How “prickly” are you?

If you know me personally or have read my blog before, you probably know (or have learned) of my personality. I’m an introvert, sometimes speak my mind too much and I’m not a big hugger. Some might call me aloof, or even prickly.

As I took a mental health break to pick some berries today, I started thinking about how similar I am to black raspberries. These delicious gems are sweet and firm (ok maybe they aren’t completely like me!) The thorns on the plants are NO JOKE! Not only do they have rose bush size thorns, they seem to want to stick to your clothes. What a defense mechanism! Protect the fruit and don’t let anyone or anything get too close. Sound familiar?

It’s easier to put up defenses than risk getting hurt. But, in doing so, we may hurt the people close to us. The people who just want to love us. The people who know me well don’t often think I’m an introvert because I will talk freely around them. (Sometimes WAY too much with hand gestures and facial expressions etc!) But many people don’t get to know that side of me. They just see the thorns and back away. Sometimes when I try to open up, I go too far and don’t stop talking. As I see their face indicating they’d rather be somewhere else, I regret the decision to let my guard down.

The thing about black raspberries that’s different from our other raspberries (aside from the thorns), is the way they reach out. These thorny plants will grow long canes that reach to the ground and root. The other raspberries spread new plants from roots beneath the ground. The black raspberries spread out above ground. They also quickly overtake an area. I feel like writing is my way to reach out “above ground” where anyone can see it. Even though I don’t have thousands of followers, that’s ok with me. It keeps me a little safer and less exposed to other people’s thorns. I’m sure you’ve noticed that people on the internet can be pretty cruel sometimes. I don’t recover well from those things. I’m learning about some ADHD traits and “rejection sensitivity” really struck a chord with me. That’s a post for another time but if basically means I have a hard time getting over rejection.

These long canes/branches will root into the ground to create new plants

So, if you have a prickly friend, be patient with them. The fruit of their friendship might be worth it! We can complain that the raspberries have thorns or be happy that the thorns have berries! I wish you peace on your journey of enough.

Smarter not harder…

Most of the garden planted as of 5/23/22

You’ve heard the expression, “Work smarter, not harder,” right? Yep, me too. I’m fact, it was on a performance review of mine many years ago. One of the wonderful (insert eye roll) parts of my personality is to vividly remember almost every form of criticism I’ve received. That’s another story.

Anyway, this seems like good advice, right? Work smarter, not harder. Be more efficient, reduce waste (for my manufacturing friends), do more with less effort etc. Except if you have your worth tied to work. What do I mean? If you have no concept of this, that’s awesome… but some of us have our worth tied to how much or how hard we work. It may be self imposed, but it’s probably tied to childhood. Work was seen as valuable growing up. We needed to be hard workers in school and at home, regardless of the efficiency. For some, the love they received may also have been tied to how hard they work. You are only valuable if you’re a hard worker. No pressure, right? (Again with the sarcasm).

I had multiple jobs while in high school, along with being in multiple sports, stage band, swing choir, acting, drama, cheerleading etc. I also liked to hang out with friends and find a weekend party somewhere. All that pressure means you need to “blow off some steam,” and that’s not always done in a productive way. Fast forward many years and I still have multiple jobs, side projects and hobbies. I have yet to find a weekend party in a long time. (My priorities have shifted.) I’m always busy and I feel guilty when I’m resting or taking a break.

Unfortunately, we’ve passed on this “work” assumption to our kids also. I’m not saying they shouldn’t work, but have we shown them how to effectively rest & recharge? Not recharging their phones, not mindlessly scrolling the internet… real rest. I’ve not been a good example of this in the past. I go through spurts of self care and then I feel guilty and just charge back into more things to do. Have we shown them how to meditate, how to sit and breathe deeply, how to get lost in a good book? Being busy just for the sake of being busy doesn’t get us further in life. Our kids are stressed, over scheduled and overwhelmed. We need to encourage productive rest instead of just working harder.

I guess I just needed this reminder for myself. If it applies to you, that’s a bonus. The picture above is of our garden. (It has all been planted and got a nice dose of rain.) Now managed by the three of us, it’s a lot of manual labor. Some of it seems like extra work, and there must be a smarter way to get things done. We are slowly improving and learning as we go.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. Now I’d better take my own advice and get a little rest!

To bee, or not to bee?

There is asparagus in there!

This past weekend was gardening weekend. No, it wasn’t especially warm. (48 for a high one day) it’s nearly the end of May and we needed to get the garden prepped to seed and plant. We have some rhubarb and asparagus that comes back every year. Luckily they weren’t hit with frost. This first picture is one of our asparagus rows. Yep, weeds and dandelions galore! Part of this is to prove to people who visit and think we never have weeds… yes, yes we do. Sixty five foot rows of asparagus (times five) makes for a lot of weeding. This year we had a larger than normal dandelion crop. Yes, I know that dandelions are edible, you can eat the leaves, make wine and use the roots for tea. Realistically, I don’t have time or energy for any of that. The dandelions are competing with the asparagus for nutrients and water, and I can’t sell dandelions but I can sell asparagus!

