Grandpa’s Orchard

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Grandpa’s Orchard: Based on a True Story of an Oregon Family Farm –June 21, 2016

by Darcy Thomas Kirk (Author)

Hardcover $20.00   –     Paperback $14.00  (Amazon.com)

Every year on the hazelnut farm, magic happens. It’s a place where stories, music, good food, family, and friends come together year round–but as summer comes to an end, things begin to change. On this working farm, the boys watch Dad and Grandpa do the tasks that need to be done as they head to the arbor to play, climb trees, and dream up new adventures.

The totes are stacked high on the farm, and the tractor and harvester are ready for Mother Nature’s sign. Even the young boys know that great care must be taken to keep the orchard floor clean and prepared for when the nights become cooler and the nuts begin to fall. Suddenly, harvest time begins and so too the flurry of activity on the farm!

Grandpa and Dad are hardworking farmers who have learned how to care for the land. They pass on respect of the hazelnut farm, the place they call home, to the next generation as youngsters watch and grow like the trees on their family farm. Someday, these little boys will be the adults, and then, it will be their turn to work hard and care for the Earth’s many treasures.

“A fun portrayal of a multi-generational farming family and farm life told from a youngster’s perspective. Grandpa’s passion for farming and desire to pass on the tradition is genuine and heartfelt.”

–TJ Hafner, third-generation family farmer, agronomist

 

Pay Attention

2012-02-09manual-typewriter-0209stockHow do we talk about the the things we need to say without breaking down?  So, many think tears directly relate to weakness or being broken.  Sometimes this is true but for me I can try to hold them back but everyone who is close to me knows that my eyes well up when I am happy when I am laughing, and also through the difficult heartbreaking shit too.  Sometimes I cry out of joy, and other times to put it simply – I have an extremely tender heart and I usually underestimate my strength. Letting the tears fall is a release for me – some have told me they can’t talk to me because they don’t want to see me cry.  If we are going to split hairs about it – I will suck it up and not cry but also stop yelling at me and talking down to me in ultimatums.

I have trained myself to deal with many things by hiding and digging deeper to bury the things that have become patterns in my life.  I have spoken up but it is always when I have reached my explosive point.  I carry on and keep moving forward but at the cost to myself and who I am. I can fundamentally disagree with some and just sit there and listen to them but in the last five to six months I have started to voice my opinion – not to disagree or cause an argument but to get into the habit of speaking up for myself.

There are two sides to everything, every relationship, and every choice we make.  We need to be conscious of this and the people around us, we need to build each other up instead of tearing them down.  Give back when you can and live on a little less that day.  Don’t buy that cup of coffee for yourself but give it expecting nothing in return from the shivering person sitting against the building outside covered in a trash bag trying to stay dry.

I used to write with a pen and any piece of paper I could get my hands on, I have notebooks full of words, love letters, poetry, and stories.  Now, I stare at a screen when I write – the passion I had for my pen and paper fades because typing seems so easy and more efficient.  As a child I remember my grandfather typing on a typewriter – pushing back and forth as he would reach one side of the paper or the other, the ding when he hit the return key, and when he would manually feed a new sheet of paper in the machine – and the hunting and pecking of his typing skills.  I hardly ever hear that sound any more but when I do it brings tears to my eyes – it brings back a heartfelt memory back and a reminder that life used to be very different.

 

 

 

 

We All Have Scars

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I have scars that remind me of old stories.  Some happened so long again I can barely remember; I know if I asked my parents about them, they would surely know some of the answers of were my external scars came from.

I have two scars on my right hand from trying to do hand stands when my friend and I challenged each other to how many we could do each and when we collapsed to the ground, she scratched me.

Another scar, on the inside of my right knee where the corner of the screen door ripped through my skin after my father had repeatedly told me that was going to happen if I didn’t move from where I was sitting.  I didn’t move and I now have a six-inch scar on the inside of my knee.

I have a scar just under my belly button about 10 inches long from a C-section running from left to right and just beneath this scar…there is a scar I can’t see which runs up and down about 10 inches due to my C-section being an emergency.

I am sure if we all thought about our scars we could list them.  I have created scars on my body…self expression…designs and patterns that I want to be remembered.  They are all apart of my body now and on my skin for all to see.  I chose each of them for a very specific reason and they will forever be on me.  Would I do this again…yes.  Am I currently planning too, yes.

