Why Am I Doing a Farm & Food Blog?
I guess it starts with a 13-year old girl’s dream to be a pastry chef. (That’s me.) I was laughed at by a few people, and as impressionable as I was then, gave up on the idea fairly quickly. Fast-forward about 6 years and you’ll find a young girl just starting out in marriage. Even then I had a lot of doubters about my ability to be a housewife, but my husband has loved my cooking and baking from day one, so what did they know? Admittedly, I am not one who enjoys housecleaning, and oftentimes lost in my thought processes don’t notice a mess immediately. However, one thing I did was spend hours watching the matriarchs of my family cooking.
I watched my Great-Grandma Thelma making fried pork chops, mashed potatoes, corn, and green beans well until her death at age 91. I stood on a chair and watched my maternal grandmother make her amazing chocolate sheet cake, multiple times. My paternal grandmother had us stay the night a few times, and we would make pancakes for breakfast and fried Spam sandwiches for lunch. Most of all, I watched my Mom. Mom is one of those cooks that can make a delicious meal out of whatever is in the cupboard. She is seriously a genius at it.
I watched both my Grandma and my Mom can vegetables from the garden nearly every summer in my younger years. One summer when I was 5, I climbed up on the canning shelves to sneak into some Starburst candy that my Dad had left in a box on a high shelf. I was a little monkey, so the climb wasn’t a difficult one, but on the way down somehow the shelf lost strength and the entire summer’s worth of goods, the very ones that would feed us through the winter, fell onto the floor, broken. I didn’t tell my Mom that I did that until a couple of years ago. Looking back, it was miraculous that I didn’t get hurt. But I do remember my Mom just about weeping at the loss of the hard work. We also were very poor at that time, and the lost jars were practically invaluable. I still feel bad about that.
I also followed my Dad everywhere when he was gardening, or while he was building our house, or working with the farm animals. I was his shadow. I “guarded the door” when my Dad butchered the ducks. I won’t tell you how bloody that was, or how nauseated it made me! And imagine my horror when my “pet” pig, Mary Lou, was hanging from my Grandpa’s oak tree. I got over it quickly though, because Mary Lou was fine eating! Even then I understood that farm animals aren’t usually pets, but serve a purpose. I also followed both my Grandpas around the standardbred horse farm that my maternal grandfather owned. I learned how to muck a stall at a young age, although it wasn’t ever required of me to do that. I sat on the jog cart with my Grandpa Bill when he was training a gentle horse. That was my favorite, sitting on Grandpa’s lap and learning how to whistle to get the horse to start jogging, and giving a “WOAH!” when you wanted them to stop.
When I was 10, this rural environment drastically changed. We moved away from the farm to a city 35 miles away from both sets of grandparents. Our life became enveloped with work and church. For two decades, I ached and yearned to get back to the country life, because that was when I was most happiest as a kid. Even when I married my husband in 1998, it took awhile to get to the country.
In 2007, we moved to TN, and in March 2008, bought a 6-acre place in the country. There wasn’t a barn, but there were woods and enough flat land to have a decent-sized garden. The problem there was the deer. Every year, except the last year in TN, the deer would decimate our garden to mere stumps. And that was because we basically made a concentration camp for our garden plot, 8 ft high with barbed wire along the top, to keep out the deer.
In 2014, we decided to move back to IL, to be near family, and away from the hustle, bustle, and drama of Nashville. We had a house still in IL, and stayed in that until we were able to sell our place in TN. From 2015-2016, we had renters that were finishing up a bathroom for us at the TN farm. Luckily for us, the house market was exploding in the Nashville area at the right time and we sold our farm there within two weeks for profit. Pretty soon after that, we bought the 2.47 acre farmette in central IL that we have now.
Since 2008, once we owned the acreage in TN, I’ve wanted to do a farm & food blog. However, at that time, with the varmint issues, as well as my music career, I found that I couldn’t juggle it all. I tried a couple of times, but was unsuccessful at staying consistent. I also had NOTHING to write about, except how much the friggin’ deer were enjoying the fruits of our labor. I hope that they enjoyed the smorgasboard. The lighting was also all wrong in that house. Being a ranch house, it didn’t have much natural light.
This all brings me to now. I believe that now is the time for my farm & food blog. My kids are older. (One is even an ADULT! How did that happen?) My farm is productive. My orchard is growing. My chickens are beginning to produce. The lighting in my house is spectacular. I’m going on an undetermined length of hiatus from music very soon. Everything seems to be saying, “Now!”
Even while doing music, so many people have asked about how I make the food I’ve shared on-line. I’ve also gotten many questions about gardening and canning. I taught my girls to cook and bake, and they are terrific at it. I figure that I should share the knowledge passed down to me from my family, as well as some I’ve gained along the way, especially since it is a long time dream of mine to do so. Plus, so many people have been asking about it, so why not?