What a fun weekend….big city first yesterday….today, this small city girl headed to the country. My Uncle Rex and Aunt Mary own a beautiful property in Oklahoma. My sisters and I met my cousin, Mike, at his family farm for a visit and to get our hands dirty. For my first today, I dug up new potatoes.
I’ve always been a city girl. I lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma as a child, moved to a small town in Missouri during my teen years and have enjoyed living in Joplin most of my adult life. I like the conveniences of living in town. And yet, I am drawn to the earth. I love gardening and growing plants. While I tend to focus primarily on flowers and herbs now, I also enjoy vegetable gardening. I’ve grown the easy, traditional veggies such as tomatoes and squash and green peppers. I’m not as experienced with such plants as potatoes, peas and berries.
My cousin and uncle have a large kitchen garden on their farm. Mike works long hours at his day job and then spends his evenings and Sunday afternoons tending to the many tasks around the farm and garden. Since Linda and I were in Tulsa this weekend and headed home to Joplin anyway today, we decided that we would stop by the farm on the way home. Debbie joined in the fun by driving out with us from Tulsa and then returning home again later in the day.
Dressed in casual clothes and wearing ball caps to shield our eyes and faces, we gathered in the garden, eager to help out. Mike brought buckets for picking and we spent the early afternoon filling them with ripe, luscious blackberries. I’ve picked berries before. This was fun and we popped quite a few juicy blackberries into our mouths as we worked our way along the heavily laden bushes. We were grateful for cool breezes and an overcast day. It was perfect work-in-the-garden weather.
Mike showed us all that was growing in the garden and patiently explained the growing cycles and what was finishing up and what he still needed to plant. We moved to the rows of Golden Yukon and Red Potatoes. This was something I had not done before, dig up potatoes. Mike demonstrated how to turn the plant with a garden fork. And then we each had an opportunity to wield the fork. It was very satisfying to sink the tines of the large fork into the rich brown earth and turn the soil, exposing golden or red potatoes. They were easy to pick from the roots of the plant. We carried large 5 gallon buckets along with us and plopped the potatoes into the containers. I loved the feel of the warm moist dirt on my hands and the fragrance of the freshly turned earth.
Speared one, accidently
We enjoyed our afternoon of picking berries and unearthing potatoes. It was fun to chat with our cousin and catch up on family news as we worked. Mike not only let us take home a generous supply of blackberries and potatoes, but cooked an amazing meal for us all too. He grilled steaks, squash and corn on the cob and had prepared large pots of green beans and new potatoes and purplehull peas before we arrived. What an amazing meal and except for the steaks, it was all from the garden, this year’s and frozen produce from last summer’s bounty. He even surprised us with homemade blueberry and blackberry pies, from berries he had picked the day before.
I’m back in the city tonight, tired from an afternoon of harvesting and still full from that wonderful meal. It was so good to see my cousin and visit with my uncle and aunt, listening to family stories and laughing over my uncle’s escapades. They are kind hearted people full of grace and wisdom. I love and appreciate them and in a couple of weeks, I’ll be back! It’s time to learn to plant corn and drive a tractor.
Cousin Mike and sisters, Debbie and Linda, on the farm
A good afternoon of work