Scars are easy to spot or see on most of our bodies somewhere. There is an entirely different type of scar that may scar us so deeply they we see the world different because of these scars.  These scars strip us down to core, make us define our ourselves and create an entirely new way of looking at the world.

These deep scars flip our lives from the inside out. They break our hearts, tear us apart, and make us wonder if we will ever survive.  These scars, I believe are more than one sided…there is a cause and effect to everything and there are always two different ways to look at everything.  I believe that these scars require conscious decisions…backed by some type of faith.

I have made a handful of these types of scars inside of myself and because I have made them, they in turn have effected others around me…and scarred them as well. We cannot change any of our scars but we all can make the conscious decision as to how they will affect the rest of our lives and how we look at them in our current lives.  We can change how we react to them in the here and now. If they happened years ago, we can still learn from them. We can allow ourselves to keep them close but at bay as long as we keep moving forward.

Do not dwell on things of the past, we will never get those moments back and who wants to move forward constantly looking over their shoulders?

 

Children!?!?!

My son was sick this weekend.  He didn’t have the flu but he had stabbing pains in his stomach and I couldn’t do anything about it.  Even though my instincts told me told me that we just needed to wait it out, I couldn’t bare to watch him double over in pain.  Austin wouldn’t eat, drink, and was lethargic. If you know my son, this is not him.  He goes 100 miles an hour and that brain of his is always thinking of the next project, the next thing he can take a part and in his mind he always two steps ahead of where he currently stands.

I watched him like a hawk, a mother bear, or whatever you choose to relate this feeling too.  Call me a mom who hovers but everything in me wanted to switch places with him.  I sat next to him on the floor for hours, rubbed his head, and although he was laying on the couch fast asleep and I was on the floor and I feel asleep sitting up…our heads touching on the same pillow.

There is something about being a mother that bonds us to certain other mothers, puts us in this world or category that no one else can relate too accept other mothers.  There is also something instinctive in our children that when they need something they go to their mother’s first. (Now, I am not saying children don’t go to their fathers because I still go to mine but there is something to mothers and their children and there is also something special between fathers and their children too.) I will put it out there and say that generally speaking: homework, discipline, food, clean clothes, hugs, whining, comfort, and getting my children to and from activities, and having sleepovers-are all activities I take part in actively in my home.

As my boys have gotten older and although I still do all the things above, they have shifted a lot of their focus to Dad.  We live on a farm with endless amounts of new things to try.  Both boys love this.  Although they may not realize it now but as they get older they will realize that they were so blessed to grow up here.  There isn’t any place they can’t go for miles around us, they know every trail, every nook in the trees, where the water is, and on four-wheelers everything is just better.

I watch my children discover new things in front of me.  I see that twinkle in their eyes…and each new discovery somehow thrusts them into their next idea. Children are amazing little beings that if you nurture them, they will turn into brilliant adults!

For me, being a mother is the most important job in my life, there are things in my life I struggle with but those are easier to ignore when it comes to building up and nurturing my children.

Have you ever loved something so much it hurts??

 

Footnote: (Austin is healthy again and he decided it was gas and he needed to go #2)

 

Grandpa’s Orchard

For as long as I can remember I believed myself to be a writer.  It was, has been, and is what I am most passionate about.  I believe the power of one’s voice and think that everyone is capable of writing something great.  Everyone has a unique story to share with the world or simply a story to share with one other person.  However, there are very few people who would sit down and spill their guts out on to a piece of paper and feel like it is worth something.  I feel that everyone’s story holds merit and value even if its just for them; to hold on to.

When I was younger and people used to ask me what I wanted to be I would always answer a writer or an author.  I can’t think of a time that I ever answered anything else. Today, I can say I am a published author but I could also say that years ago when I published a poem about my Grandfather and in the last 12 years a magazine article about “my husband and being a dad”.  There were times since high school that I grew a part from my pen and notebook but I have always found my way back to what I am most passionate about.

I left my job of seven years last November and while focusing all my energy on my children and their education, I did start to get a few moments to myself and I found my pen and paper again.  I found my voice.  I also found my first Apple computer which I love dearly.  It holds all of my words, my secrets, my contradictions, my dreams.

