Mother’s Day remembrances

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day. For the first time in my life, I did not get to celebrate the day visiting with my mom. It seemed a little different, like when you know something is supposed to happen, but it doesn’t. Mom passed into the arms of Jesus just a couple of months ago, at the age of 94.

Mom was a fixture on this farm for many, many years. She greeted the customers with a smile, and was always ready to help them choose the right fruits for canning, freezing, baking, or just to eat fresh. Mom had a wealth of knowledge when it came to such things, learned over the course of her life here. And she would willingly share that knowledge with whoever came in for fruit. “Spys for pies”, “Red Havens for canning or freezing”, and “You don’t want to can Bosc Pears, you need Bartletts for that!” She wasn’t afraid to  give advice!

 

Mom didn’t grow up on a farm. Quite the opposite in fact, she was a “city kid” and grew up in the middle of Grand Rapids. But when she and my dad got married, that all changed. I can remember her saying: “I didn’t know anything about farming when I moved out here!”  But she learned, working side by side with my dad, and raising 5 kids during their life together here. It goes without saying she worked hard in our home too. She was always sewing, baking, canning or freezing something it seemed. Needless to say, going into winter our shelves were always stocked with jars of cherries, peaches, pears, plums, pickles and sometimes things I couldn’t identify! I still don’t know what you use corn relish for!

MomDadCherries

When Dad passed, much too early it seemed, Mom continued to work along side of me as I took over the farm. And when I married and Bonnie began to work here with me, Mom was quick to teach her about the ins and outs of the fruit business. You see, Bonnie didn’t grow up on a farm either, and I think Mom had a special empathy for that.

Mom was a wonderful Grandma too! In her later years, when she wasn’t working here much anymore, my kids loved to go for tea to Grandma’s house down the street. And she loved to spent time with them just as much! They still cherish those times together.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mom was a Christian. No doubt about it. She and Dad taught us to depend on God for everything. Living on a farm seems to emphasize that even more. Mom prayed a lot, and taught me to do the same. She passed that along to her grandchildren too. So while Mother’s Day is different this year, and will be from now on, Mom’s legacy lives on. And perhaps that is what I will celebrate on Mother’s day from now on.                                                       Mom MoelkerIn Memory of Donna Mae Moelker. 1924-2019

Have a fruitful week!

Tom Moelker   tompic

Advertisements

Go west young (and old) man!

Sometimes we spend so much time in our own little world, that we lose track of how others live their lives. I don’t mean that in a bad way, it is natural for us to be focused on our immediate surroundings day after day. The busyness of our jobs, the intricacies of our closest relationships, the demands of our time all combine to narrow our focus and shrink our view. Or maybe that’s just true of me.

Last week my son Travis and I expanded our view a little. We traveled west to Nebraska to meet some new friends that we had never met before. And we drove through a lot of places we had never seen before, some big cities, and some very, very small towns. It was an uncertain adventure of sorts. While I had talked with our host several times on the phone, we had never met. But our conversations had an easy flow to them, and I was confident that we would get along well. I wasn’t disappointed. We were welcomed like old friends, and over the course of our week of hunting with this man and his colleagues, we forged a friendship that I hope lasts a long time. It was a blessing!

IMG_4930

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving Day. And while we all have reasons for thanks, sometimes we have to fight off the reasons not to be thankful. We can all list off the easy, common things that we are thankful for: homes and friends and family and health, but it is harder when one of those “big ones” is missing or afflicted. A serious illness. The loss of a dear one.  Situations like that can easily sap all of the thanks from our lives, if we let them. But thanks is not a light that you turn on or off, depending on what is happening in your life. Thanks should be a warm glow, that may ebb and flow with the tide of events in our lives, but never goes completely out.  Sometimes we have to force ourselves to count our blessings, though at times they may seem few. But the result of that process can be a blessing in itself: the realization that God IS still there, and He DOES still care. That is a hard thing to affirm in the middle of what seems to be a hopeless situation. But if you can truly give those fears and doubts and “thankless” moments to Him, He will give you peace. I promise.

