The post I had in mind for this week was going to be about Independence day; about our little bit of farming here having to be our way of “doing” something to make the future brighter. Our way of saying yes to this country, this state, this county, this small piece of land we live on. In a time when many people agree that the government in out of hand but no one agrees on how to make it better; in a time when even if we think we have an idea of how to make it better, it is so easy to feel helpless in the grand scheme; in times like this, we have to believe that our small bit of farming is a legitimate act of patriotism (as we define it), that our act of creating a vibrant and connected small scale economy we feel can weather the storms is our pledge of allegiance to the future of our country.
I’ve already briefly mentioned how farming = freedom for us in last year’s thanksgiving post, and I thought I might expound upon that.
Happy 4th of July, you know.
But the fourth of July this year was the day before market, and that night and the next morning were kind of rough. As much as I feel like I can’t share the harder parts of our farming life here, let me tell you this–when I was driving to market this Thursday, I heard myself in my head telling my children to never become farmers. Bleck!
What was wrong, why was it so bad?
Like I said, I usually like for this space to be inspiring. It is for all that is good and wonderful about our farm, and it is ultimately the bigger look into our lives on the farm for all of our farm members. Since it is all pretty fabulous at its core, and since we want to bear the brunt of any problems in private, the big stresses are discussed elsewhere.
But this is it; we are in our sixth year and we felt so overwhelmed to be facing harvest snafus still, even though we know that every year we will see unpredictable outcomes from the given mix of crops and yields and weather and pests, even though we know that they are always manageable in some way. We were hit with the realization that we had needed to make a hard but necessary decision that would have been best for our farm and our family as we went into this year, but we didn’t because we just weren’t sure, and now we have to wait the whole season to right that even though we both know now without a doubt we should have done it. Having one shot at some things for a whole year, having so many factors out of our control changing our plans on us–it can be frustrating. I think we had a mini crisis this fourth of July, and for the first time ever (out loud at least), we heard ourselves saying, “Will it ever be too much for us to bear, will we ever just give up?”
And so in this funk, I went to market. It was hard to rally myself and about halfway through the day I decided to grab a cup of coffee from the coffee shop. One of the employees asked me how market was going and I didn’t give a very lively response. The other asked what we sold and we started talking about the farm. They asked why it was a bad day and I said, mostly jokingly, but clearly coming from the stress I had been feeling, “whatever you do, don’t go into farming!”
And the second employee, the new one whom I was just meeting that day, said, “That’s what I want to do, I want to be a farmer.”
And I smiled and laughed and felt so elated for the first time that day. I told him I didn’t mean it at all, that he should definitely become a farmer!!! That yes! you can make a good living. That yes! the demand is still way higher than the production! That yes! it is the most wonderful way of life! And that yes, some days are hard, but oh my goodness, please do become a farmer.
We talked a bit more about it all and then I had to hurry back to our market booth. I was giddy. I couldn’t believe that the conversation had come up, but in talking to him and encouraging him to try this whole thing out I was affirming all the reasons it is good and right for us and certainly not too much to bear when weighed in the correct light.
The farmer felt better today too. We both wondered if we weren’t under some kind of cosmic black cloud; looking around today under the hot July sun showed us that things really look great out here– beautiful soil, healthy plants, loads of fruit. They say that summer doesn’t start until after the 4th of July here. Today it felt like things were shifting. So much yummy food coming into harvest, the bounty of summertime. We probably won’t have any more stressful harvests from here on out.
Sometimes I think it is good to find yourself on a hump, stuck on the road. Getting yourself off requires either going back down or finding the strength to go over.
Looking at the fields today and the whole farm, really, we see so much life exploding out here. We are proud of where we have taken this land and committed to continuing this work. Whether or not this has as much significance as I was going to give it in my original Independence day post, I don’t know. I do know, most assuredly after this week, that it has the utmost significance to us.
And to some of you, I hope too.