Wife, No Butter Needed

dads_header{For just this week, we are handing over our computers to the men in our lives and turning this little piece of the world wide web into Red Stick DADS Blog!  Read along with their joys and their struggles, and find out why we are so very thankful to have these awesome dads in our lives.}

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We farm.

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Not your “needs a tractor and tankers of fertilizer” sort of farming but a much smaller and more personal type of farming. I work a 60hr a week job in addition to raising a family with my wife. This limits the time I can spend at any one thing. Be it playing catch with my son or teaching one of my daughters how a shovel works. While I would love to plant enough to provide for all our needs, I find we most often only have enough time to maintain a 20×30 garden plot. I put in a raised bed that size to make it easier to manage. We prepare the ground with natural fertilizer and developed soil that comes from our 50 or so laying hens and 4 (+30 or 40 at times) rabbits. We are blessed in Louisiana with wonderful soil for growing things. When you add in what the chickens and rabbits give, you end up with pretty much magic soil. It will grow anything you throw at it with vigor, speed. The resulting vegetables look better and much larger than the picture that was on the seed packet. I get these results with little previous gardening experience. Now, to be fair, there are some things that just haven’t worked out as planned. The watermelons that peaked at six inches of diameter come to mind. Nothing will grow very well if you forget to water it…. My favorite thing to grow is corn. Everyone in our family, including the chickens, love corn.

The first year I tried corn I did not prepare the bed deep enough. The corn grew wonderfully then promptly fell over and died. The chickens were happy enough with that but I was left wanting till the next year. That next year was better. Nice long ears of pretty yellow corn. Tasted horrible. Seems I had planted a variety that was only suited for cattle feed. Third year these strange worms decided to move into the ears of corn. We never tasted that harvest at all. The chickens, however, seemed to like the bonus protein on the corn. The fourth year, having learned the wonderful effects of peppermint oil, the worms decided not to visit. That year the corn was good, better than good, it was awesome. Row after row of puffy golden kernels on every ear. I learned that year that if fresh corn is really good, cooking it is optional. It was that good. If I did cook it my children liked it boiled with a pinch of salt in the water or grilled with nothing added. Butter would have been gilding the lily.

That year of the perfect corn, I had one of those life changing moments I don’t get too often. The kind of moment when your viewpoint changes and you see something you have looked at for years without realizing what it really looked like at all. It happened to me the day before father’s day. I was sitting in our yard swing eating an ear of corn I had cooked on the grill outside. It was close to dusk and I was watching two of my children playing in the dirt below one of the big oaks that dot our yard. The chickens were here and there hunting bugs among the grass. My wife was inside, perhaps doing laundry or the dishes I piled up in the sink while cooking. She may also have been getting ready for home schooling our children the next day, I’m not sure exactly what she was doing.

I remember thinking of all the things I had gone through to arrive at that perfect ear of corn. All the different tasks. Each one building on the next. Starting the chicks the first year, building the coop to house them. Learning all the things you need to know to keep them alive and happy so they end up producing wonderful organic eggs for you. Sorting out how to move the all-important poop to where it was needed. Enclosing the yard after some coons found our hens an easy target. The hours of reading and conversations with friends on how to grow a garden. Designing the raised bed and building it. Tearing it down and rebuilding it because it didn’t drain properly the first year. Learning which plants to grow together to keep pests away. Figuring out how to keep the deer from eating the whole plot to the ground. Each step leading to the next and ultimately to that one ear of corn in my hand.

What I saw differently, or perhaps clearly, for the first time that day was not my garden or my children, it was instead my wife.

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Near Father’s Day, often my thoughts are of my wife. It is only by the grace of God and my wife that I have the privilege of being a father in the first place.   That day I realized that truly it is only my wife who allows us to create a family so like that ear of corn. She works from morning to long after dark at her tasks. Cleaning, teaching, caring, planning, loving and more.   An almost endless list. Each task during her days building on the next. She learns and does each better with practice and time. I am still not sure of that exact moment when our family became like the corn. In my memory it seems to have always been that way though I’m quite sure it couldn’t have been.

Somehow, after long hours and not inconsiderable thought, I have managed to produce a vegetable that needs nothing added. My wife, in that same time, has managed to allow this wild and wonderful pack of children, one woman and one man to grow into a family that needs nothing added.

Having a day to honor fathers is nice. I relish the semi-edible food my children will bring me in bed that morning. The small gifts and the extra attention from all are wonderful. I look forward to it each year and with no small humility, never forgetting who brought me there.

IMG_7575 This post is part of a special Dad’s Takeover Series, where local dads are being featured and sharing their side of the story! Today’s post comes from Robert Reinhardt. Robert is a happily married father of three. You wouldn’t know it by looking at this computer geek, but his talents also include cooking, farming, handyman and the family auto mechanic.

Christie is a stay-at-home mom to 3 gorgeous kiddos, Logan (7), Audrey (5), and Brianna (3). She was born and raised in Baton Rouge and finished her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at LSU. She married her handsome hubby in 2006 and started a family in Saint Francisville, LA. Christie started blogging when she had a traumatic life experience in 2011. She lost a twin baby girl and began to heal by telling her story at www.myhearthasastory.wordpress.com. Homeschooling, photography (www.kikipix.com) and volunteering are this mommy’s passion and she is ready to share with other moms in her community.

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