So find some things to be thankful for this week. It may come easily, or it may be hard to do, depending on your situation. But the words of that old hymn are true:

“Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done!”

Have a fruitful (and thankful) week!

Tom Moelker  tompic

Wrapping up

Well the harvest is nearly over for the year. It seems to have taken a long time for some reason. We are planning on picking our last fruit today–Pink Lady apples. A funny name for an apple that is the last one to the table!

The end of the harvest always brings mixed feelings for me. I’m excited that the whole year’s work has accomplished it’s goal. It is a blessing to look back and see that in spite of challenges of weather and the fickleness of some of the fruits we grow, we have once again brought a crop to completion. The blessings of sun and rain and growth seem to come in different amounts and timings every year. Some years they fit together perfectly and producing a crop seems easy. Other years their timings, shortages, or overabundance leave us frustrated and struggling to figure out how we will ever make ends meet. But after harvest, when we have the time to look back over the season and reflect, each year it seems that in spite of our challenges and shortcomings we still have been blessed. And being able to recognize that is a blessing in itself.

IMG_4843.JPG

So now we try to wrap up the tasks that need to be done before the snow flies. Gathering ladders and empty apple bins and tucking them away inside. Mowing the grass in the orchards short to give the tree chewing mice less places to hide this winter. Applying nutrients to tired trees that have given their best to produce a crop for us. Tidying up the buildings that have been seriously neglected in all of our harvest-time busyness. But it is a different pace now that the fruit is picked. The long and frenzied days spent getting the fruit off and stored away are finished. While there is still work to do, the atmosphere is a little more relaxed and the pace is a lot less frantic. Which is good for all of us. As the annual cycle of the farm comes to completion, we can look over the season and see God’s faithfulness reflected once again. All of the “Why doesn’t it rain?!” times this summer, that morphed into “When is it ever going to stop raining?” this fall, become almost funny when we think about it. “O ye of little faith!” Yup. Sometimes that’s us. But in this farming business we get an annual post harvest time for a faith checkup. And while sometimes it is hard to recognize the good that came out of the season, it is always there. We just have to look a little deeper to find it.

Have a fruitful week!

Tom Moelker      tompic

Finally…!

Sunday was a beautiful day. Warm and sunny and just right for taking a walk. In church that morning we sang the song “This is my Father’s World.” It fit the day perfectly. Hard to imagine us singing that a week earlier when everything was canceled due to a snow storm! It just wouldn’t have felt right.

So only a week ago we were walking around in fresh snow. Now the snow is gone, and the fruit buds are beginning to pop! We are seeing the first green leaves just poking out of the apple buds just in the last couple of days. Each of these tiny buds holds the flowers that could develop into 5 apples. And with the warmer weather, I guess they decided it’s time to emerge. It is amazing how those little buds can sit there wrapped up tight all winter, and then with a few warm days flip the switch and poke their little leaves out into the sun. How do they know?

IMG_4521

We are about two weeks behind average  right now, but we will begin to catch up quickly with the warm temperatures forecast for next week. Just in the last week we have gone from 20 days behind to 14 days behind normal!  We are busy pruning cherries and peaches now. Most years we wait to prune them until they begin to grow in the spring. Since they are more tender and sensitive to cold winter temperatures, we want to see which branches and buds are growing and which are not. It is easier to see and remove branches with winter damage that way. We will soon be planting trees as well when the soil is dry enough. When the weather warms up, it seems our “to do” list grows quickly too!

But even though we are really busy, all this week that song has been running through my head. So I’ll put a couple of verses here, and just maybe you will see what I have been seeing all week. In spite of all the work on the farm, Spring is amazing!

