Snow peas are coming in nicely — I just popped the first small pod into my mouth as I strolled through the vegetable garden after my Monday evening piano lesson.
If I’m honest, I’ll admit that spring is the time of year where I’m most likely to have mixed feelings about homesteading. In spring, I come out of my winter funk and I am ready to twirl on a mountaintop a la Julie Andrews, but at the same time, I am faced with the truth that spring delivers hard, hard work. Animal housing must be cleaned, gardens weeded and prepped, seedlings hardened off and transplanted, bees set up, not to mention the extra tasks involved with raising baby animals on the homestead. Everything seems to need fixing or cleaning or extra TLC as the snow melts, and in the meantime, we’re trying to wrap up our school year. There isn’t really much time to play in the springtime.
This past Saturday, I worked in the sun all day shoveling compost and mulch and reclaiming a garden that had been taken over by weeds when I looked away for approximately five minutes. It was one of the first hot-hot weekend days we’ve had, which means all day, and I mean ALL day long, tubers and kayakers floated down our backyard river. I could hear their laughter before they floated around the bend, and I could hear them shrieking and screaming cuss words as they hit the fast and fun stretch just to the south of our property. How I longed to toss my black rubber inner tube in the water and tag along behind them! But the task at hand cried out for completion louder than my wanderlust or my sunscorched shoulders, and I focused my eyes back on the pitchfork, mulch mountain, and pile of stones waiting for realignment at the edge of the garden bed.
I share a lot of stories and photos about this marvelous homesteading, homeschooling life we are living, and even on the worst days, I wouldn’t trade it for the life I used to live, but it feels important for me to say aloud that some days are just a grind. Some days I look around here and wonder what the heck I am doing this all for anyway. Why take on the mess, the noise, the expense, the strings attaching me to this property? Why invest the sweat and tears and hundreds, no THOUSANDS of hours when I could just buy it all at Walmart?
I’m not trying to be cute or trite when I say that the “why” is ridiculously simple — as simple as a pea flower. A single pea pod eaten in the garden in my summer dress at sundown. A payoff popped into my mouth in one bite. A bite that tastes of all the seasons and all the work, the full circle systems of a homestead whose animals and gardens and humans nourish one another every day of every year. One pod made it worth it for me this evening after weeks of hustle and grind list-checking.
I’ve pursued a lot of things in life, and there was a time I would have raised an eyebrow at anyone who told me a garden pea would be one of the best payments I’ve ever received. But as I age, I better understand that value means different things to different people, and maybe for me it just means working hard, being close to animals and earth, and enjoying the bounty of good work, even on the nights that the bounty looks like a single green pod.