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KAREN SCHWALLER

By Staff | Jul 27, 2012

Our garden is in recovery mode. That’s because it was way past rescuing by the time it was all said and done … and this wasn’t the first time it had happened.

Mine was a fairly simple dream, really. Move to the farm and plant a little garden.

John Denver used to sing there are, ” only two things in life that money can’t buy, and that’s true love and home grown tomatoes.”

I already had the true love, so the only thing just out of grasp was that coveted home-grown tomato.

I had a little more time to spend on our garden this year, and it shows in the fact that the neighbors no longer drive by and ask why we haven’t baled that section of our yard yet.

And the Farm Service Agency hasn’t called to threaten us about it this year, either.

I planted and watered and hoed and waited for Mother Nature to do her thing. Against my better judgment, I planted flowers around the house in May, knowing that the June winds out here in the country do nothing but wreak havoc on them, causing them to droop their heads for the remainder of the summer. But this year, I took heart and thought I’d get in the groove for once and plant the garden and flowers along with the rest of the world.

Things looked great until I got up one morning and noticed that something had gotten into the flower planters overnight and dug a bunch of flowers out. Okay, so this year the June winds don’t get all the blame. I cussed some, and cursed this animal, whatever it was.

Then I rearranged and replanted as best I could. Turns out that my husband, who had gotten up before I had, saw that it had been the rams that had gotten out during the night. The tell-tale signs were left on the sidewalk and in front of the house, and he scooped them away before I got up. The rams were already back in their yard by then, looking as if they wondered what all the fuss was about.

When I got up the following morning, I saw vegetative carnage like I hadn’t seen around here since our boys went through their eighth-grade growth spurt. More flowers were rooted out of the planters and the irises and day lilies had been chewed down to half their height. (I remembered having a day at work like that fairly recently – I would have been the flowers in that scenario.)

When I checked out the garden, my eyes were met with blossoming green beans that were no longer; carrots that had been eaten off, a pepper plant had been wounded, and a tomato plant looked a little naked.

A flower planter near the garden showed that half of the flowers were gone, and as I turned around, I saw that the leaves on a small tree near the house had been chewed completely off of the bottom half of the tree, and a branch was broken. There were muddy rub marks on the house near one of the flower planters.

Those dang sheep. Our (for once) nice garden had been reduced to near-ruins-being used for a sheep and goat forage area.

A little more concerted investigative work this time resulted in my husband finding the place along the fence line where they were getting out.

We licked our wounds and rallied in the fact that it wasn’t the family crop that had been rooted out and chewed down to nothing. And over caffeine and tissues, I came to grips with the fact that crop insurance probably wouldn’t be a factor here.

I pulled myself together and carried on.

The third day brought proof that our dog had something to do with all the butchery that had gone on around there. We caught him starting to dig in one of the planters that evening-and after we shooed him away from there, our own investigation produced a rack of sheep ribs – complete with all the things that are on dead animal carcasses- that he had buried in that planter on the night it had been ripped up so badly. Yeesh.

And so following a brief period of mourning and cussing, the missing parts of the garden were replanted, and while having hope is not impossible, it’s a little more cautiously distributed.

Today, as I stood watering what was left of the day lilies, I saw that the one that had been chewed almost totally off with the exception of a single stem, now has a blossom on it.

The plant had the tenacity to not die (with only one tall stem sticking up out of that mess), and even had the guts to bloom.

It seemed pretty poetic as I thought about how we all have times in our lives when we feel reduced to ruins, but that beauty can rise from those ruins; and that adversity can sometimes give us the strength to shine in spite of those who work to wear us down.

These days, I’m the one now in recovery mode. And I think I’m also going to plan a sheep barbeque sometime in the near future.

Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at kschwaller@evertek.net

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