Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Chapter Nine: Was So Fine

“There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.”

Well, we thought we would get through the winter without any significant sickness, but the flu hit us hard this week.  I (Rebecca) am currently the only one that has not gotten sick.  The kids started dropping like flies starting last Monday and it is currently Sunday.  By Wednesday, all nine kids were sick with fevers ranging from 99.1 to 104.5.  After a few trips to the walk-in clinic we did confirm that it is, in fact, the flu.  Influenza B to be more accurate.  So, I have been doing what any hippie mama would do- pushing the herbal tinctures, vitamin C by the handful, smothering them with chest rub (that I make!), drinking lots and LOTS of hot herbal tea with our honey in it, and dreaming about warmer days when I can kick them all back outside again.  They have watched more cartoons than I care to admit at this point, and I can’t really fault them for that when they are so sick and miserable right now.

When you have a large family, trying to prevent sickness is the key- okay, well, it is the key for everyone- but it is even more important when there are more than your average inhabitants living under one roof.  All it takes is ONE person to bring it in- and we have lots of those to choose from- and them BAM!  Sickies everywhere. 

We are officially in survival mode.

Anyways, this time down this week has given me a chance to get onto the computer and look at our online presence, which I have neglected the last few years.  I figured I would give a recap of everything that has happened since I last posted.

In 2017, we had a baby (awwwww) and named him Nathanial Bjorn Fawkes Whiting.  Check it out, we like giving the kids classic names with a unique twist.  He was born on June 10, 2017 and weighed 10 lbs 5 ounces, 23 inches long.   

He was born at home in our bed.  I literally went into labor with him while I was IN the barn.  Yes, that happened.  He was born a couple of weeks late, so the farmers markets had already started for us.  Since he was born on a Friday night, we missed the Saturday market.  Ha!   

He makes us happy, and loves to cuddle.  He has big blue eyes and likes his robot blankie the best of all his earthly possessions.  He is now actually a BIG brother, because just  a few months later we found out we were having ANOTHER baby. 

I have to pause here to say this.  I TRULY believed that it would get harder to have babies and get pregnant as I got older.  For the record, that has not been the case.  Yes, we know what causes that---  at least, I thought we did.  But now I am questioning everything.  It is all suspect.

So, 2017 brought us another baby boy that we named Samuel Colt Hawken Whiting.  He was also born at home, but no- I did not go into labor in the barn.  He weighed 10 lbs 8 ounces, 24 inches long- BIG BABY.  And he was actually born in our bathtub that , fortunately, Keith had fixed only days earlier.  He is also very fun, and like to sit and rock which I appreciate at this point in my life.  He was born on my birthday, September 5th, which just happened to be Labor Day this year.  

I know everyone is thinking it, so I will just go ahead and say it.  No there are no plans for more babies in the future, but to be quite honest- we didn’t really plan any of them.  We just let things happen and accept the cards where they fall.  Besides, children are a blessing and there isn’t any of them that I could live without.  Our hands and hearts are full, they are dressed (usually) and fed, and that is what really matters. 

They are also why we have a farm. So, if we should have more in the future, that is okay.  But if we don't, that is okay, too.  That is our philosophy on babies.

I mentioned in a previous post that we were dealing with Keith’s mom having stage 4 lung cancer, and I am sorry to say that she passed away in August 2017 just before Sam was born.  That has been really hard on us and everyone around us too, I think.  She was an amazing person and is greatly missed. 

So, going into the season of 2018 there have been a few goals set by us.  We helped spearhead a new farmers market in Bemidji that will go year round- something that Bemidji does not have.  We are expecting it to start out slow and hoping that it will start to take off as the weather warms up here.  Since we are so far north, that will still be in a few months.

We have also decided to pursue a different direction for our farm.  We are looking into expanding in the future to an additional site where we can set up a small store front.  We don’t have space for that at our current place, plus our farm is WAY off the beaten path.  We are on 6 acres of land, most of which is set aside for the livestock.  Our garden is currently 1 1/4 acres and we still have an additional acre we can clear to use.  We just have not cleared it yet.  The space we do have, we decided to plant a lot of fruit this year to establish permanent beds for long term use.  That is taking up quite a bit of our garden this year.  I have ordered 200 raspberries, 60 grapes, 2000 strawberries (in addition to the 1000 we already have), and plum trees.  Lots of plum trees.  There is more, but this could go on awhile.  Ha! 

We would like to establish a farm to table kind of experience in the future place.  Someplace where people can come and shop at the same time as seeing the chickens that lay the eggs they are buying, and the goat's that are producing the milk in the store, and the hives where the honey comes from that we bottle for the shelves, and walk through the gardens that we grow the vegetables.  So far that is our general gist of the direction we have decided to head down.  We would plan on continuing the markets, because hey, those are fun and convenient for people.

We are building a high tunnel out on the garden currently.  It is a 30 by 60 high tunnel that should be done by April.  We have two smaller ones already that are 12 by 32.  One of those is set aside strictly for seed starting, and the other is for early crops.  Last year, we did all of our seed starting out in this hightunnel.  It mostly went okay, although I ended up burning up our tomato plants one day and had to start over because the weather warmed up SO FAST inside the tunnel.  I also did not have any luck starting peppers in this.  Germination was a problem.  So, this year, the peppers will be started inside again, which they have done well for us that way before. We are hoping to have extra started plants this year.  Mostly tomatoes and herbs, but last year we ran into the problem of trying to fit all of our starts in the one high tunnel.  This year we will be installing MORE tables for starts, because last year we filled it up completely and still had overflow.  We are already planning for a second seed starting hightunnel for the near future.  

Our final frost date (which is still subjective) is June 1.  Last year we planted tomatoes on May 15, but that was risky.  We had a frost the night before, and the extended forecast showed no frost for 10 days- so we took the chance and it paid off.  This year, we will be able to do that again, but in our hightunnel. Last year, we planted 180 tomato plants, and this year we would like to do that again.  We are planning for a large crop so that we can make things like spaghetti sauce, BBQ sauce, and salsa for ourselves and to sell.  We figure just for our family, we will need about 8 cases of quarts of sauce for ourselves because we like to stock up, so anything more than that will be available. 

We continued with keeping bees the last few years, and that has gone nicely.  We had 3 hives last year, but the honey has sold out so fast that we have decided to have 6 this coming year. Then we will add on more in 2019 until we are up to a good number of hives.  What is a good number, you ask?  We don't know!  But we are certain we will know when we get there.

Other than that, I have added some pictures of this last year and I am in the middle of garden planning and dreaming for the coming season.  We are looking forward to it warming back up so we can get back outside without the winter bundling that needs to take place to deal with the cold and snow.  

I probably missed something, because I typed this out super fast and yeah...  such is life right now.  So, if you have a question, please leave it in the comments and we will reply! 


  1. Hope everyone is feeling better by now. Thanks for the update.

  2. Did I count right, 5 girls and 4 boys.....if so, you need 1 more boy for an even count �� I’m so amazed that you give birth at home all natural to such big babies and thankful that you haven’t had complications. Do you and Keith do it on your own or does a midwife come out??? Good luck with all the new up coming things!!! I wish I had half of your energy!