Grandpa’s Orchard

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Desperado Boutique in Bend, OR., The Find, Monmouth, OR.

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

 

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.

 

Grandpa’s Orchard: What I’ve learned about family and farming

 

 

hazelnut-harvest-collage

There are days on the farm that our home feels like it has a swinging door.  We run in and out for lunch, to run parts for equipment on the farm, or business supplies. All the while, our twins who are 12 keep the door swinging whether its for play or working on the farm.

Day in and day out each one of us contributes to the needs of our farm.  My husband spends countless hours under the arbors of our hazelnut orchard or in the shop, the children are just starting to show interest about the farm and they want to be involved.  My sons pick up sticks on the orchard floor, drive the tractors, spot spray on four-wheelers and in the next hour I am running kids off to football practice.  They keep busy but they are learning that as a family, we are one unit and we have to learn to work hard together to keep the farm running, no matter what season we are in.

Our hazelnut farm needs continuous care depending on what season we are in but it takes a family to get through it all. My husband works along side his dad.  My mother-in-law and my self do the bookkeeping for our farm.  Believe it or not to run this farm we have about four different sets of bookkeeping.

I have struggle with this since we moved to the farm 12 years ago. I am not an accountant, bookkeeper, record-keeper, or someone who is good with numbers.  However, I have learned to adapt and find resources that will help me. My mother-in-law was a great help in the beginning but as our bookkeeping got more complicated I learned I needed even more help.  I took a few bookkeeping classes and spent a lot of time and money with our accountant.  I will continue to lean on this system for me because it works.  Why mess with a good thing when it’s working?

During harvest, about September through November life gets turned upside down.  I will be honest and say it is a struggle for myself and our children.  My husband works an easy 16-18 hours a day and if I don’t make him lunch and dinner, he wouldn’t eat.  He gets so focused on working that he won’t stop to eat.  He has an office that I stock up with food, snacks, and meals when I bring them to him. However, every year he easily drops about 15 pounds from the stress.

Harvest time is hard on our children.  They miss Dad so much. It is hard for some people to understand that dad is around for about eight months and the rest of the year they don’t really see him except for when they walk to the bus every morning.  For a few brief seconds, they get to see his smiling face and give him a big hug.  Sometimes he leaves them post-it notes on the mirror in the bathroom to surprise them just to let them know he is thinking of them.

For me, this time of year gets very lonely.  Some days I feel depressed and down.  But I know I need to keep my chin up because I don’t want my kids to see me struggle.  Everything this time of year in on my shoulders when it comes to running the house, paying the bills for the farm, and running the kids too and fro for all their school and social plans.  It gets to be overwhelming sometimes but I remind myself that this is not year-around and it is short lived. My personal life falls away during harvest time; I should learn to lean on it a little more but it is hard to juggle everything.

I have learned so much about myself, my family, and living on a farm.  I know that we have to keep things moving to making farming possible.  We have learned to adapt during certain times of the year and other times of the year we are able to lean on each as a family of four…and for a few short months it’s just me and my boys taking care of dad while he takes care of our year’s crop.  Through all of this, and the lifestyle we have, I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Why Not Farm??

If Everyone Could Be So Lucky!!  

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 director 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 his gift to 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!!

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 24 hours or so. 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 build an air conditioner and resurrected a 30-year-old weed Wacker by rebuilding the carburetor…. you can ask me how and I 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 it works now!!

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 also.  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 my sister (last week) and as I heard myself talking I started to laugh because I am sure she thought I was crazy.  She 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 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 get involved now.

For the Love of Farming

 

hazelnut-harvest-collage

There are days on the farm that our home feels like it has a swinging door.  We run in and out for lunch, to run parts for equipment on the farm, or business supplies. All the while, our twins who are 12 keep the door swinging whether its for play or working on the farm.

Day in and day out each one of us contributes to the needs of our farm.  My husband spends countless hours under the arbors of our hazelnut orchard or in the shop, the children are just starting to show interest about the farm and they want to be involved.  My sons pick up sticks on the orchard floor, drive the tractors, spot spray on four-wheelers and in the next hour I am running kids off to football practice.  They keep busy but they are learning that as a family, we are one unit and we have to learn to work hard together to keep the farm running, no matter what season we are in.

Our hazelnut farm needs continuous care depending on what season we are in but it takes a family to get through it all. My husband works along side his dad.  My mother-in-law and my self do the bookkeeping for our farm.  Believe it or not to run this farm we have about four different sets of bookkeeping.

I have struggle with this since we moved to the farm 12 years ago. I am not an accountant, bookkeeper, record-keeper, or someone who is good with numbers.  However, I have learned to adapt and find resources that will help me. My mother-in-law was a great help in the beginning but as our bookkeeping got more complicated I learned I needed even more help.  I took a few bookkeeping classes and spent a lot of time and money with our accountant.  I will continue to lean on this system for me because it works.  Why mess with a good thing when it’s working?

