I have been telling everyone that someday I will look back on this year and refer to it as “that year I almost died.” I hardly know where to start this story. I suppose I should start it at the best part, I am here for another year. I was able to grow enough to offer you 78 new varieties of tomatoes, 30 new peppers, and flesh out the rest of the catalog by offering about a hundred other new items including beans, corn, squash, cucumbers, herbs and a lot more.
I would like to apologize to anyone that placed an order this summer and it was slow getting to you. Or, if you emailed me a question and I didn’t respond in a timely manner, then I am sorry.
The other side of the story is that I almost had to throw in the towel and call it quits. It all started sometime in May when I noticed my pants were having a hard time staying up. I work hard, so to lose a few pounds early in the year is pretty common. I started having muscle cramps. Then the exhaustion hit. I assumed that working in the heat had caused an electrolyte imbalance. I self medicated, changed my diet, and upped my fluids.
By the time June rolled around I was sick. I was having muscle spasms so often that I was having trouble just doing common chores. By the middle of June I felt so bad that I knew I was terribly ill. On Sunday June 24th my entire body cramped up and I fell in the floor unable to get up. It takes a lot for me to get to the Doctor. Being spread out on the floor unable to help yourself will motivate you to get to the Doctor. By this time I had lost 26 pounds, which on my frame is a huge amount of weight. They took blood and lots of it, did X-rays and worked me over from head to toe. They could not find the problem. It was not until the third round of testing that on July 5th I was diagnosed with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. By this time, just getting out of bed had become a chore. Having an untreated infection for 2 ½ months seems to have really damaged my body. I am still struggling today. During all of this, the 600-700 tomato plants and the hundreds of other vegetable plants that were planted where I picked up this disease all died. We had the worst drought in 40 years. Nothing survived. All of the hard work was for nothing. Luckily I had a couple of back-ups to the main field and I still ended up with seeds, just not as much. The garden in the backyard combined with the bucket loads of tomatoes my friend “Historyman” brought me almost daily has allowed me to do this another year.
I am still committed to breeding new varieties. All of my breeding grow-outs were carried to the next generation. I have some pretty amazing things in the works, If I can hang on just a few more years.
It was not the year I wanted it to be, but it was good enough. Being thankful for what I have and finding contentment in where I have come from is enough.
I have failed at many things, I am broken, and I have many flaws. But I am a real person and in spite of all my shortcomings I have people in my life that find value in me. I am the person I say I am. I don’t have to pretend to be a hayseed farmer or a huge corporation just to get someone to buy my seeds.
I have a lot of hope. I have hope for next year being better. I have hope that this business will succeed. I have hope that I will breed a tomato that will outlive me.
But mostly I hope to spend more time living in the moment. I hope to make more of an effort to find contentment with what I have and not obsess about what I don’t have.
None of us will leave this world with anything.
To paraphrase Martin Luther, in the end we are all going to be nothing but beggars.