Pardon my Absence

Any impact I may have had on the farm lately has been felt largely, I’m afraid, by my absence.

Our weekly planning meeting Saturday was unfortunately stressful and tense, given a plethora of circumstances we’re up against. It’s the season for major weed management, and we’ve fallen somewhat behind on our seeding schedule. Plus, there are more animal chores now, hemp to be planted out, and plenty of general maintenance on our equipment as we get into hay cutting and mowing season. Given the heat of the days, irrigation setup would not be a bad idea either. All of these things take time.

We’re also running a bit behind this spring — due in part to some weather-related factors, some infrastructure moving factors, and some general ineffectiveness of planning and execution. We’re doing okay, but the crunch of the work is especially tangible.

I got out to the farm later on Saturday, worked for a few hours, ate lunch, and left. Pardon my absence, but my wife has a party and photo shoot in town, and she needs my presence there. I know I said I’d be available to prune tomatoes with Andrew, but I’ll have to pick up the slack Monday and Friday.

So, I spent much of the rest of the afternoon hanging pointlessly on a porch or sunroom, chatting and holding our daughter, while my wife did her thing and a faction of our crew planted peppers well into the darkness of night.

Sunday came. Yep, not going to be at the farm today. Pardon my absence, but my friend Jeremy is coming to finish up our kitchen remodel.

We got to work early in the morning on some trims and floor finishing. I made my way to the backyard and started doing some light landscaping work. At one point I dug my shovel into the ground, and began to remove a light scoop of soil, when a simmering belt of pain encircled my entire lower back. Uh oh. I stood still for a second, slightly hunched and afraid to make any movements. I really hope this isn’t as bad as it just felt. I straightened out, and lightning bolts of pain shot into my lumbar and stayed there. Uh oh.

I hobbled over to Jeremy and explained my situation. Hey, sorry for my absence, but I’ll just be laying still on my bed for the rest of the afternoon while you work on the interior of my kitchen. So, I spent the rest of the day laying pointlessly in bed, trying to remain positive and fend off the inevitable depression of uncompromisable stagnation.

Sunday night, I got in touch with Polly to make a plan for Monday. Sorry for my absence, but I’m not going to be at the farm tomorrow. Fucked up my back, and can’t really walk or sit down comfortably. I sent a Daily out that made little sense, given my absence over the weekend, and unavailability for the next day. It turns out you actually have to actively farm to be able to plan farming activities.

On Monday I called into work. Sorry for my absence, but I won’t be in tomorrow. Got a fucked up back, and don’t exactly see myself hoisting dollies of kegs up and down staircases. I know I only have a week left, but I just can’t do it.

Today I’m laying pointlessly in my bed, as the beauty of the day flows mockingly through the open windows and the construction crew shreds the street outside our house, demonstrating what work actually looks like from those actually doing it. From time to time, Ella cries. Sorry for my absence, but by the time I get up and get to you, Fanni will already have finished whatever she’s doing, and taken care of it. Besides, I’m not exactly sure I should be picking you up right now…

Thankfully, though, she’s there to pick up the slack. Thankfully, there’s a crew out at the farm all the waking hours doing the same. Thankfully, we’ve got the flexibility to dial back and depend on other people. Thankfully, we’ve got the financial flexibility to survive days off of paid work. What I would do if we were nuclear family farmers, entirely dependent on our own labor, I have no clue. For now, however, I’m just thankfully relying on the grace of others to pardon my absences.