Home Again: Making Room to Grow

[imgbelt img=arugula_pizza.jpg]A farm, a family, a job, a child to raise — there are a lot of balls to juggle. But at the end, on a good night, there’s a job finished, a happy child and a homemade pizza.


[imgcontainer left] [img:willagarden.jpg] [source]Courtney Lowery Cowgill

I don’t get to the farm as much as I once did. But when I get there to help, I bring my own helper, Willa.

Sometimes, as hard as it is, in order to allow one thing to grow, you have to rip something else up by the roots.

These days, I feel like a mere visitor on the farm. I couldn’t tell you where the cucumbers are. I don’t know which row is parsnips and which is turnips. Where do we keep the watering cans? Beats me.

It’s something I’ve always struggled with — feeling like the farm is actually mine — but it’s even more intense this year as I step back a little more from the farm to focus on my work, keep the home fires bright and raise a tiny human. 

The truth is, this whole farm thing was Jacob’s idea. I supported and, let’s say, midwifed the idea of starting a farm. But, it wasn’t my idea. And, I certainly wouldn’t be farming if it weren’t for Jacob.

At the start, friends would ask me what it was like, “living Jacob’s dream?”

It was a joke. But, a little bit true, too, particularly back then.

And, oh, how that terrified me. I was afraid I would resent him. I was afraid the farm would come between us. I was afraid I’d followed him out to the middle of nowhere to do something I wasn’t really sure of. 

But, pretty quickly, the farm became just as much my dream as his.

I never would have put myself here, doing this, but as it turns out, it’s what I’m meant to be doing. And nothing has made that clearer than these last two seasons — when I haven’t been doing it.

Take for instance, our current crop selection. Our first two years, we noticed that some crops were mine and some were Jacob’s. I have a knack for specialty greens and herbs and Jacob has a knack for, well, just about everything else, but grains and tomatoes in particular. 

Basil in particular became somewhat of a symbolic crop for me.

Since I’ve stepped away from the farm a little, though, the herbs and I have lost touch. And without me, they’ve pretty much disappeared from our little farm, with the exception of the basil. 

The recipe is here.

Once I’d finished, planting that last basil seedling, I got back in the car, as quickly as I could, and spent the next few hours playing in the backyard with my daughter and Mom, feeling so very lucky to have them and for them to have each other. 

I reminded myself how blessed I am to have the opportunity to at least attempt to make room for all the important things in my life — a career, a family and a farm. 

The next night, I washed up that arugula and piled it on top of a pizza — all the while thinking about how great late July’s pizza will be — when I can finally pick those shiny green basil leaves and pile them on top.

Courtney Lowery Cowgill is a writer, editor and farmer. She and her husband run Prairie Heritage Farm, a small farm in Central Montana where they raise vegetables, turkeys and ancient and heritage grains. Her monthly column, Home Again, is about her journey home to rural central Montana, where she is starting over, starting a family and starting a farm. You can follow her on her blog too.