Saturday, December 13, 2008

Joy's 2008 Christmas Letter

Here is the Christmas newsletter Joy sent out this year (minus the picture, which was taken on Thanksgiving--that was my contribution):

December 12, 2008

Greetings Friends and Family,

JoyI have been struggling to decide on Christmas cards this year, as my year has been filled with unimaginable events. I am so glad we don’t know at the end of one year what the next one will bring. We just take it as it comes and with God’s Grace make it though...

I think most everyone who will receive this letter does know that Ron was killed tragically in a tractor accident on June 17. It was so unbelievable. He was here, and then he wasn’t. I felt comfort in knowing that he went the way he would have wanted to go. He was in the tomato field he loved, and it was instant, without any pain or suffering. He would not have wanted to be injured of incapacitated and be a burden to anyone. He was able to live out his dream of ‘playing in the dirt’ for 19 years, and although he didn’t get to try all the innovative ideas and plans he had for the future, he was able to make a difference in the agriculture scene both locally and state wide with his efforts in starting the local Farmer’s Market and participation in the Midwest Vegetable Growers Association and the Mississippi River Hills Association.

Last night I felt like I could finally write a letter. I visited with our Pastor yesterday to decide how the memorial money, which came in through our church, was to be used. It was amazing the tributes which came from literally across the country and totaled $830.00. These were not large amounts, but represented a lot of people who loved and respected Ron and whom he touched during his lifetime. My children and I decided that Ron wouldn’t have wanted a memorial to himself, but would like to help others, as he was so community minded. Because of the Christmas season and with so much need within our church and around the community, we were able to pick five families connected with our church with immediate needs and assist with rent, utilities, and food. I wanted you to know that your contributions are doing great good this Christmas season. Thank you for your generosity.

On June 17, the garden was nearly planted with around 600 tomato plants in the ground, several varieties of peppers and squash, cucumbers, and okra. Kevin and Kim decided they wouldn’t let Dad’s produce go to waste, so they took over the garden. There were still a couple hundred plants not planted, so with the help of Emily’s family and other friends, they completed several rows
and planted a few more tomatoes. Over 100 plants were taken to the Farmer’s Market and given to anyone who wanted them. Of course, everyone was thrilled to get one of Ron’s plants!

Over the next 12 weeks, the kids processed over 3 tons of tomatoes and unknown quantities of the other vegetables. The weather was very good for growing this Summer, and when it looked like the cucumbers or squash was about to die, it would rain and cool off, and we would get more. Kevin and Emily, Kim and Monty (her friend), and extended families and friends worked so hard to process all the produce. We sent a load to a food coop in St. Louis every week, as well as sold at the Farmer’s Market twice a week. It was a bumper crop! Ron would have been proud!

Needless to say, we were all tired and ready for the season to be over, but yet hating to see it end, as it will be the end of produce on Hale Farms. The kids decided it’s more work than they can take on, and how would they ever grow all those plants like Dad did. He had done a lot of the work for them this year.

Tami and Chris spent the first week with Kim and Kevin as they finished the garden and gave away plants at the Market, but she decided she wasn’t the ‘farmer type’! She is my behind the scene person, working up my spread sheets and trying to plan my financial future. I couldn’t do without her expertise and help. Her job takes her around the world, where she does marketing and consulting for major corporations, so my small finances are easy for her! Our five year old Granddaughter, Kami, misses her grandpa, but was a great help in the garden. She picked cherry tomatoes one day for over an hour, came out green up to her shoulders, but was so proud of her bucket of tomatoes! We are expecting another granddaughter in February. Kevin and Emily found out the day before Father’s Day, which was the Sunday before the accident about their baby, so Ron did know he was to be grandpa again. We’re praying for a healthy baby and easy delivery for Emily.

My parents live in Farmington in an assisted living facility and are doing pretty good for age 82 and 84. I bring them out for all family occasions and dinners and try to see them most every day. I am so glad they are close by. My family has been so important during this last six months. My brothers and sister and families have been here, helping clean out barns and garages and work in the yard. Ron’s brother and wife, Rick and Judy, and other friends worked with

Kevin to put up the hay this summer. They baled over 1,000 square bales and 100 or more large bales. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful family. In addition to family, there have been so many neighbors and friends who have been there for us this year. I am so thankful for each of you for your love and support.

It has been your prayers and support that have brought us through this year. We really do feel God’s presence keeping us going and giving us hope for the future. I probably will down size my house, and maybe move to town sometime over the next year. I will try to keep the farm land, as Kevin has plans for the land, and plans to bale the hay next year.

Please continue to pray for me and my family, as we continue to work out our lives and future. I have peace to know that God knows best, and I am accepting his promise that he will give us life abundantly, more than we can ever ask or expect. So I’ll wait to see what the future holds.

Best wishes for a wonderful Christmas and a Great New Year,

Joy and Family

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