When I think about my grandparents and Brookside Farm, Landaff, NH, my mind is flooded with wonderful memories.
It is easy to remember my grandfather tending his dairy cattle and his large vegetable garden while my grandmother cared for her beautiful perennial flowers and hydrangeas. The highlight of the summer was Old Home Day sponsored by the Grange. My grandmother would enter several bouquets of her flowers in the flower show and be rewarded with a blue ribbon or two. Those were good days spent with grandparents who were not rich in the monetary sense, but they were rich with their time and love.
I spent all my school vacations with them on the farm – riding my bike on the back roads, swimming in the brook and doing some farm chores. In the morning, I’d gather the eggs and pick apples, and late in the day, I’d walk barefoot down the dirt road to bring the cows back from the pasture to the barn for nightly milking. When the vegetables started coming in, I was stationed on the front porch glider with the pails surrounding me. I shucked corn, snapped beans, shelled peas, and hulled strawberries.
The farm is now home to Doug and Debby Erb. The Erbs combined it with their family farm, Springvale Farm. In addition to being large dairy farmers, the Erbs are the owners of Landaff Creamery LLC, which produces Landaff Cheese. It is comforting to know that my grandparents’ farm is still an active part of the farm community of our state.
While I was busy helping with the farm chores, my husband’s family was gardening back in Western Kansas for a family of twelve. They grew as much of their own food as possible hoping they could enjoy their summer harvest as well as preserve some for the winter months.
My husband enjoys vegetable gardening, and as the strawberries and raspberries come to an end, some Schwartzbeeren start popping up all over the garden. These plants produce small berries that resemble a blueberry but are smaller, have more seeds and have their own unique flavor. My mother-in-law made mouth-watering pies and kuchen with them. My daughter inherited her baking genes from her grandmothers. She bakes the pies in the family, and they are truly a work of art that taste even better than they look.
Fruits, vegetables, perennials, annuals, shrubs, and trees – I love them all. All the other things related to gardening – seeds, rocks, compost, mulch, hoops, tunnels, and raised beds – cause my pulse to quicken as well. For months, I’ve been looking at seed catalogs. I bought some of my seeds and have my seedless mix and containers ready to go. I’m just waiting for the calendar to move just a little more towards our last frost date.
My grandparents gave me time and attention, and I loved every minute of it – well, except for some of the chores. As my grandchildren continue to get older, I treasure our gardening time together.
When I’m outside with them enjoying our gardens and knowing where our eggs and veggies come from, I feel a personal sense of satisfaction and like to think of myself as a farmer and a gardener.
The grandchildren dig into the topic:
Grandson (6) – I’m both a farmer and a gardener.
Granddaughter (11) – I’m a farmer and a gardener because I like them both.
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