I am very honored to be chosen as Blogger of the month for November! I appreciate this talented group of people so much. You all have been nothing but patient, kind, inspiring, and most of all, encouraging when it comes to my lack of blogging and technical skills and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I am an Arkansas native, born and raised in Springdale. As a child, I stayed with my great-grandmother and grandmother while my parents worked. Both were avid gardeners with very large gardens and most of my days were spent playing in dirt. When I was fourteen, my dad decided I needed some sort of job to keep me occupied during the summer. He fired up the tractor and began plowing up the large field across the creek and told me I would grow tomatoes. That didn’t sound too hard until he brought home two thousand tomato plants! He was right, though, it did keep me occupied but, in all honesty, I enjoyed it. Thankfully, our entire family helped each summer and by the time I was sixteen, I had saved enough money to buy my very own truck. In high school, I was in FFA (Future Farmers of America) and spent an absurd amount of time in the school greenhouse. I loved the warmth of the greenhouse in the winter and the smell of potting soil in the spring. My plan was to go to college and get a degree in horticulture but, unfortunately, my parents were unable to afford this plan.
Instead, I completed a dental assisting program and began working for a local dentist. At the age of nineteen, I married and we began our family. As the years went by, I decided to advance my career and pursue a degree in dental hygiene. Four years and many miles later, (I commuted to Joplin, Missouri daily) I graduated at the top of my class. Literally minutes before our graduation ceremony, we were told we had passed our stressful (and ridiculously long) National Board Exams. This good news, coupled with the fact that I was finally done with school, was such a relief I cried through the entire ceremony. My youngest son, who had just recently graduated from kindergarten, looked at me and said, “Mama, why are you sad? Don’t you get cupcakes for graduation?” Which made me cry even more because no, we didn’t get cupcakes!
In the mid 1990’s, we bought ninety acres in Hindsville and built our home. I remember it being quite an adjustment. We had been so used to being minutes from baseball fields, restaurants, and shopping, we had a bit of a culture shock when we found out our local Wal-Mart closed at 7pm (6pm in the winter!) and, I kid you not, the bank was open from 10:00-2:00. We had officially arrived in small town Arkansas.
As my boys became more independent, I felt the urge to play in the dirt again. I began constructing flower beds from the native stone on our property and acquiring plants and seeds from my family. I completed the Master Gardener program in 2003 and enjoyed being in the company of like-minded (aka obsessed) gardeners. I realized that gardening help me work through stresses of being a working mom of very active teenage boys. On my knees in the garden, with my hands in the soil, I felt a calming, peaceful bond with nature that completed me. Thank goodness it had never left, I guess it was just been resting. When it woke though, it hit the ground running. One small flower bed turned into eight large ones plus a vegetable garden. A small greenhouse was built which gave me a place to play during the colder months. I grasped the concept of my grandmothers that saving seeds would save me an immense amount of money on plants so I became fanatic about that, too. We had always had cattle, but I decided to add chickens for eggs and chickens for meat. I designed my chicken coop to have a ‘living roof’ and have covered it with variety of drought tolerant succulents. Bees were next for pollination, honey and, most recently, learning to make mead (also called Honey Wine.) I am completely out of control and loving every minute of it.
Before we knew it, we were empty nesters. We decided to buy a motorcycle and began exploring Arkansas every chance we could. We have been all over the United States and especially love to travel out west. We always make a point to take the road less travelled and have discovered the most interesting towns and people. I’m not sure why but everywhere we go, people seem to migrate towards our motorcycle. We have found that locals love to tell you about their town, an attraction, or activity that we might like. If time allows, we always explore and are rarely disappointed. It has been so fun and I’m glad I had the foresight to take a journal and camera with me and jot down our discoveries and adventures along the way. It was then I decided I should start a blog/journal about our travels and my love of gardening. So, in 2012, I did just that and have enjoyed sharing my farm and garden life sprinkled with road trips with anyone who will listen.
People always comment on how much work I do around my farm but, if you love working at your passion, you don’t realize it’s work. So cliche’, but once you realize it, it’s like an epiphany smacking you in the face. If nothing else, my life experiences have taught me one thing. I don’t want to waste a minute of the precious time I have here on earth not doing what I truly enjoy doing. So, hopefully soon, after thirty-six great years in the dental profession, I can follow my heart, hang up my scrubs, and pursue this passion of playing in the dirt that sprouted so many years ago.
Thanks for allowing me this wonderful opportunity to introduce myself. I hope you will visit my blog at www.theblondegardener.com.
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