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Transplanting, along with directly seeding in the soil, is the name of the game this week. (And for weeks to come!)


We’ve transplanted kale, chard, beets, some onions, rhubarb, and spinach. Wondering what’s up next? Asparagus, the last of the onions, mini broccoli, kohlrabi, and potatoes.


Yikes! That’s a tall order, and there’s a good chance we'll be playing catch up into next week.



beet seedlings


But we’ve never been ones to shy away from long work days, and I don’t see us doing so now.


Besides, my sister Nicole is coming to help this weekend. (She doesn’t know it yet, but we’re calling her our secret weapon of this event ➡ Our 2021 Spring Transplant!)


We’re getting in the rhythm of the days, first morning chores and then heading off to our respective jobs for the day.


Bill and Aidan are often prepping beds to be planted a few days off, while Liam, Marlee, and I transplant seedlings into the ones they readied a few days back.



Bill & Aidan making trenches for asparagus and Aidan hitching a ride!


Sometimes the three of us work quietly while thinking our own thoughts. Other times we discuss or debate subjects like religion, politics, racism, or current events like police shootings. Or, if we’re close enough to each other, Marlee will play a comedian like John Mulaney or Aisling Bea on her phone. We listen and laugh together at their ironic observations knowing we’ll probably reference some of them in future conversations and laugh again.



Liam joking me that he thinks we're planting mandrakes not rhubarb!

(Harry Potter aficionados will understand the reference and why he's wearing earmuffs. 😉


I appreciate this time with my kids. Their perspectives often challenge me, and I alternate between taking pride when they articulately express themselves and feeling uncomfortable when they call me out on an inconsistent belief, and I stammer looking anything but articulate!


Both situations are good for me.


Some say I’m afflicted with maybe a little too much assuredness in my views. My mom says I inherited it from dad. Maybe there’s some truth to that. He could be very certain. But, I try to keep my mind open to other possibilities. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that humility is good.


So, while I’d like to think I offer them some “wisdom” from living longer than they, I also realize they’ve experienced a world much different than the one I grew up in. That gives them valuable insights I don’t have. Ones that I can best understand only if I’m willing to listen to a different perspective. And that I would actually BE the wiser for considering even if, or maybe more importantly, when I disagree.


Often, as we move down the rows, I feel myself stepping away in my mind to observe our interactions. It’s a surreal experience.


I see me, usually next to one of them and across the thirty-inch-wide soil bed from the other, on the ground, pulling baby kale, chard, or whatever we’re planting out of trays, settling them in the hole I dig, and then firming the ground around before moving to the next seedling just as they do.


I can’t help but be brought up short by how much older I look than them.


Much older that I’d like. I see lots of grey hair. That’s maybe not so bad for the curls I know, for sure, I inherited from Dad but look at those wrinkles! I like that I express myself through my face - smiling when I see you come to my market table or run into you at Nina’s - but I don’t think of myself wearing those visible reminders all the time. I notice I’m getting up and down slower and with more awareness of my movements then Liam and Marlee. I remember when I could easily stand and squat - often with a kid in tow - was it really that long ago?


I realize that I’m going through my days thinking I’m as young as they are. It’s an unconscious self-deception. But in these observational moments, I can't deny, the gig is up. It's obvious to me, with an unforgiving clarity, that more time has passed than I feel comfortable with.



Aidan, Stacey, and Marlee


I zoom out. Seeing the farm around us and expanding out further to the greater world around us and I imagine other farmers spending their time similarly during this season.


And I feel my place. On this farm. In this family. And through this body, even as it’s getting older than I’d like.


I don’t want to take any of it for granted.


I feel myself trying to suck up every moment I’m so lucky to have. Take it all in. I’m hyperaware of the shortness of our lives.


Surreal, but so real that I feel more alive than I ever have.



This is the time of year when the pace seems to pick up more and more everyday.



Five-month-old puppy “ i.o.” is not entirely sold on the idea of cows being out in the pasture instead of the barnyard where she’s always known them to be!



Sometimes it’s a delicate balancing act to get everything done that needs to be done. And, sometimes, when nature and time collude in pushing, it feels like a rude shove!