During harvest, about September through November life gets turned upside down.  I will be honest and say it is a struggle for myself and our children.  My husband works an easy 16-18 hours a day and if I don’t make him lunch and dinner, he wouldn’t eat.  He gets so focused on working that he won’t stop to eat.  He has an office that I stock up with food, snacks, and meals when I bring them to him. However, every year he easily drops about 15 pounds from the stress.

Harvest time is hard on our children.  They miss Dad so much. It is hard for some people to understand that dad is around for about eight months and the rest of the year they don’t really see him except for when they walk to the bus every morning.  For a few brief seconds, they get to see his smiling face and give him a big hug.  Sometimes he leaves them post-it notes on the mirror in the bathroom to surprise them just to let them know he is thinking of them.

For me, this time of year gets very lonely.  Some days I feel depressed and down.  But I know I need to keep my chin up because I don’t want my kids to see me struggle.  Everything this time of year in on my shoulders when it comes to running the house, paying the bills for the farm, and running the kids too and fro for all their school and social plans.  It gets to be overwhelming sometimes but I remind myself that this is not year-around and it is short lived. My personal life falls away during harvest time; I should learn to lean on it a little more but it is hard to juggle everything.

I have learned so much about myself, my family, and living on a farm.  I know that we have to keep things moving to making farming possible.  We have learned to adapt during certain times of the year and other times of the year we are able to lean on each as a family of four…and for a few short months it’s just me and my boys taking care of dad while he takes care of our year’s crop.  Through all of this, and the lifestyle we have, I wouldn’t change it for anything.

I love book reviews!!

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Just read the book Grandpa’s Orchard. It is a children’s book based on a true story of an Oregon family hazelnut farm! Oh and the author is my friend Darcy Kirk. It is the cutest story and very informational on how hazelnuts are grown! I learned things about hazelnuts that I never knew before! So proud of Darcy for believing in herself enough to dream big and to follow through on her dreams! It is a great book and anxious to give copies to my grandkids! Congratulations Darcy, be proud of yourself and write more books!!

Thank you, Barb!! It means so much that you like the book!  You will always be like a second mom to me!! Thank you for all your support of the many years of my life!!

Work Hard, Play Hard

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I wake each morning in the same ritualistic way, coffee, writing, a load of laundry from the dryer to fold, kitchen needs to be tidy, and all the other repeated tasks to follow suit throughout the day.  I repeat this day in and day out. The same beginning and the same ending.  In the last years, I have been putting some of these tasks in my boys’ hands.

I know these tasks need to be done or the house will fall in shambles but can I find a way to enjoy every day tasks? It’s robotic, it’s a mental list I drudge my way through just to get them done because no one else does. They need to be done.  For some sick reason, it would drive me crazy if I just let them go. Am I the only person who feels this way?  Is it something women, mothers, and wives force ourselves to do?  Lump ourselves in this dated way of thinking that all the “home” things must be done by us because it is our duty as women?  Can I change this way of thinking in my boys as they grow?

Now, I am not attempting to know anything that other women don’t but why can’t my 12-year-old boys rinse and put their dishes in the dishwasher, after all they used them?  Why can’t my sons fold laundry or set the dinner table?  And if I have to clean my room and make my bed, why can’t they do the same in their own rooms? Heaven forbid they ever learn how to push a vacuum around. I am behind this stereotype of what men do and what women should do.  I want my children to be an example and accept to this stereotype.  I believe they will be better for it as adults.

For as much as my children, love the outdoors and would spend every waking minute outside if they could, why can’t they learn to help out inside? Last week my boys and I spread 15 yards of bark dust together with shovels and wheel barrels.  They mowed, weeded and used the tractors to help on the farm.  I do not think I am working my kids to hard, they play hard everyday although often watering turns into water fights just like last night. This is joyful to watch.

I would like to say I am guiding them to be the best little men they can be. Also, I convince myself that later on in life whoever they choose to spend their lives with will be grateful they know how to wash dishes, do laundry, and vacuum, along with all the other outside tasks we are required to do to keep our home well kept.  This is preparing them for the real world.  We work to play harder!

My children are loved, happy, and enjoy life. Even after putting in some hard hours of working by the end of it, they are always smiling and laughing when they come in the house. So, how can we possibly be working them too hard? They are full of joy, filled with life, and excited about what comes next.  What else could I ask for?

Book Covers??

It is getting closer.  There have been some delays. Some stressful days waiting to hear that the phone didn’t ring when it was supposed too and the emails didn’t come when stated.  I am still learning about patience.  Another 7-10 days, I am not counting the time.

I was given three cover options because I requested the options. I wanted something to compare to what, I thought I wanted.  I should have gone with my gut right away.  What I thought I wanted is exactly what I wanted!! (HA!) These are the covers that didn’t make the cut – not my CUT! They are wonderful and were discussed but hey, you might get to see these illustrations again.

It has been months and months. I am done with the sequel and on to another book.  A different style of writing, a different voice, and a story I have always wanted to tell!

I am so blessed!