O Mother, Where Art Thou?

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I bit off more than I could chew.

My family was suffering.

I was suffering.

I had to take a break.


Like many of you, I work full-time, have a spouse that I enjoy spending time with, and children that I adore. And like you, growing and preparing my own food takes a considerable amount of my “free time.” But I’ve always still had free time left over to enjoy my family — playing music together, going for walks or bike rides, fishing, or just “being” together.

And then there’s always been a little free time left to write this blog, too.


That is, until a few months ago.


My blog began to grow more and more successful, resulting in more and more requests for speaking engagements. I said “yes” to them all.

Meetings and programs to promote agriculture in my region began to take off, and more and more people asked me to step up, participate, and even lead in conversations, committees, and boards. I said “yes” to them all.

In short, my weekends and weeknights were quickly being consumed with meetings, conferences, and overnight stays many miles from my home. I was saying “no” to my family more and more.


Then, back in March, my blog was named a “Top 10 Gardening Blog” by Better Homes and Gardens. Most bloggers would jump on that opportunity by writing a flurry of new blog posts or initiating a social media campaign.

Me? I just stopped writing altogether.


I know that sounds crazy, but keep in mind that I never started blogging as source of income. I think it’s realistic to think that I’ll make more money in my current job as a medical school professor than I ever will as an average blogger (or I can be happy in my naiveté). Because I haven’t sought sponsors, advertisers, or used affiliate links to this point, I’ve made $0 from this blog to date, by the way. But I ENJOY it — I love the teaching, sharing, and the connections it’s given me to some really wonderful people, including many of you that regularly communicate with me here or on my Facebook page. Thank you for being here!


So if I enjoy it so much, why did I leave the blog for a while?

My daughters love the Berenstain Bears books, and have a particular fondness for one titled, “Too Much PRESSURE.” The once-happy Bear Family, content at one point with just doing nothing together, begins taking on more and more extracurricular activities, resulting in short tempers and hurried living. It becomes apparent that the Bears want to escape their “fun-filled” life as commitments begin to spiral out of control, but they feel powerless to do so until Mama Bear, normally the calm heart and soul of the family, collapses in tears (my daughters love this part of the story, for some reason). Papa Bear steps in with hugs and some gentle advice, and they all agree to limit their activities and get back to “doing nothing” together.


That Papa Bear can be pretty smart sometimes.


So that’s what I did. I stepped away from (almost) all of my commitments, and I started putting my focus right back where it should be — on my family.

So if you’re one of the many people that I’ve had to say “no” to over the past few months, I hope you understand. It’s not that I think your organization, cause, or meeting is any less worthy than others that I’ve worked with before, but it’s because with every “no” that I give to others, I’m saying “yes” to my little girls and hubby.

Mother's Day. My family took me "out to eat" in the Daniel Boone National Forest.

Mother’s Day. My family took me “out to eat” in the Daniel Boone National Forest.


So I’m back now, feeling energized, renewed, and EXCITED to continue sharing my gardens with you! I’ve gained more focus in what I want to do through the blog, and a sense of how I’ll be able to keep my life in balance while I do it.


And just in time, too — we’ve got Fall and Winter gardens to plan!!!


Best wishes,


Hiking last week in Montana's Lolo National Forest -- thanks, Pa, for letting us tag along on your business trip!

Hiking last week in Montana’s Lolo National Forest — thanks, Pa, for letting us tag along on your business trip!





  1. Texan

    June 18, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    All good things :O), but I totally understand sometimes saying no but thank you… is the best answer :O). I just planted a tray of veggy seeds that will go in for the earliest of my fall garden. I have more stuff to get started as well, for those seeds I will be trying out my soil blocker tool! This will be our first fall/winter to cover one of our hoop frames with plastic… we have always used the hoop frames for shade cloths over our garden due to our extreme heat here… now we will use it to continue to grow right through the fall and winter! I am so excited! I see many many new greens and other cold weather vegetables in our future!

    • Ma Hubbard

      June 18, 2014 at 2:37 pm

      Oh yes! Always a “thank you” in there! Looking forward to hearing more about your garden. And I really appreciate my soil block maker — great tool for minimizing waste and preventing transplant shock. Enjoy!

  2. Lisa from Iroquois

    June 18, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Welcome back.

  3. Cindy Jasper Lackey

    June 18, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    I’m glad you took some time for yourself and your family. You are such a blessing to all who come in contact with you, and we’re happy to glean whatever wisdom you have time to share. Your biggest fan, Cindy Lou

    • Ma Hubbard

      June 18, 2014 at 2:39 pm

      Thank you, Cindy. We had bunch beans for dinner last night and thought of you and your lovely family. Hope to catch up with you soon!

  4. ellenbremer

    June 18, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Best and actually only decision you could make, your family comes first! We’ll be here waiting patiently, while working in our own gardens and enjoying our own families. 🙂 thank you for all that you share.

    • Ma Hubbard

      June 18, 2014 at 2:38 pm

      Thank you!

  5. D. Richardson

    June 18, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Enjoy every little moment together. My little ones grew up right before my eyes and I don’t know where the years went. Now I am the older one in the family. Enjoy those precious girls!

