Tomato Woe

Remember the other day when I planted out plenty of lovely little things in one of our garden beds?  At the end of that day I felt so accomplished and satisfied.  There was some rain overnight to nourish everything I had put in the ground.  All was well.

And then…

The next morning, several of my chickens hopped the fence and feasted on everything in that fresh, new garden bed.  All that remained were the chives and two scrawny little tomato plants.  The rest, gone.

When I discovered the catastrophe, I sat down right there in the garden and cried.  You see, it had been a feat to get that garden bed planted.  The entire time I worked, I had a 27-lbs baby strapped to my back.  Squatting and standing, squatting and standing, bending over and digging with all of that extra weight on me, was a major workout.  My thigh muscles are still burning.  Spending all that time in the garden meant that my household chores were neglected, and I have some major catching-up to do.  I got only a portion of my laundry mountain chiseled away, and never mind the dishes.

All that work aside, the tomato starters I had planted were the salvaged remains that Henry the rabbit left behind.  The kids had let Henry out of his cage one afternoon (without telling me), and shortly afterward we left the house.  In our absence, Henry took it upon himself to feast on my flats of veggie starters that I had been carefully tending to for two months.  Heirloom tomato starters – 90% gone.  Cucumbers – gone.  Organic squash – gone.  Herbs – gone.  The few plants I was able to save went into the garden bed I planted on Monday, only to be promptly eaten by the chickens.

So, you see, after the work that was put into the garden and the tragedy of losing almost all of my starters to Henry the rabbit, those chickens dealt me a horrible blow.  I couldn’t help myself, the tears had to flow.

Now that I’ve regained my composure and have had some time to cool off a little, I’ve decided that we need to make some major changes to the way we do things around here.  Things are too chaotic, and I need to be able to put the bulk of my farm focus on the gardens.  The chickens can no longer be completely free-ranging – on Sunday I’ll be building a chicken tractor, in which those ladies will be enclosed.  I’ll also be selling most of the goats, keeping only Caprice and Daisy.   The ducks will have their own pen as well, at the ditch, and will no longer be able to hide their eggs from me.

As much as I love the idea of happy creatures roaming free, the reality is that it is just not working.  We don’t have enough space on this little farm, and I have to set some limits and structure things more effectively if I have any hope of making this work.  My ravaged garden held a message and a perfect opportunity to make changes and get things back on track.  Here we go!


3 thoughts on “Tomato Woe

  1. Oh Linds – I can so feel your pain. I had my trays of seedlings outside in the sun/warmth last week and my little darlings knocked 2 of them over. I didn’t actually cry but I sure let out a wail of grief when I saw the heirloom paste tomato plants nearly all broken and several of our organic squash and cucumber plants killed in the “accident”. Last year I lost most of my seedlings to a flash hail storm. What I wouldn’t do for a small little SAFE greenhouse to raise seedlings in. I don’t have the animals to contend with but I can share your pain on the loss of something you’ve worked hard at and watched grow and anticipated harvesting delicious food from in the coming months.
    So, I guess if you find a local seedling provider of organic or heirloom seeds you could please pass along the source.

  2. Oh, Lindsay — I’m so sorry! That would be a terrible blow, but it sounds like you’ve dealt with it admirably. A good cry does wonders for me, gets all the frustration out, and then creates a lovely space for, “what am I going to do now?” Growing your own food seems like such a “simple” thing to do, but it can be so complicated at times! There is also so much that you have to learn simply by doing and experiencing — I often have to remind myself, it’s about the journey, not the destination. Hang in there!!

  3. oh lady, that does sound tragic, but you sure did a good job of finding the message in it all. hopefully your new arrangement for the animals will help, and don’t feel that you’re giving up on the idea of happy animals roaming free. they are still enjoying so much more of their natural environment and behaviors than their commercially raised counterparts. I think you’ve done an admirable job of finding the solution that will still allow you to attain so many of your awesome goals on that farm.

    By the way, I think you left me some comments last week, but blogger crashed and took the comments with it, so I apologize for not responding but do love hearing from you. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and the journey!

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