We felt the shove this week, but it feels familiar and is even welcome because it means our work matters.



lettuce popping up in the field



Animals smell the pasture grasses greening up, turn their noses up at their dry hay rations, and stomp their feet waiting anxiously for their turn to leave the barn.



Seedlings continue germinating in flats regardless of whether or not there’s room to squeeze them in the bursting-at-the-seams propagation houses.


tomato seedlings



Directly-seeded-in-the-field crops like peas, lettuces, radishes need watching over for watering and covering from frosty nights while other soil beds are being prepared for planting in the next weeks.



Bill & Aidan filling sandbags to weigh down row covers needed during recent below freezing nights.




There’s also desk work - billing, responding to questions and concerns from new CSA members and customers, and writing newsletters, as summer quickly approaches. Those tasks fall to me.


I love communicating with members and organizing almost as much as I love working outside. But I end up pushing it off in favor of the demanding animals and plants.


I optimistically (and often erroneously) think I can catch it up in the evening.


Ha! What a not-funny joke I play on myself and, sometimes, you all when I get behind at replying. (Sorry if you’re one of those waiting!) I always feel younger before 3 pm. After that, reality hits, and I find not only has time run out to get it done today, but so has my energy!


I’m realizing I need to discipline myself to get these important tasks done. Maybe if I get up earlier? When it’s quiet, and the day’s commotion hasn’t caught me up in its eddy yet? But I'm reluctant to do so. I don't want to get out from my snuggly warm spot under the covers earlier . . .


But where else would I find the time and space?


So maybe . . .


(I know getting colorful highlighters from my mom’s store, while making my calendar look nicer, weren’t the solution. Lol.)


Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about this time of year.


The push/pull can be overwhelming, but all five of us feel the excitement of the main growing season’s potential.


It’s all in front of us and is gathering momentum. Kinda like a roller coaster approaching the crest of a hill.


Getting on the ride means navigating the challenges spring throws at our feet as it hurtles us into summer.

But it means feeling motivated, getting caught up in creative problem solving, knowing the satisfying tiredness of meaningful work, and having the opportunity to grow as farmers, team members, and as people too.


And we're clear on our farm - "we got on the ride" years ago.


And we choose to stay on again and again because it makes us grateful for this land, family and friends, farm members and customers, each other, and this life.


It's all worth it.

Us



We're rewarded again and again as our feet touch the ground we've been privileged to farm. We're rewarded again and again when someone tells us how much they like our lettuce, or enjoy our maple syrup in their morning coffee, or love the color of our eggs.


We're rewarded again and again and again and again.


Yes.


I accept the challenge to be more disciplined . . . and I'll raise it one early morning at a time.




