I clearly remember the first time I told someone I wanted a farm. I was born & raised in Bridgeport, Ct. I wouldn't normally have been exposed to farms or farming life in Connecticut. I was raised in an environment that was, umm lacking for lack of a better word in societal consciousness by the time I was a teenager. I remember a watermelon truck & eating a lot more fresh fruits & vegetables as a child, even though I was raised in what would be considered the ghetto/hood. There was a significant decline in the availability of fresh fruit & vegetables in my neighborhood when I began having children. Now that my children are having children I think society is coming back to that consciousness, but it made me declaring I wanted to be a farm a very foreign idea to my family & friends in 2016.
Once we all realized that I was very much serious I began getting advice from any & everyone. Everyone knew about farming & growing medicinal herbs all of a sudden. I learned about making my own compost, talking to my plant babies (I knew this already, but I heed all advice), raising animals, other people's desire to grow & eat fresh fruits & vegetables. I never heard the people around me talk about growing their own food until after I announced that I wanted a farm. Maybe I just wasn't listening or paying attention before, but mostly everyone was excited & wanted to help. I welcomed it because I had no idea what the hell I was doing!
I really wanted to buy land & honestly I think I was running away from my real responsibilities. I didn't want to think about this house I now live in because I would have to honestly admit to myself that my grandmother is gone & not coming back. I am a lot more comfortable saying that now than I was before I moved into the house my grandmother left behind. I never imagined a life without her in it & not living here I could somewhat pretend she was just here giving my granddaddy hell per usual. None of us really wanted the responsibility & it showed. I knew there would be a lot of work to do to get the house cleaned up, but I was all the way here for it.
The farm at my grandparents' house was not originally the plan. I think the idea of the garden/mini farm came about after my aunt told me my grandfather had a garden in the backyard at some point. We have partied in that backyard my entire life & I'd never seen a garden, but the seed was planted in my head & that was all it took. So we go to see the house. It was a disaster! If I would have waited another week or 2 my auntie would've cleaned it to rent it to an associate of hers. Her & my cousin had done so much for my grandparents already & I really didn't want anyone living in our family's house. So I buckled up & got ready for the ride! I couldn't blame them or be upset that they wanted to rent it out. A house is a big responsibility, especially when you don't live in it & you have your own responsibilities! Not to mention the tenant/squatter from hell (my youngest uncle, the monster Anndoria created as i lovingly call him).
Now, I was excited! The garden was just the incentive I needed to get the house & yard clean. I knew it was a big job, an extremely big job. I was ready for it! With lots of help from family & friends I got the utilities squared away & moved in. Took a couple months to get the house cleaned & then I got a job about a month and a half into it. I think my job then became the reason why it took me so long to get the house & yard cleaned. I wouldn't have been able to do anything in the house without my job, so I am extremely thankful to have found the job I found when I did. It took me another couple months to get the yard clean & yet another month to get the yard ready to plant.
Part of the reason it took so long to get the yard clean & ready was my job coupled with waiting on & dealing with my uncle to get all the cars, vans & other random nonsense he had accumulated over the years out of the yard. Regardless of all of that, we were finally ready to get the yard prepared for planting. That is when it began....when I began messing in things I knew nothing about & nobody told me about. That was the beginning of daily attacks on my person by the invisible monsters that lived in my yard. To be fair nobody needed to tell me about mosquitoes in Alabama, but nobody told me I would be dealing with so many & I honestly did not expect to be attacked in such a manner! They are small ninjas that silently infiltrate your space to suck your blood! Counting the bumps that popped up from attackers I never even saw once I got in the house became a ritual to me!
The thing I had no idea about are actually the squirrels that are determined to bury their nuts in my tires & eventually turn me into a blubbering mess in the middle of my backyard. The first time a squirrel made me cry was when I finally received the valerian seeds I had been waiting for for over a month. I plant them, nurture them and I finally began to see some life. I go outside the next morning more excited than I have been in a long time only to find all 8 of the Valerian roots I had seen the day before uprooted and completely ruined! I cried like someone killed my dog! I actually thought that would be the worst thing that would happen to me in this yard! Then I planted my vegetables and missed one day of checking on them....one day!
I decided to go hang out with friends about a week after the governor decided to release us from the extreme lock down we had been in. I get up & go into my garden the next morning and some horrible insects (aphids) completely demolished my collards! Obviously they were good because out of 10 seeds, saved after thinning I ended up with 2 plants! I was absolutely devastated yet again! I come from a family of farmers and sharecroppers and not one of my family members bothered to tell me about the bugs, squirrels or the damn birds that eat my herbs and vegetables on a daily basis. I do understand that this is their home, their nature & I am supplying food. I would just really appreciate if they shared some of my shit with me!
I never thought I would be in this space in my life. Waking up at 5-6 am to run squirrels & birds out of my garden. You should see me running out there in my pajamas & slippers screaming at squirrels at 6 am! It really makes no sense I am in a full blown (although one sided) beef with some seriously gangsta squirrels & birds! The worst part of it all is I am being eaten alive by the mosquitoes I disturb when I honestly just want to feed & water my plant & flower babies. I know I must really look insane screaming & yelling at birds & crying over squirrels digging up my poor little new babies!
So here I am a black girl from Bridgeport, CT. arguing & ready to fight with freaking squirrels over strawberries every damn day. They are winning in case you're damn wondering too!! I finally after about 4 months got enough sense to put up a scarecrow (because my uncle suggested it) & these freaking thugs act like the thing isn't even there. Of course, it is a horrible depiction of a scarecrow. Now I am looking for a damn owl to scare them away. In the meantime I am putting deer & poultry fencing around any and everything I don't want the little monsters to snatch out from under me! I still have not had a chance to taste the strawberries or blueberries I have managed to grow because Huey & Dewey freaking ate them before they were even ready!
The only thing I've been able to grow that they haven't affected in some way are peppers & my sunflowers. I still have to say despite it all I am extremely proud of my mini farm & my little baby harvests are the best thing ever! I have bought the monsters snacks, given them water, put up a scarecrow, put up fencing and I still haven't kept the squirrels or birds off my herbs, veggies or flowers. I will know better next year & what better way to learn than through experience. I can't say that I am in any shape okay with these hood animals screwing with my mini farm, but I will clearly have to learn to live with them.
I will find a way to live in harmony with my little monster critters! They are mine & I have no doubt I will grow to like, maybe even love them. As much as they are a pain in my you know what now I can only assume I will get used to them as I've gotten used to all the other uncomfortable situations I've dealt with in my lifetime. I don't really want to, but I know I will. I just wish they'd stick to their food I buy them instead of messing up my food. I have to realize it is their yard & I am the invader. The sooner I come to terms with that the better off we will all be I guess!