From the trenches of a holistic life






There were some great big sunny days this week!  So much sun that I was able to grab handfuls of it and stuff it in my pocket to pull upon when needed, because it was needed, being squashed between rain and more rain.  Serious, heavy rain.  We’ve had so much early flooding this year, its surprising even when we know not to be surprised by the weather anymore.

On the sunniest and warmest of these days, the kids and I walked to the main field together, presumably to pick grapes to snack on because the farmer had admonished us for letting the very last of them languish up there.  We were definitely too late on that one, the grapes were completely done for.  It seemed like an odd expedition anyways, here at almost Christmastime.  But then again, some of the things we found along the way weren’t really of winter as I still think of it–the mid-western type, where surely no flowers are still blooming?

The baby was very proud of his calendula blossom.  He was fascinated by the running water.  We found exactly enough apples left on a tree out there to feed each of us–and my oh my, were they sweet and good.  I thought about how much better it would be to have more of them still, to save them for December, or late November at least, this variety is so much sweeter then.   I made a mental note for next year.

It was a glorious day, almost beyond glorious (that sun!).  But I was burdened with a little melancholy too.  As we walked through the quiet, mucky rows of spent food and tattered beet greens, I couldn’t help but think of how this weekend would be different.  No harvesting at all, not even the farmer walking the fields.  The first week without a harvest in a long, long time.

He has been day and night in the wood shop, getting ready to start a new market this weekend in the city with the woodworking business.  Our booth at the most wonderful (idyllic is the slogan), local, year round market was taken down last week.  We have been bringing our winter produce there for the last two cold seasons, spending every Saturday there for the last two and half years, and it has been so great.  But it is definitely time for us to find a better way to manage just about everything on our farm and home better, and this was part of that lofty goal.

It was an amazingly hard decision.  Taking things down last Saturday was heartbreaking.  All of the other vendors there are like our family.  Our children roam that space, interact with their community there.  We all barter and exchange goods in a way far removed from societal norms.  The whole experience enriches us beyond measure.  And all of those intangible benefits made the business decision that much harder to make.

In the field, with my sadness–because of my sadness–I found myself coming to terms with it all.  That this impacted us emotionally struck me as a great and wonderful thing.  It was like a perfect affirmation that we were, in fact, doing things the right way.

Shouldn’t all businesses be so connected to their community, to the people involved far and wide, to altruisms, expectations, intangible rewards?

Wouldn’t that trump a business model based solely on numbers?

I’ve always liked to apply the word holistic to our farming enterprise.  Much like it is used in the natural health fields, I think of our farm and the way we choose to farm and run our business as whole.  Our lives, the lives of our customers, out greater community, the world at large.  The micro-organisms in the soil, the macro-organism that is the entire farm.  It is all connected, and we like to look at it in its entirety.  Taking in every aspect of it, from the human to the bacterial, from the profit margin to the life experience, we have never been the type to be able to separate or isolate one part of it from the other. To hold any one part above the rest and focus too much on it.   Just like with our own health, if we don’t consider all of the aspects of what make a thriving person, we know we won’t ever have true well-being.

And so even though part of me was cursing the fact that we felt this way, that we have to worry about these larger ties and commitments to building something for our community besides our own farm, that we can’t just easily say that it isn’t the right thing for us at this time because we are also concerned about what the right thing is for a whole host of other people, that we are so unforgivingly idealistic…even though all of that weighs on us sometimes, I am glad for it.

There is much talk right now about what the end of the month might bring, if anything at all.  Prophecies, doomsdays, jokes, fears.  I do not get worked up about these kinds of things usually.  I let it all come and go, and I’ve always felt like as human beings we are just the same stories playing out over and over again, good and bad.

But something hit me over the head a few months ago and has me thinking that maybe, just maybe, things are changing.  It is hard for me not to imagine the coming youths living any way but holistically.  There is so much growing interconnectedness.  And seeing these threads that connect us all, and choosing to live and act with this in the forefront of our minds, maybe that will bring an evolution of sorts.

Or maybe I am, once again, being overly idealistic.  I know that for us, we aren’t very good at doing things any other way.  Even though we won’t be harvesting for market this winter, we are still moving forward.  Easing the burden a bit by harvesting by special orders each week, lessening the overhead, still getting what we do grow in the winter into the hands of someone in our community, from some wonderful local chefs to a handful of  hungry community members waiting for the bulk of our production to kick in.  It is all good.

We say this all the time, I know.  But even though things change and morph constantly, and the line we are walking on is not a straight shot like we were led to believe it would be, so far in this life, we wouldn’t want it any other way.


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