So I started weeding. Normally this is Cam’s gig, but he was busy doing other prep work that I couldn’t do. So I sat and pulled dandelions, and thought… “I wonder if anyone else has stories running through their heads at all times. I wonder what it would be like to have my mind quiet down a little. I wonder what the farm will look like in 5 more years. I wonder how many stories or metaphors there are about weeds in our garden.” As I inched my way down the row, it was obvious to see where I had been.

Slowly the asparagus and straw became more visible, and I thought the asparagus must be happy to breathe a little more. I learned that the chickens love dandelions, so I gathered some piles of plants and put them in a suet feeder cage. What a treat for the ladies! Trust me, the bees have plenty of opportunities for dandelion pollination in the yard. We’ve been very bee friendly this year.

Our focus changed to garden bed prep and the weeds had to wait. What weeds do you have crowding out your harvest? What things are bogging you down and slowly taking your resources? Stress? Over commitment? Illness? Recovery? Negative thoughts? Clutter? Perhaps you can take a little but at a time, freeing up some space and allowing you to take a deep breath. Spring is a wonderful time of rebirth and renewal. It’s a hopeful season but it can also be messy with mud and dirt (& now pollen!). New sprouts pop up, gardens and crops are planted, flowers are blooming. It’s a good time to weed our physical or mental gardens. While weeding may not be fun, seeing the fruits of our labor sure is rewarding.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. If you feel like you’re emerging from a two year cocoon, you’re not alone. Spread your wings, butterflies!

Sometimes you need to sow again…

This is part of our farm/garden. On May 27th, we worried about frost. We covered our garden because of freezing temps. May 27th should be a “frost free” time frame. We didn’t lose plants, just a few asparagus. Then the temps jumped up into the 90’s. We worried about keeping the plants watered and hoped they wouldn’t burn. What extremes. Highs and lows follow us through life. Sometimes the swings are big, and sometimes things are steady for a while. The last two weeks have been full of temperature swings for sure.

The last few days we have been re-planting. There were gaps in the rows where the plants didn’t germinate. We waited until the garden had a little more shade, and the temps were down to the mid 80’s. I checked my “garden map” to see which varieties we needed and started to sow by hand. Filling the gaps. Replanting. I wasn’t thrilled about it. I was kind of annoyed. I don’t like being hot and this was hard on my back. But I knew it had to be done. In order to get a full harvest, we needed to sow the seeds again. Kind of like life, right? Sometimes things don’t turn out like we planned. Even if we had it just right, we might have to try again. Sometimes when we sow again, the timing is better or the conditions are better and it thrives.

There are 48-66 Bible verses related to sowing (according to two Google sources). either way, it’s mentioned quite a bit. I liked this one the best:

Luke 8:5-15 New International Version

5 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. 6 Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture.7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” 9 His disciples asked him what this parable meant.10 He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, “though seeing, they may not see;
though hearing, they may not understand.’11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

Peace be with you on your journey of enough. When harvest time comes, I’ll be thankful for the work we did now to sow again.

The nearest exit…

I was picking beans in our garden the other night, and couldn’t figure out what the smell was. Then it dawned on me, “pickles!” Wait, why did I smell pickles in the garden. (I was alone, so I was just asking this in my head.) I heard a bird, turned around, and realized there was a whole row of dill right behind me. Duh, dill. That is why I smelled pickles!

It made me think of the airplane speech they give when you board the plane. As you are shoving your bag under the seat in front of you, adjusting the air or closing the window shade, someone is telling you the safety features. “Keep in mind, the nearest exit may be behind you.” Often when we are faced with a dilemma, we are searching for an answer, an exit or a ‘way out.’ We might be overwhelmed with the possibilities, not even realizing it could be behind us. I’m not suggesting to focus on the past…Although I fall into that trap quite often on my own. Perhaps the answer is in a spot we aren’t seeing right in front of us. Maybe the answer comes from someone else’s past – a road they have already traveled. Perhaps the answer is to the side, but due to the blinders, we don’t see it. We aren’t meant to wear blinders like a horse, but sometimes our tunnel vision can block what we need to see.

Just stop for a minute and breathe. Smell the dill. See the path. Being in nature has been more important than ever for me. The last several months have reminded me to slow down, connect with the earth and be grateful for the simple things. When my mind gets spinning in a hundred directions, I go outside. Outside, I see my chickens, who bring me so much joy. Outside, I pick the vegetables and fruits from the garden, thanking the earth and God for the harvest right in my back yard. Outside, sit in my son’s hammock and listen to the aspen leaves clap, the birds sing their songs, and even the mosquitoes buzzing by my head. I know that connecting in nature is not something that works for everyone. Even going for a walk around the block might help clear your head or spark an idea.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May you find the “newest exit,” the answer you are looking for, the connection in nature to bring you closer to God, the peace your heart and soul long for. It’s kind of a “big dill.”

