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Updated: Sep. 09, 2020

You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl, my husband said with a smile when I told him that I wanted to move back to the country and have a small farm. He agreed and so the search began. We searched for years, trying to find land. Land that we not only loved, but was also in our budget. Finally, auction day came and we were the winning bid! Yes, we bought our land at an auction, and boy did we have our work cut out for us! The first few years were spent cleaning up the land and creek. The first building that my Handy Hubby built on our homestead was a ‘secret house’ for our young daughters. Nestled in the trees along the creek bank was a playhouse for our girls, where many mud pies were prepared. We even camped there once. The girls are now older and the playhouse has become a garden shed. It is conveniently located near the garden and the chicken coop (both DIY projects that Handy Hubby also built). The area outside the garden shed is a work in progress. Once severely overgrown, the gnarly crab apple tree now serves as a shaded area for relaxing or alfresco dining, with candle filled mason jars hanging from a few branches. The rustic area includes a worn table that we rescued from an old barn that was on our property and a picket fence section that was left over from our garden project. Alyssum flowers grow in the vintage galvanized bucket and watering can, both yard sale finds. The birdhouse was made by my Dad and painted by my daughter years ago…a throwback to the humble beginnings of the playhouse, now turned garden shed. A couple years ago, the garden area received a white picket fence, another DIY project that we did. It’s not perfect, but a bit nostalgic looking, I think. Just this year, inside the garden fence was another DIY project, one that I’d been dreaming of…a raised bed garden. Of course, constructed by Handy Hubby, the raised beds are not only pretty, but highly functional. Filled with good soil and made into smaller sections, the garden is much easier for me to maintain. Surrounded by gravel, the paths make meandering through the garden a pleasure, and the roots of the plants don’t get damaged from foot traffic. Cattle panels are used for tomatoes and cucumbers to grow on. Tomatoes are a favorite that I plant every year in different varieties (yellow are my favorite). Canning and freezing some of the bounty each year makes me reminisce about my Mom, who spent countless hours in her outdoor summer kitchen years ago. Zucchini is another vegetable (or is it technically a fruit) that I love! Baked in breads and cakes, sauteed, or diced into casseroles, zucchini can be very diverse. But beware…one plant takes up a lot of room and produces a lot. A smaller raised bed holds two zucchini plants, giving them plenty of room to expand without disturbing other plants. Along with other staples, I also like to try new things in the garden. Radishes and sugar snap peas are a first for me this year. Two cattle panels, positioned like a teepee, are for the sugar snap peas to grow up. It didn’t take them long to latch on and start climbing toward the sun. The chickens and coop are just behind the garden. The ladies (what I call our chickens) love eating from the garden also. They eat most of our ‘garden scraps’, such as cucumber peelings and tomato tops. They excitedly run when the see me coming. In addition to our vegetable garden, there is more planting and dreaming happening. I prefer to grow herbs in containers on my porch and deck, making for easy access to the kitchen. Many times, I like to use a pot of herbs as a centerpiece. Peach and apple trees, along with some grapes finish out our edible gardens. Feeling blessed, I also realize that there is (and probably always will be) work to be done on our little homestead…work that I look forward to.

zucchini squashCourtesy Lori Leigh/Country magazine