This was how Tenderfoot Farm started. Just a little garden with neat little rows of plants. In the background, you can see a pile of limbs near the barn from dead Ash trees. More standing dead Ash can be seen in our yard. Beyond the garden, there’s a row of invasive Honeysuckle and a sickly row of ditch Lillies. This is where we started. But really, not long before we owned this patch of earth, it looked like this (below). Our garden is right about where that big RV sits behind the garage. Oof.
To say our land was abused is not untrue. Yes, there are ways land can be treated worse. But it’s disheartening to dig a garden bed and continuously unearth trash. Not to mention dangerous for our kids and pets…and gross. God, we have a lot of work ahead of us and no real equipment to get it done except our bare hands and a bit of grit.
To start, in 2018, we tilled our first garden. The plan is to till only once, then build each year with organic matter. I’ll write more on that later. Then there’s been the removal of invasive plants and weeds. Much of our trouble with removing these is that they’d grown through old fencing and trash, and they are no easy feat to simply uproot and be done with. The other problem, and I don’t mean to complain, is that we must have the nastiest, thorniest, most overgrown perspickity bunch of invasives on any piece of land in western New York. I mean, barberry, buckthorn, multiflora rose…these are not plants for the faint of heart. But we looked at many properties when we were house hunting that were cleaner, newer, tidier…and they didn’t call to us. They didn’t require the kind of investment we were ready to give. They weren’t forever farms.
And the glow of the evening sun slanting over the back field where our boys go sledding every winter…it’s worth every damn thorn we’ve encountered.