“To undertake the task of keeping a modern farm enterprise afloat is to also engage in a practice for refining the human spirit. The underlying paradoxes of the cosmos is reflected in the dichotomy of order and chaos that characterizes any farming system. After all, we may use a certain amount of machinery on our farm, but the farm itself is a living system comprised of a multitude of highly unpredictable yet completely interdependent entities and factors. To become ‘real farmers’ we must wed our individual process of self-becoming to the evolving reality of this living breathing farm.”
-Stephen Leslie, from Small Farmer’s Journal Fall 2010
There is this scene in the hit 2000 film Almost Famous (14-year-old Lisa Miskelly’s selected Movie Of The Year) where two of the groupie hippie chicks have a conversation entirely composed of the sentence, “It’s all happening.” While they were referring to sex, drugs and rock-n-roll in the early 1970s, this has been, of late, my mantra concerning growing vegetables in 2014:
Good Work Farm 2014
It’s All Happening.
March came to a close with the gentle pitter-patter of rain falling on soil just-barely-dried-out from winter snow melt, the pounding of rain on the outside of plastic greenhouses, the smell of wet horses and a wet dog. We found a small window in there to plow-up enough ground for potatoes, peas, onions, and other early-season crops, and even managed to put the horses to work discing the driest field.
The month has been a whirlwind of checking things off the expansive but sometimes-shrinking to-do list. Our barn and fields are finally full of all of the equipment we’ll need to plow, disc, harrow, and cultivate this season’s crops and pastures with a team of horses; we’ve nearly maxed out our capacity in our rented space at the Seed Farm greenhouse with baby chard, scallions, lettuces, broccolis, flowers, and herbs growing heartier every day; after completing the cold frame at our new site, we brought all of the onions over to “harden off”—to get ready for the wind, rain, and cold of the real world outside of a climate-controlled incubator environment; we’ve been on a continuous shopping-spree of consciously chosen treasures—from cover crop seed to greenhouse lumber—we are steadily acquiring all of the tools and supplies necessary to transition these stark fields into the vibrancy of flavor and color that a diversified vegetable farm provides a landscape.
When horses roll, it is magnificent. Work a horse hard, get him good and sweaty, take off his harness and brush him down well, turn him out in the pasture and he will give a good roll. Once, maybe twice. More than that could denote trouble (because horses also roll when they experience colic or other painful digestive difficulties). I always watch to make sure that he stops. He gets himself good and dirty on the bare ground, itching the scratchy spots, massaging out a sore back, throwing-up those limbs in the air in some announcement of freedom or boredom, and then hoisting himself up with great and awkward effort. It’s a nice pause to the day, like a commercial break or an intermission, where what is being advertised is the free and unconventional abandon of all dictated or unspontaneous movement. Plants and Animals offer up this gift: an obliviousness to the fickle concerns of humans. Unlike me, the horses do not care about the commuters along Kings Highway slowing their cars to gawk at horses working in harness. They are just walking, trudging, doing what is asked of them.
Quoting NPR, my yoga teacher said last week, “First you collect the dots, then you connect the dots.” So here we are: Spring, collecting and connecting some semblance of lovely dots which are forming plain and meaningful connections: community, nutrition, land, work, food.
Take a minute to roll,
Lisa and Anton
Anton M. Shannon