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
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
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
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
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
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
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.