Victory gardens, what are you planting?…

“Victory gardens, also called war gardens or food gardens for defense, were vegetable, fruit, and herb gardens planted at private residences and public parks in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Germany during World War I and World War II.” Wikipedia. This was done to prevent food shortages and ease the supply chain. With COVID19, several people have started gardens in 2020. Wether it was out of boredom or to be able to have their own food, the number of gardens is on the rise. This is evident by the lack of seeds and gardening supplies in town.

Our own garden is much larger this year, but that’s because we will take our produce to the Farmer’s Market and sell locally. A friend shared some thoughts with me about gardening. These seemed appropriate, given the recent events.

“Whenever I plant a garden, (literally or figuratively) I hope to look forward to the results of the seeds I’ve planted. If I sow kindness, I hope to reap more kindness. If I plant squash, I don’t expect watermelon. Judgements are the weeds of the garden. They can choke out all that we really want. So today I will live without judgement and focus on what I am planting.”

Powerful words. We can’t plant squash and expect watermelon. We can’t plant hate and expect kindness. And the weeds… if you’ve had a garden, you know that the weeds are a never ending battle. They compete with our crops for food, water, attention. Judgement does the same thing. It can try to choke out our crops, try to grow taller than our plants and take over the whole garden if we don’t do the work. The work to get rid of the weeds, keep them under control and let the other plants flourish takes time. It takes effort.

This is me weeding my garden. I wasn’t going to post the picture because it is not flattering, but it ties into the post well. When I was weeding my garden, I thought of my mom. The countless hours she spent just like this, with an elbow on her knee, bent down weeding with her garden shoes. We had 2 garden spots on our farm. They were my mom’s hobby. Looking back on it, I think she enjoyed the peace and quiet. She could see the difference made and knew the importance of keeping the garden clean.

She was (and is) an example of keeping the judgement weeds out of your garden also. My mom gave to others whenever she could. Even when we had little, she found ways to bless others. A listening ear, a kind smile, a baked treat or a hand written note… she was a quiet example for me and my sisters. During all of the turmoil this year, our kids are watching. They are watching our actions. Are we weeding out judgement? Are we tending our own gardens?

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. I hope my garden is plentiful this year, and the weeds are few. Take care & God bless.

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.

Don’t assume…

You know what they say about “assume”? Yep, it makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me.” That might be a little harsh for this story, but you get the idea – we shouldn’t assume anything.

Recently, we started taking our produce and baked goods to the local Farmers Market. For three years, we’ve worked our land, expanded our growing area and learned new techniques. We knew we wanted to do this. We knew it was our plan, and we had the land for it. It doesn’t come right away though. It takes time. Something that’s difficult for kids to understand… waiting. Our boys grumbled at the work involved but they helped anyway. Our first garden here in MN was eaten by rabbits and deer. Then the 6″ fence went up… no more deer. Part of the land used to be a road. Part of the land used to be a burn pit. It’s all been transformed. It’s grown and expanded, mostly by hand. Weeds removed, fences and planters put up. Slowly it started to take shape. This year we were finally ready to make it happen.

When we did our first market, I assumed that the lack of interest from the boys would carry forward. The youngest can be a bit of a complainer and procrastinator. I assumed he wouldn’t like it. I should know better. Don’t assume. He counted every cucumber and Krispie treat. He wrote down every sale. He talked with other vendors about growing techniques and types of plants and varieties of beans and cucumbers. He became our inventory control person. And he saw that we sold stuff… the fruits of our labor. He paid attention to what other vendors brought and what was popular. I assumed my teenage son wouldn’t be interested in this venture. I was wrong.

How many times do we assume something about others without giving them a chance? Do you assume you know someone else’s story or struggle? Do you ever stereotype your kids and not give them a chance to expand themselves? Do you ever do that with yourself? Do you ever assume you’ll be bad at something so you don’t even try? Do you ever assume that it’s not worth the risk, so why put yourself out there? I sure have.

  • I assume nobody would pay me to write, so I write a blog each week, for free.
  • I assume nobody would want to hear me speak & tell my story, so I don’t even try.
  • I assume people won’t find me interesting, so I don’t attempt to make new friends.
  • I assume people will judge my house, so I don’t have much company.
  • I assume I’ll just end up at this same weight, so I stop trying to diet.

The list could go on, but you get the idea. When we assume, we aren’t even giving them/us a chance. We figure we already know how the story will end, so we don’t even start. What if we did the thing we’ve always wanted to do? What if we took the leap, wrote the book, talked to the new person, or invited someone new to coffee? What if we opened our hearts?

We assume we know our own story and we already know the ending. God’s not done with us though. His plans are greater than ours. He made us each with a special purpose. Our soul knows what we are supposed to do. That thing that lights you up and makes you smile? Yeah, that. Often times we think we know better. We assume we are in control and we already have it figured out. But what if there was more? What if we allowed abundance and joy and prosperity in, instead of assuming we weren’t worthy? Wow. Amazing things could happen… things we haven’t even dreamed of yet.

I wish you peace on your journey of enough. May your only assumptions be positive ones…imagine the possibilities!