CHANGES, CHALLENGES, COURAGE

As I reflect back on this year, three words come to mind – CHANGES, CHALLENGES, AND COURAGE. 

The changes in my life this year have been unbearable at times.  The loss of Murray, the love of my life, my soulmate, my rock has turned my life upside down.  I asked myself how can I continue on?  What do I need to do next?  How can I go at this alone?

The challenges were many.  Do I keep the farm?  If so, do I continue to grow flowers?  Will I be able to handle working full-time AND raising flowers and pumpkins?  Do I continue to cash rent the rest of the land?  Will I be successful at any of this without Murray? 

I felt like a line from Against the Wind by Bob Seger  – “…deadlines and commitments, what to leave in, what to leave out.  Against the wind, I’m still running against the wind.  I’m older now but still running against the wind.”  The wind that I was facing felt very fierce at times.

I have lived on a farm since I was 5 years old.  But Murray was the farmer.  And he was so very good at it.  He was also very good at documenting and keeping records.  Without me even realizing it, he gave me the instructions and guidance that I needed to carry on.  He also gave me two wonderful sons who have stepped up to fill the big shoes left by the death of their dad. 

And so we planted flowers, and pumpkins, and squash.  The flowers did beautifully and the squash were quite plentiful.  The pumpkins on the other hand, not so good!  We are still learning!!!  Thanks to so many people – my cousin Jim who tilled the field, Kevin for farming the rest of the acreage, Jill and Vern for doing whatever I needed and all the neighbors who have been keeping an eye on me to make sure I am ok. 

Thank you to all my wonderful customers and friends!!  I sold out of flowers almost every day.  Your kind notes, hugs, and prayers helped me navigate through such a hard time.  I am eternally grateful to all of you.

And I discovered that when I was in the midst of the flower field, I felt an amazing sense of calm and healing.  A sense of reassurance and encouragement that this is where I need to be and this is what I need to be doing – raising flowers. 

I have always been the kind of person who likes to do things myself.  I am sure my family will agree that I am very independent and perhaps a bit stubborn!!!!!  So as I started planning for next year, I decided that we needed to be able to do more things ourselves, like tilling the gardens, seeding down areas, and clearing brush.  And we needed to expand and grow more!!  We needed a utility tractor.  After searching the internet for a good used tractor, I decided the best way to go would be to purchase a new one.  And so I mustered up my courage and contacted Prairie State Tractors in Lacon, IL.  I was so fortunate to speak with Blake, who so kindly and patiently worked with me to get me exactly what I needed.  This was delivered on October 8!!!!

The boys and I have big plans for next year.  We will be moving the pumpkins to north of the house and using the entire field in front of the house for flowers.  There will be grassy walkways to help control the weeds, make harvesting easier, and make a beautiful flower field.  I also want to do lots of landscaping with several flower beds around the farm. 

With Thanksgiving next week, I am thankful for so many things.  God has certainly blessed me in so many ways.  I am so thankful for the 43+ years I had with Murray and for the life that we built together.  I am so thankful for this farm that I will continue to steward in his memory.  I am thankful for Corey, Ryan, Audrey, Allison, Lainey, Ella, Nora, and Henry, the absolute best sons, daughters-in-law and grandkids that anyone could ask for.  And I am so thankful for my sisters, Pam, Carla, Kathi, and Angie.  I could not have made it through this year without them.

I miss Murray terribly.  But I am looking forward to next year and bringing the farm to life in his memory and honor.

Wishing each of you a very happy Thanksgiving!

Until next time,

Pat

Life’s Difficult Changes

For the first time in 43 years, I am facing life alone.  My dear, sweet, love of my life, Murray, died from Covid on January 7.  I am still having a hard time believing that he is physically gone from my life.  His chair sits empty; my heart is breaking.  But life moves on and I will carry on.

I am extremely fortunate and blessed in so many ways.  The outpouring of overwhelming love and support from family and friends has helped sustain me during this incredibly difficult time and has helped me to move forward. 

With lots of help and support, I will continue to plant flowers and pumpkins.  Murray would have wanted me to do so.  The seeds have been purchased and plans are in the works.  This past Sunday afternoon I worked outside for three hours tilling the first flowerbed to be planted and will start planting as soon as the weather gets a bit warmer.  Right now it is snowing!!!!

I am looking forward to bringing the flower cart out, filling it with beautiful bouquets of flowers, and maybe being outside to say hi when you stop by.

Until next time,

Pat

THE MAGIC AND WONDER OF NATURE

In March I wondered if I should plant flowers.  And if I did, would people want them?  I wondered how things would continue in a manner that we were accustomed to.

I decided to plant the flowers.  I planted sunflowers.  I planted zinnias.  I planted cosmos.  I planted marigolds.  And they grew like they have never done before.Read More »

A BIG THANK YOU!!!!

This post is long, long, long overdue.  This has been quite a year.  A terribly wet spring.  One patch of flowers was planted in mid-May.  More rains came.  And we waited and waited and waited.  The first patch of flowers was replanted in mid-June.  More rains came.  And we waited and waited and waited.  By the second week in July, everything was in the ground.  Then oppressive heat arrived with no rain.  Break out the sprinklers and the water tank.

In spite of all the crazy weather challenges, the flowers came and were beautiful!!

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Lainey’s School Project

When my granddaughter Lainey was at my house about a month ago, she and I were discussing school.  She is a freshman in high school.  Wait!!!  How did that happen?  She was telling me about a group project that involved developing a small business.  Her suggestion to her group was a flower business.  That made me swell with pride!!!  And the best part was that her group liked the idea.  They chose “Marigold Memories” as the name for their small business.  Lainey’s job was to create a marketing handout for a mock job fair.

Since we are in the midst of a record cold winter here in the Midwest, farm fresh flowers are not an option.  And I refuse to buy shipped in flowers from the local grocery store.  So we decided to make flowers.

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HAPPY NEW YEAR – HAPPY NEW KNEE!!

Happy New Year, everyone!  I realize the New Year is about seven weeks old, but I am just getting back into the swing of things since my knee replacement in mid-December.  This is my second knee replacement.  My left knee was replaced twelve years ago.  I vowed that I would not wait so long to have my right knee replaced.  But I did.  Too many things kept coming up and my procrastination was in full force.  And, ironically, when the time came, it almost didn’t happen.Read More »

The Last Beautiful Bouquet

I was hoping that freezing temperatures would hold off until November 1.  I don’t know why, but to me it makes more sense to end the growing season on November 1 instead of mid-October.  But such is life and seasons in the mid-west.  And with frost last week and a freeze warning for tonight, it is time to say good-bye and thank you to the beautiful flowers.

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CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

What an incredibly busy summer this has been!!  Ella and I finally made some time last weekend to do some baking.  And we came up with some very delicious chocolate cupcakes.  Since we both love cupcakes, we have decided that we are going to focus on making all sorts of delicious varieties of cupcakes.  And what better way to start than with chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting.

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