Empty Jars lined up waiting to be filled.

Anyone who read my most recent memoir, The Bucolic Plague, knows that late 2008 through mid 2009 were a pretty tough time for Brent and I. We both lost our jobs, our savings were dwindling, and we were trying to pay for two mortgages with soap. All of these misfortunes were pretty horrible. But then came the final blow. In early summer. The Great Tomato Blight of 2009.

I can persevere through a lot. I’ve driven myself to hospitals twice for emergency surgeries. I survived on the streets in France after my high school French Club exchange family changed their locks once they’d cashed the check from the hosting agency.  And I’ve danced on pillars of precariously stacked speakers, two stories above the dance floor. Actually make that: two stories and 7 inches above the dance floor – considering heels.

But the 2009 Tomato Blight almost broke me. Nearly from the moment I’d planted our seedlings in the ground, the Blight became an inescapable topic. I first heard news of it from a Beekman1802.com visitor in one of our garden comment sections, who warned of the encroaching plague. Down at the Cobleskill Agway, customers discussed The Blight in the same hushed and furtive tones as the out-of-work financiers in NYC whispered about the latest stock plunge. According to every gardening website, the Great Tomato Blight was not a matter of if, it was a matter of when.

Red Tomatoes, skinned and quartered.

“When” for me came in early July. After a weeklong period of rain, I arrived at the farm one Saturday and found the bottommost leaves of our two dozen or so tomato bushes speckled with brown dots and drooping. I convinced myself that it was merely a reversible annoyance called “Leaf Spot” after scouring the internet for lesser diagnosis like someone pouring through the pages of Web MD hoping to find confirmation that their gangrenous big toe was simply an advanced hangnail. By the following weekend, every last plant crumbled to the touch. I’d been Blightten.

As I said, losing one’s tomatoes on top of losing one’s job felt like being peed on from the caboose after getting hit by a train. Tomatoes, to me, represent a kind of temporary immortality. Ending the summer with rows and rows of canned tomatoes in the cellar ensure that no matter what happens during the long winter, at least I won’t die of scurvy. And, unlike most of my many neuroses, that particular paranoia was validated during the winter of 2008, when the jobless Brent and I were forced to cut our grocery bill to near zero. We subsisted on a steady diet of thinned out spaghetti sauce, interspersed with withered roasted root vegetables.  But what would we do with no tomatoes to last us through the coming tough winter? Even with one of us back at work, we were still short on cash, and I couldn’t face a bleak winter forecast of rutabaga blizzards, with the occasional 30% chance of turnips.

The Blight struck around the same time as our first meeting with Planet Green. Shortly after that meeting, two women were sent to the farm – one with a camera, and one with a vision. They followed Brent and I around for a few days, capturing our first recorded bickerings to take back with them to LA in an attempt to cobble together twenty minutes or so of something remotely watchable. To some, filming a pilot for a television show might seem like an exciting opportunity, but Brent and I had been there before. The previous summer, another production company had tried the same thing, and the result was as interesting as a CSPAN phone-in show crossed with the A.M. Boise! grain report. Not their fault, mind you. Brent and I are to film what a hospital gown is to fashion.

These "White Wonder" tomatoes are full of flavor, but fool the eye.

But these particular two women, along with their colleagues both in LA and at the network, seemed to find brief flashes of, well, flash amongst the hours and hours of footage they shot of Brent and I.  The result you know all too well already, so I won’t bore you with reruns.

But now that our first season of the show is over, and there are already 34 jars of this season’s tomatoes stacked neatly in rows in the Beekman basement, I remember something that our director said to me shortly after turning in her finished pilot episode:

“We [her and the editor] combed through hours and hours of the footage looking for conversations in which you didn’t mention the blight,” she said. “It was ‘blight-this’ and ‘blight-that’ every time you started a conversation with anyone.”

I don’t remember now if The Blight made it into any episodes. But I do remember entering autumn at this time last year with no tomatoes on the shelf. Our winter squash and cucumbers had also succumbed to the wet, cold, and mildew-coated summer, so no pickles or squash puree either.