    • Ma Hubbard

      June 18, 2014 at 2:40 pm

      And I do! Thank you!

  6. Ann

    June 18, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    “Been there, done did that” all in the name of helping “the world,” but forsaking precious family time. I did this from 2009 – 2012, years that are forever gone, four years of my children’s fast-growing lives. In 2012, God began to show me in numerous ways that it was time to give up my volunteer work and devote my time and energy to my family again as a stay-at-home mom. It became obvious by the end of 2012, if I didn’t let go of my volunteer position, there was going to be an explosion. As much as I loved what I was doing and although countless people were being helped, I completely let go of my volunteer work for all of 2013. This was a big blessing because I had a chance to regroup and refocus and actually discovered more creative and efficient ways to minister to others compared to what I did in the past. My “sabbatical” is over and I started volunteering again and have to constantly ask God daily to keep me in check because it’s hard for me to say “No” and to turn down opportunities, big or small, to help others.

    Therefore, I understand your plight! I greatly appreciate all you have freely shared with us and will understand if we don’t hear from you periodically. I’ve learned that you can’t fail with the following ordering of priorities: God, family, work (even work for the church!).

    May God continue to bless, strengthen, and guide you.

    • Ma Hubbard

      June 18, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      Ann, thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this perspective. Whereas other aspects of our daily life have a “pause” button, our families certainly do not. I appreciate your openness about your own struggles with saying “no,” and your encouragement to all of us to stay focused on what is important. You are obviously a blessing to many, and certainly to me today.

  7. Danetta Cates

    June 18, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    You are the Best Blogger out there,you continue to place heart,soul & passion in all that you do.for the family & the rest of us. Thank you for sharing all the golden garden nuggets. First thing that came to my mind with your lament “where arth thou” was the physical health of your children & how important keeping the year round source of fresh wholesome veggies available for them is. Making time for them & your spouse is such an unselfish act. With this blog teaching others in larger numbers is made possible. All in all it seems you have made the right decision & hope you are blessed many times over for it.

    • Ma Hubbard

      June 18, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      Aww, thanks Danetta! You’ve been following along since the blog’s “early days” and that means a lot! Yes, we need to stay healthy on many levels, not just physical — I like how you put that. Best wishes!

  8. christine drane

    June 18, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    I’m amazed you even have time to do this blog at all, with a family and a full time career, so, kudos to you for taking a step back. I did indeed find your blog on the BHG website, so I’m an new follower. I’m happy to read any posts, regular or not, excited to follow along, so thanks!

    • Ma Hubbard

      June 18, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      Thank you, Christine. Welcome!

  9. Carol Spooner

    June 18, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    Dear Ma Hubbard — I’m so grateful that you took a break and shared your story about it with all of us as well. It’s so important to maintain balance in our lives. So, you are a wonderful example of recognizing when things got out of balance and taking the necessary steps to recharge and restore your connection to your core values. I appreciate your blog so much and appreciate it even more now.

    Best wishes,


    • Ma Hubbard

      June 18, 2014 at 10:26 pm

      Thank you, Carol!

  10. Janet

    June 19, 2014 at 7:23 am

    I’m new to your blog. I stumbled on it clicking links (you know, like those old commercials for Bing where one thing leads to another, forever). I literally could not stop reading. I was so hungry for what you had to offer here. Hubby and I are going to try a raised bed with cover this fall and winter. I am in zone 6a, not too different from you, in WV. When I showed him the pictures of your winter crops, it finally convinced him that we should get started. We aren’t getting any younger and really need a better way to garden with less work than the old rototill the heck out of everything every couple of weeks and hoe in between times. I understand more now about the need to keep the soil structure intact and keep the organisms healthy and happy. Our garden space is 34 x 90 and our goal is to fill it with raised beds, thanks to you. It will be expensive to buy all the lumber and obtain the right stuff to fill them with, so it’s gonna be one step at a time. But I feel like this is our answer and I’m excited to get started.
    I sure understand your need to step back and re-asses what’s most important. You can’t replace these growing up years for your daughters and it sounds like you’ve got the right idea now. I wish you the best!

    • Ma Hubbard

      June 20, 2014 at 6:06 am

      Thank you, Janet… and welcome here!

  11. Bill Howard

    June 19, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    As the father of seven and also in the medical profession,I empathize completely.Keep your focus on your family,everything else is temporary gratification and will fade with time but your family is with you forever and you need to enjoy the stages they go through before they become adults.

    • Ma Hubbard

      June 20, 2014 at 6:09 am

      Thank you, Bill. Comments like this one help me keep perspective.

  12. Aura Wright

    June 21, 2014 at 10:13 am

    Good for you! I hope you can keep a comfortable balance in your life. Your Facebook page has given me so many ideas and inspiration in gardening! Thank you for all of the details that your articles have provided. I do hope to attempt at least one covered bed this next winter and I am (selfishly) glad that you will be able to keep your FB page going! Thanks again!

    • Ma Hubbard

      June 21, 2014 at 3:33 pm

      Thank you, Aura! Excited to hear how the garden produces for you!

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