Life on the farm is very cyclical, and although the seasons and their comings and goings, have always been at the forefront of my awareness, coloring my world both outside and in, there is also on the farm this continual presence of the duality of life. Here we are, still eating mostly winter vegetables while the planting to-dos rattling around in my head are all of those truly summer crops, the smell of basil starts mouth watering; and yet outside us the dogwood and cherry blossoms flutter to the ground…spring’s snow… and its lilacs and morel mushrooms, wild azalea colors out the car window, with the soundtrack early morning bird songs and blowing, blowing winds sounding spring, spring, spring. All the energy swirling around here is spring energy; the symbol of our days, the seed. It is a time of hope and faith, the hope of new growth, the faith we place in such a simple thing–a seed buried in the ground.
And alongside our faith in the earth to grow, there are the babies spring brings! We have those four week old goat kids that some of you met, so very, very cute. There are nine chicks warming themselves in the old hen house, the start of our next egg laying chickens for the family at least. We are still on the fence about how large this next flock will be–home or commercial scale—but while we were trying to make up our minds, we couldn’t go any longer without at least a few of the sweet cheeps we keep seeing everywhere. May is a good month to celebrate mothers, even when human babes are less beholden to the seasons. A lot of other mamas in nature have just hatched or birthed the new year’s little treasures.
The thing is that all of this energy of life exploding around us is being juxtaposed with the other side of the candle. The farm’s first dog, come to this piece of land when she was just on the doorstep of “old dog” status, passed on last week. Then the weekend began with a call from home about my father in the hospital and ended with a call about my mother in the hospital. All three of these things were not surprises; every morning for a while now, I have gone out to call for Zoya wondering if she would respond, and a trip home was being planned just prior to all of this because of my parents’ ailing health.
And really, this is not “farm” news except that for me, I wonder if these things might be harder in another life. In this one here, living amongst the cycles of the seasons, of plants and animals burgeoning and diminishing, of every day getting to work and play with my own next generation, thoughts about the end of one thing always lead the way back to the beginning of something else. It is the way of life, really, in all things. It just seems to be a rhythm that we beat a little more loudly on this farm. And it is not that it takes the edge off of the sadder turns of the circle, the darker months of our lives…indeed it sharpens them. It is just that it then kindly sets them down next to the immeasurable beauty of the mundane day to day.
So we have our own little bit of winter sky worries we have to carry alongside us as we plant seeds for the future. One thing we don’t have to worry about, though, is the real change that seems to be taking place in the farming world. Impediments or not, young and sustainable new farmers are studying this stuff in school and beginning ventures of their own while others, from young to middle aged alike go from gardeners to small farmers. Two new Yamhill county farms (our friend Scott Dickey of Dickey Farms West and a new acquaintance from Carlton whose operation is called Wholesome Hearts), will be growing vegetables for direct to consumer sales this year, while a friend’s son who is studying sustainable agriculture at OSU is growing on his parents formerly conventional farm his first farming crops! Just like the spring babies, the births of more farm operation aimed at promoting soil, economic, and community health are worth gushing over. New life and new farming, for my children and their children and on and on and over again, that is why we are doing what we are doing. And all of us working these farms applaud all of you choosing to buy your vegetables (meat, nuts, dairy, fruit, etc, etc) from farms who grow to sustain the land and its cycles. As one of our discarded taglines for the new logo goes, we are farming as if there’s a future. By supporting local farms (and every other local kind of business), you are spending your dollars as if there’s a future.