I think I have a syndrome called make-my-life-as-bookish-as-possible.
So when I despaired last Spring of ever getting engaged, I decided I was going to make a backyard farm. Because I’ve read books where girls have chickens and stuff and it sounds super romantic.
You know, like Cinderella. Singing as she wears her head-scarves and sprinkles grain to the chickens. Or Laura Ingalls Wilder hoeing her garden and digging potatoes out of the dirt for supper.
Then I saw a documentary of how bees were going extinct. The movie told me that bees were the fertilizers of all plants with blossoming fruits. It’s like nature’s way of making babies. The bee takes one element to another element and it produces a new element.
It also taught me how Mao Zedong in China was mad about sparrows eating grain, had all the Chinese people kill the sparrows, which meant the sparrows weren't there to eat the bugs, which meant all the crops were eaten by the bugs, which meant all the bees had no food and died, and now Chinese people have to manually transport pollen with little Q-tips. Sounds like a fairy tale. A Grimm fairy tale.
Fairy tales are real, people.
So, in one last romantic idealist dash of un-engaged living, I spent my single-hood, no-spending-necessary resources building a chicken coop and a beehive.
My garden of 2013 had gone wild (I’ve been a moderately unsuccessful gardener for about 10 years). Beautifully wild.
I got ‘mammoth’ sunflower seeds without realizing that ‘mammoth’ meant ‘mammoth’.
A friend of mine gave me a whole pouch of zinnia seeds that I danced over the garden with, singing ‘The hills are alive with the sound of music…’ And this was the outcome:
Butterflies and bees loved it.
This year I decided I was going to be practical. And I was practical. I ended up feeding my family lots of arugula and kale and bibb lettuce until bugs got at it.
I also got chickens. I loved my beautiful tweeting chicks! I was a mother to them! I wept when my little golden chick Molly died. I fed them and cleaned out their poopy paper towels. I moved them out to the coop my good friend built for me. I fed them grain and plucked grass for them and watched them gobble up bugs. I cleaned out their water when they pooped in it. (It’s gross…they poop in their water and then drink their water. EWWWW…). And then they reached puberty and after that they never paid me any mind. Just ran away when I approached. All they cared about was food!
And I got bees.
I had a very stormy installing of the bees. You can watch it in the video below. Of course, nobody had the guts to film me up close doing it since there was only one bee suit, so I just propped my iPhone on the edge of the hive box. But my Daddy came out and watched me install the package at a safe distance, making sure nothing happened that was more horrible than expected. That's the person I keep yelling at. It's a very long saga of a video. Kind of horrific, cuz you can't see what's happening. I suggest skipping the minutes of me desperately spraying sugar water on the box by rolling to 3:00 where my hand is shaking in fear as I try to pry open the bee package and then accidentally drop the box. I was literally trembling and panting in overwhelming terror. Funny that I decided to get bees when I'm the girl who will flee inside from seeing one wasp fly past me...
Very exciting. After this I decided to, you know, leave them be. They can take care of themselves, surely!
And then of course, James proposed to me. We set the date for January. And I immediately decided that the next romance in life was having the "city experience". One night I couldn’t sleep, so I did what people who are looking for apartments do: looked at Zillow till I got sleepy. And that was how I saw a brand-new posting for a studio apartment with a wooden floor right in the heart of a really cool part of the city.
So I gave the chickens to my friends who have a farm of free-range chickens.
Never again will I keep cooped up chickens. THE SMELL!!!!!! THE MUD!!!!!!!! Besides, I’m sure they’re much happier now.
My garden was left for the bugs and the rabbits and the birds. Hey, they’ve got to eat too!
And my bees are still buzzing away. I check on them every once in a while, especially when my friend who was the Honey Queen of Missouri comes to visit…and every time saves my bees from swarming.
James and I come home from our honeymoon at 2am utterly exhausted. I’ve driven the winding dark wet drive from Chattanooga to Nashville singing all the way with Michael Bublé. My sister Gretchen has warned me that none of the family was really able to finish the painting and the decorating, but that they did get all my stuff out of the house and just dumped it in the main room.
Horror of horrors. I am expecting the worst.
We walk up the steps of the apartment. I see a beautiful wreath with paper butterflies and dried flowers on the door. Hope starts to flutter in my heart. Maybe Gretchen was teasing???
We open the door, my husband and I. James picks me up and carries me across the threshold.
Lo and behold! it is beautiful. (Gretchen!! Grrr... 😉) Everything in there is a gift. Our families have bought or given all the furniture we need, painted the brown ceilings and the yellow bathroom white, cleaned from top to bottom, and made it into a cozy little love nest given by all the people who love us most.
And so James and I embark on our new adventure. We find that it is fun to have friends and family over for supper on the coffee table.
I name the beautiful oak tree outside in the scraggly little yard alleyway Samwise, Sam for short, because that’s the name that pops into my head every time I see him. (I have been naming trees since I read Emily of New Moon at 14. Trees have personalities! Take it or leave it. 😉)
Then, since we are basking in the romance of the old song that says, ‘Even though we ain’t got money, I’m so in love with you honey…” and we only have one car, I bring James’s bike over and get it outfitted with a cute wicker basket and a brass bell and join the bicycling city life.
I have been a suburban girl all my life. So I am having a lot of fun! I get to walk to shops or the movie theater, ride my bike to the park or pharmacy or church or grocery store. Whenever we get cooped up in our tiny apartment James and I just walk out the front door and have little mini adventures by exploring back alleyways and stumbling upon cupcake shops.
It’s a season. And we’re soaking it up. Our next adventure will be farming sheep from a cute little cottage on a hill in Scotland.