Highs and Lows

Not many things scare me, with the exception of…

Hoo hoo! That’s rich. Sorry, but I’m so lying, I simply can’t go on. I thought maybe I could pull it off, but no. As anyone who’s been around me much can attest, I’m afraid of just about everything. One of my birthday presents earlier this year from Dana was a journal entitled “I’m Going to Die,” where I could record various symptoms and scenarios that will surely kill me. It was the perfect gift.

My greatest fear — which was originally the only one I’d planned to admit here — is heights. When I was a child, my father had to carry me up and down stairs. To this day, I’m unable to step onto an escalator without John’s arm wrapped around my waist. And that’s only as a last resort. I’ll first search high and low for the elevator, no matter how inconvenient. (I’m fun to travel with.)

Don’t even talk to me about ladders. I mean, I’ll go up on them, just not very far. And considering I’m the primary housepainter in the family, that can be a bit of a problem. In preparation for showing our house to prospective buyers, a carpenter replaced some weathered boards which subsequently needed paint. Most of them were down low within my comfort zone, yet I did reach an impasse with the wall into which John had bashed the front-end loader of his tractor a few years ago.

Research on tractor accidents is pretty conclusive: 50% of all farm fatalities involve tractors, according to my internet search. I’m unable, however, to find statistics on what percentage of exterior wall damage to farmhouses is due to tractor mishaps. Weird.

Immediately after John’s little tractor oopsy, he patched the resulting hole with a short length of exterior siding which I, of course, painted. The repair job stuck out like a sore thumb. A sore thumb covered up with a bright blue bandaid. But like everything one gets used to, it became invisible to us — until we started looking at the house through the eyes of a potential buyer.

We had the carpenter replace the lower two boards of that elevation of the house and after I painted them, the repair was even more glaring than before. The rest of the wall had faded over 14 years, making these freshly painted boards stick out like a…well, you know. Consequently, we decided the entire wall had to be re-blued, to match.

I took it as far — read: as high — as I could. John finished the tippy-top portion for me.

John painting

Were it not for the fact that we’re recently semi-retired, he might have never found the time to do this. While in the past, I could indeed squeeze in projects outside the realm of farming during the month of February, John could not. But now that we’re growing only for a couple restaurants — “miniature farming,” I’m calling it — spring planting isn’t all-consuming like it once was.

In fact, it’s verging on comical. For instance, earlier this week it was time to start what we’ve always referred to as our main crop of tomatoes — the ones that will be ready for harvest in June, our biggest tomato month. Normally, that would mean seeding out 18 or so flats of soil blocks. This year, John did only five.

tomato flats

Five. They look almost ridiculous in the greenhouse.

Even our early-early tomato crop is barely a crop at all. Granted, we have a whole lot more planted than the average gardener would tackle, but still. While our farm was never a large one to begin (or end) with, we did used to fill 1-1/2 hoop houses, each 200-feet long, with early tomatoes.

two hoop houses

Now we have just one, and a meager 96-footer at that.

single greenhouse

So it goes with everything else we’re growing for spring. Where a 200-foot bed used to hold only one single crop (often, two or three of those beds were required), we now fit four — sometimes five — different things into the one row.

Earlier in the season I caught John sitting at the island in the kitchen, pouring through last year’s planting records trying to figure out how to pare them down. Flummoxed, he threw his hands up and exclaimed, “I don’t know how to do this!”

His despair didn’t last long, thank goodness. Knowing how much to plant for two restaurants remains a guessing game, but one that John’s taking much more lightly. It’s a good thing, in many ways. Now that he has more time, he’s a calmer man. And more available, as well, which is coming in especially handy for me.

above greenhouse

See, that top trim board needs a fresh coat of white paint…and I’m sure as heck not going up there.

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8 thoughts on “Highs and Lows

  1. Jo, I loved this. I am afraid of heights as well-that ladder shot was my limit too. Flying is always a big deal-I like to do it alone, I’m no fun at all.

    • I had no idea you were a chicken like me, Reece. We’d make interesting traveling buddies. Can you imagine the line of people we’d be holding up at the airport while we were working up the courage to get to a lower floor?

  2. Not to make light of your fears (I am also somewhat of a fraidy cat), but the I’m Going To Die journal is just hilarious! I am so glad to hear about the positive effects your life changes are starting to have on John — I’m sure it doesn’t stop with him!

    • Hi Jen! Isn’t that journal title the greatest? The subtitle on each individual page inside has the heading: What’s Probably Killing Me Today. I love it.

  3. It’s great to hear that John is finding some time for other things. Maybe you guys can even relax! (I’m so jealous of your “semi-retired” status. :^)
    Thanks for the laugh that the mention of your journal provided. That’s a good one. I’m sure I know a few people who could use it, too.
    Take care……

    • Thanks Jill. John is doing anything BUT relaxing — I swear, that man doesn’t know how. But believe me, I’m more than making up for it. Someone in the family has to act retired, right? I’m willing to make that sacrifice…

  4. Hi, not sure how I found your blog, but I am envious of the tunnels. We are still deep into winter in Wyoming, I’m easing my spring yearnings by looking at “southerner’s” blogs.

    • Ha ha! Good thinking. And when southern farmers are down here burning up, they can yearn for a summer season in Wyoming. Seems only fair.

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