Spring garden and back to work

It is 4:30 a.m. and son Joseph just left for work. They have a one-and-a-half-hour drive to the job site today, so they had to leave earlier than usual. Joseph enjoys construction work.

Son Benjamin started back to work this week at the horse trailer factory after being off since March 23. Unfortunately, the factory shut down a few lines, leading to layoffs for quite a few employees. My husband Joe was one of them. We are hoping and praying that the economy will pick up again so he can also go back to work before too long.

Son-in-law Mose was called back to work too, which was a great relief for them. The layoffs have been hard on families who struggle to make ends meet without an income. We are thankful we have canned food and a freezer of meat to rely on. Our trips to town have been few the last few months, and we realize we can make do with less. God is good and we put our full trust in him.

Son Kevin has finished a few of his school subjects, with daughter Verena now in charge as his teacher. It is a big help to me to have her explain the work to him. She keeps him motivated, as he seems to have other interests that are more fun to him.

My husband Joe has been planting more garden, and now has our potatoes out. The peas, radishes, and onions are still doing well. I really do hope it warms up to stay soon. I like to work in the garden when I can go barefoot and don’t need a jacket. Since Joe is not back to work, I haven’t had to help with the garden yet. My turn is coming though, once the weeds start taking over, and that will be here before we know it.

Sunday, we hosted church services in our pole barn, which was the first time we met since the lockdown. Our church members decided to gather for the service, and then all leave and have their lunches at home. Usually, the family hosting the church service furnishes a lunch such as sandwiches made with homemade wheat and white bread, ham, cheese or cheese spread, pickles, red beets, butter and jam, and coffee and tea. It was decided to skip the lunch and ask everyone to eat at home to honor the COVID-19 lockdown rules. It didn’t feel right not to sit and visit and have lunch with our church fellowship, but we are thankful that we could at least gather together to hear God’s word.

Church benches fill the Eicher family pole-barn for church services they hosted. Photo provided.

After preparing for church services for weeks, it is a relief to have our turn over for another year. Now we can concentrate on other work. My goal is to get some sewing done.

Our five grandchildren are really growing up fast. They each have a unique thing about them. They are so precious to us! Abigail is three and a half, Timothy (T.J.) is 17 months, and baby Allison is four months now. Allison, when put on a blanket on the floor, rolls over and over and scoots forward on her tummy, so she’s not too safe just anywhere. She’s little but mighty. Jennifer is two and Ryan is nine months. Ryan scoots on his bottom or pushes backwards on his tummy. He doesn’t like to crawl on his knees but has figured out ways to get around.

My rhubarb is looking nice and plentiful, so I want to can rhubarb juice, and of course it’s not officially spring until those first rhubarb custard pies are taken from the oven. According to my husband, Joe, that is the first thing rhubarb should be used for in the spring.

Asparagus is also on the menu now at our house. The first of it froze from that cold snap we had. There are so many ways to fix it. Stay healthy and safe!

I will share my recipe for rhubarb juice this week. We love it!

God’s blessings to all!


Rhubarb Juice

8 pounds rhubarb, washed and diced
8 quarts water
2 (12-ounce) cans frozen orange juice
2 (46-ounce) cans pineapple juice
4 cups sugar
2 (3-ounce) packages strawberry gelatin

Combine rhubarb and water and cook 25-30 minutes or until rhubarb is soft. Strain liquid into a bowl, discarding rhubarb. Add the orange and pineapple juices, sugar, and gelatin. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Serve the juice as is, add club soda or ginger ale, or mix with additional pineapple juice.

The juice may be frozen or canned. To can the juice, heat to 190 degrees. Ladle into hot quart jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims with a dampened paper towel and adjust lids. Process in a boiling-water canner for 20 minutes. Makes 8–10 quarts.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available now from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email  LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

3 thoughts on “Spring garden and back to work”

  1. Your rhubarb comments today made me think about the rhubarb custard pies with meringue, made by my Great Aunt. I have her recipe and I think I will have to give it a try! She was quite the cook and baker and gardener (her pies and flowers were legend in their area). We are still on stay at home orders where we live and my children are eating so much – growing, teenage boys have large appetites! Hopefully an extra pie will help.

    Thank you so much for your column; I enjoy it so much and have yet to try a “bad” recipe!

  2. Enjoyed another one of your columns today. I look forward to it every Saturday. Your recipes are the best. I love rhubarb. Hopefully your husband will be called back to work soon. We too are learning that we can get by with less since this pandemic started. Thank you for letting us have insight into your family and for the delicious recipes. May the Lord bless you and your family.

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