The Season of Awakening
There is a special awakening that accompanies the first real day of outside work each spring; a human photosynthesis in which the body captures and mirrors the intensity and energy of the sun. There is also an oxymoronic absurdity to weeks of writing about being a farmer: trapped behind my computer screen and the broad windows beyond, watching the zealous sun beat back piles of snow and awaken the yellowed grass beneath. I sat at our marketing and planning meeting on Monday, gazing longingly out of the window at the evening world outside, vaguely overhearing Polly, Danny W and Logan discussing plans. “Well, we need to prep B2 early in the week to get those peas planted…” “The green onions should be ready by…” “Let’s see; we’ve got 18,500 feet of bed space to catch up on, and we need to map our plots…” Exhausted, I tried to gather my bearings by poking around a bit on the Grandmaster’s Production Plan spreadsheets.
Something about the combination of numbers, dates, graphs and charts, all demonstrating in different fashions a dramatic spike in activity right around the beginning of May, snapped my brain back to attention. We’ve got an expanding array of greenhouse plants to be stepped up into larger pots and moved outside, an entire patch of land that’s not been plotted or prepared for planting, irrigation setup, hoop house repair, and the continued planting of new seedlings in the greenhouse. Polly’s warning from the week before echoed through my head. “Get your affairs in order, because May is going to be busy.” I took a deep breath and brought my mind back to focus, piecing the various components of the week’s work into logical daily steps.
My current schedule allows for farm work on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and weekends, and Tuesday afternoon found us in the greenhouse stepping up huge quantities of tomatoes into larger pots; a stationary and repetitive task involving much conversation and little motion. Thankfully, on Thursday the email came through from Danny W. after the daily work plan. “We have quite a lot of peas to plant – if it’s at all possible to coordinate rides, going out to the farm should be priority for the day.” Hell YEAH! Stir crazy and restless, I skipped out of work around 1:30, greeted gloriously by that zealous sun I’d so longingly admired, and made haste to Field Notes, where Fanni and I joined Danny Dub, Polly and Slick Rick in prepping beds and planting peas.
The cheesy old-school hip hop bumping from Polly’s solar speaker reminded us to shake our booties; which we did, between the handles of broadforks as we finished prepping the beds for peas. Between the motions of raking, hoeing, broadforking, and planting, I received a physical reminder of what had drawn me to farming in the first place, and felt the photosynthesis as power started returning. Logan arrived in the Silver Stag, and unloaded trays and trays of green onions into the hoophouse before joining us in the field, where he beasted on the broadfork and discussed what seem to be his three primary spring ambitions: 1. build things. 2. kill animals. 3. skin animals. All jokes aside, his spirit and vitality is always a welcome presence, and we accomplished a lot while we laughed and talked. At one point, everyone else had moved on to start working the next plot, and I spent a quiet minute with the receding sun, gentle breeze, and soothing platter of sprinkler water against the plastic of the hoophouse. I relished in a deep breath, thankful for the fresh air and activity after months and months of stagnation. A couple hours later, Fanni and I headed out into the evening sunset, leaving Polly and Logan to finish up planting in the last of the beds.
As we drove home, we talked about how fortunate we are for the opportunity to work in this capacity with others; engaging in a lifestyle that welcomes health and vitality, while growing food which will do the same. We’ve both got our day jobs, but these hours at the farm provide an enlivening and enlightening counterpoint of physical, mental and social stimulation. May will be busy. June will be busy, and July will be busy. As we planted rows and rows of peas, I thought about all that will have to happen around the two plots of land before we pick rows and rows of peas. Thankfully, Danny, Logan, Polly and the others carry out the brunt of the work while I sit behind windows and computer, or tucked back in the kitchen. I’m grateful to them for that, and I’m blessed to have the opportunity to get on the right side of those windows from time to time and be a farmer, awakening with the season of life.