Today I listened to The Rise of Urban Homesteading on KUER radio, and it caused me to revisit my own reasons for gardening and keeping chickens. My grandparents gardened for survival, but I’m sure that I garden for sanity.
I know the grocery store like the back of my hand; five of them in the immediate area to be exact, and I frequent them often. They are the biggest part of my social life; I see neighbors and family, and friends I may only see on occasion. I’m ecstatic when I can find something out of season that I just have to have for that coveted recipe I’m trying this week. I’m ruthless in my comparisons of one market’s quality over another-both in their products and their service.
But each year I feel the insatiable drive to turn the ground as soon as it’s soft, and to feed the chickens and rework their shelter, and make their environment lovely. Where else am I going to learn such wonderful life lessons, or pass them on to my family?
Those lessons begin with the fact that the garden is not instant gratification, and I battle adversity endlessly. Sometimes it wins, but that just makes me more resolved to keep trying and finding new solutions. Sometimes the birds get my first sprouts; so I plant again. Sometimes the heat kills the plants; so I mulch deeper next time. And sometimes my plants just disappear underground like a cartoon!!! . . . so I pull out the gopher traps. I can laugh at some critters, but I do trap gophers. There’s just nothing endearing about them that pulls at my heart strings.
I thrill at the smallest offering my little garden produces; a handful of peas, a few sprigs of parsley, and Oh, those fresh eggs every morning.
I love to sit in my garden and listen to my rooster crow, and watch the hens scratch through the compost pile-doing the heavy work for me. I love the sheer surprise when I forget I planted something, and see it sprout. Better yet, the amazement when something I didn’t plant takes root and feeds me. Like these pomegranates.
It was funny to hear the deep discussion about the “new ideas in Urban Farming”, and the reasons people may be turning to this experience. As far as I know, gardening is just something of the soul that temporarily got lost to some in our “mobile” society, but speaks loudly as people begin to look for simpler pleasures- and people are once again listening. It makes my heart sing to watch this “new idea” grow.
Do you have a small garden or farm animals in your backyard? How does it affect your lifestyle?