By Gloria Yoder
It’s true. Then sun is shining and it even feels a bit like spring!
The best thing about sunny days (in my way of thinking) is unwinding in the chestnut field with 1,135 saplings. Going up and down the long rows, there’s usually something to do. Yesterday I started with the project of untying the black ties that secure the trees to the tube-like guards.
These covers serve as mini-greenhouses and shelter from deer. Once both ties are opened I strip the shelter from the tree, then place my gloved hand on the base of the tree and slip it up to remove all dead leaves. I always keep an eye open for any weeds that may be poking their heads up through the inside of the shelters. These young saplings don’t need competition of weeds.
Now that the weeds are pulled and leaves removed, I slip the cover back over the tree and tie it in position. The job in pleasant and fresh air rejuvenating. The after math of being sore isn’t all that exciting, though! On Wednesday, when the children came home from school Julia and Austin were like two frisky colts turned out in the pasture in early spring! I told them they could skip most of their routine after-school jobs and go for the chestnut grove instead. Amazing what children their age can do with some enthusiasm. I never imagined it would be such a pleasure, in so many ways, to watch children grow older!
I have also discovered the 5-year-old boys, Jesse and Elijah, can help a lot by opening ties and taking the guards off for me a tree or two ahead of me. Sometimes when they start to get bored we’ll each take a row and race to see who can do their row first and reach the edge of the woods. At two years old Joshua enjoys going out, but is soon tired of trailing after me. In a year from now I’m guessing it won’t be as overwhelming for him to walk so far. Generally I try to do most of my work while he’s napping.
The best part of all is to watch the new growth this spring. By mid summer we are hoping to have them shooting out the top of the five foot guards.
The question was tossed, “So what motivated you to plant these trees in the first place?”
Good question; generally a person wouldn’t plant that many trees just because they wanted all the work involved with it! Daniel’s vision was for the chestnuts to provide a project for his children in years to come that would also be a source of income as they are harvested and sold. He was super impressed to learn that these nuts are a balanced food, providing rich nutrition. These nuts can also be ground into flour and used in many unique ways (which I have a lot to learn about yet!)
We have many wonderful times together as we labored together as a family, before Daniel passed. I treasure the times I learned alongside Daniel as we cared for the trees during those first stages of our new endeavors. Amid the heartaches of keenly missing our Daddy and Hubby, there have been countless blessings strewn throughout. One profound blessing is Daniel’s parents, who have moved into a little cabin in the woods, just beyond the chestnut grove.
If we need help with anything, be it chestnuts, or any other dilemma that has popped up, we can tell Grandpa, and he’ll be here at a moment’s notice. The little path Grandpa made through the woods from the chestnut field to their house is perfect for the children to walk over to Grandma’s house anytime.
I cherish this rich blessing. Surely no blessing is to be taken for-granted; it is all a true gift and life is uncertain. Now, it’ll be a year or two until the chestnut trees will be bearing, so I can’t give you a tried and true chestnut recipe. Instead we’ll settle with blonde brownies my mom used to make when I was a little girl. I loved the fudge-y texture as I bit into them. How little did I know all that my mom really did for me!
“Thank you to our dear parents for all you have done for both Daniel and I!”
2/3 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips or raisins
1/2 cup nuts (optional)
Melt butter in a two quart saucepan. Add brown sugar and stir, then add eggs and mix well. Next add dry ingredients and chocolate chips or raisins and nuts. Spread in a greased 1 x 10 x 15 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until set. Do NOT over-bake.
Gloria Yoder is an Amish mom, writer, and homemaker in rural Illinois. The Yoders travel primarily by horse-drawn buggy and live next to the settlement’s one-room school-house. Readers can write to Gloria at 10510 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427