There are a few themes I have running in my head like a mantra for this year. Balance was the one I was sure most important. It was the word I kept writing on the tops of my to do list. That, and “today is the only day”, which is a constantly good reminder.
But the truth is that balance is a finicky goal when you are a homeschooling mother of four. I keep wanting to balance some self-care, self-soothing, self-loving time in with the call of other’s needs and the beating rhythm of the farm, but I just can’t trump those others’ needs with my own, it doesn’t work for me. And I seem wildly inept at creating time. Sometimes, there just isn’t enough of it and I know that some day my “today is the only day” will look a lot less peopled than my today’s, so I let go of wanting more than it seems I can do while my main occupation and preoccupation is being here for smaller folks.
That kind of balance is hard to find when I look at how the scales are tipped at present, and I want to have peace with that as easily as I did when I probably had more peace in general–a few spirits ago and only a dream of a farm in hand.
The balance that is coming in to focus this year is the structure of our farm business. We have been a CSA driven business since we set up shop out here, and we always thought this was the best way for us to farm. We love the deeper connection we tend to get with our CSA customers, the sureness of their harvests over the more changing nature of the markets, and it just was always our driving intention. We had read so much about it before we actually started to farm, our book knowledge left us settled with a plan before we’d begun at all.
As can be the case with just about anything you learn from a book, but so much so with farming, until you are on your land and doing your thing, you don’t really have all the information you need. And as great of a model as the CSA model is, for our farm and its particulars–size, labor force, capital, etc–it meant that our own little (big) family was always last on the receiving end of all the really great food we grew. Having community members invested in our farm for the whole year and having them be the main supporters of our farm meant that we prioritized their experience, always.
This is, of course, a good thing and is what we should be doing for them. And we were always happy to do it. But, as with the shoemaker’s children running barefoot round town, at times it was really hard for us to not taste any of a particularly wonderful crop, or to end up (graciously) eating food from other farms instead of our own. To say it like that makes it sound a bit crazy, even though it wasn’t. It was, however, not really sustainable for a sustainably driven operation, right?
And so, this year we significantly downsized our CSA. We even downsized our markets to one summer-only market. We hope that by restructuring it all, with our family prioritized, we will actually better serve everyone. The word that has now materialized like a sweet song in my mind for this year is this~abundance. A beautiful word. A positive word.
Not that balance isn’t, but for me, it was always sounded with a sense of lacking and guilt.
Our smaller CSA will have a pretty sweet year since we will never be stretched at harvest. We can provide for them even more abundantly. Our market customers will be greeted with abundance each week too, since most of the harvest won’t be under the table set aside for the CSA. And our family will experience the glorious state of abundance as well, which is after all, truly one of the best blessings of growing your own food. It fills you up in many, many ways. If you have ever done it, you know that feeling.
And so, already in March, my kitchen is up to its ears in purple. Cauliflowers! A crop that was usually so important for market at this time of year that I could only drool over it while it made its way into our dear customers hands. And already, I am getting out the vinegar and the canning jars (fermented cauliflower was decidedly unsavory in our opinion), preserving the abundance. This, I love.
And although all we do out here on this farm stems from our love for it, to deepen this, straighten it out a bit, and get it just a little bit more right, is always good. Change is a constant for us–today really is the only day–so we won’t say things are settled, we know better than that. But I can tell that for this year, or this today at least, things are looking so good. Balanced, even, a bit more.