We can feel the season coming. And that is both exciting and terrifying.
This can be a stressful time of year for farmers. The to-do list is long and the opportunity to act on it slim.
The ground is still frozen and last frost is still three months away. There's only so much we can get an early jump on. And, especially with Jacob working full-time right now and me hugely pregnant with what can only be the biggest baby ever grown in a woman's womb, we're just chipping away at what we can and trying really hard to relax about it.
Because, if the last four years at this thing has taught us anything, its that preparing can only get you so far. Every early Spring it is the same. We're like those runners hopping around the start line, waiting for the gun to fire. We're anxious, nervous, excited -- and not able to do much about it.
There's just no way you can really prepare for what's about to hit you. You can lay things out and set things up and make lists and do what you can, but the real prep you should be doing is getting yourself ready to be flexible.
Being flexible is really the only thing that's going to help you deal with the chaos that's about to hit. (Not unlike, getting ready to have a baby, as luck would have it.)
So, in addition to slowly raising the hoop house, planting in the greenhouse, marketing the vegetable Farm Share CSA (seriously, sign up now!), taking care of broody (fingers crossed) turkeys and planning fields and systems, we're also trying to just relax and try to be excited about this whole thing again.
It's only been five years, but sometimes (more like always), we catch ourselves working more out of pressure than promise. But, this year, we vowed to ourselves and each other to try to find some balance with that.
Farming and running a small business is stressful and it's a lot of work. It is worth it, but only if we let it be. So, right now, we're trying to reclaim the fun and excitement and novelty of our first two years -- when farming was about potential and opportunity, not about what we've already done wrong and what we need to catch up on.
It helps that this year, we're doing it here, on our own place, which is nothing short of magical.
(Did you know we're in the direct migration path of millions of snow geese? They make their way through here eating up grain, chilling at Freezout Lake and then heading up north. Mornings are a cacophony of honking around here. So gorgeous.)
I'm forcing myself, every day, to be present here and remember how long we've waited to be here, to remember, that amid the stress and the to-do list, what I'm working toward is actually right in front of me. That's a major dynamic changer.
Monday was a good day for that. Sunny, and, gasp, no wind. The three of us put up the beams for the hoophouse. Instead of racing against some imaginary clock, we just did it as we could, chasing Willa in between and giving the pregnant lady plenty of time to get up from the ground. Willa made forts for her babies and took her own little walk down the lane, turning every so often to wave at us.
Who says Dads aren't as good at multitasking? Willa insisted that "new baby" be in on the action with Papa. What else are those hammer loops for?
It was the kind of day that I envisioned when we first decided to do this. I know full well that most of this life is unromantic and nothing like the imaginings I used to convince myself to farm. But, there are moments -- full mornings even -- when it's pretty picture perfect. So, I'm trying to train myself to take those when I can and really, really let them sink in.