I love the maple tree in our backyard this time of year. The bright red flowers against the grey speckled bark is very striking. The rain only accents the effect. If you look closely, there is a little sparrow hiding in the branches. I love the rain that is turning everything green again. Daffodils are blooming and lots of the fruit bushes have started to leaf out. We are starting to fill up the greenhouses. The rain barrels are hooked back up and are full. We planted onions this week, and the peas we planted earlier are coming up. It is a hopeful time of year.
It is also an anxious time of year for us. We watch to make sure the seeds we planted inside are coming up. We watch to make sure they get just the right amount of water. We watch the weather very closely to see whether or not we will need to run the greenhouse heaters overnight.
Last night I had a hard time sleeping because the sound of the greenhouse covers flapping in the strong winds is a little alarming. I had to check on them several times. Steven and Robert had weighted down the doors inside and out with extra bags of mulch. The greenhouses are all secured with t-posts in each corner and weighted on the outside with 2 x 10 boards and cinder blocks to keep the wind from catching the greenhouse covers and blowing them away. The seedlings we started a few weeks ago need to go into the greenhouses with the extra light and heat, but I always worry every year that the heaters will go out or that the wind will catch the greenhouse covers, and we will lose plants. So we watch and pray, and pay close attention. Our goal is to be able to sleep when the wind blows.
How to Sleep When the Wind Blows
I've heard this story many times before, but Shayne M. Bowen shared this story a few years ago at BYU and it really stuck with me.
Many years ago the old country fair in parts of England was, besides being the place of exhibition for farm products, [the place] where employer and employee met. . . . Farmer Smith wanted a boy to work on his farm. He was doing some interviewing of candidates. A thoughtful looking lad of about sixteen attracted him. The boy was confronted with a rather abrupt question from the gruff old agriculturist. “What can you do?” The boy swung back at him in the same style, “I can sleep when the wind blows.” . . . Notwithstanding he didn’t particularly like the answer to a civil question he got from the teenager, there was something about the gray eyes of that fellow that got under his skin. He approached the lad again with the same question, “What did you say you could do?” Again the same answer bounced back at him, “I can sleep when the wind blows.” Mr. Smith was still disgusted with such an answer and went to other parts of the fair to look into the faces of other youngsters who might want a job on a farm, but there was something about that answer he got that stuck to him like glue. First thing he knew his feet were carrying him back to meet the steady gaze of those deliberate eyes of the boy with such strange language. “What did you say you could do?” for the third time he thundered at the farm help. For the third time, too, the farmer got the same answer. . . . “I can sleep when the wind blows.” “Get into the wagon—we’ll try you out.” . . . One night Farmer Smith was waked about 2:00 a.m. with what might be a cyclone. It seemed that gusts from the north in only a few minutes developed with intensity to threaten the roof over his head. The trees cracked and noises outside turned the nervous system of our friend upside down. The speed he used to jump into his trousers was only outdone by the lightning as it broke up the darkness outside. With shoes half-laced he rushed out into the farmyard to see if anything on the premises was still intact, but he would need the services on a wicked night like this of that new boy. He called up the stairs of the attic where the latter slept, but the response was the healthy lung heaving of a healthy lad. He went half the way up the stairs and thundered again, but only a snore echoed back. In excitement he went to the boy’s bed and did everything but tear the bed clothes from the youth, but the lad slept on. With a mixture of desperation and disgust he faced the gale, and out into the farmyard he plunged. He first approached the cow barn. Lo and behold, the milk producers were peacefully chewing their cuds, and the inside of their abode was as snug as a mouse under a haystack. It didn’t take him long to discover how the boy had chinked up the cracks of the cow abode and reestablished the locks and hinges. In the pigpen he found the same tranquility, notwithstanding the forces at work that night. He turned to the haystack. As he felt about in the darkness, it didn’t take him very long to determine again the preparation of the lad with the gray, steady eyes. Every few feet on that feed stack wires had been thrown and weighted on each side. With this construction the alfalfa was peacefully under control and laughing at the elements. Our farmer friend was stunned with what revelations he had in a few minutes of that cyclone night. He dropped his head. His mental maneuvers shot like lightning to the boy snoring in the attic. Again, the peculiar answer of a few weeks ago slapped him in the face: “I can sleep when the wind blows.” (see Thomas Whittaker, “How to Sleep on a Windy Night,” chapter 21 in Brighter England and the Way to It (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1891), 259–61.)
This young man could rest because he knew what had to be done to prepare, and he had done it. He had got the work done before it was windy and dark. I have a personal witness that it is much easier to do things this way. Some emergencies cannot be avoided, but I have found that we have lots fewer emergencies when we think ahead.
I was reading this week that baby chicks were selling out at about the same rate as toilet paper was earlier. I have tried to do some online grocery shopping without great results. We added stuff to our online cart, then went to check out. Everytime we attempted, something else dropped out of the cart. I ended up buying less than half of the groceries I had originally put in my cart. I read about concerns that migrant workers will not be able to get to their jobs in agriculture this spring with all of the restrictions. Big deal you say. Anyone can farm you say. Twenty years of experience is hard to replicate on the spot I say, and it does not take much to disrupt our just in time system. Keeping the transportation system up and running is a concern for agriculture and manufacturing.
The baby chicks selling fast and the seed companies scrambling to keep ahead of record orders tell me that more than a few people are thinking they would like to supply some of their own food this coming year. We have seen record orders on our Spring Plant Sale too. We have planted and replanted trying to stay ahead of requests and make sure that everyone gets what they need for their gardens this year. I can't tell you how many people we have talked to in the last few week who are expanding their garden, or gardening for the first time this year because they are worried about their jobs or their ability to buy food. It is a reasonable concern. Planning ahead and planting a garden seems like a very good idea to me.
We will also be planting and planning how to preserve as much of the harvest as we can this year. Having a garden is a hedge against the effects of inflation on my grocery money. It is a feeling of security in a crazy world. It is therapy in a time of stress. It is something productive to do so we don't just sit and worry about the things I can't control. Here are some good links for gardening resources for you to use this year as you garden!
If you want to really grow food, this is the best system I have seen. Our main garden beds use this method. It really produces. Everything you need to know to grow a great garden here:
The state extension offices in your state are a great resource. Here is a link to the Iowa State University Extension offices planting guide. If you are wondering when is the right time to plant, this is a great resource. https://store.extension.iastate.edu/product/3960
When you have prepared ahead and planned for things that could happen, then even if it storms you can sleep when the wind blows. Have a great week!