Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Weeding With Kindness

It was a normal Thursday morning.  But then...

"Mom!  Mom!"  my girls frantically called to me from the office where they were busy doing their studies.  "Some guy is here cutting our weeds down in the front yard with a chain saw!"

"What!  Seriously?"  I called back from the bathroom.

"And  he's got 2 kids helping him!"  They called to me.

"Huh?  With a chainsaw?  He's got 2 kids?  Like teenagers or something?"

"No, two little boys like 3 and 4 years old."

"Who is he?  Do you recognize him?"

"No!"  they called back.

I hurried from the bathroom so I could see for myself what was going on.  I just couldn't picture a random guy slashing down our weeds with a chainsaw and 2 little preschoolers with him.  What in the world was going on?  I knew our weeds were thick and looked horribly bad, but I didn't hire anyone to start cutting them down.  

My nerves were electric, being home alone with my 2 kids, and a stranger with a chainsaw in my front yard.  I went into a room where I couldn't be seen, and I cautiously pulled back the corner of the shade from the window so no one could see me but that I could spy on the strangers.

There they were.  A large man dressed in jeans, a long-sleeved shirt, and a cowboy hat, and 2 young boys trailing him.  The "chainsaw" was actually a weed whacker with a blade attachment (can't expect my kids to know what a power tool for the yard looks like, since we've never owned any). Lloyd (my cowboy neighbor up the road) was the man the girls didn't recognize, and he was cutting down our front yard weed forest while his 2 grandkids were piling up the debris behind him.  I was stunned.  I was shocked. And, most definitely, I was happy.

Those weeds have caused me all kinds of grief, so much so that I got a bid to see what it would cost to have someone clear them off for us.  The bid came back and it was going to cost $1000 for a crew to clear the land and haul them off.  It's not worth that.  We had decided a few days earlier that we were going to wait until all the weeds died off, then rake them into piles and burn them, like we've done every year for the past 6 years since we've built this house.  It would be ugly until then, but it would be what we could afford. 

Then, this angel in blue jeans shows up and gets to work.  I know this neighbor.  I go to church with him.  I know he's a good man and I know he hasn't had it easy.  He isn't supposed to even be alive according to doctors.  I remember a few years back when he got the prognosis from doctors that his cancer was bad and he had 6 months to live.  He went through treatments and got so weak and sick.  And now, I know his battle continues, but he's beating down more than his cancer, here he is whacking down my weeds.

It brought tears to my eyes.

I composed myself, and went outside to talk to him.  He mentioned that he saw my mom at the hospital where she works and asked her if I'd be offended if he and a few others helped us clear off our weeds.  My mom knows me well and she knows how much it pains me to see my yard go to weeds every year.  She broke down into tears and told him to just do it. 

I'm sure glad they had that conversation.

I profusely thanked him and his grandkids for their kindness, they really have no idea just how much their service and sacrifice has brought joy to me.  

Then, I went in the house and called my mom.  I couldn't not cry.  I broke down and told her how I couldn't believe what was happening and that my weeds were coming down.  She was happy for me. 

Brother Lloyd, as we call him, mentioned to me that he was just getting a head start, and that a few others from the Sunday School would be coming the next evening to finish the job.  Let me tell you, this was no easy job.  No normal weed whacker could whip through these desert weeds. They are like cutting down little trees, and my yard was their happy place where generations have thrived for years.  Their roots run deep.  Like to China.

Later that morning, I snapped a few pictures of the weeds in our backyard, so I'd be able to see a before and after.  I love a good before and after, don't you?
Weeds were everywhere!
Can you find our little fenced-in Wild West garden?  It's pretty hard to trail through the weeds to get there.

Then, Friday evening came, and when my family pulled up to our house, we couldn't even get in the driveway, there were trucks parked all around it.  There was a mess of weeds piled high in the back of 2 truck beds and a 2 trailers.  I could see the ground in my front yard again, and there were sweaty, red-faced angels breathing heavily and working rakes and pitchforks, ranging in age from 4 years old to 60plus. 

It brought warmth to my heart to see all those hard-working people.  As I looked around, I noticed Brother Lloyd was there with his 2 grandkids again.  Three other men in their 60s were there- one with a pitchfork, stiffly pitching weeds into a truck trailer, another with his face redder than I've ever seen it, holding a tool that actually did resemble a chainsaw at the end of a long handle, and another on his hands and knees, yanking weeds up out of the hard dirt.  I couldn't believe they were there to help out!  Then, there was a family of 6 from up the road, each one of them with their own rake and gloves slaving away.  They were all lifesavers!  My family got our work clothes on, and got to work alongside them and realized just how hard it was to get those weeds out.  There are mansions in heaven for my weed-pulling angels!  It was a relief when our friend pull his tractor up and mowed everything down, and then tilled it all up. 

The crew worked until after the sun went down, and even a little the next morning!  I cannot express just how happy I am!  This soft dirt was beyond anything I was expecting.  Just look at the glorious weedless dirt! 

What a HAPPY yard!
I think we can throw some seed down and have grass come up next year!  Can you imagine?  GRASS!!!  Grass instead of weeds!

I really live around some of the kindest, most generous people you will ever meet.  In our church we are like family, so we call everyone "sister" or "brother."  Well, a sister invited me to her garden to gather some of her tomatillos and while I was there, she gave me these gorgeous beets.

Another sister I was visiting with up the road sent me home some of her rosemary and oregano.

