You know that moment when you realize that your veneer of perfection is not absolutely perfect, or maybe it’s IN NO WAY perfect, and quite possibly not fooling anyone? It’s a bit of a relief, honestly.
To be clear, I’m only talking about My veneer of perfection. Your veneer of perfection is perfect and it is totally fooling everyone.
My point is this: The farm* looks idyllic if all you ever see is the Instagram feed - this is what’s really going down....
Apple tree - drown.
Beans - eaten by chickens. Or squirrels. Or both.
Bees - let’s just say, this isn’t first time I’ve struggled mightily to keep someone in my life who is clearly wrong for me and it hasn’t gone unnoticed by my friends. I made a last ditch effort to save the colony by buying a queen (the internet, $30) and installing her. The bees will either embrace her warmly, or kill her as soon as they can. I’m not hopeful but the story’s not over yet + abundant anxiety and heartbreak = my kind of relationship.
Carrots - no go.
Chickens - now separated from the vegetables by a 95% impenetrable fence. They are devious when motivated by tender sprouts, so I had to move some furniture around in the chicken yard so they can’t get a boost flying over the fence. Now up to four eggs a day and no complaints.
Corn - a near miss! Eaten by chickens within one hour of planting, but rallied and now officially taller than me! Even if I never get an ear of corn? I grew a plant taller than me.
Farmer - imperfect, sun-burnt, and bee-stung with permanently dirty fingernails.
Fig - just starting to ripen, and there are hundreds. Heaven.
Goats - I emailed a local goat breeder to see if I could buy milk from her, but she said that she’s not a licensed dairy so she can’t sell milk but would I like to buy a goat? I said that I had a very small yard, so she offered to sell me a very small goat. Which? Respect.
Herbs - so rewarding! You might not want a whole farm in your backyard (though I don’t know why you wouldn’t) but I highly recommend planting an herb garden even if you don’t have much space. Herbs are easy and they make your life infinitely better.
Irrigation system - eaten by rats.
Kale - apparently squirrels don’t like it. And? my kids don’t like it. And? I also might not like it. I’m working on liking it.
Lavender - crushed by dog, looking pathetic, but still alive.
Lemon Tree - frost kill over the winter, looked so bad I thought about throwing it in the garbage, but now it looks gorgeous. Maybe we’ll get a lemon? Someday? This tree is teaching me patience.
Lettuce - eaten by squirrels.
Newly planted nectarine tree - promising!
Peas - eaten by snails. Replanted and thoroughly defended with a wall of Instant Snail Death granules.
Peppers and Tomatillo - a constant reminder that I have no idea what I’m doing. What’s wrong? Too much water or not enough? Somehow those two conditions look exactly the same to me.
Persimmon and Pomegranate trees - did not even consider producing fruit this year. Updated - I lied! The persimmon tree has one persimmon on it. The pomegranate remains fruitless.
Plums - bonkers! A million plums, all ripe at the same time. We have plenty of jam.
Pollinator flower bed - underwhelming, but might have potential.
Rats - smarter than rat traps and faster than the dog, they are wily, infuriating little cocksuckers. I’d get a cat but we are all allergic. Half a dozen pet owls, maybe? Looking into it.
Snails - I hate snails.
Squash - gangbusters! in spite of being dug up by rats on a nightly basis. Strong and invasive and weird and wonderful. Squashes are taking over. Particularly the pumpkins, which are super-magical in every way.
Squirrels - well-fed jerks.
Sunflowers and Tomatoes grown from seed - drown.
Tomatoes grown from expensive nursery seedlings - delightful! I only wish I had planted more. Twice as many. I would eat tomatoes at every meal if I could. And I can. And I do.
Watermelon - Omygod, so beautiful. The watermelon isn’t ripe yet and it doesn’t look like it will get very big, but the vine is lovely and the flowers are just the sweetest.
Weeds - doing just fine, thank you.
Now that I’ve written all this down, it does seem kind of halfway idyllic. Not perfect - but ambitious and pleasant and satisfying. Better than perfect.