supplement the “poopystraw-from-stalls-to-chicken-coop-to-garden” mulch. This has turned out to be a great system. I bed EmmaLouMoo’s shelter heavily with straw. When I clean it out, it goes in the chicken coop where they remove all the seeds, and break up and help compost the straw that is left. It is then perfect to throw over the strawberries, or any other plants as a mulch to keep down weeds and retain moisture.
Wet leaves will go into a round bottomless trough with goat poop and chicken poop from clean-up and whatever tablescraps I don’t give the chickens, for compost.
I am finding some of the plants already beginning to bud. The apricot tree, the lilacs, raspberries, leaves are coming up from the purple cone flowers and others. I hope we don’t have a hard frost in the future.
I try to visualize what WILL be and make plans for the garden’s future. I decide where I want to see the most growth, how I can best nurture that growth with the water and fertilizer it needs to thrive, as well as have a plan to keep down the weeds and deter pests. I plot out where I will place companion plantings and flowers that will make the whole thing pleasing to the eye. I will put in a re-claimed small wooden fence around the main part of the vegetable plot and dress it up with another arch and flowers on the outside. I need eye candy for the soul to supplement the nutritional qualities of the vegetables. Roses, flowers and vines will have to surround that part of the garden as well.
All this is yet another illustration to me, of God’s work in my life. I can identify with Him as He plans for my life the same way I do the garden; planning for growth, adding companions that will bring out the best in me, discouraging weeds that choke off my ability to absorb what is good for me and promoting a fruitful and bountiful harvest. At least I hope for such results on both counts.
I’ve battled weeds for years. From goat-head stickers to thistles, as well as broadleaf weeds that try to take over and choke out any desirable thing that grows.
Reflected in my life, from time to time have sprouted weeds of discontent, contention, jealousy, anger, unforgiveness, anxiety, pride...all dangerous weeds of the heart and mind that prevent anything that is good in life from entering in. Any one of these noxious weeds can ruin a day, a relationship, a life. Combined, they make a formidable barrier. As in my garden, I went after them one by one, hand pulling, spraying, stomping, or whatever would help deter them. This year I recalled there are more effective methods, for both my garden and my heart...planting a cover crop.
A cover crop is one that is planted in the field, or garden, which precedes the sowing of the intended crop. It covers the ground quickly and thoroughly, giving weeds no place for a foothold. It is then easily tilled into the soil where it adds nutrients that strengthen and enhance the crop that is desired there. This year I am using spring wheat in the garden, and the best cover crop I have found for my life, is a Bible.
This is something just about everybody has, but not many people actually READ it. It’s a sad state of affairs, because there is so much good stuff in there to harvest. It puts life into perspective and provides hope, strength and guidance to survive the worst droughts, floods and storms.
In many countries of the world it is ILLEGAL even to own one. People run the risk of persecution, imprisonment, torture, even death. These good folks are quite literally DYING to read their Bibles and they have found the benefits to be worth the consequences.
There is something we have definitely missed here.
In America, we tend leave them sitting on the shelves collecting dust, while our hearts lay fallow and allow the weeds of life and a self aggrandizing, destructive culture to smother what could have been healthy and productive.
As for me, I’m expecting a great harvest this year.