And one of the brothers that helped us with our yard, gave us a start of some of his walking onions.  I can't wait to plant those!
I seriously live among some of the most golden people you will ever meet!  My burdens have been lifted thanks to the goodness of my friends and neighbors.  I feel so very blessed!

Tuesday Garden Party

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Pretty Flowers

I took some pictures of some of our garden flowers. Here they are:

Would you be surprised if I told you that the plain green poky weeds turn into beautiful colors in fall? Well, they do and so do our cacti around here.

Front porch makeover

My grandma brought over some plants for us. That was kind of her. We decided to give our front porch a makeover. First we took everything off of the porch. Then we gave it a bath with the hose. Last we stuck the new plants on the porch. Wow. I think we did great.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Glorious Garden Harvest

Our smallest and biggest tomatoes.

Cucumber gone bad...

Giant chard

None of this is photoshopped.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Checking In On the August Garden, 1st Pickles, and Picnic Table Makeover

 We had quite the harvest of cukes this past week, so I made my first batch of pickles using this recipe from quite possibly my favorite garden-blogger out there, then adding more of my own spices to each jar as an experiment in variety.

I made a special trip to WinCo last time we were in the big city and picked up bulk pickling spices and a bunch of fresh dill so I could have those pretty flowerheads in my jar.
We shall see how those pickles turn out in the next few weeks.  For now, they are bathing in their briney goodness in my fridge.

So, we left town for a few days, so we could celebrate my daughter's birthday riding on the Wizard's Train, and also to be able to attend a nephew's birthday party, and another nephew's baby blessing.  Our intentions to make this a quick trip to the big city ended up being more like a weeklong trip because my daughters got sick and weren't in any shape to be traveling up through the windy canyon roads back to our abode.  We have our garden set up on a timer and on drip lines (such a convenience), so I wasn't worried about things dying, but when we got back, I discovered that things grew... like, a lot!  Chard, parsley, and beets were billowing and begging to be picked.
 The pineapple tomatillos set fruit.

 The cabbage actually grew taller even though it looks like it is suffering something terrible from what's eating it.  I'm doubting we will get any cabbage, but I guess we'll see.
 There was a watermelon hiding in cucumber patch.
 The tomatoes started to set fruit.
 We have one really big brandywine tomato that is quietly growing near the base of the plant.
 The tomatillos have lots of flowers and cute little paper husks plumping up!

 More watermelons...
 And the peppers are finally getting some buds.

 But, it was the cucumbers that grew very fast.  We had several that were past their prime, but plenty of others to pickle.  Oh!  And we had a few surprise strawberries, too.  All in all, the garden is doing pretty well this year thus far.  I hope to see the tomatoes set more fruit and ripen up in the next few weeks!
P.S. Don't you think our tiny picnic table turned out cute with just a coat of paint?  It looked like this before:
 It was a lovely $3 Yard Sale Find that is our girls project.  My girls, my mom, and I painted it with discount paint ($10/gal), and we plan to have it be an ongoing project throughout the years.  Maybe we'll paint it red next year, or indigo, or paint flowers on it?  Who knows?
Tuesday Garden Party,
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Tuesdays with a Twist

Saturday, July 25, 2015

American Fork Steel Days Garden Tour- Day 1

"Look mom!"
We just got back from a reunion and vacation in "Happy Valley" (aka Utah County), and while we were there, we discovered that American Fork was celebrating their annual "Steel Days," complete with a garden tour.  That meant that some of the finest gardeners in the city had opened their personal gardens for public viewing pleasure, and that they would be available to answer our questions.  I was not about to pass up that opportunity!  I wish we had something similar to that where we live.

So, as soon as I read about it, I gathered my girls and my mother-in-law, and we were on our way to one of the homes.
 I armed 10-year-old Tame Dame #2 with a phone camera, and she snapped plenty of lovely snapshots for our blog.  Most of the photos you will see are ones that she took.
"Lily" with the lilies!
 Come!  Explore the gardens with us!  There's lots to see!
 I snapped a few pictures as well, but I really can't distinguish between who took what, so you get to see it all. 

This earns two thumbs up!
 The first 2 homes we visited had well manicured lawns, beautiful borders, and blossoming beds.   All was neat and orderly, and not one weed!

Who spilled the flowers?

Pretty waterfall!

Did you notice this rock? Go find it in the picture above!



What is this?

Looks like they're filled with water. Wow!

Pretty lilies!

 This next home had lots of walking paths with an abundance of foliage and blooms lining them.  It was a great example of how to xeriscape.

Such lovely flowers!
 They also had a wonderfully organized veggie patch out back with some fun varieties of veg that I don't see very often.

Hi puppy!

Can you spot the purple peppers?

Colorful! I wish I had rainbow chard!

Puppy came out and would dig in the garden.  The owners had to keep scolding him.

They had a phenomenal view of the Mount Timpanogos temple from their front yard.

 I loved that there was variety in the styles of gardens we viewed.  There was one in particular that left a lasting impression on me.  It's sorta jungle-y and quirky and has a secret garden feel with a surprise at every turn. 

Oh my!


Hello, hello, hello!!!



Hi you fluffy chicken!

This is an interesting seed pod!

And this is interesting grass!

On our way to a few more homes, we were stopped and cut off to the road we wanted to go down.  They had shut it down for their car show.  So, we parked, pulled out some lawn chairs (doesn't everyone carry a few of those in their trunk?) and watched the show for a bit.

We saw so much beauty that day, and we saw more on Day 2 (look for an upcoming post).

P.S.  Can anyone tell me what those flat seed pods were?

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Tuesdays with a Twist