I started writing everyday for hours at a time.  I changed my surroundings often and frequently changed perspectives in nature to gain a different focal point. There was a lot of journaling and free writing in the beginning, hours of sitting in my nook with the tiny fireplace I got for Christmas. It created a wonderful ambiance in my nook.  Everything that was and is me is inside this small space.

I would say that I frequently suffer from insomnia which if I get up and walk around, drink a glass of milk, or write a bit; I can generally get myself back to sleep within an hour or two.  However, this does not work all the time.

Since, I had started writing regularly my insomnia grew more frequent and I could not get back to sleep so waking up at midnight meant I would be up until morning and it was getting very annoying. This became a new standard in my life which I didn’t like because if you know me, you would know I need my sleep.

On a Monday night in January, I woke up and remembered my dream I had just had about my family on the farm.  I laid in bed for an hour tossing and turning and I ran through my dream over and over in my mind.  After about an hour, I got up turned the lights on low, I tore some sheets of paper out of a journal I kept and started writing.  I couldn’t get the words out fast enough.  I wrote sentence after sentence and could not slow down.  It was as if the words were spraying out the end of my pen like spray paint.  I can say it wasn’t my best writing or the neatest but it was the story of Grandpa’s Orchard. Yes, I did some editing and typed it all into a my computer the next day but it was my dream in its entirety. After four hours of writing, my hand ached and I became very tired, I feel asleep on the couch and when I woke in a few hours, I knew this was the story I was going to publish! Grandpa’s Orchard all started in a dream.

 

Don’t Hold Back, Give Back

 

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Sometimes it takes a new perspective to slap you across the face and wake you up.  I don’t mean…a strong cup of coffee-type wake up, I mean…running into a brick wall at full speed ahead-wake up.

The same things happen day in and day out, there are seasons in everyone’s lives whether they are farmers, teachers, real estate agents, the list could go on and on.  Everyone has a busy time and every one has a slower time.  I can appreciate everyone’s busy and slow times-its about what you choose to do in those extra minutes that makes up the surprises in your life.  The sparks, the twinkle you see in someone’s eye, the way someone smiles, or doing something for someone else expecting nothing in return.

Pay attention, people!  We are surrounded every week by hundreds of people if you take the time to pay attention to others.  Yesterday I was in the grocery store and I notice an older woman in a wheelchair putting back groceries as she added her items up with her coupons.  I could see she was trying to figure out what she “wanted” and what she “needed”. My heart ached for her, I wanted to say something but I didn’t.  I didn’t want her to feel embarrassed or offended by my reaching out to her.  Or was it that I was projecting those feelings of mine onto her.  My observation was she was was struggling.

As I continued to fill my cart with things that I needed and things that were not a necessity, I continued up and down the aisles, I passed the woman two more times. As I walked up and down the fourth aisle, I realized there was absolutely nothing in my cart that I or my family had to have in that exact moment.  Maybe, the milk, the eggs but I knew none of those things were something that my family needed to survive for the next few days.

Selfishly, I walked to the checkout and started unloading my cart as I stood there waiting for my total, I saw the woman waiting three people behind me in line.  Something in my gut told me to do something, it was instinctive.  The guilt I was feeling walking around the store slapped me in the face. I decided, there is nothing I can do to change her life but I can at least help her pay for her groceries.  I bought a gift card and asked the employee helping me to please give it to the women waiting in the line.  The employee smiled and thanked me.

I left the store feeling pretty good, feeling blessed that I am able to provide for my family, and that we all can probably live on a lot less than we do.  I am challenging myself to do something like this every week for someone…it doesn’t have to involve money…sometimes it’s as simple as picking up the phone and reaching out to someone you know is struggling, or stopping and smiling at someone.

Take time, pay attention, be present in the moments we have, and if you’re drowning where you are, if you are losing parts of the person you thought you were…find a way to climb out of that hole…swim like hell to find something that will keep you afloat, we are the ones who hold our own selves back. Its all on us!

Be courageous! Be strong!  We all have this one life!

 

 

Children and Reading

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“Children should learn that reading is pleasure, not just something that teachers make you do in school.”

