System F

Oren and I arrived at the farm early on Saturday, and started on a walkabout in the breezy and cloud-ridden morning, to check on the status of things. The theme of the day was disappointment.

“Oh man, did she really direct-seed right here? She knows better than that…”

“Yeah, I specifically told him to finish cutting this patch before going over to the south side. Now, we just have a bunch of huge loops in the fields that we can’t rake effectively…”

“That’s hilarious. I specifically told them to mulch the zucchini up here, and that’s the only thing that didn’t get mulched…”

We walked the rest of the plots, to more disappointment. We were, it seemed, behind. A year ago, such angst-ridden communication would have caused me significant stress; but now, with a full season of Rising Sand dysfunction under my belt, I understand and accept the RSO communication flow:

Oren establishes and communicates his plans and systems — something else happens — Oren communicates his displeasure — life goes on.

Plus, there was a great deal to be learned on this walkabout, regarding the timing of occultation, importance of planting locations, and timeliness of hoeing and mulching, to set ourselves up for a happy and healthy summer and fall. The farming season is dictated by rhythms and patterns, which stretch from the early spring to late fall, and encompass all areas of planting, planning and field work. By adhering to these rhythms, through our clearly-defined and well understood systems, we weave a tapestry of the utmost beauty and function; a living testament to the boundless glory of planning, teamwork, and true companionship with the natural world.


Back in the real world, however, Logan had rolled through and was getting his share of the daily displeasure.

“Man, I wish you would have finished that one section like I said, so we could rake it… Hey, did you order that new seat for the Chalmers yet?”

The seat on our Chalmers tractor needed to be fixed, in order to rake the newly cut hay to the sides of our plots to use as mulch. First, however, the tines on the rake needed to be replaced, to adequately pick up the hay without leaving huge gaps. However, in order to rake at all, the hay must first be cut, which required a new weld, and general adjustments on our sickle-bar mower, and the cooperation of our John Deere tractor.

Then, a crew could go out with a flat-bed trailer and pick up large amounts of mulch from the raked windrows to transport to the edge of beds where needed. However, this would require fixing the hitch on the flat-bed trailer.

In the meantime, the Gator would suffice for transport, provided that we didn’t try to use the dump-bed function, which has been detached since last fall and remains unfixed. Plus, given the odd shape of the west field, coupled with the presence of the chicken coop and Oren and Logan’s inexperience with the sickle-mower, the BCS mower would first have to go through and finish cutting the field.

All this for some mulch, which would only be necessary after another round of weeding and hoeing, which should have been done last week.


Enter the Mow Master. I marched up the hill behind the roaring BCS, to finish mowing our patchy west hay field in slow and hilarious fashion. Oren and Ed continued their adjustments on the rake and sickle-bar mower. Logan finished his mount of the old seat on the Chalmers, and sat for the first time – laughing as his crotch nearly touched the steering wheel and his knees rested against his chin. Lotus the Dog loitered expectantly, as he so often does, by the edge of the chicken fence – mulling over the finer details of an eventual chicken massacre.


I trekked up and down the field behind the mower, laughing at the hilarity of our operations. Down the hill, Oren made rounds with the sickle-bar mower – stopping every 100 feet to clear off the blades and make adjustments. Up the hill, Logan made half a pass with the rake before the newly-seated Chalmers died; refusing to start again. He walked away and the Chalmers remained — perched stubbornly atop the hill in the half-raked, haphazardly cut hay field, while I made my walking BCS circles.

And we all broke for lunch. We enjoyed some Pollly Dalton Chili; Kelly Adlington Crumble, and ridiculous Oren Jakobson Conversation – putting aside, for one jolly hour, the general madness and disorientation of systems so meticulously planned, and messily incorporated.