I wrote this for Bill's dad's funeral earlier this week ~

Robert Meyer

I stand here before you today as a witness. A witness of the family I joined 24 years ago. I’ve seen ups and downs, ins and outs - heck - I’ve participated in many. Some I was welcome in, and some I, maybe, stuck my nose in where it didn’t belong. But, in return, I was always shown kindness by this family, and that tone was set from the beginning by both Bob and Margie. Shortly before we were married, Bob and Margie came over to our place for supper. Margie was excited to show me the new black purse that she planned to carry for our wedding. It was very nice, big and roomy with a wide strap, actually somewhat similar to the one I was carrying at the time. We had a fun evening. Bob told stories of working at the phone company because that’s what Bob always did, and I think we played cards. They headed home, we went to sleep, and that was that. Except the next day at work when I reached into my black purse and pulled out a set of teeth! Just imagine my scream to see them in my hand! I dropped them and called Bill bewildered as to how I got them? He’d just got off the phone with his mother, and she couldn’t find hers! We realized that the night before emboldened by a drink or two and her dentures bugging her, she took them out, and put them in my purse mistaking it for hers. She was embarrassed when we took them back to her. She said to me, “Oh honey, I CAN’T believe I did that!” And Bob said, “Margie, my bride, it’s okay. Stacey wouldn’t keep them!” We all laughed, and it was just the beginning of many suppers we shared with them. I could tell Bob liked me, probably because I politely listened to the stories everyone else had already heard so many times over, BUT I could also tell he wasn’t so sure about my mothering skills when Liam was born. You see, we had cats, and he was sure I’d let them curl up on top of “the heir to the Meyer name” while he was sleeping and Liam would be smothered. He’d also admonish Bill to make Liam stop hiccupping when his little body would shudder- certain it would hurt him and be bad for his brain! Then when Aidan came, he reminded me countless times over to take more pictures of him because, as the second born in his family during the depression when money was tight, there were hardly any photos of him but many of his older brother Elmer. He wanted to make sure Aidan didn’t suffer the same fate. They say our mothers accept and love us unconditionally, and our fathers represent the first social lens we’ll be viewed through. Their role is to protect us while correcting us so we’ll behave appropriately and be accepted in the world at large. As I said, I stand here as a witness, that Bob took that role seriously. He could be harsh, very harsh and even though Bob was a genial guy, it wasn’t easy to be his child, whether you were his because he married your mother or because you were born to him. Each of you have memories of times that cut deep. I’ve witnessed the pain you still carry that tells me it was real, it hurt, and it was hard . . . sometimes unbearably hard. It would be a disservice to the four of you to honor him today without acknowledging your experience as his children, and the ways it’s shaped you and your lives. Bob was a flawed human being just like all of us. He was a product of the time and events he lived through. He did the best job of being a father that he was able to, and I don’t think he ever meant to hurt you. But sometimes he did. He expected a lot, and he expected it - if not now - a few minutes before he even knew he needed it. I think he thought that’s what Dads did. If you were at the farm, you ​were​ available to help with whatever needed to be done - whether it was to hook up a wagon, fix a tractor, milk the cows, bale hay, drive somewhere to pick up something he bought on Prime Mover last Saturday morning, help find something he misplaced, or to just pour him a cup of coffee. My first visits to Meyer’s Ridge were filled with those requisite phone company stories he told everyone - what color wires meant what, how his buddies called him Duke because of his mad fighting skills back in the bar brawls that happened after a few drinks at the end of the workday in Chicago. But, what I remembered the most were stories about all of you. Judi being able to cook anything her ex-husband hunted and being so devoted to her cute kids. Robbie, his devoted sidekick, while he built on to the house, and, of course, her singing talent. Cindy’s speedy barrel racing skills at the rodeo, and being able to drive tractor and make hay with the best of them. And Billy’s talent for fixing things. And he ​always​ bragged that none of you were afraid of hard work, often holding down more than one job at a time and while raising children too. I witnessed him dropping everything to help you whether you went in the ditch on these crazy windy, slippery back roads during winter, you and your kids needed a place to stay, you were performing a song you wrote after a tsunami, or if your child was battling a terrible illness like cancer. Your relationship with your dad was complicated, sometimes frustrating, but it was always real. And as a witness, I saw how much you meant to him. He was hard on you, but not as hard as I’ve seen each of you be on yourself. My hope today is that you let that go of that a little bit more because you took on all the good traits of your dad and left the others behind. I’ve witnessed your devotion to your kids and other loved ones, your hard work ethic, your ability to give everything you have to whatever you’re working on, your sense of humor, your independence, and your determination to never give up. You know, when I started dating Bill seriously, I’d overhear his phone conversations with his parents and could tell Bob always ended his turn by saying something like, “Alrighty then . . . Love you . . . Bye, Bye.” Invariably he’d say that and then remember something else he wanted to tell Bill. There’d be another round of “Alrighty then . . . Love you . . . Bye, Bye.” That could happen several more times until Bill was annoyed and just wanted to get off the phone and finally there’d be the last, “Alrighty then . . . or maybe, Okey, Dokey . . . Love you . . . Bye, Bye.” I thought it a little weird because, at the time, my family just said “Bye” when we hung up. It just seemed excessive to me. But after years of hearing this, I realized, of course, Bob would say that because he NEVER doubted his love for you -- even when you did. So today, I stand here with everyone else, to witness Judi Lynn, Robbie, Cindy, and Bill along with their families, friends, and neighbors say his words back to him one final time,

“Alrighty then . . . Love you . . . Bye, Bye.”

Bill accepting Bob's United States flag given to his family for his service defending the country.

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