Waxing Poetic (farm blog)
The sad greens after the deep freeze. They just need a bit more time and some well earned sunshine.
I am used to easy. I’ve historically chosen to be the big fish in a small pond, so to speak. I’ve always “played within my league.” I didn’t try to get into an Ivy League school (nope, I went where my slightly above average test scores delivered a scholarship). As soon as my major threw some challenges my way, I switched majors. I am not an over achiever. This path of least resistance instills a sense of ease and comfort that one gets used to. So I’ve noticed that I get upset when things aren’t easy. I feel so wronged! “Easy street, why have you forsaken me!”
This can be as simple as a bolt that refuses to budge, or, the current case, plants that refuse to grow. Immediately I’m tempted to give up on winter growing. To return to yoga and pickleball and sitting in front of the wood stove with a cat on my lap. This is not the path of least resistance. This is not easy. It’s uncomfortable and frustrating and a little heartbreaking.
But this morning’s guided meditation was about sticking it out through discomfort. About the impermanence of these little inconveniences. So with that in mind and with your hungry faces in mind, I’m going to keep at this winter growing thing. I’m going to turn off from easy street and face down the challenges ahead of me. I’m not going to give up.
The height of winter farm fashion!
So you might have noticed that it's been a bit, um, chilly outside this past week. This weather mostly has me playing at office manager. But it also has me playing my favorite role as farm fashionista. Seriously, I still have clothes from the early 90s (wait, that's not back in style yet is it?) and weather like this requires that I put it on. Put all of it on.
So here I go with my high school softball warm up jacket, my Americorps sweatshirt (I did Americorps in 1998!), a pink polar fleece that my college roommate gave me (circa 1994, thanks Jenny!), an old wool sweater that used to be Jason's, as well as his old (early 90s) Dua-fold base layer shirts that aren't quite one big hole yet (all of them), a scarf of many bright colors that my aunt made me several years ago (thanks Mary Louise!), and my "vintage unknown" ear flap hat that my mom bought me at a thrift store (thanks Mom!). It takes a whole village, and several decades, to raise up a majestic farm fashionista such as myself.
I borrowed this picture from the internet, no, we do not yet have carrots.
Let’s be clear: I am not musical. I cannot sing, I cannot play a musical instrument, I can barely even dance (although in the moment, I always believe I can). But I have a second mundane super power (well, since you asked: my first mundane super power is choosing the perfect size Tupperware for the leftovers): coming up with band names.
My band used to be called “Inappropriate Carrot”. My friend Marissa has a tattoo of a carrot that says “Root of all evil.” And if my band was still called “Inappropriate Carrot”, I would definitely get a tattoo of an inappropriate carrot (“definitely”-I mean you’ve got to be committed to your musical project right?). Perhaps, if you’ve never grown carrots, since only the appropriate carrots make it to market, you’ve never come across an inappropriate carrot. Have no fear! You can join in the fun too! Turns out, inappropriate carrots have made it to the internet (shocking!). Just Google “inappropriate carrot” to find all the reject carrots that never made it to market.
Speaking of rejects, my band name has since evolved into “Edible Rejects”. Good huh? It sort of fits that inappropriate carrots are edible rejects, and that my band might encompass more than just carrots.
Spinach! It's ecstatic about winter farming!
It was 70 degrees today. And yesterday. With winter weather like this, what am I going to complain about? How, prey tell, am I going to complain about winter farming? Even with the open packing shed it was far from suffering today. In fact, I wanted to be working outside. Well, I wanted to be outside. I don't know about the working thing yet.
Truth be told though, I don't do well with inactivity. I was unemployed for a short time once, and I played the computer game "Snood" until I could beat every level consistently. Seriously. I put it on my resume! Okay, so maybe that was why I was unemployed, but that's a crazy accomplishment! I bet my niece, who originally loaded it onto my computer, was never able to beat all the levels consistently.
So working a bit in the winter is probably not a terrible thing for me. Besides, I get to see your smiling faces a bit too! And I miss you over the winter (I do!). And weather like this makes it all good.
Chairman Meow knows there's time to snuggle, even if it's in the field
I know there’s a “to-do” list somewhere, but at this point it’s sort of an abstract concept floating out there in the corner of my mind somewhere. Like those little squiggles you see after looking at a bright light that hang out in your peripheral vision and that you know are there but that disappear as soon as you try to focus on them.
I just plug along, toiling away the short cold days with small, accomplish-able tasks. Despite nursing along a few winter crops and spending three days harvesting, washing, packing and going to market, I still manage to find time to stare at the fire in the wood stove and snuggle with my kitten. I still find time to slow down, to relax, to renew the spirit that propelled me to this profession all those years ago.
