Growing Connections

Week three into our summer farmer’s market and week two of CSA harvests!  We have been harvesting in  the rain this week, something we get used to during our late fall and winter harvests but don’t love in the spring.  Really, I should say the farmer gets used to working wet since he does most of those harvests himself; spring always finds me slowly working my way into harvesting again and quickly back  into washing and bundling all this growing food again and regularly back at the market again working the booth, all things I love to return to but am always fumbling with at the start.  At any given moment, there are a hundred and one things we need to do; not all of them farm related of course, but you know, all the regular old things that we always have to do with and for the children and in the house, as well as our own gardening and flower planting too, on top of the crazy amount of things on the farm to do list.  May begins and we hold to our winter-school routine for a week or two and then spring on the farm eclipses everything and in some ways life stops and we don’t get a hold of it properly for the next month and a half.  Right now, some of the projects in the house seem impossible to get to and really, although I want to do them, my mind is on the outside to do list just as much as that outside to do list is needing to be done.  Luckily, the weather has been nice for the most part and everyone is happy to spend time outside–swinging, playing, planting, weeding, running and learning to run, or what have you.

We need to plan our open farm potlucks for the year, sooner than later,but it is hard when we are in the thick of getting all of our ground worked and planted.  Even though we get an early chance to spring clean for our May day girl’s birthday/may pole celebration, after that it is a slow process getting the non-food growing spaces under control.  In addition to that, we decided to use the summer and all our time spent out of doors as a time to work on this little old house of ours.  So, with a living room full of ripped out carpet waiting to get disposed of and a beautiful pile of cedar in the lawn waiting to be turned into a deck, it is hard to imagine how to negotiate our usual potluck space until these projects are out of the way.

I jokingly mentioned the other day that I had my eyes set on July; in so many ways it is true.  By July, we will be fully settled into our summer routines.  We will still have harvests and markets and field work to dictate our schedule, but we also then have more time for those other important parts of summer, the farm potlucks being one of those parts.  As it stands now, social time feels like a luxury while we get everything in shape for the year.  After this weekend we should have the rest of our tractor ground prep done on the farm, the rest of our one time summer plantings in and summer succession plantings done.  From that point on, we start to consider the next round of plantings for fall and winter, and although that means we really are just continuing to plant all the way through September, there is a difference  and a huge sigh of relief once this spring work is done.  We can then get things tidied up and get folks out to the farm and have some fun!

We are leasing two acres of ground just down the road this year.  The land has been fallow for a while, but at one time it was the spot of a small, organic farm much like ours.  Although we have been actively looking for a space of 5-10 acres nearby to lease, this spot is really close and will give us two more dry acres to grow winter crops on which is probably our top priority for more space anyways.  Besides that, we love the history of the space and are completely smitten with our neighbor who lives there.  He grew up on the road, ran a duck hunting club on our very own farm during his college years and was also here the day they put in our well.  He has loads of stories to share, not only about our land and the surrounding space, but from his own full and well lived life.  He has experimented with growing wild rice on some of this wet bottom land that all of the properties along our road slope down to, and has been trying to convince us to give it a go too.  We are researching it, and the farmer, who is always game to try to work with what the land naturally wants to do if he can, is definitely curious.  But the processing, oh my!

Anyways, even though farming this space will mean taking time to listen to these stories, we have come to lean on our neighbors more than ever since starting this venture.  We find that the more time we spend with them, the more comfortable and significant we feel in our “neighborhood” here.  Our very next door neighbor is helping us with the mechanics of keeping our tractor running now that we have one, and has become an important part of the work of our farm through this role.  And just this week, while Andre was in the field harvesting for Thursday market and CSA pick-up, he was stopped by another neighbor driving by with one of her friends, a man who works with draft mules.  Through the course of their conversation, he excitedly offered to disc and cross-hatch those two acres down the road for us with his draft team!  All for some “real” tomatoes later on in the season and a small part on the old draft plough that our mailbox sits upon, a part he has been hoping to acquire to use in his draft work for some time and finally got the chance to stop and ask about.

When the farmer came back to the wash station with his bok choy harvest that night, he told me the story and ended with this–“I think we have landed in heaven!”

All of these wonderful connections, all a gift of this little bit of land we call home and our chosen line of work.

So, even though I am wishing to get over the hump of the spring rush so that we can maybe sneak off to the beach and then have all of you fine folks over to watch the sun go down across that river valley our property sits on the cusp of, I really do relish all of the seasons of the farm life.  As I try to pencil in dates for this summer’s social events and think about the growing relationships we are building with our neighbors, as I get back in the groove of summer market and see the friendly faces of our customers and CSA members and other market vendors that I only see regularly in this most busy time of the year, I keep reminding myself to stay in the moment.  The season of the farm right now is one of connection.  Day by day, minute by minute, we are sowing the seeds for the season, connecting with the community around us more and more with each planting.

And besides, if I mistakenly wished away June by looking ahead towards the surety of July, I would miss out on the sweetness of this month with its Strawberry moon and its small bit of time out of the year to enjoy the smell in my kitchen of my second to favorite fruit of all–because blueberries are the one to really rock my world, but my most favorite fruit of right now.

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