"Big Rainbow" tomatoes have pretty red "veins" through their flesh. Heading into the winter of 2009-2010, the only things we had in the can were three or four episodes of an as-of-then untitled reality show. The director had emailed us some photos of her production and editing team so we could see the faces of people who were performing Hollywood surgery on Brent’s and my day-to-day lives. In one of the photos, dozens of colored post-it notes were stuck to the wall behind the editor. I asked what they were for. The director explained that, basically, each one represented an interesting moment they’d found in the footage. Eventually, together, they would help build the structure of the episodes and then the entire series they would be editing together over the winter. Looking at them stuck to the wall in neat rows reminded me of the jars that didn’t fill our basement shelves.

By now everyone knows that we made it through that winter – even without any tomatoes. A few weeks ago the last jar of our previous year’s life was emptied and spread across television screens. And now I have a few weeks off. So I’m canning our endless bushels of beautiful heirloom tomatoes before Hollywood comes back into town to start filling their own jars of Season Two.

Some years, like this one, are bumper crops. And some years the only thing I have to talk about is a blight. But whatever the harvest, I’ve learned it’s always a good idea to get something on the shelf for the winter.

by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

Reader Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connie Wedding

Barely over 2 weeks ago, I got the 5 tomato plants I had ordered by mail from Territorial Seed Company, which were about 8inches tall, at most, and a bit wilted. I watered them and put them by the window, and within an hour, they were standing at full attention and ready to go! The next day, I planted them in individual pots about 14 inches across, with a bit of Epsom salts, and old potting soil from last year mixed with some new Miracle Grow potting soil. In just a hair over 2 weeks, they have shot up like rockets!! They are at least 5 times taller than when I first planted them, and have fattened up and spread out like crazy! I didn't even know it was possible for them to grow that fast! I have planted tomatoes in pots before, but I got them at Rural King and I have never had results like this! I left off the shredded bark mulch this time, so do you think that has something to do with it, or maybe it was the company? Or the particular kinds of tomatoes? I got Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter, Beaver Lodge,Big Beef, and Burbank. I think a few are heirloom tomatoes, and can't wait to taste them! I hear Brandywine is particularly good! Next spring, I want to till up a REAL garden and grow all kinds of things! I have gotten the bug now! I'd like to try your heirloom seed collection, and I hope you will add an heirloom tomato before next spring!

Reply
Claudia Edwards-Hous

Just FYI – large scale premium tomato growers for really good commercial brands have a hard and fast rule for growing: Never, ever grow tomatoes in the same spot, and the same soil as you did the year before. They actually will take the spot out of tomato production for three years to avoid blight. Might be worth a try to move them to a different raised bed each year. I plan on engaging this 'farm wisdom' this year with my heirloom organics.

Reply
Cathy

OMG! I love the Seeds for Obama? Are you selling them?

Oh yes. I am developing a love for terrariums! Any suggestions.

Thanks,

Cathy

Reply
Kristin

You made me miss canning this year. In 2008 I canned 84 pints of homemade pickles all by myself and felt such pride in giving them to friends and co-workers. I was planning on doing some canning this year but a serious motorcycle accident left me unable to accomplish it because of my injuries and being in a wheelchair. I plan on canning in 2011 and you have lit a fire under me to get it done..thank you,thank you, thank you. Wishing you a fantastic harvest in 2011.

Reply
KImberly Lerche

I love, love, love your show and website. In just a few words, I feel a kinship to you both. I work in an office and my husband is running a 2000 acre farm. He is the 5th generation to farm it, and he does it on a very tight budget (my job keeps us afloat). Looking forward to more! Kim

Reply
Joan Barnes

I knew I would enjoy "The Bucolic Plague" as soon as I saw the title. Then to see you on T.V. was so much fun. Next I read "I"m not Myself these Days", and enjoyed it immensely. But I can't find your second series on T.V. anywhere. I have Time Warner and always saw your show on Planet Green. What happened? Did Time Warner drop you? Did Planet Green drop you? Why can't I find you? Help!!

