We planted a pea patch this year.
On a piece of land that belongs to our elderly neighbors, with an old 8N Ford tractor that belonged to my husband’s father, and a John Deere planter that’s every bit as old as I am. The nostalgia of that trio nearly did me in before the peas ever even peaked their heads out of the soil.
As I watched my husband ready that field for planting – bush hogging, plowing and making rows in that sleepy soil – I knew. I knew God had plans to speak to me there, teaching me, us, yet again, many things through this life on the farm…
The old timers rule of thumb for planting peas goes like this…
“Three days after the full moon, in April, May or June.”
So that’s what we did. Three days after the full moon in April, which just happened to fall on Good Friday this year, under the instruction of my husband, our two teenage daughters climbed on that 8N Ford with the old John Deere planter and began sowing seeds.
Twenty six rows. Each row three hundred feet long.
I stood there with the youngest girl and watched, with a full heart, longing desperately for my granddaddy, my Honey, to be there witnessing it with me. He would’ve had a huge grin on his face. You know, the kind of grin that makes your eyes water with inexplicable joy and humble pride?
But since he couldn’t be there with me, I wore that grin, on my own face, in his honor.
Three days later, on Easter Sunday, those peas, despite being buried deeply, burst forth from that ground as if they were proclaiming the resurrection themselves.
The abundant rains this spring fed and nourished that ground. The seed was good and so the plants grew exponentially. Like no pea patch we’d ever seen.
We kept a careful watch on them, for bugs and disease. And while there were a few bugs, as there always are in a diverse, healthy ecosystem, no pesticides were sprayed. The threat of pests proved to be no match for the strength of the plants and their ability to overcome.
The weeks passed, we waited, and they continued to grow. And grow. And grow some more.
And then, one day we looked out across the field and there were blooms of white and yellow all across the blanket of green. Tiny pods began to form. I began to worry whether bugs would become an increased risk to our newly forming fruits.
The old timers said to spray the field as soon as it bloomed, because the bugs would it eat up.
But… I just watched the field even more carefully. Walking the rows, inspecting the bugs. Googling pictures of bugs I wasn’t familiar with. Yes, there were some bugs that posed a threat. But there were also tons of beneficial bugs. And I resolved that I absolutely would not spray that field with a pesticide. Just the same, we have resolved not to spray a universal “pesticide” on the lives of our children, but that’s a whole other blog post. (Maybe I’ll get the nerve to write it one day…)
And the pods grew. More blooms opened. More pods grew. And the cycle continued. And before we knew it, it was time to begin harvesting.
The first harvest was sporadic. Peas ready here and there. I believe we spent most of that morning trying not to trample the vines and consequently harm the larger, plumper unripened peas.
First fruits. Hmm.
The following weekend, however, was a completely different story. The one time field of green had turned into a field of purple. A royal harvest.
Brad and I were alone in our efforts that morning, as all three farm girls were away the night before. And as I stood halfway down my first three hundred foot row, five gallon bucket nearly full, back slightly aching already from the amount of bending over required, sweat pouring, clothes sticking, I looked over at him and said, “This gives a whole new meaning to ‘The fields are ripe for harvest, but the workers are few’ huh?”
He agreed, we laughed about it and made promises that we WOULD have reinforcement the next morning.
But as I continued down my row, picking ripe pods, I couldn’t help but observe all the stages of growth that were right there in my midst.
In one glance, there were blooms opening, beckoning new growth. Then there were inch long, bright green baby pods, and right next to them, mid sized pods with deeper shades of green and evidence of developing fruit inside.
There were full size, long green pods, their purple tinted skin taut with growing fruit. And fully purple pods, in their prime and beautiful with the sheen of ripeness.
And last, but certainly not least, there were the duller, drier, wrinkled pods. They retained their royal purple, although their sheen was gone. Yet the promise of future life was still held inside of them.
Yes, this most definitely brings a whole new meaning to that scripture above.
As a gardener/farmer, I’ve come to learn the many, many stages of a harvest. Contrary to what we believe, not all harvests ripen at once. Its an ongoing process. And one that requires different measures, because each is measured differently.
I’ve also come to learn that the workers are few because the work is hard. Very hard. But we are guaranteed that all hard work brings a profit.
Be it in a pea patch, a marriage, raising children.
All of life, really…
Shall we ponder on that awhile?