This is my Father’s world
And to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres
This is my Father’s world
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas
His hand the wonders wrought
This is my Father’s world
The birds their carols raise
The morning light, the lily white
Declare their maker’s praise
This is my Father’s world
He shines in all that’s fair
In the rustling grass, I hear Him pass
He speaks to me everywhere
Have a fruitful week!
Tom Moelker

Winter wanderings

Christmas is past and the New Year is fast approaching. As I am writing this, the thermometer reads -4 degrees. Brrrr! We have stopped trimming our trees until it warms up a bit because at these very cold temps the wood around our new cuts can be damaged. It seems we are in for a real winter this year!

While it is cold outside, it is also beautiful. The trees are nicely “frosted” with snow. It is amazing how the orchards are transformed into a winter wonderland overnight! I love how each season brings a different type of splendor to the trees. The blossoms of spring, the fruits of summer, the colors of fall, and now that fairyland of winter snow. Hard to work in, but stunning in its quiet beauty.

IMG_0696.JPG        IMG_1489.JPG

So now we find “inside work”. Repair jobs around the farm and house that have patiently (or not so patiently) waited for me to catch up. Sometimes there are many more important things that push these tasks aside, and sometimes it is just procrastination. Just ask my wife about the coat rack I promised last spring that finally went up on Christmas day! Other fix-its that I planned on when I got around to it. Well the “round tuits” are plentiful in weather like this, so I’ve no excuses now. Tax season will be upon us soon so year’s end is a good time to prepare for that. Going through monthly bills and receipts is like living the year all over again. Some good: “What a great cherry season”! And some, well, not so much. At one point this summer all of my tractors were in the shop for repairs! But as we often say, “That’s farming”. It has it ups and downs just like all of life. The secret is to realize that we aren’t the ones in control here, and that the One who is in control wants only good for us. Once we figure that out, it smooths out the paths we travel on.

And winter is also time to relax and have some fun. It’s funny how weather that is too cold to work in the orchard seems to be fine once you put on a snowmobile suit and helmet. We can ride a couple hundred miles on the trails and have fun in that same weather. Some day I’ll figure out why that is. Something to do with perspective, I’m guessing. It’s like if it is too cold and snowy to have school, why are all the kids playing outside, sledding, building snow forts and having snowball fights? Perspective!

IMG_1112.JPG

So with all of that, I’ll wish you a Happy New Year. May you be blessed with ups and downs and most of all, may you realize those blessings.

Have a fruitful week!

Tom Moelker

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving. The word brings with it a hundred different memories. Flashes of times past, aromas of expansive and sumptuous dinners. Gatherings of family and relatives for a once a year celebration. Just the memories alone are something to be thankful for.

Thanksgiving for me is a time of reflection. Maybe it is for all farmers. Because just as the first Thanksgiving dinner long ago was a grateful celebration of God’s gifts of harvest and life itself, a farmer still sees it that way. At least this one does. It is a time for me and my family to count the many blessings we have, and to replay the ups and downs of the past growing season and harvest. Another year has past. Another crop is in. The most recent occurrence in this annual cycle has been the completion of another season of gathering in the crops. That in itself inspires thanks. Another crop, another gift and reward  for our labors. It is easy to be thankful in times like this.

It is tougher to be thankful when things are not as they should be. Sometimes the crop isn’t as bountiful. Sometimes it doesn’t come in at all. Sometimes our health is not what it should be. A relationship has been fractured, or is on a rocky path. Or a loved one will not be at the table this year, taken from us much too soon. In times like this our thanks, if we can even find it, comes through tears. Sometimes giving thanks is hard work.

But God is gracious, and we don’t have to look far to find reasons for thanksgiving. The friends and family that surround us. The joyful giggle of a child, playing a goofy game they have played with you a hundred times before. Or watching your grown children make good decisions as they jump into adult life. Sometimes our blessings are as big and obvious as the world itself. Sometimes they seem to be few and far between. But the truth is, no matter what our situation is in life, we all have reason to be thankful. Whether our “crop” is bountiful or seemingly scarce, our Creator walks with us through the harvest. And as another season comes to an end, we can be sure He will go with us through all the seasons of our lives.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving! (and a fruitful week too!)

Tom Moelker