Reply
Mary M

Thank you for bringing me back to the garden. Your passionate reflections have rekindled my willingness to participate in what I can only call adventures in gardening in the low desert. Tonight my family and I enjoyed our first harvest of our most plethoric season. While I read of the early snows in Northern New York, we enjoyed a salad made with a variety of leaf lettuces and spinach from our garden. If I harvest carefully over the next four to five months, we should be able to keep the bounty going into early spring. Hopefully the carrots, broccoli, beets, onions, and the rest of our efforts will be ready in time for our Thanksgiving celebration. Who knows, maybe come March I’ll preserving my own bumper crop.
You have truly been an inspiration and I thank you.
Phoenix, AZ

Reply
Shelly Gunzenhauser

Dear Josh & Brent,

You are both fabulous. Josh, I have read both of your books. You are a wonderful writer.Brent, your attention to detail rivals Martha's.

I can't wait to for the sart of season 2.

I have tried your goatcheese and soaps. All wonderful!

I am also signed up for Farmer John's website.

I hope I can visit Sharon Springs one day.

Best of luck to both of you.

Shelly G

Reply
Sharon S.

I loved your book, your show, and Josh's tomato story. It still resonates with me since we seem to have experienced the same awful tomato year this season here at the other end of the country from you in western Washington and tells me "the crops" should be just fine next year.

If you're looking for a new canning recipe for Beekman apples, here's a good one I picked up several years ago from an apple orchard in eastern WA, where the area claims to be the "apple capital of the world" and they're very serious about their many apple recipes. It tastes like any cinnamon apple recipe you'd expect with the cinnamon and nutmeg but once while trying to finish it in a hurry I forgot the spices until after the jars were sealed and it was more "carmel apple" (really brought out the apple flavor) and would probably go well with cheese.

CARMEL APPLE JAM (makes 7 half pints)

6 cups diced peeled apples

1/2 cup water

1/2 tsp. butter

1 package powdered pectin

3 cups sugar

2 cups packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

In a 3 qt. pan combine apples, water and butter and cook until apples are soft (don't go too far to near applesauce or the jam will be gritty). Stir in pectin and bring to a rolling boil. Add sugars. Boil for 1 minute stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, skim any foam and ladle hot jam into sterilized jars. Process 10 minutes in a water bath canner.

Reply
Pat Craven

Bless you guys, you have made Wed. nights

something to look forward to.Your show is the greatest.b Wish you lived closer to

the Pocono Mts. of Pa… I would love to come and visit your farm. Jut retired for driving a school bus for 20 years, and I myself have been doing a lot of gardening.

P Craven Pocono Mts. Pa

Reply
Roxanne

Dear Josh,

I have read both of your books and watched all of the shows. I hope you write another book soon about the farm. I want to have natural food as much as possible as well. Your one book I understand is an ebook and I do not know how to get access. I love your writing style it is so insightful about human nature without being judgemental. I am so glad you are still at the farm. Are you going to be able to quit your job soon and live your dream to be a full time farmer? I also love gardening when I have the chance and it is fulfilling in a way that no other activity can produce. Keep up the great work and support of farming and all natural foods.

Reply
Ginger White

I fixed slow fried chicken with onion jam in a little olive oil and it was fabulous. I can't believe how it made the chicken gloriosly smooth and yummy. I love it and I love you. Ginger

Reply
Susan Neal

I finished reading Josh's book this weekend. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am from Raleigh, NC. My 93 year old mother and i canned 24 pints of applesauce this weekend. She's not as quick as she used to be when it comes to coring all those apples but she was a real apple Nazi when she thought i was wasting some of the apples. We cook the apples down with the peel on them then put them in a collander. She has a wooden mallet that we squish the cooked apples into a bowl. The applesauce is pink and has more vitamins because the good vitamins are in the peel. Good stuff!

Reply
Leslie

Time to plant the garlic for a bumper crop of bulbs next summer. Ask a local grower to show you the best steps for your location. Josh mentions some very special local growers on page 265 of his book. It's nice to have a crop already growing when the first days of spring appear. Good luck.

