Summer dreams…

This is the Long Prairie River. It’s less than a mile from my house in Minnesota. As we went for a walk last week, I snapped a photo. The browns and tans of the cattails and trees will soon give way to lush green grass and leaves. This river is popular to tube down in the summer. It’s as beautiful and relaxing as you can imagine. The water is clear and you can see fish swimming beneath you as you float down the river. It’s not wide, it’s not flashy and it’s not easily accessible. There are only a few spots to get in and out of the river (which feels more like a stream). There is something about it that I love. Actually, lots of things… usually, it’s filled with family and friends, cool drinks and sometimes music. It’s peaceful and calm, a perfect way to decompress. We’ve floated down with different groups of people. Sometimes we’ve been floating with full sun, sometimes it’s on the verge of thunderstorms and sometimes the wind picks up and makes the floating a challenge.

I long for the days when we can float down again. It’s not an option right now for a couple of reasons… 1) You’d freeze your back end off because the ice came off the lake not too long ago 2) There is the issue of social distance and not wanting to wear a mask while river floating. Last Tuesday we had snow, but last weekend it was in the mid 60’s and we planted our garden. Mother Nature isn’t sure what season it is yet, but we are hoping for a great summer. We are hoping to see our friends and family again in person. I’ve struggled off and on, as I’m sure most people have. There is a big mental health piece of this pandemic that is skimmed over, but not widely talked about. I’m not a mental health expert or professional. I’m just a mom, wife & employee trying to keep kids on track with school, figure out what to feed everyone and work from home with limited internet.

“Pandemic Mavis” doesn’t get ready every day, she’s hit or miss with make up, she is overwhelmed with planning meals and she’s a little tired of being around only males (ha ha). “Pandemic Mavis” also has sewn many masks for friends and family, planted her garden, gone for walks and sewn up her injured chicken. This last 6 weeks has been a roller coaster. I feel guilty for being overwhelmed because I am thankful I have a job. I feel like the worst mom in the world when my kids don’t turn in their school work, and elated when they get back on track. I feel worried about being high risk, but isolated being at home. I feel bad for gaining weight, but I don’t want to make big changes in the middle of all of this.

Things that have made me feel better:

  • Talking with sisters
  • Video chat with friends
  • Calling parents
  • Going for walks
  • Spending time outside
  • My pets (cat and chickens)
  • Helping others

I hope you are coping well. I hope you have the support network you need. I hope you will take a moment to take a deep breath and find something to be thankful for. Give some grace to yourself and those around you. I hope you are able to stay safe and healthy. Peace be with you on your journey of enough. May your dreams of summer keep you sustained and positive, but not COVID19 positive!

Grace, peace and chickens of course…

If you know me or have read my blogs, you know that I have chickens. Right now it’s 6 hens and 1 rooster. (The picture is of them in their “chicken tractor” a it allows them to scratch and peck during the day and we move them to the coop at night). We started out with 10 total – 4 roosters, 6 hens. We gave away 2 roosters, then 2 more, then got one back because he wasn’t getting along with his brothers (& the hens missed their dude). Anyway, I’m part of a couple of “backyard chicken” groups on Facebook. People have a wide variety of experience & opinions when it comes to their chickens. Some free range, some have elaborate coops, some bake cornbread for their chickens, some let them forage on their own. Ask a question about roosters crowing or insulating your coop & you’ll get a wide variety of answers. Not all of them are nice.

