Hello from the HillTop!
Here we are, a New Year, which brings new plans, new goals, and new hope. It amazes me how fast 2019 came and went. So fast that I looked up and I’m ashamed to admit, I didn’t not commit to this blog outlet of mine near the amount that I had wanted to. For those of you who have stuck it out with me, thank you. I greatly appreciate your patience.
For those of you who joining me for the the first time let me provide a little insight to the story behind HillTop Harvest.
I grew up on a local diary farm that my parents ran, along with the farm, my mom work in a local industrial business as well. My sisters and I helped on the farm at times. However, my father never wanted us to pursue farming unless we loved it, not simply because we knew how. We were encouraged other avenues.
Farm life still provide us with many of the attributes we use daily; our work ethic, determination, resourcefulness, and balance of work and play.
As my husband and I settled into our life together, we both had a want for a little bit of property. In my early life as a young bride I attempted to be a gardener. It was almost comical!
Our first four years of owning a home, Matt, my husband, and I would work all Memorial Day weekend: tilling, planting seedlings, and watering. We didn’t plant small, Matt had hoped to make salsa. So we went big! Over our first few years of this annual attempt, we dealt with moles, bugs, weeds, and always the exasperation that lead us to baling on the garden by 4th of July.
Gardening took patience, something we did not have in our early twenties.
Jumping ahead almost five years of marriage, we were older, more mature (in theory), had two additions to our family and had a newly built house on a handful of acres. My younger sister, who was a new wife and carving out her new life, began to introduce me to the idea of buying local. She shopped at local stores for unique items, went to Farmers markets and poured resources into the local community.
I was intrigued, and as I entered the same patterns of buying local, I found the idea of sustainability and homesteading. So much of these concepts intertwine with basics that we were raised with on the farm.
I began a garden, again, this time researching and taking the time to nurture the plants and soil. I learned a lot about crop rotation, frost dates and other characteristics of the plants to aid in growth. My first garden had a better yield than I anticipated.
We dove into self sufficiently even more…we got chickens! Chickens have since lead to rabbits and ducks, with hopes for more. We have embraced supplying a large portion of our own food.
Then, my mom got sick.
My mom was diagnosed with a cancer that had been linked to pestisides. In reality, nobody could ever be sure where the cancer came from…but I wasn’t risking it.
I started taking our summer crop from the garden and preserving it. I learned to dehydrate, can and freeze. I increased the amount of local buying I did, making sure to ask where the food came from and details of how it was grown. We even began raising our own meat chickens.
My journey of this life: knowing where the food we put in our bodies comes from, eating less processed food and teaching my children about how to grow more of what they eat…it has provided me with a purpose. If you would have asked me ten years ago, would I have predicted that I would love gardening, preserving my food and have a goal to learn how to compost?
No, I can honestly say I would not have thought it. However, I love the feeling of dirt on my hands, the enjoyment of placing a worm in my child’s hand while they giggle, and the pride I take when seeing the food on our dinner table came from our yard and our hard work means the world to me.
Each year I try to push myself to learn and grow; sometimes my goal is to master a new skill, or add a new item into our garden (so it’s one less item we buy), or I try to obtain new knowledge that helps me to manage the areas we already have better.
To some this seems odd, rudimentary or extremely basic living. Maybe.
However, there is so much my family is gaining. We are gaining time together as we work in the garden. We are bringing unity as we sit down to a meal that came from our garden. We are teaching our children about humane treatment of animals every time we gather eggs. Our children understand where our food comes from. We are providing them with the skills to help feed themselves if they have hardships later in life. They are banking memories of taste and smells that Mason Jars hold, just like I had.
As 2020 gets underway, considering coming a long to watch this journey of ours. You may find yourself taking on a new skill, habit or goal that takes you back to basics.