Reply
Martha

Josh & Brent,

I read Josh's book and my husband and I are big fans of the show. We're transplanted New Yorkers in the mid-Hudson Valley (Germantown, NY) and recently visited your shop in Sharon Springs. Your soap is lovely and I stocked up for Christmas gifts. Our neighbors in Columbia County are fruit growers and we're all very thankful for the bountiful summer we've had this year. Happy canning! I'm doing apples this weekend!!!

Reply
Amy

I just spent my first summer canning. I kept doing pickles because tomatoes were too scary. The words "Botulism, Botulism!" kept screaming through my head. Why I am more paranoid about botulism with tomatoes versus pickles, I have no logical explanation. I finally braved the tomato canning. I've made sure to warn my fiance about all the potential warning signs (like his face freezing up) just in case. Love your show and those jars you used! Can't wait for next season.

Reply
Linda

Well said about the blight of 2009…..I think we 'inherited' that sense of urgency about our harvest from our parents/grandparents. They had no means other than what they grew or could barter for. As hard as that was, they became very innovative and taught us ways to conserve and reuse (the original "green movement" )

You can always call if you get down to "thinned out spaghetti sauce" ….we'll feed you!

Luv and hugs!

Reply
Mitchell Prince

Dear Josh

My partner and I can certianly relate to your blight situation, but that has been the, dare we say, "occupational hazard" for those of us who have been living off the land since the beginning of time.

We have been enjoying our bumber crop of tomatoes and cucs this season as well. I have canned so many tomotoes and cucs this year here at Tilted Manor that I may have to open my own retail establishment here on the Philadelphia Main Line.

We also had a terrific year for honey production. This is an amazing turn around since our hives were decimated in prior seasons by intruders and blight.

I am the cook in our castle so I am looking forward to cracking open the jars of home grown goodness all winter long!

Thanks for the hours of entertaining footage you provided John and I. I can particulary relate to the Kabota tractor scenes since we lead a somewhat parallel life here on Tilted Manor and Acre.

Best wishes,

Mitch

Reply
Melissa

Josh and Brent,

I am having serious Wednesday night withdrawals,,, please come back on the screen soon. You don't understand, drugs can't replace you, knitting, crocheting, tatting doesnt do it, I even tried throwing pots today and that didn't help. I need a fix of the Beekman boys and soon. My husband is getting tired of my grumpiness, when will you air again.

Missing you, loving you, and wishing you a HUGE harvest. Please come back sooonnnn!!!!

Reply
Georgia

Josh,

I've not had the chance to read your book yet but I must say…. You have the most wonderful way with words.

Bless you!

Reply
teri tighe

Brent and Josh,

Do you think it's feasible for a single person to have a vegetable/fruit garden without being over run with the contents? Do you suggest planting one seed each season?

Reply
Shannon

I absolutely LOVE your show and am eagerly anticipating season 2! Congrats to you all. I also cannot wait to read the book, I am going to order it tonight. My husband and I dream of having a little farm one day, hopefully sooner than later, and you are an inspiration to us. I always thought that you had to come from some long line of experienced farmers in order to even consider it but you have shown me that with a little self-education and perserverance it can be done. Thank you for that! And may you continue to fruitful in your endeavors!

Reply
teri tighe

Ellen,

Those are my exact feelings about the soap, as well. I just couldn't put those eloquent words together to express how I felt.

It's a wonderful product.

Reply
ellen in nc

hey ya'll,

what kind of weather are you expecting in upstate NY? i hope you don't freeze solid, as it's expected to be a bad one down here (tons or acorns and other nuts, the old timers' predictions, diminished solar activity, etc.). it's amazing how the old farmers are more accurate in weather forecasting than the meteorologists sometimes. it's sad we've lost touch with the land, and all it teaches us. dr. brent, if you don't report back on the canned tomatoes and saltines, i WILL move to have your southern gentleman status revoked (of course you'll still be a gentleman). the consequences will be dire: you won't be allowed to wear the bowtie and flannel pants at Thanksgiving this year! snuggle up & stay warm cutie pies!

