Living in the Woods...
A Good Harvest at Nature’s Home Preserve
Doreyl Ammons Cain
This evening My husband Jerry and I sat down to a tasty dinner mostly all picked from the garden minutes before. A pot of fresh string beans and potatoes, sliced vine ripened tomatoes, grilled Pan squash and seared Straight Neck squash. With a camp fire crackling near our rough split table, we watched the sunset and the bats start to swoop and swirl in the air above our heads. The smoke from the fire kept the flying insects at bay, so we immensely enjoyed our food and the smells of evening light. This all sounds wonderful, but this one evening was the results of years of work.
It’s taken me years to grow large, healthy tomatoes, green beans, a variety of squash, green peppers and lettuce here at Nature’s Home Preserve. Practicing Permaculture, my garden is the result of five years of recycling and composting wastes back to the earth. In the beginning Jerry and I cleared an area just below our greywater ponds to deposit our compost materials several times in the fall and winter. Each year during the fall we add lime and in the winter we dump the ashes from our wood stoves to the composted area. In the spring I purchase seeds from Bryson’s Supply and carefully plant them in the mounds of compost. Experimenting with different types of plants over the years, I’ve finally found some vegetables that love our small garden area.
At first there wasn’t enough sun, so Jerry trimmed limbs, not wanting to cut trees. Then, several years ago, we had a lightning bolt strike the ponds which somehow killed about 10 trees around the garden. This opened up the garden area to bright sun. It was just what was needed. My garden flourished and giant squash and tomatoes resulted. This year I added green peppers and corn. The excess rain and wind blew the corn to the ground, but the green peppers thrived. All of this adventure and experimentation went into the meal we enjoyed this cool August evening.
We spoke of memories about childhood meals like this as we sat near the fire. Life in those days depended on growing a good crop and preserving everything for the winter.
“The food tasted wonderful because it was so fresh, and I can’t remember when we first got a refrigerator,” I told Jerry. “I do remember having an ice chest when my family moved to Georgia. We had spring water and a spring box that kept milk and butter fresh for days.”
“It must have been hard work to live in these mountains back then,” Jerry replied.
“I can remember Mother washing cloths outside over a fire in a wash tub and my sister, brother and I taking a bath in a metal tub behind the woodstove,” I said. “We lit kerosene lamps at night and had an outside bathroom. But it was much tougher in my Grandparent’s days.”
As the light began to fade Jerry and I packed up the dishes and headed into our Yurt for the rest of the evening. Inside we sat at computers completing our day’s work, listened to music on the CD player and later on watched a DVD movie. Before bed we took a hot shower and turned on our reading lights over the bed. This particular evening we did not take anything for granted, we felt so wealthy.
We’ve had a good harvest this year at Nature’s Home Preserve, and next year should be even better.
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