My Introduction to the Self-Reliant Life

After helping out on a New Mexico farm one summer, I learned to be more self-reliant and created my first business.

| August/September 2009

My name is Treska and I am 13 years old. I live in New Mexico, in a little town nestled in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, along the Rio Grande. This year, I decided that I wanted to be home-schooled. I had a few reasons for this, one of them being that I wanted to stay near my garden. It was important to me to watch my squash plants bloom, and I wanted to harvest all the dark green, tender zucchinis hiding under their gigantic, silver-speckled leaves.

A Hands-on Introduction to Farming

In the summer of 2008, I worked on a little farm about 5 minutes away from my house. The farmer who I worked for, Jeff, was really great and patient with me. He showed me how to do everything and answered all of my questions. At the farm, I did everything from weeding to cutting lettuce heads. I harvested garlic, spinach, radishes, and peas. I even helped Jeff sell his produce at the farmers market at the end of the week. When I was working at the farm, something really clicked. Maybe it was finding out how much I could do myself and seeing how things worked, and just being self-reliant. I felt like I could do this kind of work forever.

I find farming gratifying and fulfilling. I called myself “the protector,” while tearing out the weeds around newly transplanted tomato plants, and felt proud when I lugged in two huge jack-o’-lantern pumpkins from outside. This was farming to me, and I loved it with all my heart.

One day Jeff took me and four other employees to visit Gemini Farm, a six-acre farm located about one hour southeast of Taos, in a tiny town called Las Trampas. Gemini Farm has about one acre of potatoes, four hothouses for tomatoes, and rotation beds of greens, radishes, carrots, and many other crops. It also has about 20 goats, a handful of cats, and two donkeys named Jake and Major who do all of their plowing and help them harvest potatoes and other root vegetables.

When we arrived, after successfully finding their almost-invisible dirt road, Teague, the oldest of the two brothers who live at Gemini, was sitting on an Amish plow seat in a jungle of hanging rows of garlic, making a garlic braid. This was my first introduction to what living off the land is really like. The brothers said they had only gone to the grocery store once that month, and that was just for toothpaste and olive oil.

Later that day, I met Jennie, who had been living and working at Gemini Farm for about a year. I liked her right away. She asked me if I wanted to take a ride with her on one of the donkeys. I had never even seen a donkey up-close before, much less ever ridden one, but it seemed too good of an opportunity to pass up. I was hoisted up into the seat, and we set off into the sunset, with me on Major and Jennie atop Jake. We crossed the creek, which serves as one of the main water sources for Gemini farm, and headed off toward the brilliant green goat pastures. The heat from Major’s body was lovely, and when we stopped for a bit, I lay down on his back and felt his sides rise and fall under me as the sun went down.

Lori Howerter
9/11/2009 5:46:48 PM

Treska, I am new to the self sufficient lifestyle, recently married a man who has spent his life living this way. I am, for the first time in my life, learning to love growing my own food. I invite you to view my families blog on this subject. You are well on your way to living a happy, self sufficient life, you have the passion for it, and that is the most important thing.

8/22/2009 12:00:51 AM

Treska - Thank you so much for reminding me to whisper to my seeds. Such a sweet and basic thing, something I did when younger (about your age) but somehow forgot as time and life rolled on by. Your essay is an inspiration and a blessing to all who read it. You have a beautiful spirit, and I wish you all the very best. Catherine

Seth T
8/20/2009 4:52:22 PM

What an amazing essay. What an amazing young person. Excellent work, in so many ways. Thank you for this piece, and your love of the land.

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