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
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.
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.
At 3am on a Tuesday, I woke up suddenly, got out of bed after tossing and turning for an hour and came to the living room. I tore sheets of blank paper out of a notebook I had and started writing about the DREAM I had just had. Simply put, that dream is my first book, “Grandpa’s Orchard.”
Dreams are important! Dreams challenge you and force you to face your inner most insecurities. For me, with my writing I never thought I would be sitting where I am today. I dreamt about being published and have openly spoken about it for years. I wanted to write not just for me but for my family, my children, to share myself with the world and to leave something behind that could make a difference.
Having this dream for me, or anyone having a dream for themselves is about having faith that what will be, will be. Taking a blind leap knowing you have prepared the best way possible and once you leap you believe and have faith you will land where you are meant to be. In my experience, when we (my husband and I) have taken that leap we have always landed in a far better place than we thought we ever would. But for my writing, this was all on me. Leaping on my own was scary.
In my inner circle it became something I just said and about a year ago I took a hard look at my dreams. I knew that if I spent my whole life worrying about how to take care of everyone else’s needs and dreams (which I willing did), where would I be in another five years. Who would I be? Would I like that person? I knew I would regret not taking a leap!! I would have always wondered. These questions alone made me start writing again.
I knew at the least that if I wrote I would feel more self-accomplishment, more fulfilled in my life, and more alive! And when I first started writing again it was not a children’s book, a children’s book wasn’t even on my list of things to write.
I still remember the day. I sat down in my writing nook, with a pen and paper and started writing from a writing prompt that was given to me years ago in high school.
“Now is Still Unknown.”
I have had numerous people in my life encourage me to keep writing, they would encourage me to write a book, poetry or short stories…just keep writing even if it’s just for you, they would say. Deep down I always knew I was a writer, it started the day I entered my creative writing class in high school. I was given a chance with pen, paper, and I felt it running through my veins – like someone punching me in the gut.
For years, I wrote about everything in my life. The intensity of my writing grew when I had great tragedies in life…I still write my way through some of these. Someday, I want to publish these pieces of me that are raw, secret, locked inside – unknown to many but I want to publish them and share them because my gut tells me my words will help people. I believe in writing what hurts, for me its about letting go of the past and if there is a lesson learned I can share to help even one person. I feel drawn to do so. There is great power in this and great healing.
On Thursday, I opened the mail box and found two very thin boxes inside. I noticed the return address from “authorscript” which really meant nothing to me but as I pulled back the card board in disbelief my book revealed itself to me. One hard cover and one soft cover in my hands. It was one of the best feelings I have ever had in my life. I tore out the the front door running across the farm to my husband, partially in tears I tried to speak and thrust the books forward in my hands. I know I babbled something but I have no idea what. In that moment, I had done it. I had fulfilled my dream!!!
My dream wasn’t a dream anymore; it was a reality! This feeling I have had for the last 2 and half days is indescribable! I am relishing in these moments, taking it all in, I don’t want to miss a thing, I want to celebrate and shout from the rooftop. Now more than ever, I am driven to finish the next two books. And I can proudly say, I am an author.