They were living in the church parish house and decided it was time to get a place of their own. Down the country road stood an old farmhouse on an overgrown lot among acres of field owned by the neighboring farmers. The house was built in the mid 1800s and in its heyday it boasted a spring house, smoke house, shed, large stable barn with a hay loft, the creek, and land as far as the eye could see.
The fields were sold off to other farmers over time and the only thing left was the house on about one-and-a-half acres and the shed – all in abandoned condition. The large stable barn still stood, but a fence now separated it from the house, sold with the neighboring parcel.
My parents bought the fixer-upper with great excitement and a vision of a house of their own. They already had a toddler girl, and this house had the space they needed for their growing family.
The interior had plaster and lath walls, burn marks above most every electrical outlet due to fires, and the previous owners housed sheep in the basement. This was the project of all projects.
One of the first jobs on the land was to clear it. The grass was more than head high on the entire lot and it all needed cut back and taken under control. Mom and Dad gathered machetes, hack saws, and mowers. The hard work resulted in a beautiful treasure. They found numerous young pine trees hiding there. Planted in rows with care by an owner long before.
Over the course of nine months they gutted the walls, hung new ceilings, and ran new electric. My mother, pregnant with me, used cinder blocks stacked along the back property line for an outhouse – adding more blocks the more pregnant she became.
Finally, the indoor plumbing was finished, drywall hung, and sub-flooring laid. Just in time for my birth in the fall. The winter brought the great blizzard of 1978.
Thankfully my parents had a wood burning stove, and an abundance of wood from clearing the land, to keep us warm. The county sheriff heard news of a baby at our address and came on snow mobile to deliver milk and essentials.
With the house nearly finished, attention was turned to the land again. The pine trees had been nibbled on by sheep, but they transplanted them to the back of the property for a wind break and each one recovered nicely. They ordered fruit trees and Mom tells the story of the planting…
“Your father had the holes already dug for the trees. We received the trees by UPS and then it began to rain, filling up the holes with water. Finally after a week of rain we decide to plant on Saturday, even if we had a monsoon. Monsoon it was and we were outside planting trees with you and your sister looking out the windows. What a bonding experience! We were wet, muddy, and tired, but the trees were planted. Every tree lived and after that every time we planted something large, we dug the hole and filled it with water!”
There was a lovely flat area – three thousand five hundred square feet – just between the apple tree line and the back corn field. The garden was so big our friend Jeff brought his field tractor to turn the soil. With three quick swoops the first turn was done. It would have taken days with the two-wheeled rototiller my Dad shared with my Uncle.
The garden’s longest side contained blackberry bushes, strawberries and asparagus patches. Walk along the rows and you would find potatoes, onions, corn, green beans, lettuces, broccoli and an occasional Tonka™ Truck. My sister and I loved making roads, mountains and creeks amide the pathways. We harvested throughout the growing season and either canned or processed by a blanch-and-freeze method for the winter.
The asparagus patch is still there. In a few weeks the first spears will be peaking through the soil and I will beg my mother for some – as I do every year. To anyone else it might just taste like asparagus, but to me it tastes like home.
Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
Asparagus, one bunch (about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds)
Bacon, one pound
Cheese – Parmesan or Mozzarella, shredded
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and nest a wire rack inside.
- Wet a paper towel with olive oil and rub generously on the rack.
- Working with one asparagus spear and one slice of bacon at a time, snap an inch or two off the cut-end of the spear. Wrap spear with one slice of bacon.
- Place on rack, leaving about 1/2 inch gap in between. Do not allow them to touch.
- Once all the spears are wrapped, place in oven for 18-20 minutes, or until the bacon is to the crispness you desire.
- Remove tray from oven and use tongs to transfer spears to a serving tray.
- Sprinkle with cheese and serve.