Reply
ellen in nc

I ordered two bars of Beekman original goat milk soap this past Sunday, and it arrived three days later neatly wrapped and placed in the signature muslin drawstring bag. The card inside indicated that it had been made by Dr. Brent. The week flew by, and along came Saturday: BATH NIGHT! All kidding aside, I confess to being a "soap snob." i have stashed treasures of Crabtree and Evelyn, Roger and Gallet, and several other brands (including other goat milk soaps). I couldn't wait to try the Beekman bars. This soap smelled light, fresh, and wonderful. I thought about tasting it, but childhood memories made me take pause. I can attest to the following: the soap is very creamy, almost buttery in texture, with a light dense foam that rinsed off easily and cleanly. I have dry sensitive skin, as well as nasal allergies. After using the soap, my skin feels silky, smooth (not oily, but lightly moisturized), and wonderfully clean. The fragrance on my skin is a fresh, almost imperceptable, scent. In three words: I love it! You have made a wonderful product boys, and I will be buying more.

Reply
Dr. Brent

Wow, Ellen

We are so flattered. A lot of love and hard work from several goes into each one of our products, so I'll send your message around to the whole team

Reply
Rob Wolf

My husband and I have been fans of yours, Josh, for years so when we saw that you and Brent were going to have a TV show we faithfully TiVo'd it – and loved every episode. Naturally we had to buy the book and I loved it (my husband only just now snatched it out of my hands because he was tired of waiting and hearing me chuckling every night as I read in bed). I figured I'd drop this comment here because as a fellow creative, I can't ever hear "I loved your work" enough. Like so many folks, the last couple of years haven't been easy on us, but we're digging in and staying at least nominally hopeful just as you two are. I can't do a whole lot, but my student loan check just came in so I bought myself a birthday gift of your October soap. It ain't much, but I'm hoping that I'm not the only one who does so after seeing your show and reading your book.

Don't know if the "we're out here rooting for you" sentiments are ones you've heard a million times before, but still…I wanted to let you know that we are. And will continue to do so and hopefully all of it will help you all build a beautiful future for the Beekman and her boys. You all deserve the happy ending of your dreams.

Rob and Soren

Reply
Alan

Just read through chapters 11-13 of The Bucolic Plague. Loved the tomato canning adventures, but I am still in shock after reading about your first Thanksgiving turkey slaughtering. Oh…My…God!(ha ha). Thank you to the show's editors for not sharing too many details with us viewers after the hatchet fell on your Thanksgiving episode recreation. Josh, you are waaaaay more BADASS than many of us know. Can't wait for TFBB Season 2 to begin. I wish you both continued success in your lives and your show.

Reply
Jim

Hi Guys,

It must have been a bad year for tomatoes everywhere. My partner and I live in Orange County California. This was the year without a summer for us and our tomatoes proved it. Very small harvest and most were quite small ( but tasty ). Hoping 2011 proves to be a better year for our garden.

Looking forward to the new season of your show.

Jim and Gary

Reply
Kimbery Cunningham

Hi Fabulous Beekman Boys!!!!!

You are not experimental farmers anymore. You have survived a blight and struggled through very hard times, there is not a farmer out there who hasn't experienced it and it makes one stronger in character because of it. We struggled on a dairy farm for years at extremely low milk prices and some years my mom packed lettuce sandwiches for lunch or corn on the cob was our whole dinner, but we did it together. Best of luck to you and may it be 'feast" from this year on. Love, love the show!!! I live only about 40 min away, so a road trip to the Mercantile is an order.

Reply
Pat

Hi to all the Beekman folks,

I'm from just down the road — Oneonta. Love the show. Read the NYT's article — friends from NYC sent it to us. Have been watching the show from the start. We gave up tomatoes after the past two seasons of blight. We are getting our fresh produce from the Farmer's Markets in the area. Costs less than our futile attempts at gardening in our rocky, less than fertile soil…even with the "topsy turvy"!

Just wanted to share that I grew up on a farm in Wisconsin — Reedsburg. As I read about detassling in Josh's book, it brought me right back to my youth (and that is a rather lengthy trip these days:). I also wanted to mention a singer – Ellis Paul. He has a children's album with a song called "wabi sabi". Think you'll enjoy it.

