I'm sure glad the wheat harvest landed on a three-day weekend because I needed every minute (and then some) to get it all done. Luckily the kids were amazing helpers at every stage. I had planned to involve them just a little (as an educational opportunity) but hadn't imagined how truly engaged they'd be. As soon as they understood the process they started begging me to let them do the cutting, so once I showed them how to safely use the tools I let them at it.
I was actually astounded at how focused and skillful they were (being only six years old.) Our system was as follows–I would tie the growing wheat stalks into small bundles, they would cut the bundles, carry and stack them. I would then tie the smaller bundles into bigger bundles. Working this way the kids were really responsible for cutting almost the whole crop. Wow. I didn't expect they would be such a huge help while also having the time of their lives! Talk about a win-win family experience.
After we finally cleared the area, I rented a 13hp Barretto tiller. I normally work my soil by hand, but having lost so much time with this crop and needing to get the area amended and ready for planting ASAP, I decided to bring in the big guns. I wish I had taken a video of hilarity (and terror) of me (with my whopping 115lb frame) trying to negotiate this unweildy beast on my sloped terrain. Definitely something right out of an "I Love Lucy" episode. Luckily my mother and my friend Jacqueline came over to lend some additional "girl power" and support. Both very much appreciated!
Once the hair-raising adventure of tilling was over, the boys and their best friend raked all the loose stalks out the soil and loaded wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow to the compost. It was all just one big game for them.
And if that wasn't enough fun, we ended the day with a potato harvest. The kids enjoyed this even more than an Easter egg hunt (shrieks of glee every time they unearthed a new potato) and I enjoyed it the way I always do at the culmination of every plant cycle. I like thinking back to the planting, the first leaves, then the first flowers…and the state of mind I was in at each of those stages. The harvest brings a conclusion to all of it, not just in the lifecycle of the plant but also to the thoughts and feelings that accompanied the journey.
And so…after three hot, dirty, exhausting, but utterly satisfying days in the garden we ended the weekend with a warm bowl of freshly dug potatoes topped with thyme butter and goat cheese. Heaven!