Emerging February crops
We haven’t allowed an alarm clock since the crew left us in November. Well, except for Wednesdays. We are trying to fool ourselves into thinking that we are getting our usual end of the season break, despite entering into the brave new world of winter farming. It’s quite the negotiation.
The to-do list looms large, but we’re still tending our winter crops and planting late winter crops, all the while trying desperately not to work more than 40 hours/week. That’s a break right? We keep pushing goals further and further into the future and it feels like we’re just spinning our wheels.
This must be what it felt like all those years ago when we first entered began, but all we can recall is washing radish bunches under fluorescent lights late into the evening. Something we laugh about now, but it must have felt a little like this back then. A little like your one mistake away from being completely out of control.
We take comfort in that. We survived. We’re still here, 11 years later, entering yet again a brave new world.
I just squandered a couple of hours taking a nap with the kitten. "Squandered" isn't exactly the right word since I have no regrets. Sure, there are things to do, but we've officially entered the slow(er) season. I like to call it the lap cat season, since it's what I spend a good amount of time doing.
It's cold and dark a bit later in the morning and earlier in the afternoon. Everything grows a lot slower, even the weeds. The farmily all scatter and leave us undisciplined. And it's plum difficult to muster the sort of urgency that has punctuated our lives since March. Things will get done when they get done and that's that. So let's put our feet up at the end of the day and provide a lap for a cat.
a random picture of an crowd surfing I found on the internet
I attended my first punk show last Wednesday. Ha ha. Can you picture it? A pair of overalls and a plaid collared shirt in a sea of black leather and painted skulls. But the punks didn’t seem to mind, or really even notice. In other words, I fit right in.
A large part of punk shows, as it turns out, is crowd surfing. Have you ever seen crowd surfing? It takes the whole crowd, essentially, to catch the stranger diving from the stage, each member lending their upraised hands, and pass them around overhead without dropping them. It’s an astounding exercise in trust and community. You leap, literally into the hands of many complete strangers and trust that they’re going to catch you and hold you up. And it works!
Of course I found a metaphor in this. I didn’t crowd surf at the show (after all, I had never even heard of the band before that evening…crowd surfing just seemed like too much, plus I’m Midwestern and surely Midwesterners do not crowd surf.) But still, I relate to the concept. This exercise in trust and community is not unlike the one that small business owners like ourselves experience every day. You leap out into the community around you and trust that everyone will do their small part to keep you afloat. See? Crowd surfing. Thanks, y’all, for not dropping us on our heads!
a random picture of an Italian mealtime I found on the internet
Have you heard of the benefits of the Mediterranean diet? Of all the dietary trends and recommendations filtering in and out of our lives, the Mediterranean diet is the most persistent. Eating Well magazine had an article about “9 foods you should be eating” that was modeled after the Mediterranean diet. Jason (who is cooking lasagna from scratch including making the sauce and pasta), had enough: “Yeah Mediterraneans are healthy, but is it because they eat couscous and eggplant or because they have their priorities in order—they spend time preparing and enjoying meals rather than on the run in the car alone.”
Hmmm indeed. We do live in a super fast-paced society, where we accomplish the impossible and more, but rarely find time to prepare and enjoy a meal together. I’ve never been to Italy, but when I think of it, I think of large numbers of people gathered around long tables with wine and many courses of delicious, lovingly prepared food. I think this is what Jason meant: are Mediterranean people healthy because of what they eat, or because of how they eat? Or perhaps it’s a combination of both of these things. Slowing down, preparing meals from scratch, automatically means you’re using whole, unadulterated foods, and slowing down--being "present in the moment." Perhaps we're not just what we eat, but how we eat. I think I'd like to be more Italian :)
Big sigh. Big indignant sigh. Sometimes in life, you just have to suffer from heartbreak. “Grit your teeth and bear it”. “You win some, you lose some”. Etc. Etc. adages ad nauseum. But what else can you do? The trick, I am told, is to let it go. Recognize that nothing is permanent, that tomorrow is another day, and move on. Accept everything with grace and patience and equanimity.
But I don’t always do as I’m told, do I (Mom? Dad?)? Nope. And I. Want. Revenge. You don’t have to tell me that this is not becoming, or kind, or that those deer who destroyed our carrot patch didn’t know they were hurting us, or whatever other philosophical greater good you can come up with. I will indulge the lesser of myself and go back on my nightly prowls until I satisfy my deep seated tribal instinct and get my revenge. Indeed, this is a prime situation for the current day maxim: “Sorry, not sorry.” Now let’s go get us some venison.