April is the cruellest month... I can never remember if it was Shakespeare who penned this bitterly accurate observation, or one of those romantic English poets (during a not-so-romantic day, apparently). If I was not a Luddite and thus iphone-less, I suppose I could look up the answer and be instantly gratified, as well as have the correct attribution. But there it is: those of you familiar with me from my blog of the past, http://newfarmancientjoy.blogspot.com, will know that I still dial my calls from a rotary phone, use a flip version whenever I absolutely HAVE to, check my email at least once a week, and was already carping about Facebook's evils back when the term "social media" was coined. You might say I am antisocial when it comes to my media. Or, as the younger daughter observes, "Mom, if you had a T-shirt, it would say 'I said it before it was right.'"
...But I digress...
April this year has been cut from a harsher cloth than even that poetic and un-Googled Brit proclaimed it. Here in Western Massachusetts, we are in a zone 5, with daffodils only just budding and crocuses tolerating their fourth snow since the vernal equinox. There are plants started in the hoop house and downstairs on top of the furnace, but so far only one or two days have reached above 50 degrees, leaving more than too many days to get the less desirable tasks on my desk out of the way: things like consolidating my blogging and website presence into one unified space.
My former blog traced the first year of First-Flower's development. Looking back, it already seems it must have been more than just two springs ago that I first began tearing up sod to create those initial planting spaces, turning our backyard homestead into a market garden.
Anyone who isn't my parents but who followed me there (there are a few of you) knows the cast of characters here at First-Flower Farm: the Patient Spouse, Boss Lady (of the T-shirt invention aforementioned), her Elder Sister (Who is Grown Up and Busier than a Trojan Beaver) and the Farm Dog. You also know my penchant for writing, which perhaps works against me in that it makes me a poor candidate for most brief social media formats, but probably also keeps me from writing, since I expect whatever I post to be well-developed. Nobody has time for cogency and frequency both, during a growing season on a one-woman farm. So after this first wordy introduction, I plan to make my subsequent postings both brief and frequent.
Eleanor Roosevelt managed to write a daily column for years, despite her very active role in politics and home life. My cousin Fran Ransley turned years of struggle with lucky livestock, governmental red tape, amazing parenting and bare-bones living into a beautiful account, This House Protected by Poverty. My mother's friend Gloria Bake churns out an annual farm log that reads like the cliff notes version of James Herriot. Together, these three women will serve as my inspiration as I try to share with you, at least minimally, some of the details, both social and antisocial, of First-Flower life in this cruellest of months and the kinder ones to follow.
Bloom Where You are Planted.
I've been farming since I was a toddler, when my grandparents showed me how to put onion sets point-up in the sandy furrows of our Michigan homestead. It's taken thirty-odd years of horticultural jobs—from potting up lilies by the thousands to managing a 150-member CSA at Hancock Shaker Village—for me to embark on cultivating a farm of my own. Hence, the title.