Monday, April 14, 2008

My Farmgirl Heart

Week 2 of the Farmgirl Blog-a-thon centers on the theme "Farmgirl Heart....What Being a Farmgirl Means to You." Allow me to tell you about mine.

Flora. My how you've grown!

I am not a native Georgian. I grew up on the coast of Massachusetts, in Marshfield, about an hour south of Boston.
Marshfield is a town steeped in history. Just about thirty minutes north of Plymouth, the early settlers found its location near the North River to be quite useful. The marshes, woods and ocean provided ample supplies for a burgeoning new community. Farms were quickly established and farmers went about the business of feeding families.
The house I grew up in was built in 1668. This house was moved to its present location in the 1700's and additions were made to it up until the mid-1800's. With those additions, it became a classic Colonial, stately and beautiful.
Surrounded by seven or so acres, it was perfect for providing the Hatch family, that built and resided in it, with a place to keep their horses, grow a vegetable garden, an asparagus patch, raspberry patch, a potato field, a rhubarb patch, and a flower garden. Large spruce trees grew tall to shade the house. A crab apple planted just outside the kitchen window provided shade, beauty and fruits for making jelly.
There is no wonder, given the history of the house, that my father would take up a shovel and a hoe and begin to farm.
For the first three months we lived in the house, the Brown family lived with us. Charlotte and Stuart Brown were the couple from whom my parents bought the farm. Gram Milner, Charlotte's mother, lived with us as well. When their own little house was completed, they moved away, although they were still close by. Their house was built just behind ours, at the end of the Right Field, as it was called. The dirt road to their house became one I would travel frequently, taking me to visit my new friend, Gram Milner.
Charlotte and Stuart were gracious and giving, teaching my parents the things they knew about the history of the house, and the lay of the land.
In no time, my parents discovered the areas that had provided food for generations of families. We all waited expectantly for the little heads of asparagus to crown the earth near the barn, for the blossoms on the raspberry canes to drop their petals and begin forming fruit, for the tiny shoots of rhubarb to begin rising with all of their sourness, and Concord grapes to change from green to blue.
It was a magical place for me, especially. Connecting to the things that were growing around me, I quickly developed the farmgirl heart that beats inside me still. I can still smell the peonies and lupines that grew along the edge of the field; taste the freshness of the Concord grape jelly that my mother would make; see the irises that grew over the old potato field and feel the small, round potatoes that would occasionally be dug up by my little hands. I remember gathering armloads of crab apple blossoms, lilacs and fists full of dandelions, breathing in the scent of my childhood.
Soon, animals were added to the mix. Two horses, Mergatroyd and Fiddle Sticks, galloped in the fields. A goat named Alfie, who came to eat the poison ivy I was so allergic to, along with my mother's dining room curtains, moved in. Chickens filled the coop in the back of the barn and ducks swam in a little pond made by my father. Eggs were plentiful, vegetables and fruits were abundant and fun was found at every turn.
My dad spent a year renovating an old surrey. In the summer, he would hitch up Mergatroyd and give rides around the neighborhood. Clip-clop down Union Street, up Pine Street past Stuart Brown's woodworking shop, and back again.
Who wouldn't love growing up like that? All in all, it is this kind of childhood I wish my own children could have experienced. But, I married a City Boy, and we settled in Suburbia. That hasn't stopped me from trying though!
I have felt a stronger desire as of late, to bring my family back to a more self-sustaining life style. I think it is that place in me, that formed in a little girl living on a small farm, wanting to expand and develop into something greater, to have my own chickens, grow my own vegetables, compost my own nutritious dirt for the garden.
A chance encounter with a MaryJane's Farm magazine a few years ago was all of the fuel I needed to restart that little flame in me and in the process, I discovered that there are many many women in the world who desire the very same things for their families. Women who either grew up on a farm, or have just felt that pull back to a simpler life, gather together and champion each other along, encouraging, comforting and sharing the knowledge that they have garnered through their experiences.
If gathering your own eggs, warm from a nesting box, picking your own vegetables from a garden that you tended, making something new and useful from something old and worn sounds appealing to you, then you are a farmgirl! It's already in your heart.


GardenGoose said...

love reading about how you grew up! loved this post!
thanks so much for sharing"from the heart"
it has been so fun getting to know the farm girls better.

meg said...

Your childhood was a blessing & I'm glad to know that you appreciate that fact.
Born & raised in suburbia, I can only claim a genetic hertitage to the farm girl heart- Mother was raised in the dry west of Texas & was a tomboy with no interest in the land, & Dad only began gardening when he relocated to KS 30 yrs ago. My grandmother had her vegatable garden (yellow squash & ocra :-P) & taught me to love growing things.
Over my adult life, those urges have grown in me, especially after having my own children, but I suspect that it will remain more of an ideal than reality in my world.

The Feathered Nest said...

Karin, your writing is just beautiful. I so enjoy reading a long post of yours!! How wonderful for you to tell of your childhood, it sounds just wonderful. You truly are a farmgirl!! xxoo, Dawn

windycorner said...

Wonderful post, Karin. I can just imagine what it was like for you growing up in that idyllic place.

Aunt Jenny said...

I loved reading your story and gosh...flora IS really growing up!!!

Utah Grammie said...

You need to submit your writings to publications - this one is wonderful - I can smell the smells, hear animals.. all of it..Your descriptions are fabulous. Keep on writing (in all your spare time, huh?!) but what you have is a gift...thanks for sharing your gift with us...

regina barnett said...

I truly enjoyed reading about your childhood..sounds like a wonderful childhood..and so much fun. I to am a country girl. I love animals, digging in the dirt, like to grow things, I would have a farm of my on..if money wasn't the issue. I would love to see the house you were raised in..sounds so interesting. I love old houses. Thanks for sharing your memories with us.

Nan - said...

Karin, Karin! I somehow just received a subscription to Mary Jane's Farm magazine. I called and they said a mag I subscribed to must have folded and this was substituted. Well, I was delighted. Sitting outside this evening in the beautiful spring weather, all of a sudden I saw YOU on the page! I was saying to Tom, I know her! That's madrekarin!! Congrats! I'm so, so proud of you.