Anyway — stopped by at the Harvest Fest, but far to many fans to compete with. We'll stop by when the competition for your time isn't so intense.

Reply
baaaaaadgurl

hi josh & dr. brent,

i'm so glad you were able to persevere through your year (give or take a year)of sacrifice. thanks for not sugar-coating your story. then on top of everything having the rude flies and zombie house tour guests broke my heart. all we can do is our best with the cards we've been dealt, and your story will be encouraging to future farmers & business-persons who may be tempted to give up on their own dreams. i'm on a tight budget, but i'm going to buy some soap because i want you to suceed & prosper, while i get to have smooth creamy skin. during a tough economy, if we can't all pitch in and help each other, what does that say about our culture. be well fair lads! howdy to farmer john, michelle, doug & garth, and all your critters.

ellen in nc

Reply
Bruce

wow..so thats what did in my tomatos! I tenderly cared for them them like they were royalty, they even had names Tom, stake, red, etc.. and one day that dreaded spoting showed up….So Sorry to hear about the loss of the plants Mr.Purcell.

Reply
Sadie

Watched the show. read latest book. All good. I don't think anyone graduates from the college of gardening-just keep paying tuition and hope for some credits. We had a big garden way back before we got some money and moved to the fancy house. Dug potatoes right up till 8th month of pregnancy,canned and made ratatouille before I had any idea it was some cheffy dish. Grew vegs that weren't popular because they grew well or stored well. Guy next door used to watch us though the grapevine (yes- we did make wine-or vinegar-whatever) fence (I think he drank a bit much) and he cried when we told him we were moving. With life changing quickly I'm glad we have the skills to be more self sufficient. Your show has given people encouragement and confidence to start seeing past the big box living on which we've all grown soft.

Reply
Sadie

Watched the show. read latest book. All good. I don't think anyone graduates from the college of gardening-just keep paying tuition and hope for some credits. We had a big garden way back before we got some money and moved to the fancy house. Dug potatoes right up till 8th month of pregnancy,canned and made ratatouille before I had any idea it was some cheffy dish. Grew vegs that weren't popular because they grew well or stored well. Guy next door used to watch us though the grapevine (yes- we did make wine-or vinegar-whatever) fence (I think he drank a bit much) and he cried when we told him we were moving. With life changing quickly I'm glad we have the skills to be more self sufficient. Your show has given people encouragment and confidence to start seeing past the big box living on which we've all grown soft.

Reply
Michelle Simpson

The show is a family favorite and my kids LOVE Polka Spot! I am just learning to can and made some amazing Peach Butter this month so more of these blog posts please! (I need all the help I can get!)

Reply
Tiffany

I LOVE you guys! I have been watching since day one and make my whole family watch! You both are such an inspiration and great role models. Thanks so much for sharing your life with the world. I have learned so much and Im teaching my two little girls everything about farm and green living. Im so excited for the next season! Thanks! xoxo

Reply
Marilyn

I would really like to know what kind of jars you are using and where I can get some of them. I have never seen them around here. Can't wait for the new season–its going to be a long winter. Keep up the blogs and web site so we can see the Beekman through the winter.

Thanks.

Reply
Christy

Hey Josh! Congrats on your harvest! How exciting! This is the first blog that I've read, but now I'm going to go back and read them all!

I can only imagine how wonderful it must be to know that by Friday every week you get to head back to the farm!

I know…I know…more work there…you guys are going to have to realize that now that you've been at it for a year, you need to work in some much deserved "downtime" on the weekends!

Love the show! Your bickering makes me smile and sometimes you even get a LOL from me because I know I will eventually see those beautiful smiles you both have…and all will be well!

Remember to laugh! Good Luck and God Bless the Farm!

Reply
Judith

I read "The Bucolic Plague" over the weekend (since I was too far away here in Alabama to attend the Harvest Fest) and laughed until I cried–literally..Just downloaded "I am not myself these Days" onto my Kindle and cant wait to start it. Looking forward to next seasons show..love you guys and Farmer John, Polka Spot, Garth & Doug!!

Reply
Madelyne Bery

I like CSPAN call-in-shows.

