On the Farm - July 27, 2016
We are getting ready for our annual Farm Party this Sunday. During the winter when we envision the party, we see our farm all neat and cleaned up. The accumulated odds and ends in the sheds have been sorted and dealt with. The lawn is mowed, the always encroaching cockle burr and thistle are not present. The sagging-so-much-it-appears-drunk entrance to the barn has been torn down and replaced. Oh, and of course, the house is clean and tidy. Everything is orderly and welcoming. That’s the way we see our farm in our mind’s eye.
Then Spring happens. We get busy starting plants, cultivating fields, feeding baby chicks, goat kids, and calves, opening up beehives, cleaning winter’s manure out of the barn, checking fences, tapping maple trees, and making soaps and lotions for the farmer market season. Sometimes tidiness goes out the window – well, not completely, but to a certain degree. We can be heard saying,” I’ll deal with that a different day.” Well, it feels like “a different day” is here. We want our farm to look the way we saw it in our mind’s eye last winter. But with the party less than a week out, we are coming face to face with the reality that it won’t. Heck, I’m not sure our farm will ever be neat and orderly.
I guess it mirrors the life Bill and I have created together. Sometimes disorganized, frustrating, and challenging yet more than not, creative, productive, passionate, filled with personal growth and fulfillment, and satisfying. Years ago, we made a conscious decision to not just live on a farm but to raise our children on a working farm “until death do us part.” Farming is part of our marriage, part of our commitment to each other, and part of who we are. We want that for our kids. It feels important for them to work together with us learning to farm – when it is fun and convenient and when it’s not. It feels important for them to learn the responsibility of caring for animals in life and in death, to feel the weight of that respnsibility as they are able. It feels important for all five of us to be connected to the land entrusted to our care as well as being literally connected to our farming heritage. It not only provides a way to continue important traditions, but also a real way to stay close to those who no longer share this life with us.
Don’t get me wrong, neat and orderly have their place, and we continue to strive for neat and orderly in an effort to be efficient and successful, but it isn’t the most important thing. I think if we can keep the big picture in mind when we get a little frantic during this week leading up to the party – we will be able to welcome all who can come with an accepting attitude of where we are and where we are going.