Dabbling in Stewardship

Dabbling in Stewardship

Dabbling in stewardship Whole-fed homestead

Living intentionally, appreciating the things around us, practicing good stewardship of the land, leaving the earth in a better place than we found it… all big words and lofty, lofty goals they are.

I know I’ve always held an appreciation for the land- I grew up gardening with my parents, splashing in mud puddles, and climbing trees. But it seems the more time we spend on our homestead and the older I get, the deeper my appreciation grows.

Springtime seems to bring these feelings to the surface every year. It’s probably the sheer volume of life around us- things going from cold, brown, and drab to full of movement and color in a matter of a month. The long winter feels like it will never end, but sure enough it always does. I try not to take that for granted! The robins return, the peonies emerge right where I know they’ll be, and the crabapples and lilacs fill the yard… and my heart with their greatness. This is our fourth spring on the homestead, and I have now come to expect all these things. And they haven’t disappointed me yet!

Our goal has always been to take this space we have and make a life here. To shape it into whatever we can dream up and fill it with beauty and diversity. To care for it and let it care for us for decades to come. The place was overgrown when we got it, but piece by piece we are reclaiming it and adding quality and value, while trying to maintain what was left here for us by the folks who also called this property home for 100+ years before we did.

And I love that we are still discovering new things here!

There is a funny looking bush near the chicken coop and I never knew what it was… we talked about cutting it down a couple times because it’s kind of in the way, but we never did. Well a couple weeks ago it put out one single solitary vibrant yellow bloom, as if to wave its arms in the air to tell me it was a Forsythia! I was delighted when I saw it!

Flowering crabapple

There’s a huge, gorgeous, deep-pink flowering crab apple tree in our front yard, and every spring the anticipation of it blossoming builds and builds, until the day it finally pops! Over a period of about 4 days all the flowers open and fill the front yard with the unmistakable smell of spring. And the bees love it too! When in full bloom the tree is so a-buzz with bees that it looks like it is vibrating! It’s one of my favorite things on the homestead.

One of the things we noticed when first looking at this property was the incredibly long hedge of 15-foot tall lilacs waiting to greet you as you drive up to the driveway. Our neighbor has told us that these lilacs have been here since at least the 70s. Absolutely breathtaking when in bloom! And in spring when we have all the windows open and the wind kicks up, it blows the scent of lilacs through the entire house. I have five, count ’em five vases of lilacs in the house right now as I type this!

Lilacs in antique mason jar

I remember the first spring on our homestead, we found a large tree in the yard that neither of us recognized. I posted it to a plant identification forum and immediately got many responses back that it was a mulberry tree. A what?! We had our very own mulberry tree!! I remember feeling like I hit the jackpot in that moment. This was the stuff my dreams were made of. And sure enough, that summer we tasted our first-ever mulberries.

And the peonies! We inherited several gorgeous, large peonies that the previous owner of our homestead said were a treasured heirloom variety from the area that were here when they moved in 20 years ago.

Wild asparagus patch

And the asparagus patch we found! Like hidden treasure.

None of these thing are rare or even unique, but I appreciate them greatly. They all feel like a gift, left to me by someone whom I’ve never met, who never knew I would even exist. And here I am today, soaking it all up.

Did the people who came before us deeply inhale the scent of apple blossoms when they walked out the front door? Did the lady of the house cut lilacs for the kitchen table? Did the kids who grew up here ever get to pick the mulberries before the birds got them all?

I wonder all the time if the people who planted these things knew that someone else would be enjoying them someday.

Every time we add something beautiful or useful to the homestead landscape, I can’t help but wonder if the people that will be here someday when we’re long gone, will appreciate the gifts we’ve left for them. Will they enjoy the apple varieties we’ve chosen, will they bake cakes and top salads with the butternuts we’ve planted, will they treasure the perennial herbs I’ve stashed all around the homestead?

I sure hope they will.

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