We, my daughter and I, had a GREAT time at the 2nd Annual Sharon Springs Harvest Festival. LOVED lunch at the American Hotel and LOVED Doug and Garth. Hope to book rooms in Sharon Springs next year. We stayed outside Cooperstown, Bay Marina Motel, which was very nice with a balcony and a view.

Can't wait for the next installment of Beekman Boys. Keep warm for the winter.

Reply
Andrew

HELP! Josh, in the FAQ portion of your website it says we can order a signed copy of your book at the follow link: but there is no link… can you please tell me where I can purchase an autographed copy??? THANKS!!

Love you 2!

Reply
Sharon Schamber

Josh, your tomato story touches me deeper than most. I've been unemployed for a year, have come in 2nd place 9 times for jobs and first for 2 that lost their funding before I could start. My resume lists "recruiter" as my greatest professional HR experience which isn't really a terrific job description in a recession. I have a home and vacation home to support which currently never ceases to make me financially nervous and a former income much larger than my husband's. I decided this year to focus on my garden. I used my limited resources to plant more tomatoes than usual, started squash and cucumbers in my family room, worked hard with the soil and the weeds, collecting canning supplies such as jar lids where my small weekly grocery budget would allow and positively looked forward to the best garden I've ever had.

Here in western Washington we've had a cold summer and very cold nights. The tomato plants grew, but produced tiny hard doorknobs that stayed green. Undeterred, I worked on the rest of the garden and it was beginning to look beautiful. Broccoli, cabbage and beans seemed to start to thrive in the colder temperatures. Then one morning I went outside and found everything had been chewed on by something large, which ended up to be deer, which was a new phenomenon in my suburban neighborhood. I propped plants up the best I could but found real devastation the next morning and very tame deer who wouldn't leave to prove it. Most plants were eaten to the roots and new squash chewed to the stem.

I sat and cried about my whole situation as well as the unfairness of a year where the garden meant so much and had softened many a job searching turndown. It was a lethal blow no different than your tomato blight and still stings exactly same when I think about it. Your story further shows me that all of this is temporary, things will improve and in my case will be a lesson on what is really important in life. Popcorn made the old fashioned way and a marathon of borrowed library movies with the one you love really can be more fulfilling than an expensive dinner at a private club and a theater movie. The friends who brought me a gift of tomatoes, peaches and pickling cucumbers from their trip through the more arid eastern Washington so I could can this year mean the world to me. Your story reinforces that my current situation is only just a blip in my life, I'm far better off than many in my situation, and just one job interview will change everything. Thank you. More than you know.

Reply
Robin Cavener

I am your latest and greatest fan, so to speak, and have been so inspired by your endeavors that I have recently purchased two Nubian does for milking/breeding, and will be buying two more next week. Your lifestyle seems quite doable on our 1200 acre farm, and we making good use to it. Now we are up to 7 head of cattle, four horses, 2 goats and 2 dogs, with many more baby goats arriving in the spring. Including a fabulous garden. Thanks for the encourage to do this!

Reply
robert

hi guys. my friend and i went to the festival today and had a great time!we had a chance to see the two of you, and saw farmer john too.the three of you were busy filming for next season, so we never had the chance to say hello.everyone we met who knew you, said that you were very personable,and easy to talk to. that was nice to hear.we stimulated sharon springs economy as best we could.i bought packets of seeds for a friend of mine for his birthday from the owner of landreth seed company. she was very nice and extremely helpful when she recommended tomato varieties…hope the blight doesn't get them!we also bought some produce to take home to enjoy. i had already ordered a wheel of your cheese, which we will enjoy on monday night at our annual clambake.wish you could be there, we are only an hour west of you! and by the way i called my friend in seattle, who told me about your show to begin with. he was going to fly out, but couldn't make it, he was so jealous!! good luck to you both, i hope to meet you sometime. take care-rob

Reply
Dana

Wow, that brought me to tears. I grew up on a 3rd generation family farm, that in the end, could not survive. I am so happy for your guys, one that there was no blight this year, and 2 you have found other means of revenue to sustain the beautiful farm, and farm life.

Cheers to jars of hope!!!!

Reply