-Beverly Clearly

How I Found Oregon Agriculture

 

I grew up in a small town and the town had the long standing support of a few very prominent families who worked in forestry.  Many friends of mine had direct connections to forestry through family members. My parents were teachers and although we were raised in the country, we had no direct connection to agriculture.  We had extended family that farmed but the most significant connection we had was a distant relative was the secretary of agriculture under FDR while he was president. I have been researching this since my dad told me and I find it very interesting.  I would love to go back to that time and sit with him and ask him questions!

I was not raised in a farm family.  I grew up in a family of educators.  My father was a music teacher and although he is retired now he still shares this gift with all of those around him.  My mom had a birthday recently and he wrote her a song!!  Yes, a song!!  Who of us out there wouldn’t want their spouses to write them a song but maybe some of us giggle at this idea because we know our spouses would be awful at it…and the idea of them singing would make our ears bleed!!  But not for my dad and mom…what a beautiful moment!

My mom has loved working in education for many years, she has dealt with so much; her job has pulled her from one building to the next in Lebanon. Her job slightly changing from building to building and she is a fire cracker when the “system” isn’t working as it should.

Over the years, I have realized my parents are passionate about the children they serve, want the best for children, and somehow manage to check everything at the door when they walk into a room with all those faces looking up at them.  My parents are the definition of amazing educators.

I was asked last week why I think living on a farm is so great??  I walked away from that thinking, how am I supposed to answer such a loaded question.  There are days I love it, like it, relish in the moments I have here but I will be honestly say some days I want to escape for a few days. Do something different- head to the city or to the mountains but it doesn’t last long until I want the beauty back of the farm and the arbor of the trees cascading out my front window.

I never had spent time at farm until I moved to the hazelnut farm 11 years ago.  I had a hard time adjusting at first, it felt so isolated and lonely.  Now, I find comfort in the quiet and being able to leave my windows open all the time, and blast music and no one can hear it fore miles. The sunsets are amazing!

Over the many years, I can’t imagine any one who wouldn’t want to live on a farm.  Now the isolation is comforting, I can take a deep breath any time I want, walk anywhere I want, who wouldn’t want private access to a few different rivers, endless miles of running and walking, yes, there are always chores to be done. However, living here, family is always close, my children have endless amounts of things to do and acres to do it on, and enough shops to build anything their hearts desire.  Last week, my son built an air conditioner and resurrected a 25-year-old weed Wacker by rebuilding the carburetor…. you can ask me how; and all I can tell you is that he was in the shop for 7 hours, he walked out filthy, with the biggest smile on his face and he now has a working air conditioner and his very own working Weed-Wacker!!

The land we live on is important to our quality of life and to others.  If some fields near our fields are diseased it can travel through the wind and effect our crop.  Farming is about timing, being patient and being stewards of the land and always helping out the farm families around us.  I have learned after all these years I now can drive down any road and recognize on any hazelnut orchard which are disease and which aren’t.  I can see who takes better care of the land and crop better than others.

I often find myself rambling answers about our farm, the crop, and acres we have to anyone who asks.  Sometimes, I hear myself talking I have to smile because I in no way thought I would be this passionate and have the knowledge I do about farming and agriculture.  My sister often tells me I know all these random facts about agriculture ad farming…she often asks me; how do you know that??  I shrug and continue to answer her questions.

About a year ago I resigned from the best job I have ever had, I learned, students I taught learned, and the people I worked with were amazing.  Most of them grew up on farms.  I will always be grateful to Oregon Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation and their board of directors and staff.  I was taught so much and was able to share it in a way that was so much a part of me and the way I was raised.  I love teaching and seeing children have that “ahh, ha” moment!! I miss teaching Oregon students about agriculture in their communities and our state! It is detrimental for our students in Oregon to learn about the value of agriculture, what it means to take care of the land, and why students need to know where their food comes from.

When we look back at the decisions we have made in the past, it always seems that people claim their vision is 20/20 now, this isn’t always so for me. Working at Oregon AITC was more than a job.  It became my passion, my expertise, it gave me the access to teach students all over Oregon. Every day was inspiring in a classroom because I was inspiring students. I cannot put into words what it felt like when students had the “wow” and “ahh, ha” moments when I was teaching about agriculture.  If I had the opportunity to be involved with teaching students about Oregon Agriculture in the way I did for seven years, I would jump at the chance.