Being a chicken mom parallels motherhood in many ways. For as many opinions there about chicken coop runs and how to protect from predators, there are opinions on parenting and how to be a “good parent.” What does that even mean? Good parent? Good chicken mom? The Covid-19 situation has brought distance learning into our vocabulary. Our kids navigate remote classes and homework that is 100% at home. The teachers work hard to try and put together meaningful content, respond to a bunch more emails, do a Google chat or Google meet or whatever, often while trying to manage their own kids. It’s not easy. None of it is easy. I’m thankful to be working from home, and I’m thankful to have a job. I still stress about not meeting expectations of my work, my boys or my husband. I still look at the moms who have schedules or charts for their kids and feel a pang of jealousy. Is that what being a good mom is? I miss my extended family. I miss giving my parents a hug or seeing my sister in person. But I am staying home for them. If I was an unknown carrier and got someone sick, I’d feel horrible. The day will come when I can give them all a big hug. And I’m 100% certain there will be happy tears involved.

You’ll see a bunch of posts about what you should be doing during the pandemic. This isn’t one of them. We all have our own journey. If you have pizza delivered instead of cooking, I won’t judge. If you need to take a walk outside to clear your head, I won’t judge (as long as you’re 6 feet apart.) If you declare it a cereal day, pajama day or double coffee day, I’m not judging. You do whatever you need to do. As long as you’re not harming anyone or yourself, it’s all good. I don’t comment in my chicken groups what people should be doing, and I won’t make you feel bad here either. We need lots of love, compassion and grace… with our kids, spouses, teachers, coworkers, neighbors and ourselves. We are all doing new things, and that’s ok.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. We could all use a little extra grace and peace right now.

From planting to Dip n Dots…

Radishes planted April 11

There is an old wives tale about planting potatoes on Good Friday. I couldn’t find much info on why this started… seems like a strange thing, since Good Friday is not on the same day each year. It’s not even close. In MN, Good Friday weather might be nice or we might have a bunch of snow. Last year, we had a bunch of snow. This year, it was kind of nice here, 30 to 40 degrees. We got the planting spots tilled and were ready to plant – much earlier than we have in the past. The first picture is 7 rows of radishes!

New seed planter

This handy little planter has different size wheels to plant the seeds and cover them up. I admit I was skeptical at first. My husband saw this and thought it would be great for our little farm. I didn’t think it was necessary. Maybe part of me longed for the days when my boys were little and would use a ruler to plant peas. They’d carefully lay the ruler in the dirt and space them 2” apart (learning to count by 2’s). I’ll admit though, usually by the end of the planting, we’d both be kind of tired and impatient. At that time, our garden was 24×24. The boys and the garden have both grown. Time to speed up the planting process! This worked well, saved our backs, and planted radish seeds in a fraction of the time it normally would. We shouldn’t need to thin them as much either, since the seeds are spaced as they should be.

6 rows of potatoes

Our potatoes weren’t planted on Good Friday, but the very next day. 6 rows of potatoes went in on Saturday. We’ve been married almost 25 years and I don’t think we’ve ever planted potatoes. We’ve planted sweet potatoes, but not “regular” potatoes. 2 rows of russet, 2 rows of red, and 2 rows of golden/Yukon were planted this year. We’ll see how it goes. We should have potatoes for the Farmer’s Market this year. My husband is busy getting the other seeds organized, tomatoes and cucumbers started inside, and planning out our garden layout. Our asparagus and rhubarb will soon be up, the raspberries are starting to bud, and the ground is ready for seeds. Our farm name is Frueh Market (our last name is pronounced “free” even though it doesn’t look like it should be). We are expanding and learning each year. This year will look different from what we anticipated, but it will still be good.

4-14-20 snow

3 days ago, we planted, and today it snows! Weather in MN is unpredictable. The weather here has been much like our feelings on the “stay at home” order. It’s sunny one minute, look out again and it’s snowing. Wait a few minutes and it’s clear again. Yesterday we had snow that looked like Dip n Dots. We know the snow won’t last much longer, but we are yearning for green grass and warm weather. Our birds are confused about what season it should be, but hold on birdies, this weekend will be 30 degrees warmer! We are yearning to be with friends and family, to be back to normal, even though it won’t look the same.

I’m wishing you peace on your journey of enough. Hold onto hope of brighter days ahead and take a deep breath. You are loved.