Another season passed since I have sat at this computer and written about the farm. Ha, I knew better than to think otherwise. It was a good growing season. Some highlights:
Our crew of Sarah with her twins, and Tasha watching 4 kids, was busy, fun, alive, and really hilarious. Amazingly enough Sarah, who was my main help and came 2-3 days a week for a few months, shares March 16 with me as our Birthday!
So needless to say we sorta understood each other and had good times. Too short, as it seems to always be, and when the crew was ready to move on to school in mid-August it all went to pot. We had been doing really good on keeping up with harvest, making it to market, really pushing it. Not to mention it was a GOOD raspberry season with a tolerable amount of wasp damage, but not over the threshold!
Then all of a sudden, two weeks after the last work day with a crew, the buttery and delicious silver slicer cukes turned into swollen fruits reminiscent of baby body parts. The beans were tough and tip gnawed by mice. The statice over bloomed and laying in the path. Ug. Then the smoke arrived and it became hazardous to one’s health to go outside. It was disturbing but I had to let go of market, salvage the garlic planting, and cleanup and harvest remaining crops the best I could. Then school began for Leo, and I couldn’t justify being away all day Saturday and miss one of two precious days with him. Life shifted and the farm came to a new place in my mind. A place that can handle being on hold. Even if there are carrots still in the ground. Even if it keeps the deer hanging around.
Ah shucks. It turns out I am not really a farmer. A farmer has to dig the last carrot (and never by hand, real farmers harvest carrots mechanically), even when that farmer feels like they can’t. Real farmers have crop commitments pre-selling their produce and know exactly how many 2 lb. bags of carrots come out of a 100 foot bed. Real farmers have fences around their fields, gadgets and rigged cultivators buried in grass, and usually, not always (so forgive me friends if you are the exception, i love you), but usually, a handy Man on the place.
It seems I don’t really have a name for what I do. It only matters to me to help explain and justify the amount of time and money I put into my work here. Market Gardener is close…but is it if I only go to market 4-8 times a season. Upick farm? I picture mid-west apples and hay bale rides, and farm stores filled with shelves of jam and knitted socks. I can’t be a homesteader because I don’t have a cow, and I lack the swales to have a permaculture demonstration site. But I know this:
I am a mother of two young boys who needs hard work outside for her sanity. I am a wife who’s husband works a challenging, rigorous 40 hr/wk job to support the family. I keep house, cook meals and try to show my deep gratitude for his contributions by not letting my farm be the most important member of our family.
I am a girl who grew up in the suburbs; who neither had city smarts or an understanding of how water really got to the bathroom sink. I now LOVE that feeling when I replace the blades on the brush mower by- my-self. When I un-load a pallet with my tractor or when I install an entire drip irrigation system over 1 1/2 acres on my own.
I believe that food is our number one medicine, and it is the first thing a person should consider changing if they don’t feel well. I think EVERYONE should know how the water gets to the sink and how to grow a carrot.
I love making beauty with plants to help people smile and relax. I will always need to do this. It’s a bonus, and it feels really good, if I can make some money for my efforts.
This is where I land on the longest night of the year. My head and heart ready to see the changes that are in the midst. Less market, more Upick. Less vegetables, more cover crop. I’ll work on reframing my work, refining my varieties and taking care of what I have. On this longest night I count my blessings and say my thanks, so a huge hug of appreciation and gratitude to everyone who came and supported me at the farmers market, or who came to our farm to harvest their own berries. It is you who gave me form and purpose.
On this winter solstice, while photos remind me of the lush productive greenery of summer, the farm is under a light blanket of snow. Most of the major projects wrapped up, and major deadlines met. Lots of small things to finish, shops to organize, tools to fix. As we skied by the apples trees and raspberry patch today I told Grayson, Shhhhh, they are sleeping. They are there, just having their long winter nap. They’ll be back. The amazing life of plants continues and pulls us through the dark.
And don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter. It’s quiet, but the roots are down there riotous. –Rumi