Craft projects can give you a perspective on farming. No, really, it’s not the fumes from the floral preservative talking.

I decorate my parents’ graves for every season and major holidays. My mom was not a fan of decorating graves and told me she didn’t want garish decorations, so I try to keep things classy and understated, things that mean something for me and for the friends and family who visit the grave to pay their respects and to remember.

My parents used to decorate our house in Amboy every Christmas with a beautiful, blue lighting scheme. That involved hundreds of hours on my dad’s part getting out lights, testing them, replacing bulbs, attaching them carefully so that they wouldn’t come off in the event of an apocalypse or something.

The end result was beautiful, blue lights on the shrubs and electric candles with blue lights in all of the windows. It looked classy and elegant and festive and always put me in the Christmas mood.

This year, I wanted to try to do something on a smaller scale to unite my own house in Peru, my parents’ house in Amboy and their gravesite.

I was in Walmart for something entirely different — isn’t that always the way it works? I wasn’t even looking at or thinking about the decorations when I saw the first Walmart Christmas decorations being put on shelves, the wreaths and swags and garlands.

I found three perfect blue-and-silver decorated wreaths. My best friend picked up a fourth from her local Walmart.

But grapevine wreaths fall apart in weather, and I wanted these to last past Christmas, since they’re winter-themed, too.

I went to the font of all knowledge, the Internet, specifically Facebook. I am not a crafty person. I can have occasional spurts of creativity, but those are best expressed through a camera lens or via a computer keyboard.

Writing and photography are my creative outlets. I admire the folks who can see an idea and then make it come to life.

But I needed a way to preserve my wreaths, one for each of the houses, and one for the gravesite. A Facebook friend suggested floral preservative as a good way to do that.

I went to the local Hobby Lobby, where a salesperson and a lady shopping were gracious enough to answer questions I had about my wreath project. I came home with four cans of floral preservative.

So today, since it’s warm enough, bless Mother Nature’s fickle little heart, to be outside and undertake an outside project without freezing to death in half a second, I went out to spray my floral preservative on my wreaths. I put cardboard down, put my wreaths down and read the label carefully.

What I’ve learned from my just-completed seven years at AgriNews is that you always read the labels when you’re dealing with chemicals — always. If the chemicals are going on thousands of acres or four grapevine wreaths, you read the label first.

I checked for drift. I also have learned drift matters. Even on a seemingly windless, still day, there still can be a breeze. Breeze can carry fertilizers, pesticides and floral preservative to places where you don’t want any of those substances to be.

Most of the farmers I know are eminently aware of drift. First of all, for them, they’ve made a much more substantial investment than I have with my four cans of floral preservative. It’s wasting that money if the product doesn’t go where it’s supposed to go.

They know that things can drift into windows and onto clothes on clotheslines. They know that things can drift into streams. They don’t want to hurt their own families, their neighbors or the wildlife around them.

They may be hunting those deer that drink from that stream. They do not want that stream to be polluted with those chemicals. They and I also are aware that chemicals that drift onto other surfaces can wash off later and still be a water concern, which is why drift control is so important.

I checked to see what the proper amount was and the distance. Again, farmers do the same. You want enough to do the job properly, but too much is just a waste and can create problems.

I stopped to let my wreath project dry before going on. Even as I stepped back outside to finish up, I thought about craft projects being like farming, at least in a small way.

We all use chemicals in our daily lives. Most of us know enough to be careful, to read the label first, to control where the chemicals go and to make sure we’re not doing more harm than good by using whatever chemical we have.

In farming, it’s the same way.

How we use those chemicals and how we handle them, the respect we have for the good — and the bad — that they can do, is no different really than how farmers use chemicals to fertilize the soil and control weeds and pests.

Are there people who misuse everyday chemicals, such as household chemicals and floral preservative? Sure. They end up paying the price in some form or fashion.

Are there a few “bad apple” farmers who have misused farm chemicals? Yes. And the same goes for them.

But my wreath project shouldn’t be painted with the broad brush of someone who buys a can of floral preservative to get a cheap high or who doesn’t read the label and ends up with a faceful of spray preservative.

And the millions of farmers who use farm chemicals judiciously and who respect the power of those chemicals, shouldn’t be painted with the brush of those few who disregard themselves and their surroundings and use farm chemicals irresponsibly.

My wreaths looked great when I finished up. The preservative will be a benefit and will insure that the wreaths last longer for more people to enjoy. Without the preservative, my wreaths would fall apart.

I’d say the same for the fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides that farmers use. They use them responsibly and sustainably, with others in mind, to make sure that the land and the seed that grows in it will continue to produce for generations.