On the Farm . . . what's happening this week
Bill has been busy preparing seed beds and planting them with winter-hardy crops for the cold months ahead. We are growing several crops in our greenhouse and high tunnel (a covered structure high enough to walk in but smaller scale than a greenhouse). More will grow under low tunnels (narrower and closer to the ground) which serve the same purpose but are less expensive.
He’s also adding compost to all our beds to increase the organic matter in the soil. The goal is to make the soil organisms happy so they multiply and increase the fertility of our fields. It is a slow process and will take a few weeks as Bill shovels the compost by hand. His back, arms and knees are sore, but he is feeling satisfied knowing his work is greatly increasing the productivity of our fields. It is also a good excuse for a back rub at the end of the day!
I, guardian of tidiness in our home, am working a few days a week off-farm for a short time, and we are adjusting to the disruption. The kids while not enthusiastic or necessarily prompt are stepping up to help with household chores. I can’t always find my clean dishes, but they are clean. And when the task is done, they agree it feels right to contribute to the running of our household.
Even as a pattern of orange is revealed in the pumpkin patch with the plants turning brown and drying up, and the summer squashes have all but spent themselves, we continue to harvest generous quantities of tomatoes and peppers. I realize as we tumble toward the fall season, it, like much of life, is not straightforward. It contrasts to spring, where the push is definitely forward. Everything is germinating and quickly! The amount of green we see increases exponentially as plants compete for the increasing amounts of resources. “Me, me, me!” spring seems to scream. It feels like youth, filled with potential and promise - surging forward, learning, growing. Growing so much, it sometimes hurts.
Fall is more complicated. There is still a push forward as the second crop of tiny green beans hang on their plants, the watermelon radishes swell beneath the dirt, the germinated lettuce and arugula promise a coming harvest soon. Yet, it is not the same eager surge of spring, more like a begrudging acceptance of reality. Winter is coming, but it isn't here yet; there is time for more. And while the growth isn't quite so lush, it may be even more prized for weathering the trials it has faced, much as we savor the sweetness of spinach, Brussels sprouts and other vegetables that have experienced frost.
I have weathered some frosts. Outside my hair is turning gray, my upper arm jiggles when I raise it to wave to neighbors driving by (even though I can still curl a mean bicep) and inside I struggle to understand the loss of my dad and accept that my children will inevitably move away. Still I stand at this place in my life that feels more like fall than spring and feel more comfortable with myself as a woman, daughter, wife, mother, friend, farmer -- as a human being-- than I ever have before. And I know there is time left. Sweet, valuable time that I don't want to waste. Much like fall.